I took an early peek at tonight's episode thanks to an advance (but very rough) copy sent out by NBC. Some comments after the jump ...
Tonight's episode did not work entirely. The Riggins boys vs. Ferret Man was a bad idea to begin with, and the resolution via Lyla was a bit much. One would think that Smash -- or someone in his family -- knew enough to *69 the harassing phone call. (I even had a sneaking suspicion that the aggressive TV crew was making the call, just to set Smash on the course to his inevitable explosion.) Nor was I all that crazy about Street as car salesman, especially when he discovered his magic touch with the looky-loo.
But this episode is of a piece with the next one, which I have also watched, and the two do fit together. It's a fit that has to do with character and making decisions, especially what happens when you make the wrong ones. (Smash and Riggins are not the only ones making awful choices.) I'm not satisfied with everything in next week's episode either, but by next week this feels like the early, great "Friday Night Lights," where everyone is on game.
Of course, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are always on game, even when the show has been crumbling around them. Jesse Plemons as Landry and Adrianne Palicki as Tyra are also watchable, especially now that they are free of the killing storyline. Gaius Charles as Smash does fine work this week and next, and Saracen (Zach Gilford) gets a big showcase next week. I'm a little weary of Riggins' whipped-dog look, but I have to admit that Taylor Kitsch does it very well.
In other words, even with my reservations, I am getting my optimism back about "FNL." I still don't like all the decisions the characters will make, but I am drawn in by the way they get there.