Friday Night Lights: "The Giving Tree"


Tyra and Julie stroll the school lot on a sun-soaked morning. Either Tyra is really tall or Julie is one hot dwarf; my money’s on the former. Tyra worries that her time at the rodeo may jeopardize her chance at college, what with the SATs coming up on Saturday and all. Can’t say I didn’t warn her… Tyra doesn’t realize that admissions officer crumble beneath essays on overcoming attempted rapes, lead pipe attacks, and pill-popping, spouse-beating boyfriends.

The team makes fun of J.D. for being a daddy’s boy. Then they go to a party at a girl named Madison’s house. Madison, an apple-tini drinking, Alicia Witt look-alike in cowboy boots, pours JD a glass of milk—a wholesome drink for a wholesome boy. She wipes his milk moustache with her thumb. Trouble.

At the Landing strip, Buddy Garrity peeps some booty, and sips bourbon. He’s in a business meeting, prognosis negative: Buddy’s been swindled, Madoff-style. Buddy’s down 70 grand and he loses his cool. Chairs are down, punches are thrown, and soon enough Garitty’s sleeping it off in the slammer.

Matt and Julie, happy in the honeymoon of post-virginity, lie hand-holding and birthday-suited in Saracen’s bed. Grandma’s not home. Matt tells Julie he loves her; he means it too. Finally: TV teens have tender sex, sans sadness, sans pain. Julie’s eyes dew up like summer grass. Too bad the moment can’t last. Coach arrives too pick up Julie. The doorbell goes unanswered so he lets himself in. We hear a scream.

Crucivictorious are practicing in the garage, when Tyra arrives to interrupt. She needs Landry to be her SAT tutor. Landry, dutiful, agrees. The other band members exchange a look: Landry is Tyra’s bitch. “It’s like you’re a prostitute, except you don’t get paid, or laid.”

Julie and Lyla bond while brushing their teeth. Lyla’s staying over while her dad’s locked up. Unfortunately, no nightgown-ed pillow fight to follow. Instead Julie tells Lyla she’s sad because she’s no longer daddy’s girl.

Madison shows at the McCoy mansion wearing knee-high boots and a four-inch skirt. Mrs. McCoy is all smiles — her son is normal! Mr. MCoy is not so pleased.

Lyla and Buddy talk. Turns out the money Buddy lost was Lyla’s college fund. Uh-Oh.

Landry’s tutoring Tyra, but he’s going to be late for band practice. Tyra wants the band to wait, but Landry finally stands up for himself. He compares himself to the Giving Tree — Tyra is the greedy little boy who takes until the tree is just a stump.

Tammy and Julie sit down for the sex talk. They are realistically awkward. Tammy’s a modern mother in an old-school town; she’s not mad, just a little sad at the sunset on Julie’s girlhood. At least Julie and Matt are using condoms. Woohoo! A show where sex doesn’t immediately lead to pregnancy or disease!

Mr. McCoy is not so open-minded about teen urges. With the playoffs weeks away, now’s not the time for “skirt-chasing.” To Joe McCoy women are sirens — supple thighs take the eyes off the prize. J.D, still a wuss, agrees to stop seeing Madison.

Tyra, humbled by the Giving Tree metaphor, uses her feminine wiles to land Crucivictorious a gig at a local bar.

FNL, upping its hipness quota another 10%, plays a track by talented indie-unknown Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. The music’s fitting, filled with despair. “The rent fell so hard it hailed.” In the Taylor backyard, coach cleans the grill as Saracen looks on. Coach breathes hard, mumbles something about respecting women. Saracen, bravely, looks coach in the eye. “Yes, Sir,” he says. It’s like a moment out of Hemingway — men communicating through gesture; what matters most are the words unsaid.

In an unprecedented move, J.D. dumps Madison before they’ve even gotten to first base. Riggins wise in the ways of women, gives small McCoy a pep talk — “You know what’s good before a game? Getting laid. A lot.” Rig makes a good point: how can you be a leader on the field if you’re daddy’s bitch at home? J.D. takes the advice to heart.

Once again, the Panthers pull out a win in the game’s closing seconds. This time it’s Riggins, who bulls his way into the end zone. Post-game, J.D. comes home as usual. But when mom gets up to shut the window she sees her boy sneaking out, whisked away by Mad Madison and her hypothetical fire-bush. Mom smiles, but daddy looks like Mike Tyson right before he bit off Holyfield’s ear.

Crucivictorious rock out at the club. They’re pretty good — Landry’s looking like a guitar god. Tyra is entranced; being a groupie suits her.