Friday Night Lights, Episode 505: Kingdom Come

After a brief Thanksgiving break, Friday Night Lights returned to DirecTV’s 101 Network at 9 p.m. ET last night. Thoughts on “Kingdom Come” follow after the jump.

In the past on Friday Night Lights, trips out of Dillon have always been interesting affairs — usually going to places that were less than welcoming. The trip this week, to South King, holds special significance of course because of last season’s season-opening forfeit.

First, the matter of the actual game, which East Dillon eventually wins 38-17. If I caught it correctly, the reporter says the Lions had 24 penalties for 245 yards. That some stuff from The U and I wonder whether we’re about to enter a general storyline about Coach Taylor perhaps ditching some of his core principles.

It makes sense, given that we get an open where Coach Taylor tells Vince things must be done his way, also known as the right way. Yet it’s playing at least a little bit dirty and changing the game plan that gets the Lions a come-from-behind win and helps them hold on to their unbeaten start. The voices have to be in his head, whether it’s his coaches over a game of poker, a recruiter from TMU or even Vince’s dad, Ornett, who already looks sort of skeptical about this whole idea that all things should go through Coach Taylor.

The trip also has other points that I enjoyed, which vary from self-contained to possibly ongoing. Hastings Ruckles continues to be sort of mysterious. I wasn’t sure whether we were about to open up a larger can of worms when he started talking about briefly living in Kingdom, not to mention the quick cut shot of him stuffing booze into his bag before the trip.

All the same, Billy Riggins was back to being the awesome comedic device the show has used him as before. The bathroom break on the side of the road was great for a laugh, as was his “walkthrough” practice for special teams, which obviously paid off. (No sign of him running to Jess for more tips though, so I wonder if there’s going to be a future payoff on that moment.)

Speaking of all the drinking, how about the three consecutive scenes of Luke and Vince drinking shine (and Vince letting the cat out of the bag about the visit), Coach Taylor taking swigs of Beam from the bottle, and then Tami and her East Dillon buddy with four bottles of wine. If it took all that booze to get the “So … what are ya’ll wearing?” “Go to bed.” exchange then it was totally worth it.

Of course, drinking has its consequences, like deciding to brand yourself with a totally sanitary metal coat hanger in the shape of an L. Hey, Buddy Garrity says you should just go along with that hazing, and Buddy Jr. made it through admirably. (So glad that whole thing didn’t turn tragic. I feel like Season Two FNL would’ve made Luke actually walk on fire and lose his feet or something just for the sake of drama.)

I’ve made it this far without talking about the awful, awful Julie storyline. Haven’t been into it all season, and now that the wife (Alison) of History TA Derrick Bishop is on to her … well, I don’t know. What’s the end game here? I try to live in the moment with these shows and not think too much about what it means down the road, but when I’m enjoying a story so little like this one, I feel like there has to be a good payoff. Does she bounce out of Burleson and come home? Go to Matt? Maybe Burleson winds up being Julie’s personal TMU. We’ll see.

Just a few other scattered notes:

— We haven’t encountered any good ol’ fashioned racism in a while, but that kicker of all people talking about Brillo Boy, Africa and bananas to Vince was pretty over the top. (Also, who does somersaults while talking racial smack? That was strange.) There was some of that at times with Smash, too.

— Just to clear up a point I mentioned last week: Coach Taylor said TMU wasn’t even supposed to be talking to him as a junior, which is just not true. C’mon FNL, I expect better accuracy than that. I did like the incorporating of the story about USC and a 13-year-old, which is entirely true and if you haven’t read about it, check it out here.

— Were those uniforms new ones we’d never seen before? I remember white uniforms, but not white with those red shoulders. Sorry to get all UniWatch geeky, but it was driving me nuts.

So what’d you think? After this one, I had the sad realization that we’ve only got eight episodes of FNL left before we say goodbye to Dillon forever. Hit me on Twitter, Facebook or down in the comments with your take!

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