I cannot say that “In The Skin of a Lion” is a bad episode of television, but it’s certainly not up to par with Friday Night Lights‘ best or even the first two episodes of the season. For the most part, the events in this episode that happen are expected to make us feeling like things are in danger or are drastically changing, when in reality they are not or in one case, we already know. So watching the episode feels just like a group of dramatic scenes — obviously well-acted — but without much weight because it’s hard to believe in them.
A lot of the hour centers on Eric’s possible inability to coach the East Dillon Lions to victory. Well, scratch that. The principle isn’t even sure he can coach the team to finish a game. We see numerous scenes with Coach Taylor talking about the struggle in front of him and for the most part all that is played well by Kyle Chandler. But the problem is that as an audience, I’m not sure we all believe that Coach Taylor cannot do it. We know he’s a great coach, a great man, and to suggest that he’s just going to let the team fold and cease to exist is a little goofy. Again, it’s all executed well, but when the team scores one touchdown and the principle is suddenly completely on board with the Lions, it’s a little hammy.
The pushed-to-the-limit theme is extended to a few other characters in the episode to somewhat better results, but again, it still feels empty and without life for some reason. Buddy finally realizes that he’s had enough with Joe McCoy and how the West Dillon Panther boosters are acting and gives a damn good speech telling them so. But it would have been nice to have just one another scene with his bubbling frustration to really make the scene feel pop.
Meanwhile, Matt’s still frustrated with his internship and Luke is frustrated with his lack of good reps at practice. Honestly, nothing wrong with any of the scenes, but the latter is completely predictable and the former didn’t have enough emotional or storytelling heft to it to really make an impact. I don’t mind spending time with Julie and Tami debating the reasoning for attending church because that relationship always plays well and will never complain about Riggins being around either, but those little mini-stories took away from the few main portions of the episode, leaving everything with just a little missing.
Again, not a horrible effort by any means, the stories just didn’t come together in the way they usually do. Everyone has an off night, though.