This season's final episode of Friday Night Lights is all about the seniors. It's five months after the football season, and college decisions are in, setting many of our Panthers and Panther faithful on new paths. Meanwhile, Coach's contract comes up for renewal, which means he's once again staring down Joe McCoy and his merry band of moneyed followers. To talk about the end of this season — and what it means for seasons four and five — just
Eric Taylor, coach of the East Dillon
Giraffes Lions? With no boosters, no money, no JumboTron, no players, no Buddy Garrity, no state ring? Especially knowing that there are two more seasons coming our way, I think it's brilliant. Coach and Buddy have apparently spent the off-season convincing them to come to Dillon High; little did Coach know he was digging himself a hole. Without the assurance that Wade calls all the plays and JD throws all the balls, Joe's not interested in keeping Eric around. And politics has never been Eric's strong suit; it takes Tami's urging for him to even come to the board meeting, and while his defense of his job is heartfelt, any fan of the show could have done better. I love that final image of Coach and Tami looking out on the run-down East Dillon field, full of dreams dashed and potential yet to be explored.
Eric isn't the only character taking on some scary new territory in this episode: Lyla finds a way to Vanderbilt after all, which doesn't shock me, especially once we learn there's a rich uncle involved. Lyla's hesitant at first — she doesn't want to leave Tim — but Tim's decided college isn't for him anyway. He doesn't want to read those big books; he likes the idea of life at Riggins' Rigs, drinking some beers and fixing some cars and taking care of a steer he and Billy bought at auction. I appreciate that it's Billy — who's really been the one pushing for Tim to play college ball from the start — who tells Tim that's ridiculous; like it or not, a Riggins needs to go to college so future generations know there's something more out there.
If there's a moment of true joy in this episode, it's Tyra opening her letter from UT, squealing and crying and throwing herself into Landry's arms. Just before she got that envelope, things were looking bleak; she'd driven all the way to UT with Landry only to find out her chances were even worse than she'd suspected, and it took one of Landry's patented pep talks just to make her believe she's worthy of a chance. And if there's a moment of sorrow, it's Matt going to the assisted living facility and telling Grandma he's taking her home for good. I wanted Matt in Chicago, and even Julie had accepted that he would probably be gone (even if he did reject her attempt at a breakup). But it's a realistic move: the guy who fears everyone leaves him isn't going to leave someone he loves.
Some other thoughts:
- I smiled when Buddy said Smash was doing good things over at A&M. Glad to know he's doing well over there.
- I guess the show's partnership with Chevy means Julie never gets that Celica.
- I loved seeing Mindy's wedding, complete with the dress with wings that shows a tasteful amount of crack.
- Buddy dancing with Tyra's mom at the wedding was a nice touch.
So! Season four! Eric coaching the Bad News Bears of Texas high school football, Matt sticking around, Julie and Landry as seniors . . . I have a feeling we have some good things coming our way. What about you?
Photos courtesy of NBC