All right, folks, second-to-last episode. Let’s all keep a stiff upper lip and get through this, because you know it’s gonna be a cry fest next week. So the title of this week’s is … wait, “Texas Whatever?” Whatever?? Listen, I’m not the biggest fan of the state of Texas, but how dare you step on our feelings with such a callous–
Sorry about that. I’ll contain myself. And if anybody can understand what I’m feeling about Friday Night Lights going off the air, it’d be the people in this episode. This one’s all about how we take the next step in our lives. Tyra (whom we’ll get to, I promise, because how could we not?) talks about Dillon like a drug, one you can only see clearly when you’re away from it, but the present is a drug too. Everybody thinks they hate change, until the present actually changes and we look back and realize how much better off we are now than we were before. Well, I can’t say that life is going to be better without FNL in it, but maybe this episode is FNL holding our collective hand and telling us that life’s going to be okay without the people of Dillon.
Sniff. Okay, let’s get on with the recapping:
Let’s start with the biggest news: Julie’s home! Okay, that’s not the biggest news, but it’s worth noting. She’s back in Dillon and she claims she went back to school and finished her exams early, which is … not really a thing I noticed happening much at college, but whatevs. Other than a scene with Tyra (we’ll get to her, I swear), the only real moment of importance for Julie in the episode is driving by the Sarcen house and seeing the discarded lawn sign for when Matt was QB. Julie does seem to have some trouble taking the next step.
Luke’s taking a look at his future and it’s not the rosiest one. He meets with recruiters from Warrenfield State (a D3 school), and Warrenfield State seems really, well, sad. They just got a Costco and a movie theatre, which puts them right smack into the ’80s, and the recruiters really love pudding. Even the recruiting materials they give him look meager. I’ve got a feeling Luke’s going to say no to Warrenfield.
Luke’s present doesn’t seem all that great either. Becky tries to reconcile with him, explaining what her relationship with Tim Riggins really is, and he’s a complete dick to her. Becky rightfully tells him to go to hell. Twice. This seems to have an effect on Luke, though, because he tries to confront Tim, and then comes up short in the face of Tim’s mighty glower. But it’s not all for naught, because Tim tells him to play State with all his love for football, because it’s the biggest game he’ll ever play. In other words: live for the football present, because there’s not gonna be a football future.
Tim’s big storyline this week isn’t with Luke, however, it’s with … wait for it … Miss Tyra Collette, who gets an awesome, sassy entrance. It’s kinda cheesy, but she’s earned it. Why? Because she’s fuckin’ Tyra! (By the way, this stems from an argument Mrs. DLW and I just had about that entrance. She’s in the cheesy camp, while I am firmly planted in the “she earned it” camp. Clearly things get really rough and tumble in my home.)
Tyra has moved on. She’s somebody who’s taken the next step into the future, and she’s got a lot of confidence and happiness (and a new ‘do) to go with it. She’s not immune to visiting the past, when she gets to mashin’ with Tim after speaking some encouraging words to him, but she has no desire to stay there. And she definitely has no time for fake futures: Tim’s going to Alaska? She correctly calls bullshit on that (unless Tim saw “Wendy & Lucy”). So glad to have you back, Tyra!
As confident as Tyra is in her future, Billy is a bundle of nerves about his. He’s learned that he and Mindy are having twins (which means way too many Rigginses in the world) and he’s getting pressure from his in-laws on how he’s going to pay for all of the Riggrats. After practicing his speech in his truck (and almost crashing because of it), Billy speaks to Coach who promises him … a whole lot of nothing. He can’t promise him anything at the time. The future’s still hazy for Billy.
Why? Because there’s only going to be one football team in Dillon, and that requires a super contentious meeting about which team has a future. One parent makes the wise comment that one team is supported by boosters, so they don’t need the money from the school board, but she gets shouted down. Hell, nearly everybody gets shouted down in this meeting. Vince & Jess go and talk to Harris Carville, the head of the school board (I think that’s right. Can’t seem to find his title), and Vince explains how much football has meant to him.
And the decision is of course for … the Dillon Panthers. Because the rich get richer. It doesn’t matter who’s going to State, just who has the money. The Panther boosters knew this too, because they’re trying to recruit Buddy back to being a Panther fan, knowing that he’s the way to convince Eric to return to coaching at Dillon, this time coaching a super team made up of the best players from both teams. Buddy’s the devil on Eric’s shoulder, trying to tempt him to going back to the people who had him fired in the first place.
Which leads us to the biggest fight about the future in the episode: Eric vs. Tami. Tami’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime in Philadelphia, and Eric … doesn’t want to talk about it. Not at all. Which is heartbreaking. Tami brings up all the times they’ve moved for his job, but Eric doesn’t want to have the conversation, he just wants Tami to agree to stay. This is one of the toughest Tami/Eric situations the show has given us. We want Eric to stay and win handfuls of Texas state championships, but we also see how much Tami has sacrificed and how much this job means to her. It’s a knot-in-the-stomach moment.
Tami gives the best line of the episode when she learns that Eric has been offered the position of coach of the super team, “I’m gonna say to you what you haven’t had the grace to say to me, ‘Congratulations.’” That’s a shot right there, and a well-deserved one. And when Buddy and the Panther boosters come over to talk to Eric she reminds him how long she’s been a coach’s wife, subject to the whims of his job: “Eighteen years.” This is gonna be a tough finale.
A few last things:
- State is only being covered by NBC news, it seems.
- Tyra wakes up from sex with perfect make-up. That’s a pretty neat trick.
- Jess and Vince get back together, sorta. (Almost forgot about that)
- Matty’s home, with a Christmas tree, to see his grandma. And if that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you haven’t been watching the show for five seasons.
Only one more time after this to talk about FNL, so let’s make this one count! Meet you down in the comments.