Welcome to Dillon, Texas: Our First Friday Night Lights Recap

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[Editor’s note: Readers, you have spoken. And you want us to lose our recapping virginity with Friday Night Lights. Jocks. Tomorrow, look for a recap of last week’s episode from our new TV blogger, Adam Wilson. Woot woot! To help you catch up (and to ruin things for those of you still working on the first two seasons on DVD), he has written a short synopsis of what’s gone down in Dillon so far this year. Let us know what you think in the comments.]

Previously on Friday Night Lights In the immortal words of the all too mortal Notorious B.I.G, “Things Done Changed.” When last we left Dillon, Texas, the sun had set on another season of Panther football, and life was loaded with complexity and strife for the stubbled heroes and well-coiffed heroines of Friday Night Lights.

Ms. Lila Garrity, cheerleader-supreme, had found Jesus via a fair-haired teen zealot whose kisses were as strong as his convictions, and abandoned her on-field duties to play Dr. Phil meets Dr. Quinn on a syndicated call-in radio show about, of all subjects, celibacy. In her wake, stood Tim Riggins, Dillon’s blue-eyed and blue-hearted Don Giovanni, who, like his famous predecessor, loves many, but pines for one. Riggins spent the first two seasons growing from sexy bad boy with a drinking problem, to sexy bad boy who is kind to children, to sexy best friend of a paraplegic. By season’s end, he has reverted back to sexy bad boy with a drinking problem.

Midday, a bar in Dillon: Enter Matt Saracen who encounters Riggins, alone, drunk. “I always skip Wednesdays,” Riggins offers. But what is Saracen doing there?? Any number of reasons: 1. His dad is in Iraq. 2. Matt is primary caretaker to his slouching-towards-senility grandma 3. His girlfriend, coach’s daughter Julie, has dumped him, and 4. As proven by a few awkward attempts at recreational sluttery, Saracen is better-suited for relationships than casual encounters.

Meanwhile, star Senior Running Back Brian “Smash” Williams has injured his knee bad, and it’s not looking hopeful for college without that football scholarship. Jason Street — the paraplegic ex-QB with enough courage and humility to fill several episodes of Oprah — has knocked up a local waitress and — get this — he wants to keep the baby. Tyra and Landry — Landry’s chivalrous murder of Tyra’s attempted rapist confined to the misty past — are going strong as a couple. Or they aren’t. Are they having sex or not? Tyra looks like she is; Landry looks like he isn’t.

Most surprisingly, Buddy Garrity has grown a heart where his wallet used to be and adopted an ex-Juvie Mexican Teenager; a potential linebacker, who, straining credulity, appears to love Buddy like a father. As for Coach and Tami Taylor — shoulders back, heads held high, chins thrust forward, prepared to gallop ever onwards.

Cut to Season 3: Same washed-out landscapes and handi-cam wobbles; same local sports-radio coming in clear over the AM; same Explosions in the Sky score, with all it’s slow-to-grand guitar virtuosity. But that’s about it. Gone is Buddy Garrity’s heart, his Mexican teen (Why would a show set on the Mexican border need an Hispanic character?); gone (temporarily anyway) is Jason Street, and gone too is Lila’s burgeoning Limbaugh of a boyfriend. Not even Jesus, it turns out, has abs like Tim Riggins. Lila is secretly schtupping the former fullback, much to her father’s chagrin when he catches on.

Here’s the big surprise: Tami Taylor is the school’s principal. An even bigger surprise: Tyra has yet to graduate (Still jailbait after all these years…). By episode three, this hot cougar of a senior has dumped Landry (no one saw that coming) and got herself elected class president by hiring a gang of strippers to campaign for her. She loses the respect of Tami, then regains the respect of Tami, then loses the respect of Tami again by dating an older man, the pill-popping rodeo rider Cash, played by an actor who in real life is two years younger than the actress who plays Tyra. What happened, we may wonder, to her new duties as class president?

More pain in store for Saracen. Grandma’s losing her marbles, and Saracen’s prodigal mother has arrived to further complicate his life. Also, he’s being ousted from QB1 by Freshman J.D. McCoy, a fifteen year-old with an arm like Tom Brady’s. What we know about McCoy so far: he lives in a mansion, has an evil father, and has yet to show any sign of a personality.

In a high-profile power-grab, Principal Tami attempts to re-direct funds donated by the Football Boosters (led by Buddy Garrity) for a Jumbotron. Tami feels, not unreasonably, that the school needs things like “pencils” and “paper”. Predictably, Tami loses the battle, but, in doing so, wins, for the 400th time, the respect of her husband. Still no sign of the Taylor’s 1 year-old baby…

On a joyful note, Smash rehabs from his injury, and makes a college team, but not until he has suffered an excruciatingly awkward racquetball match with coach. Smash: “You know this is the whitest sport ever?” His knee holds up. Coach makes an eloquent and inspiring on-field speech up at Texas A&M. Smash is saved. His mother weeps.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s recap of episode 304, “Hello Goodbye” and look for future FNL recaps from Adam every Monday morning on Flavorwire!