This week has been horrible in a self-inflicted way... sometimes recently it's felt like my heart is constricted between or under some bricks or something, and it's hard to break through the walls of anxiety.
Somehow it felt like a good time to watch FNL... maybe because it gives me something safe to sob about.
Wow, where to start? Needless to say my heart is overflowing with emotions... and I am very happy with what the show gave us, I knew I would be. That doesn't mean I don't have my own wishes or gripes with the specific plots/characters, but on a deeper level I'm really satisfied and moved. I found the editing of the final 10 minutes to be spectacular, and I really appreciated the way the writers worked to balance the plots of this specific season (or the Lions more broadly) with the longer overall show, bringing back some characters one last time. I couldn't ask for more, and I don't. Anything below is my own issues talking, because with Friday Night Lights I don't feel dissatisfied in the ways I might with another show... it taps something so pure and true, I find even its 'imperfections' (subjective) to be 'perfect' in the same way that the kids are perfect in all their flawed, teenage limitations...
And thus I free myself to rage a little bit at some stuff. Specifically ERIC. DEAR GOD, WHAT A CHILD. Yes, I know he finally gave in to Tami, but wow, I wanted to shake/kick/punch him many times in the last few episodes, when he put her through so much pain. I have always had issues with Eric but I've largely been able to see the good in him, specifically in what he gives the kids he trains... but it was a real struggle in this final arc. Yes, he did redeem himself, but there were times when I realised that in some ways he's just an overgrown child who noone has ever said no to. It is horrible that it took his wife breaking down in front of their daughter, his wife's immense grace (several times), for him to see that maybe he was being selfish. Objectively, I do see that Tami's job offer came at a very difficult time, when he was identified even more heavily than usual with Texas football and the Lions in particular, since they were just about to go to State... but you know what? That shouldn't be an excuse. As Tami says '18 years'. And to see how he expects her to answer the door for him and host his football buddies, even at a time when she has the best opportunity of her life awaiting her... ugh, it made me heartsick.
Of course it also made me love the resolution... and it was Tami's face, watching the falling football, so caught up in that split-second, that broke me most of all. Oh, Tami! It is not even your life, and yet you give your whole heart to it, to Eric and the kids, and even the GODDAM FOOTBALL.
I have to admit I have my reservations about Matt marrying Julie. On the one hand, I love Matt with all my heart and what he wants, I want for him. He couldn't have been more beautiful in his trembling sincerity with Julie and with Eric. And I LOVE him for NOT asking Eric's permission (and could have smacked J for suggesting it). However, I find Julie to be quite childlike still. I think Matt will carry that relationship, though I do think that Julie loves him.
However, despite conflicted feelings, I was able to 'go with' the proposal plot because of the light it shone on Eric's and Tami's marriage, the cracks it exposed. It was brave of the show to put that marriage under real pressure in the final arc, since it has long been the core of the show. I felt it to be genuinely at stake... I wanted Tami to leave him there for a little while, and I briefly thought she really might. That she might stay out of resignation was perhaps more likely, but also had beauty in its tragedy. However, I am glad that we got to see that for all that the Taylors seem mature, they also married very young and had to struggle every step of the way. Julie says they're her inspiration... well they continue to be in being imperfect and struggling on.
In that regard, I do love that Matt proposed to Julie. He's being true to his heart *right now*. And if the road is rocky for them in the years ahead, I at least trust that he knows how to do that. Plus, we got to see grandma break out her wedding gear, which was incredibly moving. Her kissing Julie's hand was one of the most resonant moments in the final episode for me.
The one part of me that wanted Coach to go to the Panthers super team was the (very large) part of my heart that belongs to Vince... It's not even that I think Coach is perfect with him. Actually I think Coach is still awkward with Vince sometimes, but that doesn't negate how important he is in Vince's inner landscape. Vince's journey moved me immensely in Season 5. I just adore him and his mother and I am ever so glad that she was able to find her own boundaries in her relationship with her husband. I think Vince is amazing in his capacity to forgive his father and hope for the best, but I think a relationship at a distance is much better for him. One of my favourite moments of this season was Vince searching for his mother after they won the pre-state final, and the way she leapt into his arms. I am glad, too, that Vince got to hear Coach's words ('you may never know how proud I am of you') and to tell him sincerely to his face how big a difference he made. I am also glad to see him moving on, with the Panthers, because it will give Vince a chance to learn that it's not just Eric that sees something magnificent in him--it is real and many other people can see it.
And oh, Jess... I am VERY relieved that Vince and Jess got back together before the end, because I ship those two hard. I don't mind that they are split up geographically now, because I think the relationship will evolve how it needs to evolve. But I really needed their reconciliation. I was happy, too, to see Jess's reluctance, and her honesty in saying that sometimes there is a part of Vince that she really hates. It is not the *real* Vince and I loved his response--that he was born with two strikes against him, because that hits so close to the truth. Yes, sometimes Vince displays some very ugly behaviour, but it is partly a consequence of the circumstances into which he was born. The degree to which he overcomes that is moving and mesmerising. But it doesn't mean that Jess should forgive him everything. ;)
Ah, yeah, that was another area where I wanted to slap Eric... I found him pretty shitty to Jess. Yeah, I know *she* was able to be grateful for the merest crumbs he allowed her to scrape up from the table, I know she took his putdowns as part of her dues, and I do realise that he is exceptional to even consider having a girl around in a semi-coaching capacity. However, it hurt a lot to see her strain for her dream and have him snap at her (even if he later relented). My heart soared seeing her in the final montage down in Dallas, working hard. Sweet Jess, may your dreams come true! You have so much courage, and I'm glad *Vince* at least was able to fully see that and treasure that by the end.
Luke... did Luke join the army?!! Wha-huh?! I didn't see that coming! I thought he was going to work the farm... I really liked him *not* taking a football scholarship, trusting his gut instinct that it 'didn't give him that feeling', and living state like it would be his last game (thanks, Riggins!). But yeah, the armed forces thing was a shock. And just when I thought he and Becky were getting somewhere... I don't think it will do Becky good to be the girl left behind again. She's played that role too often and she needs to break out of it. However, my emotional investment there is not as deep as with other characters.
I *was* pleased to see Becky resolve her feelings for Tim though, and to be so honest and open with Mindy. I loved Tim calling her 'family' and I was ever so glad that she was able to pass that gift on.
Billy... Billy, I can never forgive, nor admire. I am completely blocked with him. I think he's a slobbish, ungrateful, unthinking, ego-driven bastard with very little good in him. If I was Tim Riggins, I'd have taken off to Alaska without a second thought. Which just goes to show that Tim Riggins is a bigger person than I am. :p I can see that, I can see objectively that it was the stronger act to stay and re-establish a connection with his brother (even if his brother is a miserable human being who can't feel his wife's pain at soon having three children they can barely look after). Tim is fabulous with kids so I think it will be great for him to be an uncle, in an active sense. And building a house on his land *is* a fabulous goal. But some part of me wanted to see him chuck it all in... leave Texas for a while, maybe several years... even if I think eventually he might have returned. I can live with what they showed us though, because I think they managed to show both the deep pain that Tim carried with him from his self-sacrifice of prison, but also his growing maturity.
I love that Tyra played a role in helping Tim sort his head out. The show played the 'coming full circle' card there, echoing them waking up on a sofa together in the first episode with them waking up in a caravan together at the end... but I'm also deeply relieved that they didn't get back together in a permanent sense. I do think Tyra's destiny lies beyond Texas and I feared, briefly. that they might sacrifice that to Tim's story... I should have had more faith!! From Tim's point of view I am really thrilled that he was able to admit the depth of his feelings for Tyra, because I think they've always been there. For Tyra, well... I think she's moved on... but I do think there is part of her that is still that young girl in love with Tim Riggins, and I was comfortable watching them reconnect. They have a deep friendship--only Tyra could reach Tim--and that's what really matters.
It was weird, however, to see Landry back ever-so-briefly... I can see, with the way they wrote things, that they couldn't show him having resolution with either of his love interests, but it does feel a bit odd. Thankfully I'm ultimately more invested in Tyra than him, but I would have thought she'd at least look him up when she was in town. I think it's clearly more a storytelling decision here, and one I can respect. But it does leave a question mark in my head about where they left things and how, and what Tyra's feelings were when he moved on (because I don't think it matters how many guys she was busy hooking up with at college--she would still have cared). It did feel a little like at the end they thrust Landry back into 'secondary character' mode, playing Matt's best friend, but not having a story to resolve in his own right.
I did appreciate the other echoes of past characters... Jason Street's initials in the Panther's lockerroom, Smash on the TV in Buddy's bar... I couldn't care less about Buddy circling the Panthers playing field in his golfcart (ugh, Buddy, Eric got it right when he called you a son of a bitch), but I respect him as part of the storyline and overall plot. I was happy to see Tink still on the team also. :) And I hope Vince flourishes--I know he will.
I know my issues with Buddy, Eric and Billy are my own... and so that's what I mean when I say on a deeper level I couldn't be happier with what they showed us--I think it was all true to the characters, even if there are other ways in which it could have played out. I love that til the end the show always put the emotional journey of the characters ahead of melodrama and plot twists. The editing of the Lions' final match was gorgeous. I loved that so much of it could be done without a voice track, so much of it with music and close-ups... we are by now familiar viewers, we can sketch the ups and downs we know were inevitably part of the final without the show having to do it for us. It is in seeing the characters so spectacularly transfixed in those moments that seem to stretch for years which is cathartic for us. The arcing ball was glorious.
And life goes on! :) Even though I don't want it be over, I feel such deep trust in this show and what it's given us, I know with certainty that the characters live on ... their lives filled with what many people would call 'flaws' but which also shine with great grace and beauty, even when (especially when) they struggle.
Clear eyes. Full hearts.
This entry was originally posted at http://bop-radar.dreamwidth.org/236864.html. comments Comment here or there, as you will.