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'FNL' recap: Where do we go from here?

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Eyes Wide Open” | Aired Oct 10, 2006

In the aftermath of Jason Street’s accident, there are two very different stories playing out in Dillon. On the one hand, we have the Panthers, their season seemingly destroyed, trying to figure out if they can salvage their dreams of victory with Matt Saracen leading them. On the other, we have Jason, unable to move, awaiting his prognosis. The juxtaposition of these two things is incredibly uncomfortable—one person frozen in time, while everyone around him is forced to move forward. Watching how each character responds to this discomfort teaches us a lot about who they are.

For the most part, the situation reiterates that football is the priority for the people of Dillon. With paralysis a real possibility for Jason, Buddy Garrity manages to spit out a line like “best case scenario, he’s out a month.” The ability to remain so blind to the situation, to continue to assume that everything is going to be OK, is less about truly caring for Jason and more about refusing to believe that the team could have suffered such a tremendous loss. Like father, like daughter, though, as Lyla powers through the entire episode on her own wave of denial. Even as the doctors tell Jason he isn’t going to walk again, she continues to push him, to remind him that he’s Jason Street, and they have plans that she’s not willing to give up on. Lyla’s positivity, though presented as caring and concern, is more about not being ready to accept the end to the idyllic future they’d had in their minds just days earlier. Lyla has convinced herself that with enough prayer and enough hard work, Jason can overcome the odds. At a time when Jason needs to start coming to terms with his new reality, Lyla is trying to convince him he can change his fate. He recognizes that this is unhelpful, and probably isn’t interested in being set up to let her (and himself) down, but she is stubborn and unwilling to listen to his requests to let it go.

Not surprisingly, Smash sees Jason’s absence as an opportunity for him to take control. Sitting in a booth at the diner surrounded by his posse, Smash is explains (loudly, and in third person, of course)  how the Panthers need a leader, and it should clearly be him. Whatever momentary camaraderie existed between Tim and Smash in the immediate moments after Jason got hurt has disappeared. Tim cannot deal with listening to Smash and approaches him to demand that he vacate Jason’s booth. Smash has no intention of being bullied by Riggins, who ends up breaking a window in frustration (and, also probably drunkenness).

Tim has been spending the rest of his time watching the footage of Jason’s accident over and over again, trying to figure out how one minute his best friend was running down the field and then the next it was all over. As most people around him are trying to pretend everything will work out, it’s Tim’s brother, Billy, who says from the beginning that Jason isn’t going to walk again. Tim probably knows this is true somewhere inside him, and when Coach finally confirms the information to the team, Tim just gets up and walks out. He can’t handle the heaviness of the situation, and the unfairness of it all, and instead avoids going to visit Jason entirely. Lyla approaches him and tries to coax him into going with her to visit, but to no avail.

Friday Night LightsMeanwhile, the fate of Dillon Panther football lies with Matt Saracen. Matt is, as you might expect, a wreck. He spends all of his time trying to learn the plays and getting his ass kicked in practice. Coach confides to Tami that he’s not sure they can even win a game, let alone a season, and the town is expecting a state championship. Tami, in the first of many, many scenes that establish the Taylors as one of the greatest couples of all time, tells him that molding Matt Saracen is what he was born to do. She believes in him with every cell of her being, and he is going to make this work.

Hearing Tami’s words, Coach is inspired to do more for Matt. He leaves dinner with his wife and heads right to Matt’s house where he asks Matt’s grandmother for permission to take him out for a bit. Coach brings Matt to the field and tells him that it’s all his for the taking.

Coach: What’s your name?
Matt: Matt Saracen.
Coach: What do you play?
Matt: QB1.
Coach: And how do you play it?
Matt: Perfectly.
Coach: We’ll see about that. Who do you play for, Saracen?
Matt: The Dillon Panthers.
Coach: How much do you want this?
Matt: I want it coach. I WANT it!
Coach: Then TAKE it.

And here we see the kind of man that Coach Taylor is, and the ability he has to support his players, to motivate them, and to inspire them to greatness. It’s a beautiful contrast to the conversation Coach has with Jason in which he assures him that he hasn’t let him down. With all of the focus on these boys as entities, Coach Taylor—the person who could most easily be blinded by what they can do rather than see who they are—is the one man who seems to really see them as human beings. Coach has some incredible pep talks over the course of five seasons, but this one, given to just Matt Saracen, in the second episode of the entire series, will always be one of my favorites.

Loose ends:

• Tyra and Smash, both fed up with Tim, decide hooking up is the best way for each of them to stick it to him.
• Tami gets sucked into a book club with the local wives who end up only wanting to recruit her to volunteer for different functions and talk about her husband’s plans for the team.
• Tami gets a job as the guidance counselor at Dillon High School.
• This episode really sets up for us the predicament Eric finds himself in week after week as the boosters try and control the decisions he makes for the team. We’re already seeing the balance he needs to keep, appeasing the money folks on the one hand, and running his own team on the other.
• How great is Corrina Williams? Smash’s mom is a recurring character, and Liz Mikel is brilliant in the role.

Quotables: (The writing on this show is too good not to highlight some of the best lines of the week. I’ll be doing this for each recap, so pay attention to your favorites and let me know if I missed them!)

•  Smash’s mom catches Tyra and Smash going at it on her couch and walks Tyra out. Tyra cops an attitude.

Mrs. Williams: Oh, I’d be nice if I were you. I work at Planned Parenthood, you probably haven’t seen the last of me.

•  Jason: How’s Saracen doing?
Coach: He’s doing fine. He’s throwing like a girl, but he’s doing fine.

•  Landry: It would be like comparing my music to the Red Hot Chili Peppers; I’m not the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m my own thing. I’m not any better or any worse, it’s just different.
Matt: You’re definitely a whole lot worse

•  Tami tells Eric she got a job at the school.

Eric: What school?
Tami: The high school
Eric: My high school?
Tami: I wasn’t aware you’d bought it, but yeah.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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