The show will begin shooting again in Austin in August, executive producer Jason Katims said, and it will premiere Oct. 1 on DirecTV before turning up up on NBC sometime in February. The cast all seemed grateful to be back for another season (not to mention back together — Taylor Kitsch couldn't stop calling Kyle Chandler "Chands," which prompted a few giggles). So what's happening when the show picks up? To find out (spoiler alert!), just
- The show will pick up about eight months after the last episode we saw. That'll put us in preparation for a new football season — and for senior year for many of the characters, including Lyla, Matt, Tyra, and Riggins. Are the Panthers still defending state champions? We'll find out in the first episode.
- Tami's received a huge promotion, going from Dillon's guidance counselor to the school principal. Katims said the writers want to get her driving more stories and not being just the coach's wife, "but we also think that could be a really good way to turn it around and come back to the marriage, where maybe suddenly she finds herself on the opposite side of some issues." It'll also be good for Buddy, who's still leading the Boosters and now can lobby both Taylors about football issues.
- As for Lyla, Minka Kelly revealed that the born-again phase of her life is mostly over — over enough, at least, that she's settled into a serious relationship with Tim Riggins. "It's one thing to have this passionate secret relationship," Katims said, "but once they're in a real relationship, then they see how different they are. They're completely like an odd couple. They're from different sides of the tracks. They have different ideas of the future. They have different ideas of personal hygiene!" And they're also possibly headed in different directions in life, so Lyla will spend some time trying to encourage Riggins to get into college, get a scholarship, and be the best Riggins he can be.
- Jason Street and Smash will each have four-episode story arcs, and Katims said they'll be some of the show's strongest material. "We are not doing this in any unceremonious way," he said — and he's open to working with both of the actors in the future.
- Also out: Santiago, the teacher Julie had a crush on, and Lyla's Christian-radio boyfriend.
- With those departures, get ready for some new additions, ready to stir up conflict in Dillon (and also perhaps become a bit of FNL: The New Class if there's a season four after the old guard graduates). One will be a freshman quarterback, JD McCoy, who challenges Saracen for the QB1 spot. His family has moved from Dallas specifically so JD can play on the Panthers, and the story will also show how much pressure his wealthy father puts on Coach Taylor. JD hasn't been cast yet, but Katims said it would be "a very big guest star." Another new addition will be Cash, an old friend of Billy Riggins who's a local rodeo star — and who may be wooing Tyra.
- Speaking of Tyra, she's started to feel like perhaps Landry isn't really "the one" — but that doesn't mean it's settled. "They had a conversation," Katims said. "Tyra's interpretation was, 'We broke up.' Landry's just, 'We're taking a break.'"
- Since Landry's no longer going to be murdering anybody, he'll be able to get back to being Matt's fun sidekick a little more, too.
- Matt and Julie are baby-stepping back into being friends — "and then we'll see how it goes from there," Katims said.
- As for the 13th episode, "I'm definitely not going to write it as a series finale," Katims said, as the decision about whether to come back for another year will be made after the episodes have aired on DirecTV. It will have its share of resolution, he said, as well as "cliffhangers and questions that will make you wonder what's going to happen."
Photo courtesy of NBC