OK, so it’s not technically Friday. It’s Thursday night. But I just watched the first episode of the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights, and I wanted to cover these two seasons before I review it.
I watched four seasons of Friday Night Lights in less than a month. I am addicted. I was hooked within three episodes of season one (check out the review here
) and although a lot of people warned me that season two was a bit rocky, I still loved it
Season Three might be the best season. It’s hard to say because all the seasons are so good, and as soon as I say “Season three was the best”, I immediately think of a bunch of reasons why season one was best. But season three, although it was only thirteen episodes long, was fantastic. First of all, it was a season of goodbye’s as several major characters moved on throughout the course of the season.
Let’s talk about Smash first, since he had a major storyline in the beginning of the season. I wasn’t always the biggest Smash fan, but he grew on me and when he finally got accepted into college after dealing with some racial issues at the end of season two, I was ecstatic. So to learn at the beginning of season three that Smash injured his knee and lost his scholarship was heartbreaking. The guy had worked so hard and overcome so much, why did he have to face yet another obstacle? It did allow for a great storyline though – Coach’s commitment to getting Smash on a college team even though he wasn’t a Dillon Panther anymore was touching, and I was so happy when Smash finally succeeded.
Jason Street also left the show mid-season. He hit a low when his girlfriend left with their baby to go live with his parents, but he worked hard (the house renovation with Herc and the Riggins brothers was pretty funny) and chased a new dream – getting a job as a sports agent. It was nice to see him live happily ever after with a job he could be passionate about and a family he loved. I wanted to see someone get out of Dillon.
This was a big season for my girl Tyra. I’ve always loved Tyra. She’s overcome so much, but she’s not painted as a martyr. She screws up, and she screwed up a lot this season. She disappointed Tami by relying on her looks to get elected as class president. She hurt Landry’s feelings by taking advantage of him. And she ran off with a no-good cowboy for a while. That was a pretty big mistake. But unlike her mom or sister, she learns from her mistakes. She tries to be better. And her college admissions essay brought tears to my eyes. When it came to the characters on this show, there was nothing I wanted more than for Tyra to go to college and I couldn’t have been happier when she finally got accepted.
As far as football goes, it was an interesting season. With Smash gone Tim had to step up, and he ended up getting recruited to San Antonio State. And a young, hotshot quarterback was introduced named J.D. McCoy. The struggle with the McCoys and Coach Taylor brought a fascinating new element to the series. The tough decision Coach had to make between starting Matt or starting J.D., J.D.’s overbearing (and abusive) dad, the loss of the State championship and Coach Taylor being pushed out of his job were all great storylines.
Season four was hard to get into at first, just because so many characters had moved on and so many new characters and plots were being introduced. Smash and Street had moved on early in season three, and Tyra and Lyla had both gone off to college. Tim went to college for about 30 seconds before dropping out and returning to Dillon, but he wasn’t playing football anymore. Matt stayed though, deciding in the season three finale to pass up art school in Chicago in favor of staying in Dillon with Julie and his grandmother.
The big thing about season four, of course, was that Coach wasn’t coaching the Dillon Panthers anymore. The school district had been divided and Coach was shoved out of the Panthers in favor of J.D.’s private coach, and instead he was offered a joke job at the newly opened East Dillon High. The new school and new team meant a lot of new characters, but the way they were integrated with old characters made the transition smooth.
Landry, now attended East Dillon, started dating a girl named Jess. Her dad used to be an East Dillon Lion and was integral in helping Coach Taylor get a team going. She also had a romantic history with the new East Dillon quarterback, Vince. Vince has been a great addition to the cast. He joined the football team to avoid juvie, but seeing his home life and how he took care of his drug-addicted mom really made his character interesting.
Tim Riggins moved into a trailer in the backyard of a woman he had a one-night stand with after Billy told him he couldn’t live with Billy, Mindy and their baby. The woman’s daughter, Becky, attended East Dillon High and began a friendship (and a bit of a romance) with Tim. Kiss aside, the friendship was beautiful. Becky became my new Tyra, a character that I love and root for. Her storyline, of becoming pregnant and having an abortion, became one of the best storylines of the whole series. Tim took her to talk to Mrs. Coach, because the poor girl needed someone to confide in. Tami did nothing wrong – she explained what Becky’s options were and encouraged her to tell her mom. The baby had been the result of a one-night stand with an East Dillon football player, Luke. When his mom found out about the abortion, she grabbed a pitchfork and started demanding Tami be fired for encouraging Becky to kill her grandchild. It was heartbreaking, angering and completely enthralling.
Julie and Matt’s relationship this season was a bit of a mess. They were together, then they broke up and Matt disappeared, then he came back and they were together again…a major source of the drama was the death of Matt’s father. That was a fantastic episode. Matt is usually so mellow, so it was nice to see him show some range and portray such raw anger and sadness. Matt and Julie seem like they belong together, so I can’t wait to find out where they’ll be when the series ends.
Even though Coach Taylor and the East Dillon Lions ended the season with two wins and eight losses, they beat the Panthers and prevented them from going to State, and that’s what counted. That stupid J.D. McCoy really turned into an arrogant little snot in the fourth season, and his father and the other boosters pushed Buddy Garrity out of the booster club. I’ve never been able to decide whether I like Buddy, but he was good in season four.
The storyline that got to me the most in season four, though, was Tim Riggins going to jail. Because of his stupid brother. I love Tim Riggins. Everyone loves Tim Riggins. You cannot watch this show and not love Tim Riggins. And when his brother pulled him into the chop shop scheme to make a bunch of illegal cash, you knew it couldn’t end well. But I didn’t predict that Tim would take the fall when they got caught to prevent Billy (now a husband and father) from going to jail. I won’t lie, I cried. He’d just bought land! He was happy! It was so unfair.
I was worried that season four, with it’s new school and new characters, would ruin Friday Night Lights. But in just 13 episodes, the writers managed to make me care about new people, a new team and a new school. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this last season.