Friday Night Lights, "Wind Sprints": chasing down a voodoo there [Key Series Moments]

As Friday Night Lights wraps up its fifth season on NBC, the ESPN channels are rerunning the series from the beginning, which gives us an excuse to head back and experience it all over again. Here we take a look at a key series moment from Season One, Episode Three: "Wind Sprints." 

Going back and rewatching Friday Night Lights from the beginning has been a really interesting and rewarding experience so far. This is no surprise, given the fact that virtually everyone who watched the show agrees about how awesome it is. Through three episodes, the thing that has surprised me is the almost complete lack of feel-good moments. Having seen every episode of the series (and a lot of the episodes multiple times) it's easy for critics like myself to say things like, "I can't believe that audiences never latched onto this show." But, really it isn't that hard to believe. Three hours into the series, FNL already featured a good half dozen heartbreaking sequences, without much in the way of triumph to balance the equation. Now, as we know, this inequity between sorrow and elation evens out eventually (sort of), but when the show originally aired there was no way for audiences to know this.

The third episode, "Wind Sprints", begins at halftime of the Panther's first full game without Jason (Scott Porter) under center. Dillon is losing and coach is not pleased with effort his team is giving. "Riggins, you're supposed to be one of the toughest guys in the district, they are handing you your ass son!" Coach (Kyle Chandler) bellows. Unfortunately the team doesn't respond to Coach's halftime cajoling and, despite a valiant effort from Matt (Zach Gilford), the Panther's notch their first loss of the Eric Taylor Era.

The next day, as Matt is scrubbing the word "Loser" off of the sign in his front yard, Grandma Saracen (Louanne Stephens) pokes her head out and says, "When you're done, I want you to go out back and water the children." "You mean the flowers, grandma?" Matt replies. "Well yeah, thats what I said isnt it?" Now, this scene isn't really relevant to the action in "Wind Sprints", but I still think it's a key scene for the series. It's the first time we get any hint that Grandma isn't well. Knowing what we know about Matt's relationship with his grandmother, this scene stands out as a harbinger of things to come.

"Wind Sprints" gives us our first really good Tyra (Adrianne Palicki) scene. Until this episode, it would have been easy to dismiss Tyra as nothing more than Dillon High's resident skank, but, of course, no one on this show is that easy to define. Tyra emerges as one of the show's deepest characters, one who changes and grows as much as any other. But for the first two episodes she seemed like just a hot chick who gets around. When Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) skips out of a team fundraiser, Tyra finds him hitting beer cans off of a cliff with a 6 iron. She comes at him hard for not being there for his friend. "You think you're such a big tough guy but you can't even go visit Jason in the hospital. Dammit Tim, grow a set why don't you." Tim responds by call her out for hooking up with his teammate. "Hey Tyra, how was Smash?" "Nothing happened, well nothing really. Besides, it's not like you haven't slept with half the rally girls yourself," she fires back. "We sure do have something special here, don't we Tyra?" Tim says, calling into questions their relationship. "Maybe your right, maybe I'm wasting my time. 'Cuz you're just another mediocre football player who's going to grow up to drink himself to death. Maybe we should just end this right now."

Tyra and Tim aren't the only couple to have a blow up in "Wind Sprints". Lyla (Minka Kelly) and Jason's relationship is strained by Jason's lack of improvement. He's getting discouraged and Lyla feels like she is trying to do everything on her own. She tries to raise his spirits be assuring him that by next year he will be walking again and he will still be able to get a scholarship to Notre Dame. "Stop! My legs are never going to get better. Ever." he explodes.  "If you want to help then stop pretending that everything's okay...every night when I go to sleep, I dream that I can walk again. And every morning I wake up and I have to accept it all over again. And then you walk in here all smiles and acting like nothing's wrong and it's killing me. So get this through your head, alright. My life as we knew it is over." he says before kicking her out of the hospital room.

It's no coincidence that both of these relationships begin to disintegrate in this episode. The two key scenes that I just mentioned combine to lay the foundation for what will become one of the main storylines of the first season: Lyla and Tim's affair.

Lyla drives past Tim as he walks home from a late night practice and pulls over to offer him a ride. He declines and she starts yelling at him for not going to visit Jason in the hospital. "You make me sick, why wont you go see him? He's your best friend!" Lyla breaks down and flails her arms, hitting and slapping Tim. Tim embraces her, to help calm her down, but mainly to keep her from hitting him. Her rage transforms into a kind of desperate sexuality and she puts her lips on Tim's. Tim tries half-heartedly to pull away, but eventually gives in and kisses her back. And just like that, two relationships and one friendship are tainted by betrayal.

See what I mean about the lack of feel-good moments?

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 lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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