Friday Night Lights, "On The Outside Looking In": us against the world

Quick Take: Friday Night Lights, "On The Outside Looking In"
"Everybody smokes in Texas. Even babies smoke." - Epic


Review: Friday Night Lights, "On The Outside Looking In"
(S0502) Last week's "Expectations" eased us back into the world of Dillon, Texas. It filled us in on what's been going on since we left and hinted at possible storylines for the upcoming season. In the second episode, "On the Outside Looking In," the show really dives in to what will become the major arcs of its final season. While I am more excited about the prospects for some of these plots than others, it's nice to have an idea of what to expect as Friday Night Lights prepares for its final sprint toward the endzone.

"On the Outside Looking In" establishes, within the Lions locker room, something of an "us against the world" mentality. Anyone familiar with sports, football in particular, knows that there are few things more dangerous than a team playing with a chip on its shoulders. After beating last year's Texas state champ Croft, the players (and even some of the less seasoned coaches, like Billy) expect to be ranked in the Top 25. Their preoccupation with the way the team is perceived by outsiders is affecting their focus on the practice field and Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is none too pleased.

A lot has changed for the team since last season. A year ago Vince (Michael B. Jordan) was being chased down alleys by the police, now he is being pursued by college recruiters. Coach pulls Vince into his office after practice and hands him a stack of letters from schools like Georgia, Texas, USC and Alabama. "Pretty cool, huh?" Eric deadpans. I guess this is what Billy (Derek Philips) meant with all that "molder of men" mumbo-jumbo.

The Lion's higher profile means more support from the student body, and it also means the team gets rally girls. This creates a problem for Jess (Jurnee Smollett), who despite her love for the game, finds the tradition a bit archaic ("It's part of Texas football," says Tami, almost excusing all of the BS that goes along with it). First she gets into a cat fight with Vince's rally girl, Maura (who puts a pair of panties in Vince's locker and vows to make him her man within two weeks). Then she challenges Maura (Denise Williamson) to a beer bong contest at a party, something completely out of character for Jess. Both girls wind up woozy and puking and Maura looks like a prime target for date rape.

The team's "everybody's out to get us" mindset is reinforced when news breaks that the county athletic committee has decided to investigate Luke's hellacious wallop on Croft's star quarterback. The hit was clean, Luke (Matt Lauria) knows it, Coach Taylor knows it, Mac at Dillon High knows it. It quickly becomes clear that what once looked to Buddy like a "bunch of bureaucrats covering their asses" is actually a deliberate shot across the brow. The Lions are getting picked on because they are on the outside looking in; they aren't a traditional power house, they don't belong, and other schools are starting to take notice. "I don't think we'd be here if we hadn't beat a team we weren't supposed to beat," coach tells the committee.Well, they don't take too kindly to backtalk in Texas. Coach Taylor should know better than that, and Luke ends up with a one game suspension. The suspension (in addition to the lack of attention from college recruiters) sends Luke into a depression. He gets drunk at a party and picks a fight with Ruckle (Grey Damon) for pretty much no reason and has to be driven home by a very sweet Becky. I have always been of two minds about Luke, but I didn't like him at all in this episode. He was a complete dick at the party, but for some reason it seemed like Becky (Madison Burge) was kind of into him at the end. How could those two hook up with Luke's mom still in the picture?

The further the stories are removed from the team, the less effective they become. The Tami (Connie Britton) subplot is tolerable, but as we catch up with Julie (Aimee Teegarden) adjusting to life at Burlington University things really fall apart. Tami is finding it difficult to recruit teachers to help out with her after-school tutoring program for at-risk kids. "The teachers feel like you're lecturing," says Levi and Coach suggest that she'll catch more flies with honey. So when she overhears the teachers mentioning a faculty happy hour, she decides to make an appearance. Things are pretty awkward at the bar and a drink gets spilled on Tami's lap. The silver lining is that the happy hour goes so poorly that one teacher feels guilty enough to sign up for the tutoring program.

The Julie stuff was pure schlock and that is really worrisome. How many times have we seen the impressionable freshman fall for the older, wiser TA routine? FNL is better than that. Going back to season 2, the writers have consistently given Julie the most obnoxious love interests; The Swede, the Habitat for Humanity Guy, now the sleazy TA. Come on guys, Julie has to end up in Chicago with Saracen, right? Why put us through this? I nearly threw up in my mouth when the TA called Julie "Football". Gross. I wonder why the show decided to pick now as the time to venture away from Dillon? It isn't like Julie is the first character to go off to college. I want to see Landry (Jesse Plemons) pledging Sigma Chi at Rice, not Julie getting seduced by some grad student.

Random Predictions for Season 5:

  • Hastings Ruckle turns out to be gay. Anyone notice how he tried to give away the porno mags his rally girl left in his locker? What high school guy is not interested in smut?
  • Vince's college football career will be derailed by a recruiting scandal. He is already accepting meals from shady boosters and getting his mom hooked with job's she may not be exactly qualified for.
  • Julie will be back in Dillon before the end of her freshman year. She doesn't seem to be adjusting well to school and when things blow up in her face with the TA, she will come home crying for mommy and daddy.
  • By Lucas High

    About the author

    Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at, on Facebook and on Twitter at

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