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'Friday Night Lights' recap: No going back now

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Crossing the Line” | Aired Nov 28, 2006

Points of no return—that’s what “Crossing the Line” is all about. Life is physics: Choices are made, events are set in motion, and at some point, momentum takes over and we become powerless to stop the outcome.

Smash Williams is in a downward spiral. His poor performance when Grady Hunt came to watch him, and his inability to make “the list” has shattered his confidence. Up until now, all Smash has been is confidence. There’s been nothing to suggest that an actual human being even exists under all of the blubbering and self-satisfaction. But with just one tiny chink in his armor, Smash is completely falling apart. There is, in fact, a person under there, and that person is in crisis. His response is to do whatever he has to do to ensure that he never again has a game like the one he had last week. His solution is steroids.

This in itself is not a great decision, but Smash digs himself an even larger hole when he approaches his mother for the $1,200 he needs for a month’s supply of the goods. His vision is so blinded by his fear of failure that he (grotesquely) spends his time trying to convince his incredibly hardworking mother to fork over the money she badly needs to take care of her family, so that he can take an SAT class. She says no, not because she doesn’t want to help him, but because Mrs. Williams doesn’t have anywhere near that kind of money.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Smash’s next move is to steal money from the cash box at the Alamo Freeze. Matt catches him in the act and rips into him for risking Matt’s good name. Matt vouched for Smash, so if Smash gets fired for stealing, it’s Matt who will take the fall. Smash is as honest with Matt as he’s been with anybody, and although he doesn’t spell it out, he makes it clear that the pressure of performing well is at the root of his bad behavior. The most cringe-worthy moment of the episode, though, comes when the Williams family is sitting in church and the pastor is speaking to the community about the importance of giving. As he speaks, it becomes clear that Smash’s good Christian mother was not satisfied with having to say no to her son. She felt she was failing Smash when she couldn’t provide him with the money for his class. So she went to her pastor, and he rallied the church members to donate their own money to sponsor Smash’s drug use. It’s all so horrifying; Smash takes the money and buys his steroids, and if he gives it a second thought, I missed it.

Meanwhile, Jason asks Lyla outright if she’s been having an affair with Tim, and though she says no, he remains convinced of their guilt. He desperately wants it to be untrue. As he tells Herc, Lyla is all he has. If he confronts her, if he goes down that road and puts the fallout in motion, he’s going to ensure he loses everything. But Herc points out that being crippled doesn’t—or shouldn’t—mean having to settle. Why should Jason let Lyla off the hook just so he can hold onto her when she has proven she doesn’t deserve him? I remember my younger self disliking Herc and his bluntness, but this time around, I have a profound appreciation for the way he helps Jason find himself in the midst of this major identity crisis. He may not sugarcoat things and he often comes off harsh and mean, but at the end of the day, he’s the only person who says the things Jason needs to hear to move forward.

Jason is working hard on creating his new life, and part of that is participating in quad rugby. His doctor tells him it’s too soon, and even Herc doesn’t want him to rush, but Jason needs to get back to competition. Lyla and Tim come to the scrimmage and cheer Jason on as he plays. He looks happy and hopeful for the first time in months. Afterward, Jason is running on adrenaline, he has the thrill of the game coursing through his veins, and when Tim comes over and bends down to congratulate his best friend, Jason punches him right in the face. Tim knows he deserves it, and can think of nothing to do but leave. “You’re a coward, Riggins!” Jason calls after him. I love Tim Riggins, but it is wonderful to see Jason taking control of his life—and refusing to accept this betrayal just because he thinks he’ll never do better than Lyla.

My favorite part of this episode, however, is Julie and Coach Taylor. When Julie casually mentions to her parents that Matt Saracen asked her out, Tami is thrust into a state of terror about what a football player is going to want to do with her daughter. It doesn’t help that a rally girl was just in Tami’s counseling office telling her how the football player she was assigned to was trying to convince her to have a three-way. The girl was clearly uncomfortable with the idea, but told Tami she was considering it because she liked the guy and he promised she could be his girlfriend if she agreed. (That anyone could meet the bumbling Matt Saracen and think he could behave in such a way is almost funny, but in Dillon the power of being QB1 is pretty intense.) Tami tells Eric he needs to chat with their daughter before she makes her decision, hoping they can convince her to turn Matt down.

Thus we have a spectacular father-daughter Ping-Pong match in which Eric explains to Julie that boys only want sex and that she is beautiful and special and deserves to be treated as such. Coach Taylor has already been presented as a father figure to his players, but to watch him in action with his actual child is another dimension that just fleshes out this man and makes him even more wonderful (who knew it was possible?). Coach wasn’t as effective as he thought, though, because as the episode ends, Julie announces to her parents that she is going on a date with Matt Saracen.

Loose Ends

  • Tyra and Tim run into each other in the supermarket and end up hooking up. The repercussions, if there are any, are yet to be seen, but it establishes a pattern of behavior with these two. They’re never quite fully off.
  • We get a lot of good backstory on the Riggins brothers in this episode. Billy has had to take responsibility for Tim since their father walked out. Tim, being younger and less clear on the reality, still defends and loves his father, whereas Billy sees him as a jerk who abandoned them.


Coach gives Julie some fatherly advice:
Coach: If you’re wondering if a boy is thinking about you, he isn’t. He’s thinking about sex or he’s hungry. Those are the only two options.

Have you been rewatching? Are you having any new insights this time around? Are you a first-time viewer? What do you think so far? Sound off in the comments!

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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