'Friday Night Lights' recap: 'The Son' rises

This week’s Friday Night Lights , which was entitled “The Son,” had moments of the usual terrific FNL boisterousness, but for the most part was a solemn affair with beautifully crafted details. The episode found Matt dealing with the aftermath of the news of his father’s death. The soldier, deployed overseas, was given a military funeral, but not before some finely emotional scenes. These ranged from Matt having to come to terms with his anger at his dad (Matt has long felt as though his father left him to take care of his grandmother, and to otherwise fend for himself), to making arrangements for the funeral.

The latter scene could have been dull and mawkish, but not when Tami was at Matt’s side at the funeral home. Recognizing a vulture when she saw one, Tami lit into the funeral director and negotiated a better deal for the Saracin family. Once again, Tami proves utterly selfless and ferocious in protecting those for whom she has strong feelings.

At the funeral itself, Matt overcame his personal anger to deliver a brief eulogy that rang true to his character: not excessively eloquent, but moving nonetheless. And who was to be spotted at the funeral? Lila Garrity! Hello, Minka Kelly, making one of your few appearances this season!

In football news, East Dillon is still fractious — lots of squabbling between Vince and Luke on the field — but they’re doing better, cohering somewhat as a team. Off the field, Luke had to put up with a paintball-shooting J.D. McCoy; boy, has this kid turned into his father’s son. That is, a complete jerk. (Sons were, after all the theme of the night.) Luke’s nickname (close your eyes if you’re easily offended) — “J.D. McDick” — is sure to stick.

This would have had the feeling of a mopping-up episode (that is, taking care of plot strands that had been left dangling from the previous one), were it not for one mighty man: Tim Riggins.

It was Riggins who provided the night’s non-son-related moments, and they were in some ways the most refreshing things about the hour. Try as he might to avoid getting involved with Becky, he was still drawn into her drama — her quest to win the “Miss Young Texas Pageant.” This could have been the lamest of subplots, but Riggins’ priceless reactions to all the beauty-pageant excessivenesses keeps this stuff very Friday Night Lights and not I Am A Refugee From A CW Show material.

This, plus Riggins was the one to pull Matt out of his grief, at least for a few brief moments. Nicknaming Saracin “Cobra,” Riggins put a small grin on Matt’s face.

The hour had to circle back to the son burying his father, however. Again, a dramatic risk was taken here. When Matt, Riggins, and their pals more or less broke into the funeral home, with Matt demanding to see his father’s face before the closed-casket funeral was held, this might have been a mere tearjerker. Instead, it gave Matt (and us, for this plotline) a degree of true closure.

Friday Night Lights is airing on DIRECTV’s 101 Network Wednesday nights at 9 p.m.

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  • CBB

    I don’t have Direct TV. Although I would love to read these FNL recaps and comments I’m not because I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Will those of us who are waiting for NBC to air the program next year have to go without EW’s recaps? I’m afraid we may….

    • Ken Tucker

      Don’t worry, CBB–I’ll be refreshing and reposting these when the show returns to NBC.

      • CBB

        Thank you!!!!!

  • Sara

    I have to wait until next year to watch as well, but I still read the recaps. I love this show so much that if I know a recap is floating around out there, I just have to read it. It definitely won’t deter me from watching in the future!

  • Allison

    I thought Zach Gilford played his role perfectly in this episode. The acting on this show is first rate all around, but Gilford really did get to show the depth of his acting chops here. When he looked into the casket…we didn’t need to know any further detail about what his father looked like. It was written all over Matt Saracen’s face.

    • Amy

      Couldn’t agree more. Although I love my typical Matt Saracen being oh-so awkward and hilarious with Landry and Riggins, Zach Gilford blew me away with his performance. The breakdown scene at the Taylor’s house was particularly moving.

    • Karoline

      One of the things that has always impressed me about this show is not what the characters say, but what they don’t say. It’s all about reaction shots, telling the story wordlessly yet eloquently. Zach Gilford mastered the non-verbals in this episode. I wish FNL would get all the recognition it deserves.

  • Randy

    As my wife was crying and I was getting choked up, I marveled at how well all these players can act. From Julie getting reassurance from her Dad that he isn’t going anywhere to Matt trying to not let years of anger/grief control him — this is the truest of all tv shows about life. Also, loved the nod to Smash while coach was playing with his baby.

    • Mo

      Agreed! I love that they showed Smash doing well despite his injury (well, didn’t show him, but still, that announcer making his statement was more than enough for me) and the absolute best scene was Matt at the casket. I cried and I’m not ashamed to admit that. LOL, seriously though…this show is awesome. The absolute best on TV, hands down!

  • Julz

    What a fantastic episode. If Zach Gilford doesn’t get an Emmy nom for this one then they’re crazy. This season keeps blowing me away.

    • Jill

      I thought the same thing about the emmy.

  • FriNightFan

    This was an amazing episode and it had me in tears practically for the full hour. I am especially sympathetic toward Vince after getting more a of glimpse into his life. I wonder why that was left out in the episode summary above?

  • Bridget

    Great episode with phenominal acting coming from Zac Giliford. Loved that Smash was mentioned in this episode.

  • lawboy

    Hands down, the best episode we have seen! Zach Gilford gave an absolutely brilliant performance, although I fear this is the begginning of his exit from the cast. Tim Riggins stole the show (again), however. He showed some depth and maturity as a person by walking away from Becky, showed even more maturity by not being swept away by the site of Lila, and tons of character by doing what he could to help his friend in a time of need.

    If Saracin is leaving the show, I’m wondering about a Julie/Landry romance in the future(?).

  • Borger

    How this show is not more readily embraced by the viewing public is a crime! Some of the best writing & acting on television ever.

  • Mz

    This episode tore me up. Zach Gilford was fantastic and the writers need to be commended for how they handled his father’s death. They keep the characters true to form but also allow for growth and maturity as they age.

    For me Connie Britton gets better with each episode this season. She will get even better next week by the looks of the previews.

    Should we start a letter writing campaign to DirecTV to let them know how much we appreciate them getting behind a show like this and allowing it continue. If we start now, is there hopes of a 6th or 7th season? Sometimes I think this show alone is reason enough to have DirecTV. My husband would make it a tie with the NFL package! He loves this show as much as I do but the reason we have DTV is the NFL HD package. ‘-)

  • tricia

    i love friday night light’s it’s the best show ever.

  • Rocky

    Ever since I heard about the sale of NBC Universal to Comcast, I’ve been wondering what will happen to Friday Night Lights and this arrangement with DirecTV. Any ideas?

  • Amanda

    Give Zach Giliford and Emmy! He showed his great acting abilities in this episode. Best part of the episode was he slammed the door on JD and his father. Bravo Matt!

  • Pat

    Terrific episode. I didn’t expect there to be as much on the death of Matt’s father and the aftermath but what an amazingly well written and acted episode. Zach Gilford – you deserve an Emmy nod even if there isn’t a chance. His portrayal of Matt has been spot-on from the beginning. Thank you, DirecTV!

    • Amy

      Very true. The character of Matt could be dull and annoying but Zach has made me fall in love with him. I wasn’t sure about Saracen in the first season .. he seemed more of a tag along character, but now I look forward to his scenes more than others. I am so sad that Zach is leaving the show – for me, just give me Connie, Kyle, Zach and Taylor and I could watch the show for the rest of my life! Nothing like it on TV.

      • Neek

        I totally agree with you. Matt and Tim have been my faves for years now. I’ve always had a soft spot for Matt, ever since season one when I saw how he took care of his Grandma. He breaks my heart. He made me want to cry back in season two during the bathtub scene with Coach T. Remember how he cried and screamed, “Everybody leaves me! What’s wrong with me?” Heartbreaking…

  • RAH

    Friday Night Lights is an excellent show. Matt was outstanding last night. I cried from the dinner scene on. In the middle of his grief saying he was sorry for being rude. I love it. I also, love the character of J.D., I can’t wait for his storyline to come to a head he is playing the cocky ball player to a tee. Also, the small spark between Becky and Luke. That is the great thing about FNL since everyone can act and is honest in their roles almost every combination works. She just was kissing Riggins but I loved her in the store with Luke in the very next scene. Also, loved when Matt slammed the door on JD and his dad. Great.

    • Neek

      I laughed out loud when he slammed the door in the McCoys’ face.
      Love the acting on this show. Aimee Teegarden is getting better, too. The relationship she has with Matt and the relationship she has with her mom are two of my favorite things to watch on this show. Remember the “I Think We Should Have Sex” episode from season one? Excellent. Also loved Tami giving Julie advice about the Swede and love/sex back in season two.
      Of course, Zach has always been great on this show. I’ve been on his side since the beginning.

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