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'Friday Night Lights' recap: Sitting, watching, waiting

Season 1 | Episode 12 | “What to Do While You’re Waiting” | Aired Jan 10, 2007

There’s a scene in Jimmy Fallon’s 2005 Fever Pitch that perfectly sets the mood for this episode of Friday Night Lights. After his beloved Red Sox lose another game to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, Fallon’s character, Ben, finds himself at a bar drowning his sorrows. As he sits there, miserable, he sees some of the Sox players at another table, talking, laughing, and generally enjoying their evening.

It is a scene that reminds us that being the spectator is often harder than being the player. When you’re the one on the field, you’re in control. When you’re in the stands, all you can do is sit and hope and wait.

The Dillon Panthers have done all they can do this season. They’ve overcome tremendous loss, they’ve learned how to be a team again, and now their future lies in the hands of the football players at Buckley. Their only hope for making the playoffs is an Arnett-Meade loss to Buckley. It’s an unlikely scenario (one that gets even more unlikely when Buckley’s best player goes down with an injury). It weighs on the minds of everyone in Dillon, raising the tension throughout the episode.

Though you may not have missed him last week, Smash is back. And as Waverly so aptly says, “Oh, good, the return of the third person.” Smash is still frustrated that Waverly refuses to see how fantastic he is. He knows she’s more into arts and culture than he is, so he convinces Matt and Julie to exaggerate his interest in these things as well. It’s hard to figure exactly what Smash likes about Waverly, other than the fact that she presents a challenge. It is even harder to discern why Waverly likes Smash. She acts as though he’s a great guy, and the boasting and bragging is just an annoying piece of him—but actually, it is all there is to him. So why is she willing to give him yet another chance?

Whatever the reason, Waverly agrees to a double date with Matt and Julie. Julie fulfills her end of the bargain by spouting nonsense to Waverly about how Smash enjoys going with them to art films and museums. Waverly, having intelligence greater than a Ping-Pong ball, realizes that they are lying and is even angrier with Smash that he enlisted people to fool her.

Meanwhile, news breaks that the Street family is suing Coach Taylor. If Jason felt like an outsider before, he’s now basically a leper. There are unwritten rules in Dillon, and going after the football team and coach is at the top of the list of things you just don’t do. Coach Taylor tries to talk to Mr. Street, telling him he knows this can’t be his idea. But even Coach can’t fully comprehend the financial strain that Jason’s accident has put on the Streets. No one wants to sue Coach Taylor, least of all Jason, but the money has to come from somewhere. They aren’t left with many options.

The big surprise of the week is that Matt’s dad decides to stay in Texas instead of returning to Iraq. Even more surprising is how unhelpful having him home actually is. Matt’s status with the football team lands his dad a job at Buddy’s used car lot, but Mr. Saracen is not much of a salesman. He feels out of his element in Texas, and Matt notices. The longer he’s home, the less comfortable he gets. Matt knows that having his father stay home is not the fix-all solution he hoped it would be. In fact, he’s more stressed having his dad around. Matt lets his father off the hook, telling him he should go back to his unit.

The most compelling part of this episode for me was Tyra. Over the seasons, Tyra became one of my favorite characters, but I’d forgotten that it takes a little while to truly see her feistiness. This is the first time we see a glimpse of the real Tyra. Tyra’s mother, Angela (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), is dating another loser in a string of bad-choice boyfriends, and this one makes the mistake of hitting her while Tyra is in the house. Tyra unleashes on him, attacking him and demanding that he leave the house immediately. Tyra reminds her mom that she is special and deserves a man who treats her as such. But when Mr. Wrong shows up later, it looks as though Angela is going to take him back and start the cycle anew.

Tyra refuses to enable her mother’s behavior and tells her she has to choose. If that man shows up back at their house, Tyra won’t stay. What’s remarkable about Tyra is her conviction. As all of this is going down with her mom, and she’s feeling sad and lonely and frustrated, Tim approaches her to see if they can reconcile. Even with the longing she has to be with him, to be held and comforted, she recognizes the hypocrisy in doing so after what she’s just said to her mother. She turns Tim down (I believe this implies superhuman strength), and, as it turns out, her mom chooses her.

This episode is all about surprises. Matt’s father surprises him by deciding to stay. Tyra’s mother surprises her by sending her boyfriend away. The Streets surprise Coach with a lawsuit. And in the end, the biggest surprise of all: Buckley beats Arnett-Meade. Panthers are going to the playoffs!

Loose Ends

  • The Street vs. Coach lawsuit gives Lyla a chance to show her support for Jason, which is a nice development in their relationship.
  • Has anything ever painted a clearer picture of Dillon, Texas, than the court messenger asking Coach his thoughts on Buckley after serving him?


Matt forgot to meet Julie at the library and she shows up at his house, annoyed:

Matt: Would now be a bad time to tell you that I told Smash we’d double date with him and Waverly, and we’d pretend that we do that a lot and we talk about all sorts of neat stuff besides football?

Waverly agrees to one more date with Smash:

Waverly: All right. We’ll give the Waverlash one last try.

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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