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Fathers and Sons: Conflict and Compassion on Friday Night Lights

After last week's Julie Taylor-related catastrophe, I was extremely pleased that this week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("Keep Looking"), written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by Todd McMullen, fell back into the pattern of greatness that the series is known for.

This week's episode offered an examination of the often contentious relationship between fathers and sons, summed up in the juxtaposition of Vince's struggles with his ex-con father Ornette and Buddy's attempts to drum some tough love into his angsty teenage son Buddy Jr.

In this case the dynamics were flipped on their head, with Vince struggling to determine whether he could trust his father, and laying down the law now that he's reentered his and his mother's lives. While his mom is happy to dwell on the more rose-colored memories of the past, Vince can't let go of what his father's absence meant to the family, the missed birthdays and moments, and the fact that he blames Ornette for getting his mom hooked on drugs. Across town, Buddy attempts to drum some semblance of responsibility into his rebellious son and, not surprisingly, pushes him to join the East Dillon Lions.

While it was obvious that Buddy Jr. would eventually join the Lions, the beauty of the episode was how well it dealt with this eventuality, following Buddy Jr. as he brushed off Tami at school (and later made a joke about her "rack" over dinner) and then broke into Buddy's bar and got drunk. But the writers made both Buddy Jr.'s malaise and speed palpable, demonstrating just how fast he can run when Buddy and Eric spotted him at a convenient store and took off after him. (He had, after all, stolen Buddy's credit card and his car.)

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