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The mostly coherent thoughts of a church musician and rabid sports fan. My views are my own.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Night Lights: The Finale

Through its five-year run on NBC and DirecTV, "Friday Night Lights" has had many people battle for it, ratings and executives be damned. I, too, waged my own personal war of words with my fiance for a good two years, imploring her to give the show a chance. Her hang-up came with the style in which the pilot episode was shot, using a documentary style that she found annoying. The tipping point came last fall when she made it to Episode 2, then 3, and the rest, as they say, was history. It is only fitting, then, that the series finale began just as that pilot did, with news cameras buzzing around Coach Taylor's team, players being interviewed in tailgating tents, and Coach giving enough "No comments" to impress Terrell Owens. Friday night's finale, "Always," was a fitting end to a fantastic show, and followed the pattern of the show: always about Eric and Tami Taylor's relationship, always about family, always about life. Football may dictate much of life in Dillon, Texas, but even it takes a back seat to the important things.

Two moments in the finale stood out to me more than the rest; the first was the dinner that the Taylors and Matt Saracen shared, where they discussed Matt and Julie's decision to get married. As Eric dispensed his wisdom about marriage, relationship, and compromise, it became readily apparent that he had not followed his own advice and in so doing, upset Tami in a way that we hadn't seen in any of the previous four seasons. The second moment came when Julie showed Tami the engagement ring, and told her that it belonged to Matt's grandmother. In that instant, there was a palpable change in mood as Tami realized the engagement might not have been as hasty or misguided as she and Eric initially thought. Their reconciliation in the mall was a wonderful moment, even if it did come dangerously close to the sappy ending of a Reese Witherspoon flick. I particularly enjoyed the tight shot on the couple's embrace, with the camera focusing on Tami's wedding band and engagement ring.

Then, there was the final play of the state championship, which segued into the final montage, brilliantly shadowed by Delta Spirit's "Devil Knows You're Dead." Throughout the show's history, much has been made of the improbable last-second victories that the Dillon Panthers and East Dillon Lions pulled out. It was that much better, then, that we never knew the result of that final play until we caught a glimpse of Vince's bejeweled right hand while going through the motions as the Panthers' QB1. We saw Vince launch one last sixty-yard bomb that his father touted all year, and saw the ball land some 1,600 miles in the hands of a Philadelphia wide receiver. Tami had her job at Braemore, and Eric was still coaching football. Jason Street's name is still in the Dillon locker room, Matt and Julie are still together, and clear eyes and full hearts still can't lose, even as the lights were turned out. "Texas forever," indeed.

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