As "Friday Night Lights" moves into the meat of its final, 13-episode season, this week's Show Tracker will take a slightly different format. Below is a look at some of this season's major storylines, and what has -- and hasn't -- been working.
Becky's domestic troubles: Story developments like the one that greeted Madison Burge's Becky give "Friday Night Lights" fans near-unconditional faith in writers, cast and producers to work their way out of any potentially tired plot. So far this season, viewers have seen Becky hurt, wounded and unwanted just about everywhere she goes. Even when she's with her peers and seemingly leading a dance-planning committee, all of Becky's ideas are tossed aside for "Texas Luau."
It was an unexpected "Friday Night Lights" veteran who came to the rescue: Stacey Oristano's Mindy Collette. For much of five seasons, Mindy has been on the periphery, keeping Derek Phillips' Billy Riggins in check or offering some comic relief. Seeing the stripper-turned-housewife fight off her baby fat with some aggressive Jazzercise-like moves, all while giving Becky the cold shoulder, was an amusingly colorful snapshot of suburban life.
As was the heart-to-heart Becky and Mindy would have when Mindy broke the news that her boss at the Landing Strip believed her behind was too large to be granted any night shifts. Working the day shift, Mindy said, would mean dancing to farmers, and "farmers are the worst tippers." It was Becky who rose to the occasion with some negotiating advice, and in one of the most oddly sentimental scenes in the show's history, reminded Mindy that her regular customers "probably miss you." A visibly touched Mindy responded with a weary "thank you."
So when Mindy saw Becky being dumped back into a hairy domestic situation, Mindy flashed the traits that will make this struggling stripper a fine mother. She not only agreed to take Becky in, but did so with some wit and perspective. "She needs a role model," Mindy said. "I think unfortunately in this situation, we are the role models."
Here comes little Buddy: The growth and change of Brad Leland's Buddy Garrity has been one of the biggest accomplishments of "Friday Night Lights," and the return this week of Little Buddy, portrayed this season by Jeff Rosick, gives Buddy a brand new project. First, it's worth noting how closely Rosick resembles Leland, and his baggy shorts and scruffy hair go a long ways toward making him embody the slacker, pot-smoking loser of the Garrity family.
Additionally, it's always nice when Buddy can flash a little Texas pride, as he does when Little Buddy expresses disdain for "seitan," a meat substitute he's sampled while living in California. "Nature already has meat," Buddy responds. "It's called a cow."
We see Little Buddy fumbling around and screwing up, and viewers get the sense that Little Buddy wants to improve his life, but just can't help himself. Buddy believes he has the answer: Football.
When Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor questions whether Little Buddy can play, Buddy shrugs it off. "Of course he can play. He's a Garrity." Going forward, it will be curious to see if Little Buddy struggles on the football field rather than tapping into some superhero Garrity genes. The disappointment in Buddy, and the further havoc it could wreak on Little Buddy, would no doubt be tragic, but Dillon, Texas, isn't where you go for happy endings.