Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Friday Night Lights "Swerve" Review

Last season, I disliked the crime arc with Vince so much that I forgot large portions of it. It took some time to remember who Kenard was and why exactly he wanted $5,000 from Vince. Maybe this amnesia should disqualify me from writing about FNL at all; however, Friday Night Lights abandons plots without explanation, so I hoped the writers decided to abandon that particular plot point. They didn't and, suddenly, it felt like season four again in East Dillon.

Kenard gave Vince $5,000 last season to pay for his mother's rehab. Vince hadn't paid the money back so Kenard gave QB #1 a deadline. Vince scrambled to find the money. He found half but Kenard wasn't satisfied. Kenard approached Jess one-on-one outside of the BBQ place to send a message to Vince. Vince tried to handle it himself and almost went to Coach before deciding to consult with his recently paroled father, Ornette (yes he has a name). Ornette promised he handled it. Following a vicious beating of Kenard, Ornette told his son that it was handled without providing any details.

The story connected with the theme of the episode--actions have consequences and, subsequently, taking responsibility for the consequences of one's actions. Ornette blamed himself for his son's predicament because of his son's absence. If he had been a responsible husband and father, Vince wouldn't have needed to make a deal for his mother's rehab. Subsequently, Vince was foolish to think Kenard wouldn't want his money back. In a show of growth, Vince didn't try to hide from the problem. He attempted to handle the problem responsibly and without violence. Last season, he would've done something much worse. Ornette's actions will lead to more consequences. Vince will find himself in the middle of it. Perhaps his football future will be hurt or he might just lose his father from his life once more. Who knows. Maybe the entire plot will be dropped in the next seven episodes but, unfortunately, I doubt it. The theme made the story work but I'm not looking forward to the continuation of the story.

The theme resonated throughout the various plots in "Swerve." Sweet Julie Taylor remained in Dillon following her surprise return to her parent's house. Soon, Eric and Tami learned that their daughter wasn't the sweetest girl in the whole wide world. Julie behaved insanely during portions of the episode like her decision to run her car through a brick mail box to avoid returning to college where the TA and his crazy wife reside. The truth that Julie knowingly slept with a married man shocked the Taylor parents. Eric, in particular, couldn't look at his daughter in the same way. He demanded that she return to school but Julie resisted. Tami insisted that Julie take responsibility for her actions. Julie, of course, tried to convince her mother that she rushed into college, that maybe she needs to travel abroad. Tami didn't buy it. Eric didn't bother listening to excuses. Now, a fractured relationship exists between father and daughter. Julie will remain in Texas. I wonder what the point of the story is. Yes, father and daughter are at odds, which creates drama. But why? What's the point? Julie always knew what she wanted and she's behaving out of character. In "Kingdom," she mentioned Matt. If her behavior can be partially explained by Saracen's absence then it'd make sense. Right now, the arc feels pointless.

Meanwhile, Luke earned his own story. Predictably, he reacted badly to the revelation that TMU only wants Vince. The kid got drunk, thinking his scholarship disappeared, drunkenly called the coach of TMU after receiving advice from Billy Riggins . I have no doubt that the decision will haunt Luke in a few episodes because (say it with me!) actions have consequences. Luke feels stressed because of the pressure he feels from his folks. His dad told others about the impending scholarship. His family accepts his decision to play football because of the potential collegiate benefits. Thankfully, Luke didn't end the episode as a petulant child. Billy talked him into rising to the occasion, into playing well enough to earn multiple scholarship offers from multiple schools.

Overall, though, I wasn't a fan of "Swerve." After the greatness of "Kingdom," I hoped the show would stay away from the types of storylines that annoy me but they were back in full force. Episodes like these are why I rent the show rather than buying the DVD set.

Other thoughts:

-Billy Riggins nearly stole the episode with his speech and his talk with Luke. Throughout the episode, he felt guilt and sadness about Tim. We learned, through a phone call, that Billy made the payments to keep Tim's land. Billy had tears in his eyes while watching Tim on the field. Billy's motivated to live a good life following his brother's decision to go to jail for him. It's been great to watch. I look forward to the episode when Tim's free from prison and the Riggins can finally live peacefully. Billy's speech, and Coach's reaction, suggests that Billy will end the series on a clear path towards becoming a head coach.

-Ron Fitzgerald wrote the episode. Jonas Pate directed it.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.