'Friday Night Lights': Building East Dillon 2.0

By Tony Lee
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NBC


Friday Night Lights's Buddy Garrity is always at his best when he plays coach Taylor's troubleshooter, a jack-of-all-trades right hand. After becoming frustrated with J.D. McCoy's influence on the West Dillon Panthers, Buddy left a Panther alumni gathering in last week's episode, yelling "I'm not a Panther anymore." To borrow from Ronald Reagan, you got the sense that Buddy didn't leave the Dillon Panthers, the Panthers left him.

This week, Coach Taylor discovers that East Dillon once had a proud football tradition when he sees a state championship banner behind some ivy. He invites some old East Dillon alumni to dinner (which Mrs. Taylor cooks with little advance notice) to ask them to help him build a sense of community but has trouble breaking the ice.

The alumni lecture Coach Taylor about how West Dillon was able to surpass East Dillon in its economic development and don't seem sold on coach Taylor until Buddy Garrity walks into the Taylor's home. The East Dillon alumni played against Buddy and they genuinely embrace their old nemesis as if they had reunited with a long lost friend. With Buddy's help, the ice is broken and the East Dillon alumni are now willing to help Coach Taylor build East Dillon 2.0 by addressing the team at their first pep rally.

When East Dillon's current players see that others who've worn their uniform have been winners and champions in the past, it dawns on them that their program was once a proud one. It lets them see that they are a part of something bigger and their team does not lack history and tradition.

The pep-rally where East Dillon's alumni spoke was held a barbecue restaurant owned by Jess's father (played by fantastic actor Steve Harris). For some reason, Jess's father, who is also an East Dillon alumni, doesn't want anything to do with football. When Jess asks her dad if he could hold a pep-rally for East Dillon, he initially balks but later comes around to the idea. When his fellow alumni were speaking, Jess's dad was not present on the stage with them, and I want to find out in subsequent episodes why he is so repelled by football. Was there an injury or an incident that occurred in his past that makes him hate football so much? I'm curious.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/05/friday-night-lights-building-east-dillon-20/57406/