Friday Night Lights, Episode 504: Keep Looking

If you watched Friday Night Lights on DirecTV 101 Network at 9 p.m. tonight, then you’re ready for another bit of analysis from yours truly. Go beyond the jump for thoughts on tonight’s episode, “Keep Looking.”

Unlike last week, where we had more of a showcase for Michael B. Jordan as Vince Howard, we gave equal time to a few stories while also putting a few things in motion for another one down the road. First, what we saw tonight that had immediate consequences.

All of the stories really, A, B and C, all had some element of parental guidance or lack thereof in them. Becky ever so briefly returns home when her father and stepmother react in a way that sends her right back into Mindy Riggins’ car. Buddy Jr. makes his return to Dillon and is in desperate need of some parental guidance, even if he fights it at first. And of course there’s Epyck (and yes, I know see it’s spelled Epyck, not Epic) who obviously has no parental guidance and is only slowly taking to what Tami Taylor is giving her.

Buddy Jr. is, basically, just the worst. He’s disinterested, kind of a perv checking out Mrs. Coach, obviously has some substance abuse demons and he’s even kind of a jerk on top of it all. (As we drove past Garrity Motors — a place I was wondering about when Buddy opened his bar — Buddy Jr. commented “That’s like the saddest place in the world. You can’t make anything in your life work, can you?” WHO SAYS THAT!?) Buddy Jr. of course continues to abuse Buddy’s trust, first by breaking into the bar and then pulling a move even more brazen, stealing his car and credit card.

Normally I’d like a little more than one episode before Buddy breaks down his son, gets him to play some football and Coach Taylor saves the day, but these are the final days of FNL, so I’d rather move quickly and get to the people I’ve spent more time with. Funny comment from Buddy thought: “Of course he can play; He’s a Garrity. It’s in his blood.”

The Becky story is nicely played by all parties. How Becky bonds with Mindy over the whole “day shift” crisis at The Landing Strip was a nice touch. Also, if a minor’s decision that she doesn’t want to live with you gives you license to move to a different state, these have to be some of the worst parents ever. (Also, what happens when her mom returns from working that casino boat?)

Epyck, well, that just continues to be a mess. Slight progress turns into a suspension and then not being able to get into a school dance. Another Tami Taylor reclamation project continues. An interesting seed is also planted in that story: a 25 percent budget reduction at the school? That can’t be good for, say, a guidance counselor.

Because I’m a sports guy at heart, I did want to touch on the whole “Luke visiting TMU” story, even if it had little to do, thematically with the rest of the episode. The always entertaining Alan Sepinwall dropped me a message asking whether what happened on the visit was illegal in any way. (Because of the way the episode ended, it was unclear about the message they were trying to convey. You can read Alan’s thoughts on the episode here, by the way.) Anyway, here’s the answer on the whole recruiting scene.

If a kid is a senior, after Sept. 1, he’s allowed to take five official
visits. On those visits, schools pay for EVERYTHING, not just tickets.
Now, Vince is a junior, but that actually might not matter. If they
drove to TMU, and all Vince accepts is a comp ticket, then there’s
no violation so long as he pays his way.

TMU might’ve misled Luke in an effort to get at Vince,
but it isn’t an actual violation unless we find out something in the
next episode that we didn’t see in the end of this one. Even Vince
meeting with the coaches is OK. Once a kid is on campus, basically
everything is fair game. As SN recruiting guru Brian McLaughlin explained to me, this is why you see a lot of colleges host summer
camps. Then a highly touted kid shows up, and a coach can talk with them
for as long as they’d like.

A few other scattered thoughts from tonight.

– “Nature already has meat; it’s called a cow.” — Buddy Garrity

– Texas Luau, a totally natural choice for a dance, or just an excuse to put someone in a bikini. You know, either one. Luke clearly thinks he’s on top of the world at that point, but I wonder if his confidence will sag a little bit if we’re right in thinking he’s being used to get at Vince.

– Kind of loving where the Jess story is going, with her knowing more about football than Billy. Sure, they went down that obligatory road of guys razzing her, but that seemed shortlived. Not saying she should bounce Billy as an assistant, but there’s a role for her that could be fun and pretty non-traditional for TV. (Also led to a great exchange between Vince and Coach Taylor.)

– “These women’ getting out of hand.”

– “Get the hell out of my office.”

Trivia: Vince’s birthday was Oct. 9, 1993. Michael B. Jordan’s real birthday is Feb. 9, 1987. Don’t think there’s any hidden meaning to Oct. 9, but feel free to check out the famous birthdays from that day to see if you see something that I don’t.

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