Asta 2

Friday Night Lights Series Finale

There's the potential of me bombarding you all with posts today. I still have Outcasts to watch and White Collar to post about, but I feel it's best to post about Friday Night Lights while my thoughts are still fresh.

I planned on posting between my last post weeks ago and the finale, but, as usual, time got away from me. I love the show. I can easily put it on my list of favorite shows of all time. But I've never been passionate about discussing it in the way I was with Buffy or Battlestar. It may have to do with the lack of metaphor. Or situations and people I can more easily relate to. Or it could be the strength of the writing and not having to rationalize plot developments or a character's actions. Or maybe it's just nice to have a show I can kick back and enjoy without obsess over. ;)

Before I get to my thoughts on what I feel is a very strong series finale, I want to touch on some of the weaknesses of the season. Friday Night Lights was not cancelled with a few weeks left to shoot. Before cameras rolled on the fifth season, the writers knew it would be the series last. It's why I found the latter half of the season, and particularly the past couple episodes, frustrating. Here are some of my issues:

- Several characters were introduced (or reintroduced) who had little development and ultimately proved unnecessary to the stories told. Football supposedly helped straighten Buddy Jr out, but he barely played before being sidelined with a broken leg and served as gopher for the remainder of the season. Hastings quickly was won over by football and turned out to be an asset to the team, but that's about all we can say about him as a character. What ever happened to JD and his father? He obviously was upstaged by Vince, but I would have liked to see a scene or two, at least, dealing with his fall from glory. And do I even need to point out all the problems with Epyck?

- I really loved what they were doing with Ornette. He returned from prison not an entirely changed man, but he was trying. He attempted to make a deal with a college that would benefit himself as well as his, yet there seemed to be a genuine desire to see his son achieve greatness. For Vince to be the man he wasn't and to not fall victim to the same mistakes he made. He wanted better for his child. Unfortunately, he just wasn't well enough equipped to know how to do that. But, suddenly, Ornette showed up drunk. Ornette showed up with drugs. Where did that turn come from? Are we to believe Vince standing up to him and siding with Coach in regards to his future sent him on a downward spiral? I was disappointed. FNL does nuanced character portrayals so well and here they had an opportunity to show a man can come out of prison and, while he may struggle, can change. That they did this with a black character makes it even more disappointing.

- There was a rush through the playoffs. I don't mind not seeing the games, nor do I think it's necessary to see every game, but the condensing of the playoffs also meant rushing through weeks in these characters lives.

- Eric Taylor is awesome in many ways. He can also be a selfish asshole. His reaction to Tami's job offer was completely in character. It was also the biggest problem yet to be thrown at their marriage. I knew Tami and Eric wouldn't split up. I knew Eric would ultimately choose to turn down the coaching job with the Panthers so Tami could follow her dream. I just didn't care for having one episode left for them to try and work it all out.

And now for the finale.....

As soon as I heard the series was ending and Zach Gilford would be returning, I knew he'd end up proposing to Julie.....but not in front of the Alamo Freeze. Hee! It seemed fitting though. He commented later to Tim and Tyra the location was sentimental, but I also suspect his nerves got the better of him and he just couldn't wait any longer. I agree with Eric and Tami they are young and probably should wait before making such a commitment, but of all the young characters on this show, Matt and Julie are the two I would pick to grow up and grow old together.

I was a little surprised by Eric's reaction. Emphasis on little. Julie will always be his little girl and he wants to protect her. She is only 18 and he's very recently had to deal with the fallout of her last relationship. I wish that had been mentioned, especially when Julie was trying to sell herself as level-headed and not one to make rash decisions. Eric and Tami also seem unaware of Julie's recent detour to Chicago and time spent with Matt. At least that's what Eric's, "What the hell are you doing here?", told me. ;)

Tami seemed won over sooner. I loved her reaction to finding out Julie was given Matt's grandma's ring. It tells her just how much Julie means to him and his proposal was seriously considered.

Grandma Saracen. ::sniff:: I don't want Matt and Julie to rush into marriage, but I hope she has enough of her faculties by the time they do marry. Obviously, it means a great deal to her and, given she was pulling out her wedding dress for Julie, she seems to be in a rush for it to happen. And while her wedding dress isn't atrocious, it was nice of Matt to step in and say Julie may want to pick out her own.

Can you tell I'm a Matt/Julie fan? ;) I do have thoughts about the other couples!

Becky/Luke - As I've mentioned before, I was not a Becky fan last season, but she has grown on me a lot. I think she and Luke make a cute couple. However, I'm not sold on Luke being in love with her (and vice versa) and wanting to spend his life with her. I've been getting the impression this season they were set up as Matt and Julie version 2.0, but I'm not feeling it. I don't know if my bigger problem is not having sufficient time to see the relationship develop or if the writers were just going for too many happy ending. However, I do buy Luke seeing the military as the opportunity to learn and grow with college not an option. And Becky, realizing her pageant dreams weren't going to amount to much, finding happiness in Dillion through family.

Tyra/Tim - Maybe when I do a rewatch, Tyra's declaration of loving Tim since she was five will make sense, but, again, not seeing it. Their reconnection just felt like the writers trying to bring another couple back together from the original cast of characters. At least they established Tyra has aspirations and her dreams aren't going to become a reality of she settles down with Tim in Dillion. And I just don't see the two of them being a couple five years from now.

Mindy/Billy - Whoever thought those two would a) make it and b) be such a strong, supportive couple for themselves and others? And I was so happy Billy was able to find a coaching job with the Panthers. Actually, it looked like the Lions coaches were favored over the Panthers coaches, even without Eric staying.

Tami/Eric - As I said, I knew Eric would ultimately do the right thing and go to Philadelphia. And, really, was there any doubt he would get a coaching job there? But what would make him say no to the Panther coaching job and put Tami's career first? The thing is, Eric didn't make the choice he did just for Tami. The turning point came when Jess informed him of her move to Dallas. After she commented the semester had been the best time of her life, Eric stated it was his too. He took a team with limited resources, inexperienced players and an abysmal first season to the state championship. How could he top that experience? The Panthers would provide him with a super team and a high probability of winning a third state championship. Where's the challenge in that? Eric's drive has always come from building - teams, players, and men. That he can, and apparently is, doing in Philadelphia.

And while it was hard to watch Tami in pain and Eric succumbing to his worst character traits, I have to give the writers credit for making their fighting pretty hilarious in the episode. From arguing over who should get the door to Eric informing Tami that Julie and Matt were engaged to her declaration she actually was agreeing with him on this.

Vince...and Eric - You thought I was going to talk about Vince and Jess, didn't you? ;) I enjoyed Vince and Jess's relationship, but it wasn't the pivotal one in Vince's life. Not even his relationship with his mom was. Vince said it on more than one occasion and it can't be said enough that, without Eric, Vince would have ended up in jail. He will now finish high school and, barring catastrophic injury, will go on to college. His mother got clean and got her life back because Vince was there to help her. Whether or not he's able to have a long term relationship with his dad is debatable, but he had the opportunity to try and make peace with his past. And it's because Eric gave him a chance and never stopped supporting him.

Why was Landry back? All we got was one scene. You would have thought he would have been invited to the bar, have as many of the 'old timers' back as possible in one scene, and provide further closure to Tyra and Landry. Maybe Jesse was only available for a day. I have to cling to that theory.

In my opinion, this wasn't the strongest season of Friday Night Lights. The writers dropped the ball (heh) with some characters and plotlines, but, overall, it was a strong conclusion to the show. I laughed, I cried, and I saw many moments and resolutions I wanted to see. There were also moments I thought I would need to see, and didn't, and they gave me something better. Vince wearing his Lions championship ring on the Panthers field was far more satisfying then watching a celebration during the game.
  • Current Mood: hungry hungry
I'm a little talked out on FNL at this point but the rushed timing was indeed the main flaw of the last three episodes for me. If it hadn't been so rushed, I think they would have had more time to do a lot of things a bit more justice, like Eric's turnaround, Eric & Tami's reaction to Julie (which, I found it almost laughable when Tami insisted they trusted her after all the stuff that felt like it had just gone down with her TA), the Tim/Tyra stuff...etc.

Since you mention those things that went nowhere, Epyck, Buddy Jr., Hastings...I really do wonder if they broke the stories for the season expecting to get a whole 22 episodes? I mean it sort of felt like it. They did know this would be their last season but maybe they thought they were getting 22 and ended up with 13 and thus had to condense a lot in those last three eps?
It's my understanding that when Direct TV and NBCU made the last renewal deal it was for two 13 episode seasons, so no truncating of arcs would have been needed. I do know they weren't sure of the availability of some of the original cast and I'm sure had to expand or cut to accommodate schedules. I also know they wanted Smash back, but Gaius Charles is now studying to be a minister and wasn't willing to return.
I read that there was a lot of back and forth on Taylor's availability. Zach seemed locked in pretty early on, but with Taylor's burgeoning film career, he was harder to get a commitment from, even though I know he very much wanted to come back. And, yes, that would explain why new characters weren't developed as well as they could have been. But, for instance, had they totally dropped the Epyck storyline we could have seen more of Buddy Jr or Hastings.

Tyra and Tim's history helped me feel a little bit better about their, um, reconnecting, but his sudden desire to want ro make a life with her? And her even considering it? Just, no. I also thought it did a disservice to her relationship with Landry. She was still in love with Tim when she was with him? If he hadn't killed a guy to protect her they would never have been together? I need to stop thinking about this...

I actually thought they were going to skip over whether or not they won the game until I noticed they were moving in on a shot of Vince's hand. Then I saw the ring. :) I have to admit I would have been frustrated not knowing. My stomach was in knots when that pass was in the air!
I knew Eric would ultimately choose to turn down the coaching job with the Panthers so Tami could follow her dream. I just didn't care for having one episode left for them to try and work it all out.

It says something about the show that I honestly wasn't sure! It wouldn't have been a happy ending, and bad for their marriage, but for a while... it's been such a theme that football considerations win out between them that I was wondering. Which made this ep pretty tense for me to watch! :-)

I agree there was a bit of weird couple stuff. I thought Tim and Tyra was done well as old friends who cared about each other, but omg was I dreading some romantic turn at the end. For me they stayed juuuust shy of that line, but I had to squint for it.

Matt and Julie -- I literally clapped my hands when he proposed. :-) Yes, the are young (though given that this is season 5, I wish they hadn't gone for 19/18 with their alleged ages, really...) but if anyone should end up together...

It was a good finale, despite some flaws.
The show has never shied away from making Eric look like an ass (bless them), but I didn't think they would want to end on that note. It has been eighteen years of career sacrifices fro Tami. Plus, it's not like Philadelphia doesn't have high schools with football programs! ;)

Matt, if I recall, was fifteen when he took over as quarterback so wouldn't he be 20 now? And Julie is only a year younger. That math seemed off to me too.

As soon as Matt stopped Julie outside the Alamo Freeze, I just knew and began to squee. :) And I loved that he dropped to one knee and no one inside seemed to sense what was going on!
Landry was actually supposed to be in that bar scene...

[b]TVLINE | I was surprised you didn't give Tyra and Landry a moment in the finale. Talk to me about that decision.[/b]
[i]At one point, Landry was in the scene with Tyra, Matt and Julie at the bar. But when we got closer to [shooting it] it felt right to have a more intimate moment between Tyra and Tim. Jesse Plemons is so great; it’s great to have him in any scene. But it felt like the scene that he did have with Matt… What we tried to do with the finale was [refer back] to where the show started. And that Matt/Landry scene alludes to the early days with those two knuckleheads. There were many nods to the first season in the episode. The players being interviewed in those director chairs, we tried to shoot that to look like [the scene] in the pilot where Eric, Jason and Smash are getting interviewed.[/i]
Thanks for sharing that. I think I have to disagree with the decision. We had enough intimate moments between Tyra and Tim. We haven't had any interaction between Tyra and Landry in two years and she didn't end things with him in the best possible way. I would have liked to see some closer on their relationship. Plus, if it was a sort of celebration of Julie and Matt's engagement, Landry should have been there.
Or maybe it's just nice to have a show I can kick back and enjoy without obsess over. ;)
I understand completely.

What ever happened to JD and his father?
They caused Eric to lose his job. JD lost his wife but we never saw or heard mention of the kid again.

And do I even need to point out all the problems with Epyck?
No, you don't. I don't even get that. Why was she so hungry? I don't even know, Asta. All I can say was that Eric got to be Kingmaker and Tami didn't queen make with Epyck or the red-headed girl the way she did with Tyra. I did think about Epyck when Tam's turn for her career to shine came. Let her be Queenmaker this time, you know? Maybe she can't as a Dean of Admissions but knowing Tami, she'll try. :-)

Where did that turn come from?
It was poorly handled. All I could think was he had nothing of his own, you know? In a way he was like JD's father, living through his son. And it's like JD's father hitting the kid. Not as out of nowhere, but not ever really resolved, either. Was he continually abusive? Who knows.

Grandma Saracen. ::sniff::
I love Grandma Saracen! Her hugs always seemed so genuine like when she saw Landry off. (Landry was so sweet to visit and say good-bye. I wanted more Landry!) I hope she gets to be lucid during Matt and Julie's wedding too. :-)

The Panthers would provide him with a super team and a high probability of winning a third state championship. Where's the challenge in that?
I saw more too. I remember in the beginning of the fourth season him saying he wouldn't give the Boosters his pride. I think they fired him once. If he went back he'd have to deal with them always. No. The Florida job was more of a lure but the Lions needed him. I think if the Lions had remained the Dillon team it would have been interesting to see what Eric would have done.

And it's because Eric gave him a chance and never stopped supporting him.
Eric never gives up on them. I saw it with Jason and Matt. But more with Smash, Vince, and Tim. Eric is always there for them. It was pretty wonderful to watch. :-) He reminds me a little of the dance teacher in Billy Eliot. Because when it's time to let them go, they do. But before they are ready they are right there.

I laughed, I cried, and I saw many moments and resolutions I wanted to see.
Jess wearing her ring! Tyra, home but not for good. Tim and Billy building that house. Oh, I might just get misty again. This is what a finale is supposed to be.