TV Recap: Friday Night Lights - Tami Knows Best

Let’s be honest: Friday Night Lights is desperately holding on with bloody fingernails at this point. They’re rejiggering the show in any way they can, which seems to mean focusing less on football and more on just general high school stuff. I have mixed feelings about this. While I like that Tyra is getting a lot of screen time, I kind of miss the old format: The week-long lead up to the episode-ending game. FNL is about the Dillon Panthers, and ending the episode with the game always made it seem like everybody in that town, both on and off the team, was working all week toward that one event.

This week, we had the game about two-thirds of the way through the episode. I guess that they won, since there seemed to be a celebratory dinner at Applebees afterward, but there was so little attention played to the actual game that I can’t be entirely sure. If you told me that the game from this week was actually footage from a previous episode, I would not be surprised.

The Applebees celebration brings up another important fact of this episode: The entire town kind of hates Tami right now. So the whole, “our school is failing; our kids can’t pass tests, we have no air-conditioning, and hell, we don’t even have chalk, so the money that you so helpfully earmarked for a freakin’ Jumbo-tron can probably be better used elsewhere” thing did not exactly go over well. Big surprise.

What does surprise me is that when Tami made that decision, she actually thought that would be the end of it. That because the by laws state that the allocation of money is the principal’s decision, it meant that as the principal, she actually got to make that decision. Buddy and the mayor quickly moved to set her straight, meeting with the superintendent and scheduling a hearing in a couple of weeks for a final decision to be made.

Coach Taylor is basically trying his hardest to stay out of this whole mess, since he knows that Tami maybe made a bit of a mistake, but is not suicidal enough to actually come out against her. Instead, he continues to spend his free time training Smash for his big comeback.

Unfortunately for Smash, he’s a little gunshy after his injury and is still favoring his knee a little bit. It’s holding him back, so Coach tries to get to the bottom of it. Smash tells him that his fear comes from being out there alone; that since he doesn’t have a team that he needs to be fearless for, he can’t. Coach fixes this by getting the Panthers out on the field for a practice game with Smash, giving him his confidence back. This doesn’t come a moment too soon, as Taylor is able to get Smash a walk-on at Texas A&M.

Elsewhere in the Taylor household, Julie followed through with her plan to get a job so she can save up for a car. She ends up at everybody’s favorite mid-priced chain, Applebees. Now, I actually hate Applebees. To me, it’s the worst of that type of restaurant, but I love how they use it in this show. Sure, it’s blatant product placement, but it’s very organic. Of course they got to Applebees. They’re in Dillon, Texas. In my town, it was Ruby Tuesday’s. In your town, maybe it was Friday’s. The point is, even though it’s product placement, it makes sense.

So Matt takes his grandmother there and runs into Julie. They start talking—awkwardly at first, but it’s kind of cute. Matt’s having problems with his grandmother, so it must be nice to talk to someone who already knows and understands his situation. Later in the episode, Matt ends up giving her a ride home and it looks like a little love cold be in (re)bloom. I, for one, am for this.

Matt was having a bunch of problems this episode, and they actually led to a pretty big revelation. His grandmother has refused to continue taking her blood pressure medication, meaning that she could basically have a stroke at any moment. The doctor says that this was bound to happen, since she has dementia and all. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot Matt can do about this; the doctor can’t legally give him her medication.

His only option is to become an emancipated minor, which requires a parent to sign some paperwork. Of course, his dad is still in Iraq, so that presents a bit of a logistical issue. Matt figures out a way around this though: by going to see his mother.

I know I can’t be the only one who thought that Matt’s mom was dead. I don’t actually remember the show specifically addressing where his mother was, but I guess because he was raised by his dad and his grandmother, I just assumed she was dead. Well, it turns out she’s very much alive. She lives somewhere within driving distance of Dillon and looks like the ghost of Tyra’s Christmas future.

Matt obviously hasn’t seen or spoken to her in a while, as he introduces himself as “Matt… your son.” She also had no idea that his dad has been in Iraq for the past few years. She signs the papers and Matt immediately leaves, but I doubt this is the last we’ll be seeing of her. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

We’re also seeing where the relationship between Lila and Tim is going. After he gets a letter of interest from Oklahoma State, Lila convinces him to come with her and Buddy to some fancy country club dinner so he can shmooze with an ex-Oklahoma player and hopefully improve his chances of getting into the school.

Predictably, this doesn’t go very well, as Buddy decides to tell Riggins that he doesn’t like him with his daughter and he had better not screw anything up. Tim of course freaks out under the pressure and orders raw pigeon to eat and doesn’t manage to hold any sort of a conversation.

He and Lila get into a fight about this on the way home, and he annoyingly and stupidly tells her that they should go their separate ways. Lila leaves in a huff, but eventually decides not to let Riggins continue with his immature self-destruction and comes over to his house bearing cheeseburgers.

She runs into Tyra, who’s there waiting for her sister to finish doing it to Billy. She’s had a rough day herself, trying to get elected as student council president. Since she got into the race late, she’s playing catch-up against a girl whose mom came in and gave out cupcakes. So Tyra uses her assets and gets four strippers from The Landing Strip to come campaign for her.

The jerky vice-principal of course freaks out and tries to suspend her for three days. Tammy intervenes and smoothes the situation out. Tyra repays her by giving a speech about how the election comes down to who they want planning their prom, and basically, if they want to get laid, that person should be her.

Tyra proves that sex does sell and wins the election. She goes to Tami’s office to share the good news, but Tami tells her that she appealed to the lowest-common-denominator and shouldn’t be too impressed with herself. She has a point, but Tyra is president! Now that’s change we can believe in.