Friday Night Lights Review: Clear Eyes. Full, Sad Hearts.
Where to begin to say goodbye to such an incredible series? In "Always," the time came for the lights to go out in Dillon. And you bet your ass I was misty-eyed.
Friday Night Lights has always had incredible writing (minus the season two murder plotline, of course), so it came as no shock that it produced an episode so full of heart, one that allowed us to come full circle in so many ways. The player interviews under the tents mimicked the same scenes in the pilot, except this time it was Vince and not Jason Street. It was a wonderful way to bookend the series and stay true to the story of these people.
We got to revisit the Alamo Freeze, the site of so many Dillon memories. But forget the ice cream sundaes with jimmies, Matt Saracen had a serious question for Julie Taylor. The engagement was just so raw and real, no fancy pretenses. My first tears of the episode flew when Matt said it was Grandma Saracen's ring. I mean, who doesn't get emotional about Grandma Saracen?
But there are few things more troubling on television that Eric and Tami not getting along. They are too strong of a core duo to be at odds. It was seriously disturbing. 18 years...
When Coach and Tami took Matt and Julie out to dinner to discuss the engagement, the scene became more about the Taylors than the young couple. How can you possibly feel authentic as a role model to your daughter when you're just lying to yourself and fighting with your spouse?
Elsewhere, Tim finally brushed that chip off of his shoulder. Billy is family and family is important. I loved the scene with Tim taking Stevie to practice and teaching him about boosters and rally girls. Texas football is Texas football and Stevie is bound to follow in the Riggins' footsteps. Coach remarked to Tim that he'll always be there if he needed anything and, once again, I'm tearing up about these characters.
Tyra wanted to celebrate with Matt and Julie. Tim cheered to the new Mr. and Mrs. Saracen, prompting a classic with him chugging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Tyra and Tim may not have been romantic for a few years, but, as Tyra remarked, she's been in love with him since she was five years old. It's not easy to shake something like that and these two have an undeniable chemistry.
It was slightly hard to focus on the newer characters with my old favorites around, but there were definitely some standout scenes: Becky moving out and embracing Mindy. Vince taking care of his mother and the amazing sense of pride she has for her son. There was even a brief appearance of his father at State. We also had Coach telling Vince how proud he is of him and Vince telling Coach he's changed his life. Michael B. Jordan is just phenomenal.
Most importantly, Coach realized that it is Tami's turn. Why should he go back and work for a team that fired him for no reason? As much as he loves his players, he loves his wife more. When he asked Tami to take him to Philly, my heart squeezed a little. Sometimes I think Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are married in real life.
Maybe some people will think that the most important part of this episode was that the Lions won State. They overcame odds and achieved their dream. But for me, Friday Night Lights has never really been about football. It's been about family, community, and, most of all, heart. Season five delivered the latter in droves.
Flash forward eight months and Vince is now a Panther. Billy is one of his coaches and Buddy's back to putzing around in a golf cart with the boosters. Matt and Julie are living together in Chicago. Becky kisses Luke goodbye as he takes off to serve in the army. Coach and Tami are living their new life in the northeast. And last, but not even close to being least, Tim and Billy Riggins are building Tim's house together, throwing back beers, and watching a perfect pink Dillon sunset. Everyone may have gone their separate ways, but there's one thing we can all agree on: Texas Forever.
Friday Night Lights, thanks for the ride. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose. Always.
Friday Night Lights: "Always"
Leigh Raines is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.