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12 April 2007 @ 10:27 pm
Friday Night Lights 1.21  
Friday Night Lights = WATCH IT

Note to wisteria_: Matt Saracen was very mini!Lee to me tonight. ;-)

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN'T LOSE! The outcome of this series was never in doubt: this was a 'rags to riches' tale of a team making good and winning state. And they did. There's a lack of suspense implied in this, but with so many character plot threads to tie up, that was never a problem in this finale.

Coach Taylor doesn't always get things right. Did he do the right thing by trying to hide the news of his transfer from the team until after the final? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the press, who have hounded him from the start, confronted him and pressed for an answer about whether he was going to TMU or not. He told the truth, though it meant devastating the morale of his team right before the final. This made his 'everyone loses battles sometimes' speech to them all the more heartfelt. The Coach held his head up under pressure, 'was a man', acknowledged the truth and addressed it directly in his pre-game dinner speech. In listening to him, the players know that he speaks from the heart, and he acts the way he talks.

Matt takes the news harder than anyone else, not only because of Julie, but also because he sees Coach as a father figure and he feels personally betrayed. I believe Matt was moved by Julie telling him how much her father thought about and talked about his players, and I think that when Matt came to speak to Coach afterwards, that exchange could have ended more positively if Coach had been willing to listen to Matt, to let Matt lead the conversation. Instead, he told Matt he'd understand if he ever had a family. That was no way to connect with Matt, and it's the last thing that teenager's want to hear--that they'll understand when they're older.

At halftime, Coach had to pull something incredible out of the box, and I couldn't wait to see how he did it, because this show always pulls off those moments and makes you believe them. The way he appeals to his players is in interesting contrast to how he talked to Matt earlier. He appeals to them as equals--reminding them that they all have relatives in the stand, people who believe in them, trust and rely on them, and he encourages them to do it for those people. It's essentially the same message he had for Matt: that we make decisions, we push ourselves forward to succeed for those we love. But it's phrased in a way that gives these kids no doubt that they can do this, that they are already the sort of people who can understand and respond to this appeal.

I actually gasped aloud when Smash caught Matt's pass for the touchdown, it was so spectacular. And playing on with a dislocated shoulder was classic stoic sportsmanship, fitting for the finale episode. But what I loved most about the final play was that it was Matt, with the support of the team, who decided what to do, and Coach gave them his support. At the start of this season, the team put their faith in the Coach, and he returned the favour here. It was everyone's victory, including Jason's and that was wonderful--it actually felt like he had never left the team, that he really had come 'full circle'.

But what about the other characters? Where have they ended up?

Lyla Garrety, for starters, has come a long long way. I loved her returning the keys to her Daddy's car. (If only more rich brats would do that!) and I also loved Tyra's bitchy greeting. She's been begging for a confrontation with Lyla all year, and it finally came and I love that it came only after Lyla herself is in a really different place. She's not the same girl who cheated with Tim Riggins. Tyra, too, has grown. But their argument exposes mutual hypocrisy: Tyra uses the 'it's what I do' excuse about flirting with Jason, while Lyla uses the good old 'you guys were on a break' line. And they find mutual ground in being hurt by being cheated on. At the start of the season, I bitched about the actress's delivery, but she pulled it off tonight: I found her first 'apology' obviously insincere but I really bought her second one.

Lyla ditches her pompoms. She stands on the sidelines of the parade, watching Jason pass, without clapping or applauding. She's nobody's cheerleader now, and I admire her for coming to that decision on her own, with no close friends or family to turn to. I also admire her for reaching out to Lyla despite everything. That shows both more resilience and more insight into character than she's given credit for.

Tim Riggins, on the other hand, hasn't changed much at all. I'm not surprised and part of me's really glad, because many teenage boys mature at glacial speed, and it would have stretched believability to have all the characters overcome their worst attributes. Tim stuffs up the tickets. He'd talked of wanting to rebuild a friendship with Tyra, but it didn't even occur to him that that might mean putting her (as a friend) over his latest ex and her kid. In Tim's defence, of course, I'm sure that Bo really is more excited by football that Tyra, but the fact remains that Tim misread Tyra. Again. There were many little touches in this episode I loved, but one of them was Tim's smile arriving at the stadium. State really is the only thing that can put a smile on his face!

Of course, I absolutely loved how Landry's romantic 'date' drive with Tyra turned into a girls' roadtrip. It was sweet that Landry picked up Matt's gran, and I loved her bonding with Tyra and singing along in the back of the car. Poor Landry! Hee!

I was sorry not to see Waverly at all in this episode, but the cake scene last episode was a great close for her character.

Tami was outstanding in this episode--I loved her reaction to finding out that she was pregnant. I also loved that having Smash's mum be a nurse at the pregnancy centre got worked into the plot so well--that's really cool and it definitely added to the sense of 'small town/small world'.

I also loved Tami losing it with Coach when he tried to pull that whole 'I'll stay in Dillon and be there for the family' thing. Gah! I was tearing my hair out during that scene. What a daft male reaction! (Oh, I didn't listen to you before, but now we're having a baby, suddenly you're the most important thing in my world. Yuh-huh.) Oh, I know that Coach was sincere, and I don't dispute how much he loves his family, but if the outcome had been him staying in Dillon because of the baby, I would have been cranky. As it was, I love that Tami wouldn't put up with that. It's what makes their relationship so strong.

I say 'I love' way to much in reviews of Friday Night Lights but I DON'T CARE! *glows*

I really really want to see these kids again. I want to know how Jason goes with coaching, I want to know what Lyla does with her life now, I want to see Tyra fight on, I want to watch Matt and Julie grow and gain confidence, I want Smash and Waverly to work out, I want Tim to, well, be Tim... please let there be more!
Current Location: bed
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on April 12th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! Looks like a great read! And yes, *hands you tissues*, I'm going to miss this show A LOT.
Kate: FNL Coachmskatej on April 12th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
I'm so blown away. Not just by the finale but by the entire season. I feel so lucky to have seen it, to have *experienced* it. There is nothing else like it in the history of television and even if it doesn't get picked up (PLEASE GOD NO) it will remain a milestone: a sublime, important, near-flawless season of ground-breaking TV.

The only thing I can think to compare it to right now is "The Wire" (which you should check out, btw), and that's an HBO show with only 12 episodes per season and a (presumably) much larger budget. They're completely different shows, obviously, but in terms of quality and consistency (and artfulness) they're on a par.

Blown. Away.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt and Tyrabop_radar on April 12th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
a milestone: a sublime, important, near-flawless season of ground-breaking TV
*seconds* It felt like watching a near-perfect movie, that's how tight it felt. Even the cut scenes are incredible? Did you see the ones from last week? That one between Tami and Tyra was so moving.

I should check out 'The Wire', yes.

I love this show to pieces, I'll be queueing for the DVDs (or, rather, advance-ordering from the US!) and I'll probably be unable to resist vidding it sometime soon too. Though there is no need to vid it--the show tells every character's story with such clarity, fairness and completion.
Charlotte; Possy Magnet.: FNL - Coach - clear eyeselsmoka on April 22nd, 2007 10:27 am (UTC)
I finally saw it and I LOVED it so much. the scene on the balcony wih Tami and Eric was so nice. And I LOVE this post!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt Saracenbop_radar on April 22nd, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
Yay! \o/ I love that show SO MUCH. Every time I think of it my heart just fills with love for the characters.