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Friday Night Lights - Gut Check

Friday Night Lights - Gut Check

Friday Night Lights – Gut Check

Looking back over my live running thread from last night’s show, the word Love is found over 7 times; it was a great episode.

Ever since the big switch from Panthers to Lions, the show’s identity has slightly changed. It went from a town obsessed with a team and that team, to a building a team and finding new motivations. As the last two seasons progressed the town and on field production have taken a back seat to developing new characters and stories. And while I love the show, and both types of storylines, there was a big part of me that longed nostalgically for season one type story lines. Last night, my dreams were answered.

We begin on an empty field. Jess is cleaning up. Radio announcers set the stage describing the Lions first loss of the season, 28-17. In genius FNL style, they cut back and forth between Jess cleaning up, the arguments raging in the locker room and game footage. Vince threw three picks, blames players for not knowing the plays. Massive penalties, mental mistakes, the team is falling apart. Coach Taylor enters amidst the chaos and orders all the players out of the field house. And as the radio says, “results of a loose reign, wasn’t a team out there, a bunch of individuals” Coach Taylor throws the radio in the trash.

The team went from undefeated to a situation where another loss would mean having to try to back their way into the playoffs. Old Coach finally says what’s on everyone’s mind, “We all know the problem.  It’s Vince.  He’s lost the team.” In the next practice Coach Taylor chides the team, “In my Gut, I think there is only one thing that is standing between us and the playoffs. It’s ourselves.  I’m not going to let that happen. You’re not going to let that happen. Vince, let Luke have that jersey for today.” And thus begins our switch from hero Vince, to good farm boy Luke.

Vince takes the issue home. Daddy says it’s a power move. Coaches all want to win, Vince wins. Vince’s mom takes on the Jess role and looks out of the corner of her eye. Vince then turns to Jess for sympathy and he does not find it. She calls him on blaming everyone else for his problems and having a big ego and in a great scene, “maybe you’re dad’s head is so far up your ass that you can’t see through your own ego....” She then breaks up with him. Bout time.

Speaking of relationships, Becky and Luke are adorable. She buys him something nice (she earned the money while waitressing for morning sickness Mindy) to wear for his senior night dinner with his parents and calls him on not standing up for her with them. Julie and Matt (heart) are playing house in Chicago. She tells him about the T.A. and just like the QB1 we’ve always known, he is not shaken.

Coach asks Vince to spend some time with Luke to help him get ready for the game. Vince blows him off. And while Luke sits and waits, Jess enters, ready to train him up just like she did Vince. As a female football fan I really love seeing a strong female figure that knows her football and puts helping that team win as a top priority.

Coach benches Vince, seeing as he missed practice, didn’t help Luke, and has been acting like a turbo-douche. And in a shockingly smart move, Vince goes to his mom for help. Nice to see the maturation of her character. She cautions Vince against taking all of Daddy’s advice and tells to start using his own head.

Meanwhile something strange is going on with Tami and Epic. Epic comes to the house for some tutoring – while Coach is (shhhh) meeting with that college – and shockingly Gracie is NOT wearing pigtails. Epic and Gracie play, Tami looks happy. And then the next day Epic and that strange teacher from earlier in the season get in a fight and Epic ends up pushing Tami into a window. Cops are called. Good times.

Matt finally asks Julie why she’s in Chicago. While it has become clear that both still have feelings for each other, Matt points out that Julie has a life somewhere else. He doesn’t want to be just her safety net; the place she runs to hide. And that is why Matt is great. Unlike the evil TA, Matt really just wants what is best for Julie.

Luke is a hot mess at practices, and shows up at Coach’s house the night before the game urging him to start Vince. But no luck, the final game of the season and Luke is starting. And he is not playing any better than he was practicing. Daddy and fans look pissed and confused. What follows is possibly the most game footage we have seen all year, and I loved it. As the game clock begins to wind down, Coach does what he does best; motivate young men. Luke heads to the sideline, as the crowd chants “We Want Vince”, practically begging to be benched. Coach, “Is this how you want to go out?” And in the type of scene that any true FNL fan knows and loves, Luke gains confidence to call the plays and lead the team. And as Luke orchestrates the game winning drive, Daddy is pissed. The rest of the team walk off the field victorious, Daddy wants to beat up Coach. In what must have been a big shot of reality, Vince has to hold him back.

Outside the stadium, Luke’s parents or more specifically farmer Dad and crazy Mom are waiting for him. He walks out with Becky. You guys remember Becky, right? That girl you harassed? Luke makes it clear; Becky is coming to dinner and not going anywhere soon.

Speaking of going, Julie is all packed and ready to go. Matt chases after her as she drives away, and promises her that it will be okay, and that they’ll figure this out. While touching, now Julie begins the long drive back to Texas.

Scenes from next week:

TIMMY! (this is a Timmy we like!) There’s a chance he can get out of jail, but he needs a character witness and doesn’t want Billy. Who can it be? Coach? Street? Lyla? Oh the possibilities. Oklahoma Tech takes away their non-existent offer and Daddy is even more pissed. Vince seeing the error of his ways shows up on Coach’s doorstep begging him not to take the three year offer from that college in Florida that he’s been talking to.

The season and series is ending, and quite honestly I have no idea how they are going to tie it all up. This episode really brought back the idea of clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.  All our character, playing and/or living life honestly and openly are on the upswing. While those with cloudy eyes and empty hearts are falling by the wayside. So even if the show’s writers never actually say the words again, it is clear that CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE!!

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (3) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

SpartaChris's picture

Great writing, at least what I read of it anyway. What I mean by that is as soon as I found out it was an episode re-cap, and not an article about the Packers, I stopped reading since I don't want spoilers.

Would it be possible for you to put something like "Episode Recap" or "Spoiler Alert" in the title?

aussiepacker's picture

Great recap Jayme. I really dont know how they will rap this series up but i sure as hell hope they don't screw it up. I laughed and thought of you when gracie walked out of her room with no pigtails.

brett's picture

Loved this episode, especially the end to see Luke start off shaky when given the opportunity on Senior Night, only to get get things together for the win. Also really thought it was great that they used that Ted Leo song "Woke Up In Chelsea" during the final game, it really added to the intensity of it all, without being distracting. FYI that whole scene is up at

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