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Outsiders: Cynicism and Optimism on Friday Night Lights

"State."

Throughout the four-plus season run of Friday Night Lights, we've gotten quite a few inspirational speeches from Coach Taylor, spirit-rallying calls to action, soul-stirring St. Crispin's Day speeches intended to join men into a single unit, to merge them together into a single entity before they leap once more into the fray.

Sometimes, however, all it takes is a single word scrawled on a dry-erase board.

On this week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("On the Outside Looking In"), written by Kerry Ehrin and directed by Michael Waxman, a number of stories about isolation and unity tumbled together in an appealingly loose fashion. There was the nicely rendered parallel stories of Tami and Julie, each adrift in their own way, desperately seeking to fit into an environment that has them ill at ease.

Despite the distance between mother and daughter, they're linked here by a taut thematic thread. For Tami, it's an effort to fit into her new surroundings as the guidance counselor at East Dillon. She's got her work cut out for her, given the apathy of her fellow teachers, the disinterest of the parents, and the outright hostility of some of the students, including at-risk Epic. Julie, meanwhile, can't quite fit in at college. She's got a roommate who is less interested in getting to know her and more interested in, uh, getting to know the opposite sex.

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