NBC and DirecTV hosted a luncheon with the cast of TV's best drama, Friday Night Lights, in which executive producer Jason Katims huddled up with a few journalists - such as Entertainment Weekly star Michael Ausiello - and basically outlined plans for the entire third season.
Warning: Major Friday Night Lights spoilers below!
If you're having a tough time coping with the impending loss of Gaius Charles' Smash and Scott Porter's Jason, wait until next year:
Tim (Taylor Kitsch), Matt (Zach Gilford), Tyra (Adrianne Palicki) and Lyla (Minka Kelly) are all entering their senior years this season.
The knowledge that this may be their final year in Dillon will "add an urgency to [their] stories, but also a nostalgia." "It will be sad to leave," says Adrianne Palicki, "but I think we were all kind of prepared for that on some level."
When the new season starts, eight months will have passed since the Season 2 finale, placing the action at the start of a new school year. Among the major developments: Tim and Lyla are now in a serious relationship.
"We think it'll be a tremendously fun storyline, which could ultimately become very moving," Katims says.
"It's one thing to have this passionate, secret relationship, but once they're in a real relationship, they see how different they are. They're completely an odd couple... Also, they're both seniors now, so it's really a question of, Where are they going now? Where are they headed? Lyla really tries to get Tim to be the best version of himself. (She wants him to) get into college, get a scholarship... But the question is whether these two are destined to have very different lives."
The hiatus has not been nearly as kind to another Dillon super-couple: Tyra and Landry. "Tyra in the past eight months has [realized] that, while she loves Landry, she kind of feels like he's not really The Guy," says Katims.
"So it becomes a story about, Are they going to be able to be friends? And will Landry be able to accept that?" Probably not when he meets the new Guy in her life, but more on that below.
Matt and Julie will try and put the past behind them and become friends.
As previously reported, Tami will be appointed the principal of Dillon High. "From the beginning, we wanted to find ways to get (Connie Britton) driving story as much as possible, and not just be the coach's wife," says Katims, adding that the new gig will lead to some serious tension at home. "Suddenly she (and Coach Taylor) may find (themselves) on opposite sides of some issues."
Katims concedes that it was not easy placing the calls to Charles and Porter informing them that their runs on the show were coming to an end.
"It was very hard to break the news to them," he admits. Smash and Jason, however, will be going out with "two of the most powerful storylines" this season. "We are not doing this in any unceremonious way. And, also, we want to very much leave the door open for both of them to come back to the show."
A handful of new characters will be introduced, including a freshman named J.D. McCoy. "He's a phenomenal quarterback," Katims explains.
"In the first arc of the season, there's a controversy over who will be the first-string quarterback for the Panthers." Additionally, an old friend of Billy Riggins' will make a play for Tyra. "He's a local rodeo star, so he's right in Tyra's wheelhouse. So Landry is not going to be (happy)."
Matt Czuchry (Chris) and Benny Ciaramello (Santiago) will not be back.
A renewed focus will be placed on the Landry/Matt friendship, a relationship Katims says got sidelined last season in the wake of the Landry/Tyra murder plot.
"With that intense, secret thing between Landry and Tyra, we lost a little bit of Landry as Matt's buddy/sidekick/friend, and we're going to have that back."
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