Friday Night Lights, “I Can’t”

Last week, I assumed that Becky’s pregnancy would surely be given its time in the limelight in future episodes. But I was pleasantly surprised that the series had enough gumption to embrace and examine the possibilities of teen abortion, especially on a major broadcast television network.

Of course, I’m not saying that abortions are right or wrong, but it’s rare that a major television series actually tackles them, and even more rare when the execution is this well done. But really, what should we expect from Friday Night Lights? Becky wasn’t portrayed as a whiny brat or a wise-beyond-her-ears “TV high school student,” but instead subtly shown as a confused, hurt and cautious teen who needed some guidance. Thankfully, Dillon, Texas has the best advice-giver in the world in Tami Taylor and Tim Riggins is smart enough to bring Becky to her. Their two conversations were wonderful, and the second one is notable for Becky simply, logically going through the process of what would happen if she would keep the baby. As she says, she could be a good parent. She could love the baby. She could deal with it better than her mother. But that sliver of doubt means that she actually cannot. And that’s all she needs to know, she can’t derail her life or Luke’s life.

I do, however, think Luke was left on the sidelines a little bit. He hasn’t shunned away from the responsibility of his choices, but Becky’s been fairly distant from the beginning and I would have liked to see more of his involvement. I guess we’re supposed to read that Becky just can’t deal with Luke’s inherent goodness in the situation and probably can’t talk to him, either. Based on the preview for next week, it seems like that Luke’s reaction to the whole ordeal could come later when combined with his injuries. I smell a pill addiction coming.

For Tami, it looks as though the conversations with Becky will have a lasting effect as well. She wakes Eric up in the middle of the night, bugging him about what they would do if Julie came to them with a similar situation. All season, Tami’s had a bit of trouble connecting with her daughter and I’m assuming that the talk with Becky is making her think that she doesn’t totally know what’s up with her own daughter (a daughter who is about to go away from college, too). It will be interesting to see if Tami starts prying more into Julie’s life both as a way to check in and also make sure she’s still doing her job. And again, based on the promos, it looks as if Luke’s ultra-religious parents will be coming after Tami and her level-headed advice.

Meanwhile, Vernon took a more active role in Vince’s life in “I Can’t.” The Lions QB finds himself in trouble both at home and on the field and the former player and BBQ shack owner finally lets his guard down to embrace the young man who is a lot like himself. He gets in Coach Taylor’s ear about not restricting an athlete like Vince with all sorts of constructed plays, which leads to an interesting night of drinking, and then tries to help Vince deal with his OD’ing mother. The scene between the two of them in Vernon’s home is fantastic, with Vernon telling Vince that he can’t give him the money, but he’ll do everything he can to help him. The sudden interest in Vince will hopefully lead to some real meaty stuff for Jess as well, because she’s clearly confused as to why her father is now randomly so invested in a kid he spent so much time hating. Jess is a character that has had little beats with a number of characters, but hasn’t been given a full-on arc herself, and hopefully the last three episodes bring a little bit of that to the forefront.

Not surprisingly, Tim and Billy figure out that their get-rich plan isn’t going as well as they thought. They stupidly decide to bury the car frames that they can’t discard anywhere else and despite Tim’s rational plea to end it all, I have a really bad feeling about this whole thing.

All in all, a fine episode. I can’t believe there are only three left!

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