Written by Duana

Season 5, Episode 9

I have a terrible habit of singing just one line of a song that’s stuck in my head over and over again. It makes my friends and coworkers crazy. But it usually happens because I’ve seen or heard something that makes me think of it, and then the song colours everything that happens in that situation afterwards.

I watched this episode of FNL and all that I can think of is Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter”. The first line. “And so it is…” Go listen to it. It’s haunting.

And that’s how I feel about this episode of FNL. We have four episodes left of the final season of the show, but the decisions have been made. We’re far enough into the show that people have made decisions that they can’t go back on. The actions of Tami, Eric, Julie, and yes, Vince – have set things in motion that can’t be retracted. Things that, in fact, will affect our characters lives. That's what makes this so juicy - these are the elements that, when they look back, will make them say "yes, this happened and that's why I headed in this direction."

Of course, there are the things I have relatively little emotion about. Billy Riggins is the world's most unexpected delighted father. He really can't wait to have a second little boy or a tiny daughter to adore. And it's worth remembering that in the midst of all the things that make us cringe, all the things we saw coming that hurt us anyway, that a man being happy about his coming child- jollying his wife along and seeing only the good that can come out of a new member of the family - is still someone to be celebrated.

And speaking of members of his family, I have to admit to being more swayed by Becky than I ever thought I would be. Not so much by a romance with Luke that still leaves me passionless and lukewarm - no pun intended, but pun certainly noted for it's aptness- but that vulnerable face of hers that shows every hurt or ambition so plainly. Madison Burge is one of those actresses, like Jennifer Carpenter on Dexter, who really has charmed me into liking her when I was dead set against doing so - and her childish curls set against that determined face as she collects her tips in the strip bar really make me anxious for her. I know that whether they can or not, Billy and Mindy will do their best to drag her into a nuclear family type situation - but how can they dissuade her from what Mindy does herself? How can they explain that work like that would harden and callous young, vulnerable Becky, while Mindy has no soft edges left to bruise?

Jess, meanwhile, is bruised. It's really bothering me that this girl has nowhere to go. A great character, a believable situation- playing second fiddle to the football star whose vision is becoming more and more myopic - and yet she has nowhere to go, nobody who can take her interests and put her at the forefront. Maybe it's a commentary on public schools today? That the real troublemakers (we'll get to you, "Epyck") are constantly getting attention, but the good kids who only need a little help to become truly great march undetected through the halls? I know Coach told her he has two daughters - wordlessly validating her feelings and not making her feel she had to hide her tears - but she still has nowhere to go. Nobody to tell her troubles to. This combined with the first threads of Vince's mom beginning not to trust Ornette - to hear his fantasies growing bigger and more ostentatious - I'd say this was an episode about not hearing the women over the roar of the men. But I'm not sure that was the intended message...

Of course given what goes on with Epyck this week, (and really, the girl was partly driven to it by the intensely annoying Laurel, like, maybe don't grab a student's bag quite like that? More public education commentary?) perhaps Tami will be free to mentor someone more receptive, like Jess. But really, both she and Coach seem poised to lick their wounds. To regret putting such faith in feckless teenagers who will only throw their kindnesses back in the Taylors' faces. I'm glad Jurnee Smollett is getting some airtime, and I love the Taylors being faced with students they can't automatically tame - but there's been too much dark and bleak this year. Too much of the best intentions going wrong. I would welcome a Tyra Collette scenario - I would love to see Jess get her own moment in the sun. Who knows who she could be with the Taylors' love...

But of course the main recipient of said love doesn't know how lucky she is, and we spend a week delighting in Julie and Matt in their "Chicago" love nest (set dec people, I love you, but sometimes less is more. I would never have questioned that you were in Chicago but when you WEDGE a Chicago Tribune truck in behind our characters I begin to wonder).

I still want to shake Jules. I appreciate the writers so much for letting her be slightly spoiled and self-centered - for expecting that Matt's world would implode if he found out she'd been with someone else - and for Chrissake, child, stop using the word "affair". But I want to truly know what she expects to happen, and if I have a complaint about the show at all this year, it's that we haven't been in Jules' head. I've not really been able to understand why she does the things she does, or what exactly became of her ambitions that she once had. In tv-writer world, we often say this is a result of the person not having a friend to talk to. And obviously that's always been true of Julie - she's never opened up to a girl about why boys run her life. But if anyone could get in, Matty could - and I wish we'd been able to find out what was truly making her tick.

And I know it must be the character or dare I say it, the actor (I love Teegarden but I wish her face weren't so opaque) - because I have no worries understanding what makes Eric and Vince tick. They are of course too similar, both focused on the love of their daddies and a desperate desire to do what's right. Vince, unlike Saracen before him, carries the weight of being s strong alpha male on his shoulders, and its both why Eric loves him so much and is so frustrated by him. And since obviously Eric is going to come to some harm at the hands of Ornette - you know it's going to happen - my worry is less that Vince will ultimately be OK and more that Eric won't be able, in the future, to trust a boy like him. The kid who needs a little understanding. The kid whose sob story about an addicted parent seems a little far fetched. I worry, in a twisted way, that between Vince and the ridiculousness of Epyck, that Tami and Eric have had their innocence taken away. I don't want to leave them in that kind of place...

And so it is...?

Four episodes left.

Photos from Wenn.com