Friday Night Lights, Episode 507: Perfect Record

Before I get into the review, I have to say that it set in on me tonight. We’ve pushed just beyond the halfway point for the final season of Friday Night Lights, and I can’t help but be a little bit sad. The show has been pretty strong this season — aside from the one plot I’m not in love with (and if you’ve been reading the reviews, you know what that is.) Anyway, go beyond the jump for the rivalry week game for the Oil Rig between the East Dillon Lions and the West Dillon Panthers.

This is one of those suspend my fact-checking muscle kind of episodes, but I have to get this out of my system before I get into the story.

– Did I miss Wade Aikman getting fired?

– Did I miss J.D. McCoy transferring?

– Mac McGill is the head coach at West Dillon?

This bothered me to no end. Perhaps the McCoy Clan, and the actor who played Wade Aikman, were unavailable, but that seems like an awfully big villain to set up, only to have them disappear with no explanation. I even checked with the esteemed Alan Sepinwall (read his take on the episode here) to make sure I hadn’t missed something along the way, and he confirms the absence is totally unexplained.

Anyway, on to the story. Those logistical issues aside, I absolutely loved tonight. You know, we often think about the great Friday Night Lights moments in the context of goosebumps brought on by a positive moment, but every once in a while, this staff flexes the evil mucles pretty nicely, too. Such was the case with Vince’s dad, Ornette Howard. He’s getting free stuff from TMU. He’s fielding calls from Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida. He’s chewing out coach at his own BBQ (GASP!). And he’s even convincing Vince to throw a deep bomb on the final play when they should run it out, only to impress a college scout.

Oh Vince’s dad, you’ve become the problematic guy I hoped you never would, and now my stance on you having a happy ending has totally changed. The only good thing that can come of this is Ornette getting popped for that assault, going back to jail, and forcing Vince back under the wing of Coach Taylor.

But will Coach Taylor actually be there? A college comes calling, even after he told Jason Street he wasn’t interested. (More on Street toward the bottom in the notes.) This is no assistant gig though. Make Believe U. in Florida wants the Kingmaker for the head coaching position. At 7-0, he’s a hot commodity once again, but will he go? To be continued.

The seed for the crisis of leadership was planted in the last game, when East Dillon put up a penalty total that would’ve made The U and Uncle Luke proud. Even coach knows he’s unleashed something in some of these players that he might not be able to put back in the bottle. Being lackadaisical in how he disciplined Vince got the ball rolling, and adding fuel to the fire from — not a working website, sorry — only made things worse. Despite an unbeaten season thus far, Coach Taylor probably couldn’t feel less in control than he did after thumping West Dillon.

Now on to the notes …

— How about the progress Jason Street makes. He’s made an honest woman out of his baby’s mother and he’s even a full-fledged agent. I’ve done my best to not read about cameos and when people will be reappearing, so this was a pleasant surprise tonight.

— I wonder if we’ll ever learn more about Hastings Ruckles’ past or if he’s just tall scenery to catch touchdowns and finally write-in a receiver to the show. This is the second time we’ve gotten some sort of indication that his background is kind of strange and possibly outside the bounds of the law.

— There should be a Twitter account of just Billy Riggins inspirational quotes: ” Real men don’t use real weights; real men FENDERBENCH.”

— From the same scene, how funny was Luke realizing that Mindy works at The Landing Strip and asking what days she works?

— Along those same lines, Tami Taylor with words to live by: “Barbecues build morale.” Amen, Mrs. Coach.

— My other question from the West Dillon side of things: I understand that Jason Street technically was a Panther, and not a Lion, but after the way the school treated his coach and the fact that he has no ties to that current team, it was a little strange to see him on their sideline. (Also, if he was going to be on their sideline, why would he be welcome at an East Dillon practice, in a Panthers jersey no less?)

— Loved the boosters protecting the field from another act of vandalism by West Dillon. Of course, since J.D. disappeared into thin air, maybe they didn’t have anything to worry about!

Well folks, we’re not only halfway through the final season of FNL, but that was also the last episode of 2010. They’ll be back on the DirecTV 101 Network on Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET to begin the home stretch. What did you think of tonight’s episode?


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