Ever since Friday Night Lights' Season 3 renewal, many fans such as ourselves have been waiting for the other cleat to drop.
Now, Michael Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly reports, two of the series' stars, Gaius Charles (Smash Williams) and Scott Porter (Jason Street), have been taken off contract and will only appear on a recurring basis.
In a statement, executive producer Jason Katims said:
"Peter Berg, myself and our fellow producers have enormous respect for Scott and Gaius both as actors and individuals. In short, we love them. However, both of their characters have now graduated and in the creative spirit of the show, we have decided to give them powerful four episode arcs that will observe their characters as they launch themselves into the next phase of their lives. We certainly will keep the door open for both actors to return in the future, depending on the actors' availabilities. We know both Scott and Gaius will go on to have enormous success and we wish the best for both of them."
It's a big disappointment, but at the same time, not a complete surprise.
Regarding Smash, Katims conceded long ago that finding a way to justify hanging onto his college-bound running back would be difficult.“The Smash story definitely creates a challenge for us,” he said May. “He will presumably have graduated [when we return this fall]. It's definitely going to require some finessing and the right balance between taking the right amount of poetic license, but not doing anything that would question the authenticity and believability that is so important to our show.”
Similarly, maintaining the viability of Jason Street - the Panthers' former starting quarterback who was left paralyzed by a Season 1 injury - has also presented challenges for the Friday Night Lights writers.
One possible exit strategy has Jason leaving Dillon to start a new life with his pregnant girlfriend.
One thing you can be sure of: Katims remains committed to bringing both characters' storylines to a satisfying conclusion.
As one insider assures, "He has too much respect for the fans — as well as both actors — to leave them hanging like that."