Friday Night Lights: Season 1, Episode 2 “Eyes Wide Open”

If you would like to see the review for the previous episode, it can be found here.

Coach Taylor receives news that his starting quarterback will regain the use of his hands and arms, but he’s paralyzed from the waist down. His wife, who needs something to do other than sit on committees or sit in book clubs, searches for a job. The town, itself, deals with the heartache, some already trying to throw in the towel on the young season.

I’m glad this episode picks up almost immediately where the first one left off. That lends itself to compelling storytelling in my opinion. I hope the trend continues throughout the run of the show, but I’ll have to wait and see since I’m only two episodes in. Oddly enough, there is no actually game footage in this episode which both surprised me and impressed me. I think it would be pretty easy for the writers to make sure that a portion of a football game was present in every episode and I’m glad they didn’t do that. Of course, I expect there will be plenty of football to be seen, but I’m pleased with the tone the writers have set so far.

Following the first game of the season, we are now treated to an episode focusing mostly on how the team is going to recover from the loss of their first string quarterback. A fair amount of time is given to Matt Saracen and his difficulty stepping up and getting things done in practice now that he’s the starter with Jason Street being told he’ll never walk again. Matt has it in him, I can see that as I watch, but there is a lot of doubt and hesitation in his character. Probably like there would be for any backup quarterback on a high school team that never expects to play a down on the field. Luckily Coach Taylor gets him through the transition and there is a nice scene of the two of them on the field in the middle of the night where Coach gives Matt a rather impressive pep-talk about making the team his own.

The development of Matt as the starting quarterback is really the only main plot narrative in the episode, but there are a few other small things that grabbed my interest.

First, it looks like Coach Taylor is going to be getting his fair share of spoken, yet unspoken threats from the boosters. He’s already had to deal with his first from Buddy Garrity, Lyla’s father, and it makes me really not like the guy. I feel like he’s going to be sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and causing trouble for Coach in coming episodes.

Second, the writers are clearly going to be playing up the religious fervor often found in the South. Not in a bad way, mind you, but in a way that makes it pretty clear that a tight-knit community such as Dillon is going to have a lot of church-goers who are always putting things in God’s hands. So far the big example is Lyla Garrity who keeps stubbornly promising Jason that everything is going to be alright and this trial is all part of God’s plan in some fashion.

The last big thing that really stuck out in this episode is the thick hatred that Tim Riggins and Smash Williams have for each other. It’s not even a hidden kind of hatred. It’s flat-out blatant and in front of everyone. I’m not sure if the two of them are supposed to have a past of some sort, or if they just rub each other the wrong way, but something must be planned moving forward because their mutual dislike has been pretty apparent so far two episodes in to the season.

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