'Friday Night Lights' Fan Columnist: The Finale's Secrets
'Friday Night Lights' Fan Columnist: The Finale's Secrets
Trace Young
Trace Young
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
It's true -- Friday Night Lights is over. No more tight shots of Coach's face, alternately stern, hopeful, forgiving. No footballs soaring toward the end zone in slow-mo. None of Tami, loving, healing, but increasingly resentful. No tidbits about how the Dillon kids are doing good, terrible, failing or succeeding with love and happiness. But pain was half the pleasure of FNL, a good lesson to take away from this little series that wouldn't be killed off easily. And with the old "eight months later" ploy, a lot of loose ends were wrapped up neatly.

We learned that no job of Eric's is worth the cost of the Taylors' marriage. So after a feint, where we think they'll stay in Dillon for Eric to assume the mantle of the new superteam, he gives in to fairness and agrees to move to Philly for Tami's big job offer. However, they both look a lot older for it.

Julie and Matt really do love each other, enough for them to risk Eric's wrath by getting engaged at 19 and 18, respectively, the same age her parents were married. A dinner meant to dissuade the youngsters from marrying hastily turns into a brilliant reflection on how the Taylors' marriage has survived by compromise, giving Tami leverage eventually, but pure sadness at the moment as she preliminarily concedes to stay in Dillon, seeing that it's not worth their marriage. Which Eric eventually gets.

Landry's advising Matt on how to ask Eric for Julie's hand and Matt's banter is still among the best in the show's lifetime. If only we had more time with Landry.

But we get to see Matt stammer (seems like Zach was a little rusty at playing Matt here), and his Gramma gets out her old wedding dress much to Julie's chagrin. She questions whether they're ready. They have a double date with Tim and Tyra, who slow dance. "This feels right," Tim murmurs in her ear, and she resists before, understandably, sinking into his arms like a thousand times before.

Tyra confesses she has loved Tim since she was a toddler, and although the feeling may not be that mutual on Tim's part, right now Tyra's seems to be the thing driving Tim forward, pushing him to decide to stay in Dillon, build that house on his land, right where he takes Tyra for sunset brews, and wait for her, as she has ambitions to be like Ms. T, but more. Tim promises to never, ever break the law again, which feels a bit disappointing, in truth. We want Tim to be happy, but maybe we don't want to see him 20 years down the road, fat, happy and boring.

But wouldn't it have made more sense for her to reunite with Landry, with whom she seemed to have shared more love, and less lust, than with Tim? Alas, getting back with Tim proved a way to sate our desire for seeing the bad kids together once more and a way to redeem Tim's life somehow. It was convenient but not entirely logical.

Oddly, Mindy, Billy and Becky felt uncomfortable with Tim and Tyra back together, calling it incest, because they were really one of the original couples in the show, besides Jason/Lyla. 

Mindy's turned into a big ole sweetheart, future mom of three, and soul sister to Becky, who moves back home in an unexpectedly tearful farewell to Mindy. Stevie has turned into a source of love and bonding for Becks with the Riggins. And how great to see Tim take Stevie for a day, on errands, to practice, etc. As soon as he sees Tyra take him in her arms, he can envision makin' one of those with her. By bits, we see him redeeemed in his own eyes. And when he's on the sideline with Stevie and Coach tells him that if he needs anything at all, he should call. They watch Billy yell his heart out onfield.

The Lions go to State, and just as in 2007, they wander up to the stadium in awe. The direction (by Michael Waxman) and cinematography in this episode felt like a film, slower paced, relishing for one last time all the beauty than can be conjured from football and small-town Texas. The game montage was accompanied by quiet music and silence, letting us appreciate it on its own terms. Just as Vince unleashes the game-saving hail Mary pass, they cut away. 

Next shot, Coach in dark green, barking orders. Vince in a Panthers uniform, big gaudy ring on his finger from winning State. Vince got mixed satisfaction with his dad, who at first rebuffs Vince's plea for him to attend the game, but Coach leaves him a ticket, with few words spoken, and he does show, if late. His mom at least was back on board, supporting him. Jess' dad's doing well enough in Dallas to move the family there. Coach knows somebody there, and we see her assisting a new coach in perhaps an even better position than in Dillon. Buddy Jr. apparently heals and joins the superteam. Tinker didn't think he'd get on the team, but Vince has some clout and he eventually does get on.

Luke enlists! This makes perfect sense, to serve a few years then return home to his ranch and Becky. He insulted her last episode, and makes up for it with flowers and a bear, begging her forgiveness in front of her mom, who thinks Luke's hot -- and tells him to wear a condom, like Tim did. Becky runs into Tim, with Stevie, and tells him her crush is over. They agree to be friends.

Final scenes: Julie with Matt in his Chicago apartment, even though she promised to finish college -- guess it was in the Windy City. Tim and Billy framing out Tim's house, giving a "Texas Forever" for old and new times' sake, and the one ending we really wanted to see. Tami in a Mary Tyler Moore shot, looking up at her new college employer, beaming, and going to pick up Eric at his new school to "go home." As we always knew, home is where the heart is, even if it's not Dillon. Clear eyes, full hearts ... we'll get to the rest later. Right?

(Image courtesy of NBC)