Though I haven't written much (OK, at ALL) about "Friday Night Lights's" run on DirecTV this year, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a few words on the show's series finale, which ran Wednesday night on the provider's 101 network. Spoilers ahead.
"Friday Night Lights" wasn't a perfect show. I almost wrote the show off instantly, because I didn't particularly care for its pilot episode. And the show has taken many missteps along the way (Landry's killing spree in season two; the disappearance of characters like Santiago and JD McCoy; the show's cavalier attitude about the ages of its young characters). But, on balance, it remains one of the most affecting, well-crafted portraits of small-town life to hit the small screen. Whether teenager or adult, the show treated nearly all of its characters with affection and respect. Even an outsize character like Buddy Garrity, whom a lesser series might have painted as a cartoon blowhard, was allowed to be human.
Given that this is a show that has created strong emotional bonds between characters and viewers, I liked that its season finale, "Always," left most of the characters in a good, if not perfect, place. No, we don't actually see the Lions victory at State, but we know it happened. And, no, it's uncertain whether Matt and Julie will be able to make things work at their age, no matter how much they love each other. And, yeah, I still worry about Vince -- with his home life still unstable and his coach and girlfriend moving away, he's got a battle ahead of him.
But "Friday Night Lights" isn't about pat happy endings. It's about growing up. And, as the finale showed, even adults need to grow up sometimes. That's what Coach Taylor finally figured out when he realized that, whatever future he had with the new "superteam," it wouldn't be as valuable to him as Braemore College would be to Tami. He'd still have to deal with the bullying boosters who forced him out. And, as much as he respects Buddy, five years of early morning phone calls from Dillon's favorite booster/auto dealer/bar owner was not very palatable.
Yes, it's a bit of cliche to have one character run to another, declaring devotion and love, but I still swooned when Eric ran to Tami in that department store, and begged her to take him to Philadelphia with her. Through all the show's cast and story changes, the one constant has been the marriage between Eric and Tami. The only thing I really wanted from this finale was a resolution to some of the tension this typically strong couple had been facing in these final episodes. Here, we got it, and it was enormously satisfying, thanks to the writing and the typically gorgeous performances by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.
Also satisfying was the gentle peace made between Tim and Tyra. She wants him to know that their reunion in last week's episode wasn't permanent, and that she has goals of her own. He wants her to know that he'll be there for her if she'll have him (and really, once the media finds out that she aided and abetted in a murder, her political career probably won't get very far). Most importantly, she'll have that house Tim's building to come home to nearly any time she wants.
In other stories, I liked that Becky and Luke were back together (though him joining the military was a bit of a surprise -- wasn't he all about learning to farm?), and that Becky is back with her mom. But the most affecting part of that storyline was the obvious heartbreak on Mindy's face when she has to take her new surrogate sister home. When Becky hugged Mindy and said she'd always love her and her babies, it got a bit dusty in here. That friendship has been one of this season's nicest surprises, and Stacey Oristano and Madison Burge are devastating in this scene.
Sigh. I can't believe the show is really over. Though I'm sad to see it go, I'm thrilled that it's gone out on such an appropriate note.