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NBC's Friday Night Lights was a hit with critics from start to finish in Season 1, but Season 2 is another story. The very first episode of Season 2 kicked off a murder plot when young Landry killed a man to protect Tyra. It was an abrupt twist that nobody saw coming, and it wasn't especially well-received by critics or fans back in 2007. Now, nearly ten years later, writer Kerry Ehrin has this to say about why the Friday Night Lights team went with the murder plot:
I feel like something happens in the beginning of a second season of any show, which is you kind of play out the pilot in the first year and then the second year you feel the need to kind of reinvent a little bit to get new seeds growing. I think it came more out of that, of wanting to turn up the jets a little bit. I think I'm still probably one of the only people that really still... I like that storyline.
Well, the writers certainly succeeded in reinventing aspects of the show with the murder story. I don't think many people finished Season 1 thinking that the only thing missing was one of the kids killing a grown man with a blunt object. The Friday Night Lights crew at least deserves credit for getting Season 2 off to a bold start. Kerry Ehrin clearly doesn't have any regrets about the decision for Landry to end somebody's life.
As it turns out, Kerry Ehrin isn't the only person behind the scenes at Friday Night Lights who stands by the story. Writer Bridget Carpenter also shared her thoughts on the murder with EW, saying this:
I don't feel defensive about it at all. I remember exactly why we did it. I was shocked at the animus towards it. I was sort of like, 'Hey people, it's TV, things happen.' I will say too that I really enjoyed all the great gifts it gave us, which was Landry and Tyra getting really close.
Bridget Carpenter and the other writers definitely did get to explore new sides of Tyra and Landry in the aftermath. Unfortunately for Tyra, she was stuck in the middle of an awful situation when Landry killed on her behalf. On the one hand, his attack saved her from sexual assault by a much older man. On the other hand, she had to deal with the fact that she witnessed another person dying after being whacked in the back of the neck with a pipe. The twist did ultimately lead to romance between Landry and Tyra, so the kids got some happiness out of the incident.
Still, the murder plot will probably never be remembered as one of Friday Night Lights' best. Luckily, it lasted for a relatively brief span of time, and Friday Night Lights recovered from the unpopular story and returned to its status as a critical darling. The show never became the biggest hit on primetime, but it had a healthy run of five seasons, and its legacy was not tarnished by that one time Landry killed a guy.