If this does prove to be the finale of Friday Night Lights, then it's a beautiful ending. However, if you have the chance, please do support the show by watching on NBC--you'll be pleased you did!
OH MY BABIES!!!!!! (I feel so PARENTAL towards these characters, lol!) That was my inital response to the gorgeous intro--it captured my heart within seconds and made it soar for the characters I love. The track chosen was gorgeous and it was one squee after another as all my favourite couples were shown in their halcyon days: Tim and Lyla (how happy am I that they made it as a couple to the end of this season!), Matt and Julie (their rekindled romance has been a highlight of this season and I'm so happy for Matt), Tyra and Landry (far, far healthier this time than before--and so beautiful together), Coach and Tami (profiled doing something beautiful for their daughter). Such a perfect intro!
And this episode: wow! I don't know what I expected, but it definitely lived up to anticipation. I love that as a standalone episode it really really worked. This wasn't just an awkward tying up of loose ends: it had its own internal narrative. The episode opens with with the graduates gathered at a school breakfast to announce who got into which colleges. From this point we follow our favourite characters to see how they will respond and what decisions, ultimately they will make. Are these decisions the 'right' ones? Who can say? There will be struggles ahead for all the characters. But Friday Night Lights stayed true to itself and its characters by showing these adolescents making decisions that are true to who they are right now--and that's all anyone can do!
Matt is first to be announced, and last to be resolved. And oh, I didn't see the twist coming! Oh, MATT! *heart thump* I thought he was going to fall apart completely when he left his grandmother in the nursing home. And when Julie mentioned her at the wedding, his reaction was so strong, it really hit home to me just how alone Matt still is. Yes, it's nice that he has his mother around these days. Yes, he has a loving girlfriend (and how gorgeous was his 'no way are we going to break up!' response?). But he is still a young man who has, far more than most, brought himself up.
I found Lorraine's sacrifice incredibly moving. She was willing to move for Matt's sake. She would not only miss him, but also her own home. That is so brave! Had she not accommodated him so graciously, perhaps Matt wouldn't have come to the decision he did. But I love that he got the chance not to be resentful of his grandmother, but to celebrate her for the special role she's played in his life. As he says: she's the only one who's never left him. Screw expectations! Matt will forge his own life his way, being true to his family. And he'll have his mother's and Julie's support. I think he can do this.
Tim made it into college. That's awesome. But I kind of think he should have been allowed to fix cars if that's what he really wants to do. ;) Don't get me wrong: I can see what the show was going for here, and I don't mind it. I think it's true to the characters. Billy has always been ambitious for his brother. And I do see that if you've never had anyone in your family go to college, then it's a really big deal. I just also feel a bit sorry for Tim for having to be the family's Great White Hope. I'm not really a believer in college for everyone. I don't know what it's like in the States, but a talented blue collar worker here can make a damn sight more money than I can, and I don't think college education suits all forms of intelligence or is the path to happiness necessarily. The mechanical-spatial intelligence that Tim has might flourish elsewhere. However, I also think Tim's someone who needs both structure and a kick up the pants sometimes, so... I'm torn.
He was damn adorable in this episode though. His enthusiasm for the garage makes me think that he will wind up there eventually anyway. And he was so funny at the auction. What the hell are they going to do with that cow?! o.O
Lyla's story really touched me in this episode. It totally worked for me, and I love how supportive Tim was for her. I really don't want to think of them breaking up so I'm going to keep them locked in the bubble of this episode in my mind! I loved Lyla's initial reaction to the meeting with Tami and her father. She would have stood by her decision and she would have made it work, that was clear. But of course she had ambitions beyond San Antonio, and I'm glad she had the courage to ask for that opportunity. I'm also glad that Garrety's doing something to make the loss of her college fund up to her.
Lyla's love for Tim really touches me. No, I don't think she should sacrifice herself for him--and I'm really glad he wouldn't let her--but I also love that she loved him enough to offer. It's very, very hard to choose between one's own ambitions and a relationship, especially at that age. Lyla's decision is also an interesting contrast to Matt's. Matt chose to prioritise relationships over his own ambitions--Lyla chose to prioritise her ambition, with the support of her partner. Neither decision is 'right' or 'wrong' per se--people can make any path in life work if they're determined enough and I have faith in both these characters. But I kind of love that in this case it was a guy giving up personal ambition for the sake of relationships and a girl choosing to follow her dream. *hearts this show*
Finally, Tyra. Oh, THANK GOODNESS she made it into college! I actually got up and did a little dance of joy to her when she got her letter. But I'm jumping ahead of myself... at first I was so sensitive to her embarrassment at her mother's loud-mouthed faith in her, and I ached for her rage at having to serve the kids that got into college. I totally understand it.
However, I also love that Landry cracked it with her, because yes, she was being self-indulgent and self-pitying. It's just that I completely understand where she was coming from. That was an INCREDIBLE scene between the two of them on the roadside--one of the best of the season. It was so raw and so human. 'When so many people tell you something about yourself, you start to believe it'. Oh, Tyra, honey! Yes, the struggle towards self-belief and self-love is not an easy one. She's going to keep coming up against that block again and again. But she's also going to keep on fighting.
And oh, Landry! Oh, how I love how you stood your ground and took the shit she flung at you. You know now that it's not to do with you. She doesn't mean the 'screw you', it's all lack of belief in herself. And good on you for screaming back at her--with love--she needed that. Landry's faith in her lifted Tyra up at the most critical time in her life. She's standing on a knife edge and she needed someone to hold on to. I cried an ocean, I admit it. And then, as if that scene were not beautiful enough, she ran to him when she got the envelope. I loved the way her voice broke as she called for him, her desperation and his joy for her, even before she'd opened it. He really DID believe she'd make it. But he was also prepared just in case. And oh, the sweet SWEEEEEEET catharsis of their joy! I cried the second AND third time I watched it and I will probably cry again. :)
Finally, what of Coach and his family? Well. I didn't expect the ousting until this episode, but I did think it made the most of the plots they've established this year. My reaction to Tami saying she couldn't imagine the McCoys trying to get Coach fired was the same as Coach's: I can. I never trusted them. I found the wife superficial, but probably well meaning, though certainly very self-interested, and the husband horribly over-controlling. And over-controlling people make sure they get their own way, no matter what it takes.
I'm not always in synch with Coach emotionally, but in this episode I was really 'with' him. I too have a stubborn streak in me that thinks 'why should I have to defend myself?' when people try to screw me over. I loved the way Tami ever so gently pointed out that this could be self-defeating. Coach is to proud to have a 'strategy' but he found a way, all the same, to stand up to the people deposing him in a way that kept his pride intact. That may appear 'stupid'. Hell, that may BE stupid. But I've never loved him more! I knew when he called his naysayers 'wrong' he was doomed, but I loved him for doing it. Because they are wrong. Their opting for money and fickle talent over HEART. And it's very true to life that the stupid idiots made that choice, because that's often how it is in this world. No, he didn't win, but Tami was still right: he would have regretted not fighting for it.
The shots of Coach and Tami sitting looking over the Dillon Panthers' field were lovely, and then really paid off when we saw the contrast with the East Dillon Lions field. And before that, I loved the non-verbal communication between Tami and Coach when she arrived at the wedding. He knew just from looking at her.
I think the show was very smart in balancing its finale with highs and lows, difficult decisions and disappointments as well as happy endings. While we feel for Coach, we also know have faith that he and Tami will make it. If anyone can inspire and lead an under-resourced team, it's Coach. Yes, he'll miss the accolades, but ultimately he loves the kids. He will love the new kids. And Tami's love will support him and help him through that.
I think that's Friday Night Lights' final triumph: the ability to show how supportive and empowering love relationships can be. No shallow romances here, even the kids are struggling with the big issues and how to love both themselves and others. *draws hearts around the whole show*
Oh, and I found the Billy-Mindy wedding a wonderful setting for the finale. I loved that it was unashamedly tacky. It felt like a real wedding. Ok, I've never been to a hokey Texas wedding, but I've definitely been at ones with cheesy fluffy dresses, bad decor and even worse bands playing cheesy songs. The show didn't make fun of that (though Tim looked friggin' ridiculous!) and instead showed the real emotion and affection in that setting. Because that's how life is!
I loved Tim's reaction to finding out he'd be an uncle. He's so kids-crazy, that boy. If there is one thing that could inspire him to get through college, it's his nephew or niece. He'll always find it easier to do things for other people rather than for himself, I think, and perhaps he'll always need to balance his desire to kick back and do what comes easy with the benefits of pushing himself.
Gah! My heart and brain are both exploding with the gloriousness of that finale! I would personally love more of the show, but I'd hate to see it deteriorate, so if it must end then I'm glad it ends on a high note. And there are such beautiful stories here. I really hope that it inspires more vidders. That's probably my greatest hope--because it gives such gorgeous material. I would love to see a Matt-centric vid. A Tim-centric vid. Hell, even a Julie-centric vid! As well as more ensemble pieces.
Oh, thank you, THANK YOU, FNL creators, for making something so wonderful!
PLEASE SQUEE WITH ME! I need company! \o/