TV Recap: Friday Night Lights - A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

Okay, I now think Eric Taylor is just messing with me. All I ask for is Angry Eric Taylor. I just want to see him kick some ass, yet despite myriad opportunities that include a rodeo clown going after Tyra, finding Matt and Julie in bed together, and now Joe McCoy beating the crap out of J.D. in the Applebee's parking lot, he has managed to restrain himself. It's like Riggins' sudden refusal to take off his shirt: it's just wrong.

So, yeah. What we've seen coming for weeks finally happened: Joe kicked the crap out of J.D.. Quite frankly, the only thing that I found surprising about this entire incident is that it's the first time it had happened. When we were first starting to get to know the McCoys, I thought it was going to be a situation very similar to that of the Echolls family on Veronica Mars: That the dad would have been beating him for years, and the mom knew and just drank to forget. Apparently, however, child abuse is a new activity in the McCoy household.

Despite the fact that this abuse happened in a public place, in front of J.D.'s coach and principal, the police weren't called, which is weird, because I'm pretty sure that as principal, Tammy is legally obligated to do so. Instead, the Taylors let J.D. and his mom stay over. They have plenty of room, since Julie and Gracie both seem to have been kidnapped.

One would think that J.D. taking a post-game beating would have to do with him ruining the Panthers' chances at State, but you would be wrong. J.D. actually saved the game and got the Panthers into State for the second time in three years. However, he did not accomplish this in the way in which his father saw fit, so he had to be punished.

Getting the Panthers to State wasn't solely due to J.D.'s playing. Seracen also had a nice catch that contributed to the win. However, that's about the only good thing he has going for him this week. His grandmother's mental health is deteriorating, as is evidenced by the fact that she jumped out of a moving car.

While her physical wounds were minor, the doctor tries to convince Matt that it's time to think about moving her into assisted living, since her needs are too great for him to handle. Matt, understandably, doesn't want to be responsible for putting the woman who raised him into a home, so he initially refuses the doctor's request.

However, Matt quickly sees for himself that his grandmother is getting much worse and he's in over his head. His mother offers to help and to stick around Texas instead of going back to Oklahoma. Matt accepts her offer, so it looks as though his living situation is going to be changing soon. We haven't heard much from his dad lately, so I'll be interested to see how this all plays out with him.

Lyla is continuing to have some daddy issues of her own. She finds out that she's been accepted at Vanderbilt, but all that does is drive her deeper into depression and self-pity, since she doesn't think she can pay for it. Apparently, she's never heard of scholarships or financial aid, because Riggins has to bring up these options to her.

Speaking of Riggins, his acceptance into college and seeing that he has a future really seems to have been a turning point for him. He's calm, focused, and able to be there for Lyla when she needs him. It's nice to see the softer side of Riggins, but it would be even nicer if he took his damn shirt off once and a while.

So I don't really know what's going on with Tyra. It seems as though she may actually be making good decisions, but I'm not sure, since that doesn't really sound like her. Last week, when Landry was up on stage, she had that gleam in her eye that made it seem like she was going to try to get him back (and probably end up crushing his hopes and dreams all over again). However, this week she seems to be playing it cool.

While she does rope him into helping her with Mindy's stripper tea party bridal shower (where they eat cucumber sandwiches and drink tea out of tea cups!) it's on a pretty friendly and casual basis. While she is affectionate toward him, it's not in a way that would necessarily give him any false hope. For the first time it seems like they could be genuine friends, and it's nice.

In addition to planning the tea party, Tyra is in a tizzy because she took her SATs and her score wasn't quite as high as she wanted them to be. She breaks down and asks her mom why she can't just find a guy like Billy Riggins and be happy with her life, the way Mindy is. They have a really nice talk about how Tyra has always surprised her, and how she needs to keep reaching for the stars. It's good to see her mom supporting her for once instead of just telling her to accept her station in life. It's a really nice way to end the episode.

Next week: State!!