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Friday Night Lights: Divide, Don’t Conquer

Are you getting anxious? Friday Night Lights is in the home stretch, and it’s all I can do not to search for Internet spoilers (post any on my blog and I’ll try to injure you with my mind) to find out how it will all end. How can we be so near the end? What will become of my favorite characters?
With only five episodes remaining in the final season, FNL did a good job of luring us back in after the holiday break with “Fracture”. Becky and Mrs. Coach both had some great moments, while Julie and Vince acted in incredibly angering ways. 
Beautiful Girls

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so torn about two characters the way I am when it comes to Mindy and Billy Riggins. I used to hate them. Now I love them. But I’m still occasionally uncomfortable with them. Mindy is sweet and funny and can’t be criticized for taking an emotionally ravaged teenager into her home, but jeez…is she really the best role model for my girl Becky? Maybe it’s because I don’t like Luke, so I’m automatically opposed to someone encouraging her to sleep with him. Or maybe it’s because I wasn’t sure what she meant about “leaving the past in the past” after she found out about the abortion. Is Becky looking for a new start with Luke? Because that doesn’t sound like much of a new start at all. 

I liked seeing Becky enter the beauty pageant, but as much as it’s fun to see her get taken under the wings of Mindy and all her stripper pals, I’m still not sure it’s the best environment for her. Yet I hated the snooty woman who told her to take a hard look at the company she keeps so much that I’m inclined to stick to Team Mindy despite my doubts. 

OK, just a little more on my favorite (new) character. On the one hand, I loved how all the girls supported Becky when she talked about losing her virginity in a pickup truck, getting pregnant and choosing not to keep the baby. She needs people to love her and empathize with her. And it was funny seeing all the girls confess to also cashing in their V-chips in the back of a truck. But it missed the element of someone encouraging Becky to want more, or to be more. She needs someone like Tyra, the way Tyra needed the Taylors.
Lies and Fries
Speaking of emotionally damaged teenaged girls, we got to learn more Epyck (I had to look that up again – I really just want to call her Epic). At first it seemed like she was being starved and abused in her foster home, but then we learned she was really just starved for attention. I liked the depth it gave her character – she obviously thinks that being more troubled will get her more attention from Tami, and that’s something she really needs. I feel like Epyck was introduced too late in the game for me to really care about her, but I love Mrs. Coach and want to see her make a difference in Epyck’s life. 
A Star is Born
Vince came off looking like a douche this week, but since we know he’s a good guy deep down I don’t think he’ll stay in that realm too long. The problem is his father, but I’m worried that by the time he figures that out it will be too late. This week he and pops took a less than legit trip to check out Oklahoma Tech. Vince has been flirting with disaster all season (he accepted a free meal early on, and used a connection to get his mom a job) and he has even less guidance than Smash did when it comes to handling all the attention. But as much as I’m annoyed by him, I have to wonder if Coach is doing the best he can. Has he reminded Vince of the rules? Told him that he’s screwing himself over and needs to cool it? I mean, come on, can’t Buddy Garrity help with this or something? 

Vince’s actions have isolated him not only from Jess (I’m sensing a break-up coming), but from all his teammates too. After an arrogant news interview and the “secret” trip to Oklahoma, everyone felt angry and jealous. “Fracture” perfectly described the episode – the players were fighting, the coaches were fighting (Billy Riggins really needs to take it down a notch) and Buddy Jr. fractured his leg doing a Samoan war dance. And they don’t even play football in Samoa!

Frustrated with all the fighting right before a pep rally, Coach exploded and yelled “SHUT UP” only to see the fighting continue. What with his damaged relationship with Julie, Vince’s issues and the problems with the team as a whole, he seems to have more on his plate than ever before. And it will get worse before it gets better.
Old Flames
Finally, I really don’t know what to make of Julie Taylor right now. She was still bumming around at home (but appeared to be studying – how long does she get before she has to write a final?) when Professor Loverboy came to visit. I’m not going to lie – the sight of Coach intimidating him off the doorstep and then smashing his taillight with part of Gracie Bell’s tricycle was fantastic. 
Loverboy (OK, Derek) went to see Tami and told her that he’d quit his job and wanted the chance to convince Julie to go back to school. So he met up with Julie and…told her he was getting a divorce. So she could return as both the school slut and a homewrecker? (Just kidding…) Julie told her parents she was going back to school (yay!) and appeared to actually be running away to live a terrible life in a cabin with the T.A., but she actually ended up on Matty Saracen’s doorstep. 
Um, what? OK, I knew Matt would obviously have to come back. I knew their romance was unresolved. I just didn’t quite see this one coming. What does this mean for Julie? What made her decide? Will she actually return to college?

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