Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friday Night Lights, "Thanksgiving": Pride of the Lions

A review of the "Friday Night Lights" fourth season finale (and NBC viewers, I'm going to repost all these reviews once the season starts airing there on April 30) coming up just as soon as I bring my flash-fryer...
"Because Friday night... Friday night, there will be a bond formed between and among you, that will never be broken. I will not be proven wrong on that. Do I think we can beat the Dillon Panthers? I don't think we can beat the Dillon Panthers. I know damn well we can beat the Dillon Panthers. The question is, do you think that we can beat the Dillon Panthers? Then show me!" -Coach
The minute I saw the final scene of "Friday Night Lights" season three, I knew exactly how season four would go: Eric moves over to East Dillon, brings the football program back from the dead but suffers through many struggles, then salvages some measure of pride (and gets some nice revenge on Joe McCoy) when his once-pathetic team manages to knock the Panthers out of the playoffs. And then in the final season, the Lions would move more believably into being a good team, if not taking Eric to his third State championship in five years. You didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure this is how the year would go, just so long as you had a knowledge of underdog sports movies (in this case, "Necessary Roughness"), and that's (so far) exactly how things have played out.

So the question is, is it bad that the show traveled the route so many of us predicted a year ago? Or is the predictability - and, let's be honest, implausibility - of the Lions beating the Panthers outweighed by the fact that every character on this show (and those of us in the audience who care about them) really needed something great to happen after all the darkness of this season? I say yes to the latter.

One of the key themes of the show is that, while sports may not cure most of the ills facing a community and its inhabitants, it can at least provide a distraction, and a sense of common purpose, and a feeling of uplift in the worst of times. And, therefore, after the season our characters have been through - after Vince's best friend was murdered and Becky had to get an abortion and Tami ran into trouble and Eric constantly scraped and clawed to make this new gig work, and Tim Riggins went from college scholarship kid to voluntarily taking the fall for the chop shop - I would have found anything less than a dramatic come-from-behind win by the Lions unacceptable. After all the garbage so many of these characters had to eat this year, they deserved this ending. And so did we.

And even within the usual sports story tropes, I thought the execution was wonderful, from the Coach speech I quoted above, to the sequence of everyone at Hermann Field getting ready for the game, to Coach finding the exact right words to take the weight off Vince's shoulders ("I'm gonna enjoy watching you beat 'em all night long," which reminded him that this was supposed to be fun, dammit), to Vince leading the halftime chant, to Coach screaming, "LANDRY! WHERE'S MY KICKER?!?! LANDRY!!!" and giving Landry(*) a much tougher, but equally perfect, pep talk before our man kicked the game-winning field goal. It wasn't any more realistic than most of the other dramatic victories Eric's teams have had over the years, but it may have been the most pumped-up I've ever been to watch one, and Kyle Chandler's performance showed that it was the most excited Eric was, too.

(*) The only thing that would have made it better, frankly, is if the show had had a more consistent vision to the whole Lance/Landry thing. I know it's hard to plan this far in advance, but imagine if this was the very first time we ever heard Eric call Landry by his real name. How cool would that have been?

So after the incredible high of the Lions' win, and then the devastating - and yet honorable - low of Tim walking to jail so his nephew won't be another Riggins boy to grow up without a father, and the more bittersweet endings like Tami becoming a guidance counselor again at East Dillon and Julie and Matt splitting up (but on better terms than when he skipped town), where does that leave us?

Well, it leaves us with a very strong, but also noticeably flawed, season, and it gives Jason Katims and company a pretty clean slate on which to draw the fifth and final season.

I admire the ambition that went into this season. Katims basically tore down the series' foundation and started over, turning the Panthers into the villains, introducing new characters and a whole new world into the pre-existing one, all while servicing the pre-existing characters and giving Saracen and Riggins extended farewell tours.

That would be a lot to deal with even if the show were still doing 22-episode seasons, and I would argue it proved to be too much in 13. There just wasn't enough time to deal with everything, to give each character the shading he or she needed, and to provide each story with proper closure. The Lions win and Tami gets a new job and Tim goes to jail and Matt flies back to Chicago without Julie, but lots of other things were left unresolved or inadequately explored.

Kennard's still out there, wanting revenge on Vince for bailing on the hit (and for owing him money for Regina's rehab). We don't know where either Landry or Julie are going next year (though, presumably, we'll be seeing both Aimee Teegarden and Jesse Plemons for a bit next season). The abortion story went from one about Becky and, to a lesser extent, Luke, to one about Tami, and so we never saw enough fallout from the teen's respective families. I watched Luke's parents - who have never had much use for football, who would rather he be helping out on the ranch, and who are devout Christians who feel deeply disappointed that their son would get a girl pregnant (let alone the type of girl who would then abort their grandchild) - cheer wildly for him when he finally got into the game and thought there was an awful lot of that family dynamic that went unexplored, because there was no room.

Throughout the season, there were shortcuts and/or missed opportunities. Jess's dad made a fairly abrupt conversion from bitter anti-football ex-jock to enthusiastic Lions booster (and Jess herself tended to drift in and out of the narrative). Tim's role as unofficial assistant coach was forgotten fairly quickly. The fact that the Riggins boys were working for the same criminal organization that Vince drifted in and out of would have seemed like a natural opportunity to put the two together, but it never happened. In a lot of ways - that story, the abortion plot, the Landry/Jess/Vince love triangle that was mainly about Jess and Vince - it felt as if stories were only being written with one or two characters in mind, and not all the characters who were involved. The show is about a community, yet at times this year the stories seemed as insular as they did in the mostly-disastrous second season, where it often felt as if we were watching six different shows at once that all just happened to take place in the same town.

And I understand why that happened. Again, I respect the hell out of the ambition that went into this season, and that the show was able to tackle its usual issues about race and class and sex and coming-of-age with as much sensitivity and power as it did, even as it was showing us the building of a football team (and the community around it) from scratch.

And if certain stories or characters often left me wanting more, it was because what little we got from them was so wonderful. Landry was under-utilized all year - and got a couple of consolation prizes in the finale in the game-winning kick and then the flight to Chicago to hang with ol' buddy Matt - and yet Jesse Plemons absolutely nailed Landry's stunned, hurt reaction to Jess telling him that she still had feelings for Vince. Becky never really connected to anyone on the show but Tim, but the moment where Tim gave her his mother's snow globe for safekeeping during his prison stint (and as a peace offering after her feelings of betrayal) was beautifully-played by Taylor Kitsch and Madison Burge.

Kitsch was incredible throughout the episode, and I'm still kind of amazed by how much I disliked him at the start of the series. I don't know how much of the growth was him getting better versus the producers recognizing his strengths (screen presence) and weaknesses (delivering lots and lots of dialogue), but Riggins went from one of the show's weakest links to probably its most integral character outside of Coach and Mrs. Coach. I understand why Kitsch is leaving (with a few breaks and the right roles, he could do very well in movies) and also recognize that there was perhaps only so far they could take Tim's story before he completely disconnected from the rest of the series. But damn, I'll miss him, and Kitsch got a great moment to go out on in that long, stoic, frightened walk into the sheriff's station.

And after his abrupt departure earlier in the season, and then his depressing reappearance a few weeks back, Saracen got a more definitive goodbye, and one that nicely straddled the line between too depressing and too inappropriately sunny. He and Julie ended on a better note, but it's still an ending, and now Matt has to make his way in Chicago without her. And the series finally has to move on from yet another one of its great characters, and a tremendous actor in Zach Gilford.

And that, again, gives Katims and company a fairly blank canvas on which to paint the last season. Tami's now at East Dillon, so less time has to be spent justifying Tami work stories. We don't need to be introduced to a lot of new characters, though a few additional players (and/or expanded roles for people like Tinker) would be fine. The show doesn't have to worry about preparing for the future anymore. It can go for broke, do what it wants with characters without needing to save things for later seasons, and can give Coach, Mrs. Coach, the team and the town a proper ending if they want, or just a beautiful life-goes-on kind of finale if they don't.

That finale's a long way off as I write this, at the end of the DirecTV run, and I look forward to seeing how the NBC viewers react to any and all parts of the season. But "FNL" season four lived up to the expectations created in the season three finale - not just in terms of what happened, but in terms of how good so much of it was.

Some other thoughts:

• The usual assortment of great off-the-beaten-path tunes this week, including "Sway" by Heartless Bastards (the Thanksgiving practice), "Goin' Home" by Dan Auerbach (Eric driving around with the Big Cat Classic trophy) and Steve Earle's "Goodbye" (the final montage of Tim, the Taylors and Saracen and Landry).

• Last week, I suggested that a Lions win might wind up making Coach even more hated in town than he was before, and I don't particularly buy Slammin' Sammy Mead - the unseen stand-in for all the most devout Panther-loving yahoos in town - talking about how impressed he was by the Lions' grit and determination. No. Just no. Just as people in town act like Eric "quit" on the team after last season (when, in fact, Joe McCoy got his job taken away), they would all view the Lions' win as yet another betrayal from the former coach of their beloved Panthers.

• Not much room to show JD and Joe dealing with their comeuppance, but the little we see - JD throwing an on-field tantrum, Joe looking mystified after Landry's kick is good - was fairly sweet. I also liked all the shots of Wade Aikman on the sideline throughout the game looking like he wanted his momma. While the talent level we'd seen of the Lions suggests they had no business giving the Panthers a game, even with Luke playing a couple of series, I can believe that the McCoy machine got over-confident and simply never took their ghetto rivals seriously.

• To spare any possible confusion: the scholarship Luke tells Coach about (yet another story that got fairly short shrift in a very busy finale) wasn't to college, but to a private high school. Luke's not graduating yet, and will surely be back on the show/team next season.

What did everybody else think?

64 comments:

bjc5379 said...

The only thing that wasn't wrapped up was whether Luke would be bak next year. They never made it clear unless him being helped off the field saying "He would be back" for the game was a metaphor for next year.

Tami wouldn't read the written apology, but she would step down to take a lesser position at East Dillon. Not sure how I feel about that yet. After talking with other people, I may be dragged to understand it.

Your site is the first place I come after every FNL episode. Thanks for another great season, Alan!

Vlada said...

I agree that a lot of characters got under-serviced this year, especially Luke. I want to know more about him and the other new students. But I take that as a good sign. At least I like them enough and am interested in them enough to want more.

We don't know where either Landry or Julie are going next year (though, presumably, we'll be seeing both Aimee Teegarden and Jesse Plemons for a bit next season)

Technically, Landry and Julie wouldn't know yet where they're going. College admission letters usually arrive in the spring and it's only November (so weird to see them celebrating Thanksgiving while it's February for viewers. Will be even weirder for NBC viewers in the summer, I imagine.).

belinda said...

This season went by way too fast. Especially since we're introduced to a number of new characters, who we're just starting to know - I would have loved to see even just one or two more episodes in the season that would have really helped with all the plots and characters developments. It's a good season, but it felt too rushed. Which is mostly ok for the old characters, because we know so much about them to play those offscreen moments out in our heads, but much more difficult to do with the newbs. And I do like the new characters, but their poignant moments that FNL does so well just seem a little less poignant with the rush, so it's hard to compare my feelings for e.g. towards Saracen back in S1 compared to Luke this season, who is an interesting character and I care about him, but hardly to the degree I did for Saracen. But overall, the season did the best it could with the difficult circumstance and timing it was in.

And agreed. I don't know if I could have taken the Lions losing just because it's been so sad and depressing for them. They needed a win, even though it was an obvious choice of plot.

It would be impossible to include football (or is it?), but what are the chances of a part of next season being not the next school year, but the second half of the school year?

Tim said...

I think you pretty much nailed it with your comment about "...watching six different shows at once." While the acting has been top notch this season, the compressed season has meant the feeling of "community" that FNL perfected in previous seasons was missing here. The Tim/Becky storyline reminded me of the Tyra/Landry murder plot (shudder!), insofar as it isolated him from the rest of the cast for the entire season.

Some of my favorite scenes from previous seasons were throwaway ones, such as Smash and Landry having lunch with Matt when he was hungover, or Lyla ariving at Tim's house to find him pantless, talking to Tyra. None of these were vital to the plot, but they gave you the sense that all these people lived together in a small town where everyone had connections to everyone else.

R.A. Porter said...

Well damn if Derek Phillips didn't make me teary *again*.

I hope Tim's comment to Becky about being part of his family means we'll still have the Riggins around next season. I'd be very sad to lose Tim and Billy on the same night.

In a lot of these stories, it felt like they were actually fleshed out in the scripts and then cut out in editing. They have a lot of ungainly jumps. But even with those, what we had was beautiful.

Andy said...

I'm ending the season feeling really satisfied, even though I'm hurting for Tim. I can see where Alan's coming from with a lot of the unresolved issues, but damn, they've figured out for to make the show for next to nothing, and I think they have a lot to be proud of. I was more amped up for the final game than any other so far, though I expect to be even more amped for next year's series-ending game.

Also, while I agree with Alan that this season kind of had no choice but to go the way it did, I do think it's possible that next season will end with a Lion's loss. I don't want it, but I can see it.

Lastly, not sure if I'm in the minority, but I LOVED season two. Took some getting used to, but so has every season since. And I completely bought the murder plot.

Ed from SFV said...

I am with you as to honoring the ambition of Katims et al. Yet I am more angry at them than anything.

They ruined the show for me. No way in Dillon (Hades) do the Lions win this year. None. No way in the universe does Eric Taylor play the injured Luke. None. You already noted Slammin' Sammy's betrayal. Incredible.

I will say the biggest WTF moment for me, though, was seeing the "LIONS" in Buddy's dealership windows in glorious red. Wow. This moment I bought. It was epic. And it lasted all of what, 38 frames?

It would be better if the Taylors actually do move on to greener pastures before next season and we don't get any more football. He will never be a hotter prospect than he is now, and the town has now messed with his wife and not just Eric. He proved his point. Time to go.

Thank you for your excellence, Alan.

Mark said...

So what was East Dillions final record? I know Texas high school football in a 10 game regular season. We only got to see them play only five games or so.

Did Landry drop out of school to move to Chicago?

Did Riggins actually get sentenced already?

Anonymous said...

I think the next season will be a continuation of this one...see season 4 is ending n thanksgiving...took a frame of time between august and november, (and right after season three when they play the state game and the next was Coach dismissing the team for the summer), sounds logical that season five took it from here (december) to the summer, and we can have the proper closings for the stories and the people...like a full season but splitted in two.

Mark said...

I realize Dillion is portrayed as a place people are dying to get out of. They still have family there and do they completly abandon them? Why would Tyra and Lyla at least not come home for the holiday? They are college freshmen and dorms are usually closed during breaks? Where are they spending their holidays?

paul said...

I have to confess disappointment in the last two episodes. Both were too predictable. Not just that the Lions would beat the Panthers, but the way they would win, the abortion story line, the murder story line, Luke, the Riggins boys, etc. After the first few minutes of the penultimate episode, you pretty much knew how these plot lines would play out. For instance, of course the mention of abortion is going to start up a controversy and media barrage, that Tami would come under fire but never apologize, and that she would leave for East Dillon. If nothing else, Eric's success would make her continued tenure at West Dillon unacceptable to the Panther boosters. Once you go down that line, the result (and pretty much every step along the way) is inevitable and thus predictable. That robbed most of the plot developments of their power.

I hated Julie's breakup speech. Possibly the stupidest line of reasoning used by a character not named Tyra or Riggins. I may be biased by own Chicago background, but eyes rolled so hard I think I strained something.

The game itself had some oddities. I loved how the announcers said that Dillon "was back on top" after scoring its second touchdown. As Landry missed the extra point, Dillon was never not on top but lead 7-6. Also, you knew the minute that Landry missed the extra point, he'd kick the winning field goal.

All those flaws aside, there was some tremendous acting and camera work last night during the dinner scene, and the Lions win was satisfying if foreordained. I would have preferred some better scripting.

Ian said...

I do buy both the Lions winning and Sammy (somewhat grudgingly) giving them their props. It's fairly common in sports (and especially the NFL) for a team to lose to a far inferior opponent, especially when they have a big game after that to think about. Hence the cliche "winning games you're supposed to win".

That said, I was mentally prepared for Landry to miss and the Lions to lose. In many ways it would have beautifully mirrored the ending of the FNL movie, but it also would have put everyone (especially Landry) in a much darker place going into the final season. And I don't buy that the Panthers were anywhere near as much of a superior team over the Lions as Dallas Carter was over Permian. After all, wasn't Luke meant to be the Panthers' big missing piece early on?

I'm going to be very interested to see where everything goes next season, especially without Tim, Julie, or Landry as regulars.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think the next season will be a continuation of this one...see season 4 is ending n thanksgiving

Other than season 3, which jumped ahead in its last episode because the producers thought it might be the series finale, every season has taken place entirely during the span of the football season. A few years back, I asked Katims if he had ever thought of making every other season take place in the spring so he could hold onto his actors longer - and so we wouldn't have to miss huge chunks of these characters' lives - and he said that "FNL" needs the structure of the football season to be the show that it is. So I'm sure season 5 will open in late summer/early fall, though I also suspect we'll get another finale like season 3's "Tomorrow Blues" that jumps ahead so we have a better sense of where everybody's going.

paul said...

I should amend my earlier comments to note that I was delighted to see Saracen return and get a less dark farewell. Aside from Eric and Tami, he is by far my favorite character on the show. (I don't share Alan's fascination with the Riggins boys.) I loved the "he such a girl" comment after Landry shut the door in his face. For better or worse, the ex-players need to leave the show so its focus can stay on the team, but Saracen will be missed. And Landry too.

Bryan said...

Yes to all of these comments - yes it was predictable, yes it was hokey etc but damn it was still great.

A few weeks ago I decided to stop worrying about all the holes in character, timeline and logic (which I attribute to the shortened season) and just take in each episode as it is. By not worrying about some of the smaller issues I was able to really appreciate the show even more I think. Without getting too grandiose or "collegiate" here I was able to view the characters archetypically- what they represent- and doing that the show took on almost a mythic quality- it became very powerful.

Anyway I don't want to overdo it but I think there's a reason we can so thouroughly enjoy a show with so many holes and for me this is it.

Karen said...

Ended up with a bunch of questions, a lot of suspended disbelief, but emotionally satisfied. Which is fine with me.

blinky said...

The shorted season reminds me of the last season of The Wire when HBO cut it down to 10 shows instead of the normal 13. The FNL story went way too fast. Great show and this considering I would NEVER have imagined ever liking a HS football show set in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how Tami stepping down as principle to become a guidance counselor is plausible. She was suspended for counseling a student, how would the school board (and especially a certain mother of an East Dillon student) approve her new position?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Tami's lawyer forced their hands, and they can sell it as a demotion, and if Mrs. Cafferty wants to scream, she can scream. But publicly, it will look like Tami was punished.

Anonymous said...

I understand how Tami stepping down will look like a punishment but I don't see how anyone would be ok with this except for Tami. They are putting her in a job that would require her to do the very thing she got 'fired' for. It would be like firing a football coach because the offense was terrible and giving him the offensive coordinator job.

Chuck said...

Thanks a lot for reviewing the episodes, I always come here every wednesday night. I appreciate it.

Landry Clarke FTW.

Anonymous said...

I didn't much care for the abortion storyline, so I hope that they mostly just leave it in the past for next season, but I can't see Luke's mother accepting her transferring into the school her son actually attends, even if she'd accept the demotion otherwise.

Anyhow, while this certainly wasn't a perfect season and had plot and logic holes here and there I thought this last episode did a pretty remarkable job at finishing off the season's story while giving send-offs (some permanent, some from regular to guest star) to Matt, Landry, Julie, and both Riggins brothers.

That said, I do wonder about next season; I took the news of the 2 season renewal to mean they can bring back past regulars here and there to work with those still left, but everyone is pretty much gone now who would connect them to the football story without playing a Six Degrees of Dillon game with the narrative. I just hope the fairly thin narrative the compressed season gave us for the new characters is strong enough to carry next season. Bringing Tami into East Dillon so that they can more tightly focus on those four kids is smart for narrative reasons if not logical ones. Because I always viewed the show as being about Coach Taylor and Matt Saracen, it kind of feels like the show ended last season and these are just bonus episodes, and I can't believe I'm excited to watch a season with absolutely none of the original kids left. I'd rank the seasons 1>3>4>2, and as I kind of see these as bonus seasons even a disastrous 5th won't really diminish the show as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

Great episode! I loved it all the way around.

While I will admit that the Lions beating the Panthers was cliche (but so what!?), I don't find it implausible. Upsets happen all the time. Any team can beat any other team. All sports fans recognize this. Even if the Panthers were the number one team in Texas, the Lions could still realistically beat them. It's made even more realistic by the fact that they obviously weren't that dominant. They needed this win to make the playoffs, so they were a pretty middling team.

I also didn't find Tim's deal unrealistic. People make deals all the time, and we're dealing with a Sheriff's office, not the F.B.I. I thought it was made pretty clear that the only/main reason the cops came to Riggin's Rigs was because the car crusher guy identified Tim. The episode also showed that the cops/courts were willing to make a deal if there were a guilty plea to one charge. Tim just got his lawyer to slightly alter the deal, probably in return for a guilty plea to an additional charge.

And can I just say that I love Becky, and her relationship with Tim. I loved both of their scenes in this finale, and have pretty much loved every scene they shared this season.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why --even within the context of the dramatic demands of the show-- Tami never stood up before the public to PLAINLY state: "I did not do the thing that I am being accused of doing."

There were other possible ways for Tami to defend herself, but it makes no sense at all that she never actually denied the charge against her.

Django said...

Did anyone else notice some of the Wade Aikman clips showed the Panthers in blue jerseys, when they were actually playing in white? Small thing, but you don't usually catch editing errors on the show. Great episode to cap things, can't wait for the final season.

Anonymous said...

Good review as always Alan,

I would just add that I hope next season has more of a spirit of the 1st season about it, perhaps a bit more football and focus on that side of things. Some of the storylines are in danger of drifting into just another teen drama, one tree hill territory. Some of us watch the show BECAUSE it is about high school football in Texas not in spite of this.

Susan said...

The most touching moment of the show wasn't the game win for the Lions, or Tami being true to herself, or Tim's taking one for his brother - it was Billy's speech at the dinner. Sure got dusty in the TV room with that one. It felt very heartfelt and real.

I'm not a big fan of Becky and didn't like her showing up again at Tim's doorstep to trash him. But the way they played it out - for him to offer his family to her - was a nice touch.

I love Matt and Julie, but am glad they left Julie's need to do her own thing as the resolution. I'll fantasize that at some point they get back together. But they gave us Tami and Eric's daughter with Julie's decision to do what was necessary to her.

Finally - the ending felt odd in that all the final scenes were of the white characters. After a season of mixed race, to leave the finale with a focus on just the white characters felt unbalanced. Sure the Black characters will be back next year, and Tim and Matt and Julie and Landry probably won't be (much). But the lack of even one Black character in the mix misrepresented what the season had accomplished in balancing the racial storylines.

Thanks, Alan. I'll miss stopping by these posts once a week.

Anonymous said...

So, Taylor Kitsch isn't coming back at all to wrap up his storyline? It's a damn shame if not. That character deserves a final coda...

PY said...

Just let me get one thing off my chest first before I get to the plaudits ...

Ugh, I can't believe they had the Lions win. On a Landry 45-yard field goal, at that. I was thinking "They have to make it to fall just short" and let out a big "No" when it went though. In the end, I think the problem was that they just didn't show enough Lions football this season, so it made it hard to believe the team had improved enough to do something like this without having seen evidence of it ourselves.

I think we should all boycott the show next year and download it on BitTorrent instead of subscribing to DirectTV to show the writers our disappointment. Maybe it will force their hand ... oh wait, they're already not coming back after next season. Nevermind.

Ok ... now that that's done with ...

In the end, I'm more than ok with the win for the Lions, for the reasons Alan described. GIven the trials for all the characters this season, I personally would have been sad to see the season end on the "Empire Strikes Back"-type despair that I had thought they might be aiming for. I'm more than happy to suspend some disbelief to feel happy for the characters. That's much to the writers' credit, that they make me care about the characters' happiness that much. I'm also wondering if they ended the game that way to make up for the lack of Plemons this season (and also to give him a good, memorable image for his sendoff ... and to make up for his lack of luck with women).

I thought it was fitting that the final shot of the season was of Matt with the song lyrics saying "Goodbye." In many ways, he's been the emotional heart of the show up until this season (more than Coach, who, by the nature of his character, needs to keep his emotions mostly in check). The season could have ended on any number of other shots of other characters/situations, but I thought it was very apt ... and a fitting sendoff for Saracen/Gilford.

Similarly, I thought it was also a great ending for Riggins. His situation in the end really was a nice microcosm of his entire character arc -- bad boy with a heart of gold (to put it in cliche terms, for brevity's sake). And, like Alan, I've really been struck throughout the season with how great a job Kitsch did with the character. And now, without Saracen and Riggins, it will be interesting to see how the show feels next season without any of the "old guard" around.

One question -- will Madison Burge still be around next season? Given that she had almost no connection to other characters, it's tough to see where they take her without creating an artificial "Tyra is now best friends with Julie" kind of situation (my guess is they pair up her and Jess as a truly odd couple). That said, they did create some tenuous connections with Tami (soon to be her guidance counselor) and also with Billy (from Tim's "you're family now" speech ... though Billy was also only connected to the show through Tim). Anyways, Alan, do you have the scoop on Burge? And, actually, on Billy, too? You can't have too much Billy Riggins.

Taking a step back ... I just have to say that I love this show so much. This season was too short (and that brought about a number of issues, as Alan outlined). But FNL is the only show (besides Chuck) that makes me care this much about its characters and their lives, and it's to be commended over and over and over for that. Is there any chance at all it goes beyond one more season, or is that set in stone? Can we organize a "subscribe to DirectTV and buy an Under Armour shirt" on the night of next season's finale to try and save the show?

And Alan, you're to be commended too. Thank you for your wonderful reviews each week. My weekly ritual has been to watch the episode, reflect for about 10 seconds, then read your blog. And, more than that, thanks for giving this show the attention it deserves.

PY said...

By the way, they never did a single thing with the assistant-coach-who-works-at-Sears-is-gay storyline, after introducing it in such a bombshell fashion. That stood out a bit. I guess he'll have his trials and tribulations next season.

HMM2 said...

With the exception of the third season of the Wire, I can't think of another show that has dealt so matter-of-factly with a gay character's sexual orientation. There's really no reason to address the issue further. The subtlety is a nice touch

Irv said...

There was a certain symmetry to the Season 3 and Season 4 finales where both Taylor risked their positions (and livelihoods) rather than compromise their principles. I'm sure that Tami's move to East Dillon will ultimately prove as successful as Eric's.

The win, while highly improbable, did work for me even if I wouldn't have thought so as recently as two episodes back. (It was actually more plausible than the Panthers comeback from the big halftime deficit in the Season 1 finale.)

And Alan, thank you for the spot on weekly updates and your support of maybe the best drama EVER on television.

Tyler and Stacy: said...
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Stacy said...

I agree with Alan here that you simply HAD to let the Lions win this one. The characters and the fans have been through too much this year not to let them have their moment of joy.

Some are saying that the way the game played out was implausible, but this show established from season 1 that it was not highly concerned with believability when it came to the execution of football games. Out of the 10 or 11 games played in season 1, I think at least 6 of them were won on last second plays (seriously?). When you only have a handful of minutes to show the game, you have to do something over-the-top to provide some excitement, and that's what they do. The way the Lions beat the Panthers was certainly in line with that.

And as someone said above, the Panthers clearly weren't as good as previous seasons. Early in the season the Panthers had two major stars: JD and Luke. One of them is no longer a Panther, and without him the Panthers were struggling to get in the playoffs. Plus, the Lions have been competitive in every game they've played in for at least the last three weeks. Toss in the age old sports adage "you throw out all the numbers in a rivalry game," and anything can happen. The Landy-hitting-the-game-winning-FG was cliche, but as soon as the ball left his foot, I didn't care about the cliche. I wanted that ball to go through the uprights so that Landry - and the other characters involved with East Dillon - could finally have their moment.

Yeah, pretty much everything was predictable. We knew weeks ago that Tim was going to take the fall for Billy; it was obvious that Tami would never issue that apology; and as Alan said, at the end of season 3 we knew that the big pay off this season was going to be coach beating his now arch-nemesis.

In the end, I could careless. What's great about this show is that it makes me forget the critic inside. Those semi-cliched moments and predictable storylines mean nothing when my spine is tingling and my eyes are welling up with tears. That's where this show succeeds and always has.

I don't know if anyone reads Chuck Klosterman, but in one of his books he talks about FNL and almost perfectly describes my relationship with the show. The basic gist is that the show is full of implausible characters doing implausible things, and that his head is always questioning how much he should actually like the show. But in the end he's always overcome by a swell of emotion that he can't explain. That's exactly where the show hits me as well, and I'm more willing to forgive its shortcomings because of it (the plot holes, the short cuts in the writing, etc.).

Despite some problems in the episode, the finale underscored the brilliance of FNL. Recently an LA Times TV critic called it arguably the "best drama in TV history." Having seen The Wire, I'm not about to go there. But he did make a salient point in his claim that the show may have the "greatest emotional range" of any show he's ever seen. It does the "highs" as well as any show, but it's also outstanding in its portrayal of the "lows." And this episode showed off that range in exceptional fashion. I was teary-eyed listening to coach rally the troops in one of his most inspiring speeches ever; I got teary-eyed when I felt the love and emotion pouring from Billy in his Thanksgiving speech (which hit me in a spot similar to when I read The Road -- just that pure love between two people); I got teary-eyed by the the sheer elation of watching Landry's FG sail through the uprights; and I full on sobbed when I saw Tim headed toward the jail (the most selfless act I can imagine anyone doing for another short of death).

Inspiration, love, elation and joy, and then one of the deepest moments of despair I have ever felt for any character on TV -- all in one episode. Dang, FNL, well done. Well done.

barefootjim said...

So a couple of things: while Landry's kick was up in the air, I realized that I would be fine no matter how it landed, and I even said "wide right" when it first left his foot.

My wife, who comes from a town small enough that her mom still follows the high school team despite having no kids in high school for two decades, says that that type of "newly-minted cross town underdog" upset used to happen ALL THE TIME in her town.

Finally, did you see the look on coach's face during the game? I hadn't see that look all season. It was the look of someone who was having fun again, at long last.

Stacy said...

@ anonymous above.

From what I've read, Tim will be back. The writers have said that he will definitely be in the end of season 5 and whenever else they can get him.

Tim is going to get his happy ending. I can feel it coming.

Isaac Lin said...

In season 2, I felt the characters were not reacting based on their established personalities, and so on top of that the disjointed storylines made things worse. With the characters acting true to form this season, I didn't mind the separate stories so much. And since the characterizations were consistent, it was relatively straightforward to fill in the missing gaps in the narrative.

Matthew said...

watching coach taylor this season is teaching me how to become a good man & husband. that in of itself is worth my time

PY said...

@ HMM2

My problem was that they I didn't feel like the dealt with Stan's sexual orientation in a straightforward way, but they didn't deal with it *at all* after Julie saw him and the club and mentioned it to him at the pep rally. Given the way they set it up, it felt like it was something we'd circle back to, but we never did ... in any way, shape, or form whatsoever (straightforward or not). I chalk it up to the writers realizing they had too many stories to tell in too short a time and wanting to do it justice. Curious to see if it ever comes up again.

Anyways, this is such a teeny-tiny, minor nitpick that I feel bad to have brought it up now. It took absolutely nothing away from a great season and the best show on TV.

Actually, Alan, while we're on the topic, with both FNL and Mad Men having four seasons in the bag now, where would you rank them right now? It's a bit of an apples and oranges comparison -- FNL is emotional, Mad Men is existential -- but I know you had Mad Men #1 and a couple of other dramas above FNL in your rankings. Did this season change anything?

Anonymous said...

I had two items of note to add:

Jess's dumping of Landry makes more sense leading into Season 5 because it opens the door for Tyra to step back into the void. Although I was sick to death of Tyra/Landry "will they or won't they end up together" thing in Seasons 2 and 3. I really hope the return of the Tyra/Landry storyline doesn't dominate Season 5.

Luke's potential transfer to St. Patrick is likely being driven less by him and more by his parents. Luke's transfer to a religious school would solve multiple problems in the minds of Luke's parents. First, the transfer gets him further away from Becky, who led him astray (again, in their minds). Second, it gets Luke further away from Tami's influence, as she would see him every day given her reassignment to East Dillon as a guidance councelor. Third, it would provide Luke a Christian education, which is more reflective of their own beliefs. The fight between Luke and his parents over a potential transfer is perfectly set up to be a leading story line in the first few episodes of Season 5.

Billiam said...

As the game unfolded, it became pretty obvious that they would win with Landry kicking a field goal, but as the ball went through the air, I realized I really wanted him to make it.

Also, I believe Katim has made a comment about what time of year the 5th season premiere might begin, but I don't know if that would be too much of a spoiler (though I think he hadn't decided for sure when he made the comment).

mj said...

@PY - I know you were directing your MM/FNL comparison question to Alan but I couldn't help but throw in my two cents. I've watch every episode of Mad Men and every episode of FNL ever made. I really try to care about the characters on Mad Men but just can't (except maybe for Joan and Peggy).

On the other hand a Coach speech on FNL can create dust in my living room. And just like R.A. Porter, I cry like a baby when I see Billy Riggins show the type of emotion he showed last night. Heck, Mindy's tears got to me, too. That's never happened for me watching MM. What really sent me into Bawlsville in the S4 finale was Tim's "I am your brother" speech. Astonishing.

And speaking of comparisons to MM - the Landry (again, WHY did Coach say Landry instead of Lance this week???) field goal was far more plausible to me than a high-ranking executive getting his foot chopped off by a John Deere rider mower in a NYC office.

My favorite moment of the FNL S4 finale - the barely detectable lip curl, depicting pride, from Coach when his wife refused to apologize. It's a treat to watch. Kyle Chandler is just a brilliant actor. The difference between Kyle Chandler and Jon Hamm is that if Hamm was playing the role of Coach, there is no way he could play the nuances that Chandler does; but it's easy to imagine Chandler nailing the role of Don Draper and/or Dick Whitman.

Tara said...

Just here really to agree wholeheartedly with PY on the following:

I thought it was fitting that the final shot of the season was of Matt with the song lyrics saying "Goodbye." In many ways, he's been the emotional heart of the show up until this season

Ever since the news broke that Zach Gilford would be leaving, I was dreading the moment it would happen because Matt Saracen has been the heart and soul of this show for me ever since he was forced to step out of Jason Street's shadow in season 1. And it was a huge surprise for me that he came back for the finale, I thought his arc was over. I'm really really glad that he did, because this ending felt a lot better than the previous two. I also like that he basically got three different goodbye episodes because that emphasises what an important character he has been.

That said, I also think the season was outstanding, and that a happy end for the Lions was much needed in order to make things look less bleak for everyone. It's the power of sport at its most beautiful best.

zac oldenburg - filmszc@gmail.com said...

Taylor Kitsch will be back next year! He is just going ot miss most of the season due to filming John Carter of Mars

Loretta said...

Just because Taylor Kitsch will be back doesn't mean he's getting his happy ending after all.

Someone could easily visit him in jail. And of course, even if he's released, he's still going to have a record for the rest of his life, though that might not matter much if he returns to work at Riggins' Rigs or to start a farm.

I guess I always viewed the Tim Riggins storyline with a sense of impending doom, and I feel like we've finally arrived at it. That doesn't mean that I wasn't hopeful at the end of last season when he got that scholarship, but I wasn't surprised when he left and returned to Dillon.

Moreover, I don't think the show would be true to its roots if everyone got a happy ending, and I guess Riggins seemed the most likely to end up in tragedy right from the get-go.

Stacy said...

@Loretta

I definitely think you are going to see people visiting him in jail. The writers have said he'll be appearing for sure at the end of season 5, and "whenever we can get him."

My guess is we are going to see periodic visits from Coach, Becky, Billy, etc., while he's in the slam. And since the attorney said they were looking at 1-5 years, that puts him out of jail at the end of season 5 in time for them to wrap up his storyline.

The record doesn't seem like it's going to mean much in terms of getting him a happy ending. He already owns the land, and Billy will keep the shop going. He'll just slip right back into life.

I agree that there is something that is just kind of tragic about the Riggins character, but I don't think the writers would give every other character some type of resolution and hang Riggins -- who along with Saracen has really been the heart of the show -- out to dry. But of course I could be completely wrong.

For now I'm sticking by the prediction I made last week. Here's an excerpt from the Scott Porter interview I referenced a week ago: “I may have a guest spot return to Dillon in season five. In the final episodes of the wrap-up season, we’ll put a bow on everybody. There are definitely some ways to bring Jason Street back. If Riggins gets in trouble, or if Riggins ends up getting married, then I’ll come back for that. [Street's return] is probably going to be Riggins-related, although since I’m a football scout now, I could probably come down and look at some of the new kids at East Dillon.”

Street get sick of the city life and moves back to Dillon. He takes some of the money he's saved working in NYC and adds to Timmy's land so they can get their ranch. Show comes full circle back to the pilot...Texas Forever.

Maybe that ending seems a bit too Hollywood, but given the moments of despair the show has put 33 through, I think it would be rightfully earned.

Rachel said...

I agree with your comment, Alan, about things that get left out--the big losers on the shortened seasons are the parents. The kids' stories are good, but I always felt the show had more body by having the insights into the parents as well. I think about some of the scenes between Jason and his mom, the great scene with Coach and Mitch Street at the pharmacy or even the 3 episode arc with Tim's dad. None of those would probably have made it into a 13 episode season.

Having said that, I would rather have 13 episodes than none.

I'm fine with a final season--I think it's better knowing it's the end and wrapping things up in a final way that having it left hanging. I do hope that with Riggins coming back in some fashion that there can be some conclusion to the story with Jason. Because for me the bottom line is always "Texas Forever".

Also - loved how they used music from the first season in this finale episode. It gave it that feeling of hope in the face of the worst kinds of adversity and brought back a lot of memories of that magnificent first season.

Ris said...

I have to get if off my chest. I couldn't stand Becky's character. Maybe if it leaned more towards her and Luke I'd feel differently, but seeing her obsess and constantly throw herself at Tim was utterly annoying. Whaaa whaaa whaaa what a whiny girl she was.
Ok, I'm so glad to get that off my chest!
I love this show and it saddens me it doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I want to reiterate what Bryan wrote below: "A few weeks ago I decided to stop worrying about all the holes in character, timeline and logic (which I attribute to the shortened season) and just take in each episode as it is. By not worrying about some of the smaller issues I was able to really appreciate the show even more I think. Without getting too grandiose or "collegiate" here I was able to view the characters archetypically- what they represent- and doing that the show took on almost a mythic quality- it became very powerful."
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a tv show as I have FNL. I cried and I mean cried from so much emotion this show had to offer. I believe the writers will stay true to “Texas Forever” in the final season. If not I will definitely be disappointed. Just don’t bring Becky back; I dreaded watching scenes she was in.

MVW said...

I LOVE this show for what it is and am absolutely attached to the main characters even Smash ;). I have to agree with Ris, I was not a fan of Becky’s character.

With that said, I did feel it was hard to get attached to the new characters because of the short season. I understand the old characters have to move on because they graduated from high school.
I’d love to see how this show would carry on with the main characters life after high school, but I understand the writers want to keep true to the show and keep it based around high school football.

Maybe at the end of Season 5 there could be a reunion of some sort based around Coach Taylor that will bring back all the main characters throughout the series. In Prison Break, Michael the main character dies at the end and in the final show it had most of the main characters reunite at his grave. I know it sounds so morbid and don’t get me wrong I LOVE coach Taylor, but it’s just a thought. Maybe he gets an award or drafted to the NFL or something. Each original character had some sort of relationship with Coach Taylor it only makes sense for there to be some sort of reunion based around him, so that we can see all of them together again. ???I don’t know??? But I do know: FNL forever! Haha ;)

FEAST said...

Another song from the East vs West game: Obits - Talking to the Dog

Alex said...

Oh, this show! Each episode of FNL takes me on an emotional roller coaster like nothing else that I watch. I squealed when Matt appeared behind Lorraine. I cheered several times during the game. I almost teared up several times, too.

No way in hell does Mrs. Cafferty not make a big stink about Tami coming over to E. Dillon, but I'm sure she'll get in. It would be interesting if she didn't, though, and had to deal with being out of work.

So glad that Zach Gilford got to have a final, final goodbye, even though I thought the idea of Matt asking Julie to come to Chicago (for winter break? Thanksgiving break?) was ludicrous. At least those two kids get to end on a better note in the eyes of the viewers. I do wish we had gotten to see more interaction between Matt and Julie and Tim at Thanksgiving dinner. How come Timmy got to sit with the grown-ups?

And Tim. Oh, Tim. The heart breaks, but he did the right thing. So glad the writers never had him act on Becky's attraction. I love that wardrobe has kept the same jacket for Taylor Kitsch from season 1. Adds to the realism factor.

Overall, I was pleased with season 4. I still can't stand Becky, but I guess that's a testament to Madison Burge? And I thought Michael B. Jordan and Jurnee Smolett and Matt Lauria all did a wonderful job with their roles.

Nicole said...

I was really surprised with how moved I was this season, what with the big changes and all of the new characters to connect with. I did worry that I wouldn't feel that same connection with the show that I had in the first three years, but season four really knocked it out of the park. I do agree that certain aspects felt rushed, or didn't get fleshed out like they could have, but overall the writers and actors did an incredible job building the show almost from ground zero.

I have to say that the person that really won me over (in a slew of new characters, all of whom I thought brought a lot to the show) was Michael B. Jordan as Vince. At the start of the season I didn't feel much for him at all; I had sort of written him off as a poor-man's Smash, and I was so wrong. His skills as an actor were brought to light more and more as the season went on, and every time he was brought down to new tragic depths, I was weeping right along with him. It struck me in the finale how much I had come to care about him when I noticed how happy it made me to see him have some good moments - with Jess and his Mom at dinner, during the game, every time he smiled, I smiled with him. He's been a stellar addition to the cast and I can't wait to see what they have him do next year.

I also agree with the general sentiment that the Lions NEEDED to win that game. I would have been so broken-hearted if they had lost, especially paired with Tim's selfless act, falling on his sword for Billy so that his big brother can be there for his new family. I'm also really glad that he and Becky didn't ever "go there" with their relationship. I like that Tim has developed a relationship where he is the caretaker rather than the one who needs looking after, and he's grown a lot from that, evidenced by his decision to take the fall. I really hope we get as much of him as possible next year, and the suggestion above of Street moving back to start a ranch with Tim, ending the series in true "Texas Forever" fashion, gave me goose bumps just reading it. THAT would be a killer way to see those two end up (presumably, Jason would also have his girl and son with him - and, fingers crossed, maybe a visit from Herc? I miss him so...).

I just can't say enough good things about this show and the people involved with every aspect of it. I will be anxiously awaiting season five, and really, really sad to see it go when the day comes.

Clear eyes...full hearts...GO LIONS!

Anna said...

There were so many storylines to wrap up in the finale, and knowing that they all couldn't end well, I found myself putting a Lions win at the top of my "must happen to make me happy" list. I didn't find it unbelievable; there are too many examples of such a David and Goliath situation in football history. I loved it. I hope the little creep, JD McCoy, gets what he deserves next season.

I adore Tim Riggins and will miss him very much, but I felt that it was time he paid the price for his antics over the past five years. His constant drunken state and bedding of Street's girlfriend in Season 1, stealing copper wire in Season 3, dropping out of school, and this season's chop shop debacle must have consequences at some point. I wish he weren't going to prison; I wish he weren't leaving the show, and I wish he hadn't been given this last stupid chop shop storyline, but I hope that the writers will give him a happy ending next season. I believe Riggins will come back as an older, wiser man.

The character I will miss the most is Zach Gilford's Matt Saracen. My television viewing goes back many, many years, and I can't think of a character that I have loved as much as I do Matt. If Matt and Julie are both gone, then we probably won't see Matt's grandma, whom I loved. I also liked Matt's mom. I'm not sure if I can watch FNL without him, but I'll give it a try.

I'll agree with others and hope Becky is gone. I wanted to scream "Shut up, Becky!" when she was giving Tim a piece of her tiny little mind. Go away, Becky.

Unless my math is wrong - and I've only had one cup of coffee this morning, so that's a possibility - next season will mark the 5th year anniversary of the state championship win. That seems like an excellent time for a reunion of all these wonderful characters that we have loved so much.

I love this show so much, in spite of a few flaws, and I will watch it again on NBC and buy the DVD set.

Stacy said...

Next season will actually be the 4th anniversary of the state championship team.

Funny because a friend and I were talking the other day about what they could do to bring everyone together in the end, and that very thought came up.

Perhaps the Lions will be headed to the state game and Coach will bring Smash, Rigs, Street and Saracen in to motivate them before they play the biggest game of their lives? Not sure I like the idea of the Lions in the state championship game, though. Two wins to state champs would just be too big a jump.

In our chat we also thought about the death of Coach as well. But I have to say if Coach dies at the end of season 5 I'd be royally ticked.

bratcat said...

Alan, as always thanks again for a top notch recap. Your insight is always spot on. FNL is still the best show on TV and there were some superb moments this season. With that said there were a few parts that I wish were handled differently-

No Tyra at her nephew's birth or Thanksgiving? Not buying it. And how great would it have been to have her in the stands the day after Thanksgiving watching Landry be the hero?

Tim's exit- well acted and somewhat predictable, but predictable in a way that guys like Tim are almost destined to get kicked in the teeth by life. Would loved to have seen him talk to Coach or Mrs Coach as he makes his decision to take the fall.

Too many holes in the abortion story line- How does Tim not know that he's partly responsible for Mrs Coach being in trouble? Why doesn't Becky have her mom get involved and help Tami? Why aren't Luke's parents outraged that their son is playing football for Tami's husband? Where's Buddy Garrity's influence on everyone involved with the school board? The plot line has more holes than the dead guy in season 2.

Sarancen seemed too non chalant about skipping out on everybody. The bittersweet dynamic between he and Julie is that they had to let each other go to chase their dreams and there's no way to do that without causing pain. Thought their final scene lacked the right tone to convey that sentiment. And not buying the no contact with landry. text message, facebook, something? Buds don't do that to each other.

Ok, thats enough for now, keep in mind that I only point out these minor issues because this show is so close to perfection. Its incedible. We are *Lions!* we play with *Pride!*

bratcat said...

oh yeah, and one more abortion plot loop hole that doesn't make sense- How can Tami's punishment be that she has to step down from being the principal from the school ACROSS TOWN to being a COUNCELOR IN THE SCHOOL LUKE AND BECKY GO TO?!?!!? Wha'?? Thats like a father saying 'I'm not going to let you date my daughter anymore, but I will let you move in and be her roommate.' nonsense.

Anna said...

Thanks, Stacy, for correcting my math. (How embarrassing.) I guess a four-year reunion is unlikely.

Like you, I can't really think of a scenario that is both plausible and acceptable for a reunion episode. I definitely don't want to think about the death of a main character. I would love the idea of the Lions going to a championship game, but there is that plasibility factor to consider.

Perhaps a hot prospect could come to town, with both Dillon teams vying for him. He would chose to play with Coach Taylor, given the Lions enough outstanding players (Luke, Vince, hot prospect) to make a good run at the playoffs. I would find that believable.

Anonymous said...

of course the lions win; they have a much better coach!!!!!!!! the panthers coach was brought and bought by the qb's dad for crying out loud, of course the players are suspicious of him/his methods/decisions etc and therefore struggle to make the playoffs after being champs/runners-up in recent yrs

this show is fantastic; i am amazed at all the nitpicking that goes on here (how could anyone think it unrealistic that the riggins boys steal stuff to get $$$$$? etc)

can't wait for next season; i'd happily pay directv for it if they'd stop charging for hd services

Stacy said...

@Anna

They could very well add another hot prospect.

One thought is the WR receiver from the Carroll Park game could show up next year. I believe they said he was 13, which would probably make him a freshmen at East Dillon next year.

It would be a nice touch for him to remember what Coach said and go out for the team next year. Coach seemed pretty impressed by his skills, and if they sell him as a freshmen phenom (the way the did JD) at WR, that gives you Vince as a dual-threat QB, Luke as RB, and a new stud at wideout.

That could be a lot of firepower! Go Lions!

Susan said...

a few follow-ups to posts on this wonderful show

Re: question about going into the storyline about the asst. coach's gay-ness. This is still a possibility next season. One of the things that marks this show is it's confrontation of challenging issues in constructive ways. Witness season 1 and issues of racism, family caregiving/dementia, families and the military, disability (to name a few). This season dealt with abortion (and it played out just as I expected it would). They haven't dealt with homosexuality (except minor-ly with Landry's bandmate), so it's possible it might come up next season.

In terms of the abortion story this season, Bratcat, although i agree with the questionable scenario of Tami just walzing over to east Dillon to be a guidance counselor given the "offense" and the students involved, the rest of the story makes sense to me. The others involvement wasn't shown because Tami was the biggest fish to fry and if an advocate wants publicity and attention to a cause, this is the way you do it. It didn't matter who esle might have talked on Tami's behalf. If there was enough ammunition and ill will toward the principle of the action (no pun intended), it made sense that Tami was the target and regardless of what she did, her motives or the outcome, she was high up on the food chain and a good target.

And Stacy: love the scenario of Riggins and Street on their Texas forever ranch. We would still see the boys with their shadows (Riggins) or blessings (Street), but they'd have something together and what they wanted.

And the others who played out an ending with Coach's death? really? I cannot think of a more painful way to end a series that has given us such an important and meaningful character. Killing Coach or Tami would mean killing a liberal ideal and humanistic beliefs, and the symbol for probably the most constructive couple ever in television history. Kill someone like McNulty (The Wire), a flawed protagonist. But you can't kill the Coach. I'm sure the writers are creative enough to find another way to bring the characters back.

Finally, when can we officially start our Emmy nomination campaign for Zach Giford, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton?

PY said...

Re: scenarios to bring everyone back for a final episode.

Wouldn't a wedding of one of the central characters make a ton of sense in terms of bringing back all the central Panther teammates? But are they all too young? In terms of candidates, I don't think they're married yet from what we know, so would Street and the baby mama get married ON RIGGINS' BEAUTIFUL RANCH PROPERTY (with post-jail Riggins as best man) and then live on there in the Texas Forever scenario? Wouldn't that bring everyone back, since everyone had pretty strong connections to Street (even Tyra mentioned him in her college essay)?

Ok, I feel like I'm getting close to writing fan fiction here, so I think I should stop.

Stacy said...

Might be fan fiction, but I really like that scenario, PY!

In Alan's review of season three, he said that he thought it was really a nice touch that Tyra mentioned Street in her essay since it was his injury that really set everything in motion for the other characters.

I think Alan is right. Street's injury changed the destiny of just about every character, and to end this bringing it back around his character would be a nice touch. And I do like the wedding angle for Street.

The only catch is how do you tie in the seasons 4&5 characters? They don't know Jason Street at all. The only common denominator between the characters from seasons 1-3 and seasons 4-5 is coach.

Maybe he wins a big coaching award and all the players attend? I don't know.

JL said...

Great ending.

Sometimes we fight cliche' story lines so much, such as the Lions beating the Panthers, that we would rather watch a miserable ending rather than a story book one like we had here. I like the fact that East Dillon won the game but wish the writers would have put a more interesting spin on the gameplan / strategy used by coach. We saw East Dillon running the spread offense a little earlier in the season.. it would have been cool for them to spend a little time focusing on the gameplan and implementing the spread or some other offense that teams are actually running and showing how it threw off the Panthers.

I would have liked to see the Panthers locker room at halftime also.. maybe going between the two locker rooms and seeing the confidence grow in the Lions while the Panthers dissipates.

That being said, the show is missing something.. not quite sure exactly what it is.. but I remember the first 3 seasons I would get amped up for game time like I was following a real football team. Part of it is that the Lions aren't a good football team but part of it is the writers getting too far away from making this a show about Texas High School football and how awesome HSFB is in that State. Regardless, it's still the best network TV show going and my 3rd favorite show ever behind The Wire and Mad Men.

I feel more attached to the characters in FNL than any show ever. The actors feel like real people. FNL captures this like no other show. I'm going to really miss this show when it's over.

Aly said...

If the Lions win State in the fifth season then surely that will only be coach's second state title (season 1) in 5 years, as opposed to third which was mentioned earlier in this post? (I was under the impression that the Panthers didnt take state in season 2 because Smash got injured, and failed in season 3, which I am willing to blame JD for entirely). I liked the small touch of having the 'P' Panthers sticker still visible on Landry's refrigerator while he was talking to Matt. Really nostalgic nod towards the past seasons and it really struck me.