Friday Night Lights, Episode 508: Fracture

Oh my. With only a few episodes remaining, things are getting decidedly real in Dillon and elsewhere. The writers might not have thought about this as a way to jump back into things after a break for the holidays, but it functioned as that. (Don’t forget, Friday Night Lights airs on DirecTV’s 101 Network at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesdays.) Anyway, on to the thoughts about this week’s episode, all the way up through the riveting final minutes.

Some episodes of Friday Night Lights take the title and really hit you over the head with its meaning, others only vaguely touch on the title. This one was the former, all the way from the extremely literal hairline fracture suffered by Buddy Jr. to the total fracture that divides the team between Vince and his teammates and even the coaches like Crowley and Riggins.

On the outside, things are great. Coming off a blowout against the West Dillon Panthers, the Lions are 8-0 and Vince is becoming a bit of a TV star. But like Buddy Jr’s hairline fracture, Buddy says it either is or isn’t broken. Just like Buddy Jr., this team is clearly broken.

The trust and bond between Vince and Coach Taylor is shattered. For Vince to skip practice and bail for a visit at Oklahoma Tech was one thing, but to then use a relapse by his mother as an excuse was about as low as it gets. (Anyone want to help me on what stadium it actually was? Was it just UT-Austin? I’m bad with Big 12 stadiums.)

And for the record, I still think the writing staff is kind of dropping the ball on what is and is not legal on these visits. To reiterate, the way I’ve had it explained to me is that as long as Vince is showing up with his dad and paying his own way, the team can do whatever it wants. Now, we do get into some gray area when talking about these offers, but a lot of this secrecy honestly seems unnecessary.

But Vince’s visit leads to Luke’s cheap shot, which is a product of a coaching split between Coach Crowley and Billy Riggins. (And clearly, that Samoan war dance did little to help the team.)

The climax of the episode, with the pep rally entrance that nearly turns into a brawl, pitting coach against coach and player against player, is a great FNL moment.

So how did they put the cherry on top of that? Julie’s dramatic U-Turn. Look, I’ve absolutely hated the whole “Julie hooks up with the T.A.” We don’t need to beat that horse again. So Derek the T.A. wasn’t for Julie — and oh did I briefly fear she was making a U-Turn to see him — but neither was Burelson. And so it’s off to Chicago for Julie Taylor, to possibly reunite with Matt Saracen. We could sit and talk about the possibly unnecessary stalling in putting these two together over the years, or we could just embrace that it was a cool moment. (Yup, I’ll stick with that second one.)

— We get a little bit more on Epych’s background. Parents died of AIDS, has lived on the street and dealt with addiction and abuse. Yet … her current home doesn’t look so bad. At least Tami seems to be reaching her. Still, wonder if that’s one story too many in the final season. I imagine that there was a serious discussion about how to get Mrs. Coach on camera more. Without this, I’m not sure where we would’ve seen her.

— Shane State isn’t going away, and evidently neither are the phone calls. If they’re constant enough to filter down to Vince’s dad, then we’ve really got to wonder where this goes in the final few episodes. Could Coach Taylor grow tired of dealing with Vince and move on before his senior season, or are we looking at an Any Given Sunday situation where Coach Taylor winds up with Vince at Make Believe State.

— With the Billy Riggins fight, I got to thinking about Tim’s return. The season premiere said he had three months left with good behavior. With the Lions at 8-0, it’s safe to assume we’re at roughly two months or just slightly over that. Guessing that late season cameo isn’t far off.

— Becky’s stripper adventure was … well, at least it appears to have gotten her over the hump (no pun intended) with Luke. I’m not the only one who harbors some fear that Becky is going to want to become a stripper, right? They’ve put her in there a lot lately, and I really thought they did a prolonged shot of her staring at that pile of cash in the previous episode. I really wondered whether they were trying to send a message. So much for that Sebring, Miss Second Runner-Up.

— If Vince is to be brought back to his senses, Jess is going to have to be the one to do it. He’s too far gone for Coach to reach him with anything.


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