Friday Night Lights’ introductory period was truly excellent television. This was a show that felt genuine, vibrant, and engaging. It didn’t matter if you loved football or hated it if you grew up in a bit of town or a giant metropolis; the narrative described here, about a secondary school football team in Dillon, Texas, was off to a fast start.
So, how do you proceed from there? Unfortunately, during the second season of Friday Night Lights, the response was that you fluctuate a lot in terms of overall quality. But let’s get it to the point: the show was consistently well-made and superbly performed, and it was well worth a viewer’s time. However, a few noticeable warts and several extremely dubious plot focus stood out even more in light of how incredible the program had been in its first year.
Season 2 begins with the Taylor family and the Panthers attempting to deal with Coach Eric Taylor’s (Kyle Chandler) absence, who recognized a task at TMU near the end of Season 1. Tami (Connie Britton), Julie (Aimee Teegarden), and the new infant, Gracie, strive to adjust to having a husband and father who is present as much as he can but is not a regular presence in their household. Meanwhile, the Panthers get a new mentor in McGregor (Chris Mulkey), who is more challenging and brutal than Eric. Various note accounts include Matt Saracen’s (Zach Gilford) and Julie’s relationship. Jason Street’s (Scott Porter) attempts to determine how agreeable he is as an associate mentor. Smash’s (Gaius Charles) preparations for school the following fall, and Lyla Garrity’s (Minka Kelly) re-examining herself as a resurrected Christian while still being pursued by Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch).
Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons) and Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki) are two main characters that are overlooked in the preceding portions. The season’s problems begin, though not due to the entertainers. Spoilers follow, but just for the very first episode of the season: When Tyra is threatened again by her future assailant from Season 1, Landry confronts him and kills him. Furthermore, at this point, the show takes a wrong turn. Landry and Tyra need to deal with the stress the situation has generated; thus, the negligent homicide alone could have worked. Given the circumstances, they decided to conceal the entire problem, dumping the body and launching an enraging narrative.
It’s tough to explain all of how this story seemed incorrect. It didn’t seem like it belonged in the Friday Night Lights universe, and the characters’ actions were not at all acceptable. Furthermore, it lived in a complete vacuum simultaneously, which made it all the tenser. Even as Landry’s great anxieties grow and the law begins to move in, we hear no mention of any of this from other characters, even Landry’s closest companion, Matt. Landry was such a great character in the first season that it was truly annoying to see him mistreated here.
Indeed, even his daily routine seemed to be on edge, as he unexpectedly and inexplicably joined the Panthers, something he had shown little interest in or talent for in Season 1. According to Chief Producer Jason Katims, Landry’s new plotlines were created to give the dynamite Plemons more to do and help promote the Landry/Tyra connection. However, both of these things may have been accomplished in various other ways.
Unfortunately, these weren’t the show’s biggest blunders. Carlotta (Daniella Alonso), a great, young live-in caregiver, moved into the Saracen house to help Matt’s grandmother, and you’d have to make a concerted effort not to worry about where this story was headed. The problem wasn’t so much that the story was a cliche – Friday Night Lights has previously turned mundane situations into fantastic episodes – but rather how it was conveyed, and Carlotta herself was questioned. She felt like a plot device with an egregious lack of deepness on a show with such well-balanced characters.
Despite the several undeniable flaws, Friday Night Lights ended up being superior to most network television shows. The cast as a whole continued to do fantastic work, and Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, in particular, were brilliant and incredibly warm and captivating as Eric and Tami, perhaps the best and most adorable couple one could imagine. Even in the most vulnerable episodes, that duo could usually be counted on to deliver a few memorable moments.
While the charming Scott Porter was vastly underutilized, a trip to Mexico with Jason, Tim, and Lyla was a sweet and unusual look at the bond between these three characters as Jason contemplated a life-changing medical operation. Another character, Santiago, has an impact because of certain well-executed subplots depicting his transformation from a young delinquent to a Panther partner. Furthermore, Gaius Charles was fantastic as the pretentious and reckless Smash, who dealt with a few absurd problems as the season progressed.
Because of the writers’ strike, a planned 22-episode season was reduced to 15, with no actual conclusion – most notably, the Panthers’ football season is not resolved. That should be noted as you look back on the season, and it’s also worth noting that things started to get more on track in the last few episodes of Season 2, particularly in the episode “Abandon No One.” It was evident in this segment that the creators of Friday Night Lights had the extraordinary ability to create a genuinely engaging and well-crafted episode of television. Season 3 should hopefully bring the show back to its original balance.