Category Archives: Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights – Always (S5, Ep13)

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(From Feb 9th, 2011)

We said good-bye to Dillon with perfection.

So much beauty has been conveyed in the most understated of ways.  Characters’ journeys reached ends, while others began new paths.  Everybody was happy or at least got closure on what has been a wonderful five years.

Those five years have included themes of friendship, loyalty, relationships, innocence.  All entangled underneath the umbrella of football.  Still, there is no denying that this show has explored marriage. This final episode was a pitch perfect microcosm of the series as a whole.

Matt’s unexpected proposal to Julie, while initially seeming a bit much, was a great tool to dissect a critical point in a strong marriage (Eric and Tami) and the beginnings of a new one.  The dinner sequence brought out the best and worst in these decision filled times.

Vince and Jess crossed the finish line nicely.  Vince’s appreciation for his Lions journey that has always included her (working on the team or not) was a very nice moment. This especially was a great, down to earth, ending for a couple that was never really high on our list of favorites. (And didn’t you think for a second that it was gonna be Smash on the Oakland Raiders not Jess in Dallas?)

Luke’s ‘love professing scene’ may have been too much, but Becky’s mom’s advice tied that scene up so well, and with such serious levity, that it gets a pass.  I do have to say, while a bit of a surprise, Luke’s shipping out at the conclusion does make perfect sense.  He had so many opportunities, but as he said, none of them felt right.  His decision to enlist, while never was mentioned as an option earlier, felt right and extremely heartbreaking.  Becky also got what she deserved, a family support system.

For me, what really stole the show this week was Tim and Tyra and, of course, Eric and Tami, but when do they not?

Tim and Tyra are all grown up.  She has plans, he doesn’t.  They both have dreams and in their final scene, one of the most beautiful of the episode, their mature decision to maybe meet along the way couldn’t have been executed any better.  Tim Riggins may be one of the best TV characters ever, at least in terms of character maturation and character arc.

Eric and Tami are the number one reason that this show was picked up by Direct TV post season two and here, in these 60 minutes, they made us laugh, cry, and remember why we stuck with this show.  These three scenes say it all:

  1. The Taylor’s fight over their agreement on Julie’s engagement was so rich with subtext.  The impending decision to move looms in the air and their yelling match about Julie extracts this real worries.  Tami, putting a button on the argument gave the second best line of the episode: “I think we agree on this!”
  2. When Buddy calls Eric about signing the contract, we can both physically and emotionally see Eric make his final decision.  That was outstanding.  Usually in shows where we can already guess the outcome (which we basically could for FNL), the ultimate decision feels unjustified.  Here, Eric realizes that he doesn’t want to be a booster pawn anymore.  He’s over it and wants his wife to have her opportunity and not be at the mercy of his job.
  3. “Take me to Philadelphia with you, please!” Oh Eric, you know how to deliver a line.  In what was the best scene of the night, Eric and Tami end up on the same page.  They will see if they were meant to be east coasters. All Tami needed was recognition that this was her time, not a begging fiasco of any sort, which we thankfully never got.  Eric listened to his own advice to Matt at the dinner and away to Braemore we go!

The state championship was perfect.  Soundless images, echoing the feel of the game; almost seen in memories. We’ve already seen the win (S1) and the loss (S3).  As Tim said last week, you play your heart out, then move on.  They will always remember that time. The editing into eight months later was well done.  All these characters moved on, as State Champions, of course (with wonderful and semi-understated shots of their rings and banners).

Other thoughts:

  • It’s sad to think that Gracie Belle won’t be growing up with a sister who is always there.
  • What college do you think Julie transferred to? (Or did she move to Chicago with the intent to transfer because no way she could get her transfer applications in to the schools in time.)
  • It was nice to see Buddy where he wanted to be: Back with the Panthers on his own terms.
  • It was nice to see Eric emotional with his players.
  • I loved Mindy’s under-the-radar sadness.
  • God Bless Grandma Saracen.
  • I was mad with/against Julie and Matt getting married so young, but the show actually convinced me it was okay for them.
  • Explosions in the sky as the primary music is one of the best music decisions ever made by a movie/tv show production staff.
  • Two wonderful homages to the pilot were the interviews with the local sports channels and the “Texas Forever” cheers.  Billy and Tim are reconciled at last, realizing that they are the best friends that will live a lifetime in Dillon. (In an alternate ending Jason was with them building the house.  I’m glad this didn’t happen, as it would feel totally out of place in these characters’ journeys.)
  • HOW WILL GRACIE BELLE BE EXCEPTING INTO THE EAST COAST FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE WITH A NAME LIKE GRACIE BELLE!?
  • Ornette coming to Vince’s game was an okay ending for him.  We get the feeling that he’s attempting to get past his own issues and at least try to be a father first.  I could have used more, but this seemed fitting.

Thank you Friday Night lights.  Thank you for all the things you have given me.  You restored my faith in TV over these five years.  Dillon, you will be greatly missed.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t lose.

Texas Forever.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan