"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Monday, June 11, 2007

Friday Night Lights: State (Season Finale)

Can it really be? I've been through twenty-two episodes of Friday Night Lights already? Maybe it's just my reluctance to have the show end, but it seems like this season went by awfully fast. Last week I guessed that the team would win the game, Eric would stay in Dillon, and that the show would get a second season. I got answers for all three. The show will be returning!

Throughout much of the season I made a point of noting that this isn't a show about football. Most of the Panther games I got to see were given very short bits of episodes, and were usually not the focus of the episode. This episode altered that balance and gave a lot more time to the game. Understandably so, this was the state championship. It's something that these characters have been working toward for the entire season, so a big payoff was fitting.

Something that struck me about the episode was how much it echoed back to that first episode I saw back in October. The more subtle thing that brought this up was the end of the episode. That scene of Eric driving to the school while listening to sports radio was very reminiscent of how I first met him. Right down to the fact that what he was hearing wasn't the most flattering of broadcasts. Along with that was the story of the game.

Like that first game when Street got hurt, you could make the complaint that they didn't need to build up the big Hollywood ending the way they did. I'd even say that this game needed it less than the first one. At this point in the series, anyone watching is probably a fan of the show. And because of that, they have invested in the characters. They don't need an improbable comeback to sell them on anything. A back and forth game where they struggle to contain Voodoo but keep themselves in the game would have been fine. It's certainly not a huge complaint, but something that stands out as being unnecessary.

That said, the game footage was again very good. As was everything leading up to the game. I liked the wonder of it all as the team got a look at their locker room and stepped onto the Texas Stadium field for the first time. I even enjoyed the return of Voodoo. He's just so menacing. That little nugget where he offered Smash a spot with the Mustangs is something that could be revisited in season two. I don't think that Smash would leave Dillon, but there is still a story to be told there.

This was quite an episode for Eric as well. I really liked the scene where the reporter asked him about the job at TMU. Ever since he took the gig I've been waiting for that bomb to drop. The fact that it came on the eve of the big game made it that much more dramatic. He handled it well, and I thought he made a good case for why he was leaving to both the gathered boosters, and personally to Saracen.

After the game, when Eric poured out all of his feelings on everything to Tami, I was completely sold. Eric will be back at Dillon next year, coaching the team, new baby bouncing around the house. I was caught off guard by Tami's answer to all of that. "No, you've got to go to Austin." Apparently I have yet to learn the same lesson that Eric is missing, Tami Taylor usually knows best. She was right all along. It will be interesting to see how they handle the Austin/Dillon separation in season two.

There were a couple other good scenes for Tami tonight as well. Her meeting with Mrs. Williams at Planned Parenthood was a nice bit of continuity. And she might have had the line of the night with her explanation for missing the booster event, saying she couldn't handle "the Buddy Garrity of it all." The scene where she told Eric about the baby was also very sweet.

Away from football, Landry's state football adventure was fun to watch. Watching his reaction to Tyra inviting him to the game was almost as much fun as watching the crazy series of events that destroyed his big plans. The soundtrack for the trip changing from some sexy Crucifictorious to Lady Marmalade captures the essence of the whole thing. In a strange and twisted way though, it was some nice progress to the Landry/Tyra story, and sets itself up for the possibility of season two.

Tyra had a nice resolution with Lyla as well. It took some good christian intervention from Landry to get the ball rolling, but it goes to show how much the two of them are changing as the story goes along. They're both at a point now where moving on and rethinking things is an option, so it was nice to see them both embrace that idea.

And finally, Jason Street. Considering that his injury is what kicked off this adventure, it was nice to see it play out the way it did. He's back in control, his confidence is back, and he has something he loves to focus on and work at. I don't know if we are supposed to take that last scene as some kind of hint that he will be the head coach next season or not. But the Panthers did just win the state title with a first year coach. And I'm guessing that the word of Eric Taylor has some sway now. I could see him endorsing Street as his replacement with Mac and the rest of the staff staying on. Of course, that could lead to some drama, hopefully a whole seasons worth.

So, that does it for the first season of Friday Night Lights. I be back here in the fall to kick off a second run. I like this show even more now than I did when it started. Over the course of the season it became my favorite new show of the year, and without getting out the calculator to figure exact positioning, I'd say it's in my top 5 for all of TV right now. This was a nice way to wrap things up. I couldn't be happier about the way this season played out. With the Panthers winning, the Taylor's plans squared away, and all of our other characters ready to move on, I'll be anxious to see what the next season brings.

No comments: