Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall": inner pirates

Quick Take: Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall"
"Why'd you forfeit the game, Coach?" – Landry

Review: Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall"
(S0402) This episode deals predominantly with the aftermath of Coach Taylor's decision to forfeit East Dillon football's game after getting beaten up – both physically and mentally – 48-0 at the half. Coach (Kyle Chandler) made the decision in good faith to protect the kids, but in high school football worshipping Dillon – even East Dillon – that ain't gonna fly with the pride of the kids. Meanwhile, Dillon High can "smell state" and we get a lot of back-and-forth shots throughout of rich and upwardly mobile and high flying Dillon High versus low rent and down and out East Dillon.

It's nice to see Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland) and Coach Taylor have their first scenes of the season together, and they're meaningful in that we learn that there's been some shenanigans going down with regard to faking addresses of star players so that they can remain eligible to play for Dillon High. Tami Taylor is now fully enmeshed in this situation as she's both principal at Dillon High and married to the guy coaching East Dillon's squad. Of course the heavies at Dillon High lean on her as the scandal intensifies and she gets booed at the pep rally, but it's still fresh and interesting to watch Tami pull a full on power move on Dillon High's coach, essentially "outing" his threats in front of all of the team's boosters and VIPs.

We also got some really nice and touching moments when Tami is compelled to yank Luke Cafferty (Matt Lauria) off the field and tell him that starting tomorrow that he'll be attending a new high school and playing for a new team. Most shows would flub this kind of scene, and at the least it would typically come off as one-dimensional. But here Lauria really shows something in his portrayal as a distraught kid who is ambitious but also deeply embarrassed and sorry that he took part deceiving Tami and the town. It's nice to think about kids having that level of integrity, and it was a classic FNL moment that sneaks up on you and kicks you in the head with its emotional resonance.

Nearly equal on the head kicking emotional resonance scale (or HKERS for short?) is Coach Taylor's campaign to get his boycotting players to show up for a "special" Saturday night practice where he plans to make one final appeal to get them to come back and play for him and, in effect, save his job. Particularly strong are his interactions with Vince (Michael B. Jordan), who we learn comes from a pretty messed up home life situation. (When Vince's mom asked Coach Taylor for $20 I thought: damn…) I love that Coach has the strength to tell Vince straight up: "If this job doesn't work out for you, we know where you're going."

Coach gets the kids to come back, with Vince's help. Of course we knew he'd get this to happen somehow, but it didn't lessen the enjoyment of the final moments, when Coach fires up the team with, "Who will finish this fight with me?" before literally firing up the game tapes and old East Dillon uniforms.

More thoughts on "After the Fall"

  • I love all the "babe" banter between the Taylors. The relationship between the Taylors feels like one of the most genuine on television, doesn't it?
  • "Why'd you forfeit the game, Coach?" – Landry
  • I've kind of been wondering for a while what Coach Taylor does when he's not coaching. During the winter, spring, and summer, for instance. Or during the day while the kids are in class. That's especially come to mind with all the kids bailing out.
  • Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) offers to help out East Dillon football. Reminds one of the Jason Street days, no?
  • I was much less interested in Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) and Landry's (Jesse Plemons) doings this week, even though Matt is interning for Richard Sherman, a crazy and obnoxious artist who turns out to be played by John Diehl, who played Vic Mackey's crazily corrupt boss and mentor early on on The Shield!
  • "I am Richard Sherman, dumbass." – Richard Sherman, wearing what appears to be dirty tighty whities
  • Some random dude talks to Coach Taylor about finding his "inner pirate" at the gas station, which was odd, funny, but somehow effective.
  • In past seasons, the build up was to the big game. Here, for Coach Taylor and East Dillon football, it's about getting the kids to merely show up to a "special practice" on a Saturday night. I love that whereas other shows go "bigger" as seasons steam along to up the emotional ante (another plane crash near the ER, anyone?), FNL is choosing to go smaller stakes.

    Video: Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall"
    Check out the falling in full from Hulu, while available:

    Recap: Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall"
    Coach struggles to recover from the forfeit and pull his team together.

    From Around the Web: Friday Night Lights, "After the Fall"

  • Television Blend: The scene where Tammy had to tell Luke that he wasn’t going to play for West Dillon anymore gave an absolutely perfect glimpse at the life of a teenager. Luke was equal parts angry, sad, confused, apologetic, devastated and, in the end, hopelessly optimistic. If that doesn’t encompass being a teenager then I don’t know what does. 
  • Television Without Pity: Tim is still homeless since Billy kicked him out, but he finds a temporary place staying in the hipstery trailer in the backyard of the mom he slept with last week. Conveniently enough, her Not Tyra daughter hangs around out back wearing skimpy nighties.
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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