Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Last Season
So last Wednesday was the premiere of the final season of Friday Night Lights on DirecTV. In it Landry and Julie got their show send off.. Which while they'll still be season regulars, does mean that their time in Dillon Texas has come to an end and we'll probably only see them while coming back home on vacation or if there's some family drama I'd imagine.
But as it was, it was Landry's last night and Julie promised him an epic night.. which just ended up leading to the Landing Strip. So I guess it was a regular night for a Texas high school football player. A new surprise to the season was a desperate attempt to keep the Riggins boys in the picture by putting Billy Riggins as a new coach of East Dillon.
Now, for those who need a little reminder, here's who we are following in this little slice of West Texas:
Coach Eric Taylor - Former coach of the Dillon Panthers, now coach of the East Dillon Lions. Was fired from his position at the Panthers as the end of Season 3, and took the job at East Dillon to begin Season 4. Ended Season 4 by managing to pull the Lions together into a unit and manage to spoil the Panthers winning streak.
Counseler Tami Taylor - Eric's wife. Eric's rock. was principal of Dillon High during Seasons 3 and 4, only to be eventually forced from her position after advising a girl of her options following an unplanned pregnancy. Will begin Season 5 as a guidance counselor at East Dillon High.
Julie Taylor - Eric and Tami's precocious and whip-smart daughter. Had one of the great loves of her life with Matt Saracen, and through that love, found she had managed to place her heart in Dillon. Ended up turning down college for the time being because of it, as well.
Matt Saracen - The shy boy who became the heart of the Dillon Panthers and helped lead the team to a State Championship. Refused to leave Dillon upon graduation in order to take care of his grandmother and be with Julie. Following the death of his father, took off to Chicago to chase his love of drawing and painting.
Landry Clarke - FNL's comic relief, a boy who joined the football team to impress his father, and maybe the smartest character on the entire show. Lost his virginity to Tyra Collette in Season 2, was the glue that barely kept the Panthers together in Season 3, and was shifted to East Dillon High in Season 4, only to find love with Jess Merriweather and a simmering rivalry with Vince Howard. Ended Season 4 by kicking the game-winning field goal against the Panthers and was last seen heading towards Chicago, on a plane, with Saracen.
Tim Riggins - the heart and soul of Friday Night Lights as a series. Perhaps the primest example of the overgrown boy kings that much of the Dillon Panthers could be, Riggins has had an entire multi-season arc bringing us moment to moment through his emotional and moral growth. In Season 1, he was a drunk and an angry, angsty type. Through a series of collapses and restructures in his whole entire life - from his best friend being paralyzed to his brother getting married to dropping out of college and ending up as Coach Taylor's assistant on the Lions. When we last saw him, he had - in order to pay for the growing medical bills over his sister-in-law's medical bills (his brother, Billy, had - of course - knocked up his girlfriend, a stripper) and to take care of his future niece or nephew - starting running a chop shop out of Riggins' Rigs, his brother's barely-afloat garage. And that itself had collapsed, as he was arrested and opted to carry the burden of prison time himself, rather than destroy his brother's new life by admitting the truth. Was that was the last we will see of Tim Riggins? Likely not, but nobody is sure.
Luke Cafferty - The Great White Hope of Dillon, The Excelsior of Farmboys, The Lone Star King, got transferred to East Dillon (because that's where he was SUPPOSED TO BE <>), butted heads with the rest of the team - in particular, Vince - and knocked up a girl. Plus he bruised/broke his hip something awful taking care of some cattle with his dad, lied about the injury to Coach (yes, lie to your coach - a man who watched as a kid's life nearly got obliterated in one bad moment, smart move there Luke), and eventually hurt himself so bad he was taken out for the rest of the season. What's staring him in the face: a scholarship to St. Pat's, a life free from cattle rustling and farming. He's coming back a little wiser, a little more humble, and without a bum hip.
Vince Howard - QB 1. Trepidatious gangbanger. A kid torn between two worlds. Vince Howard is FNL's replacement for Matt Saracen, and his storyline is primarily responsible for the turn towards a more Wire-like view of Dillon (ironic, since we all know where the actor who plays him came from). Last we saw of him, his best friend had been shot up, and wanting revenge, he found himself riding around with some baaaaad people, all while his mother remained in rehab. In the end, though, he appealed to his better angels, despite it meaning he might be a marked man off the field as much as he is on it. But he gained the love of Jess. Equal tradeoff between revenge and acceptance? Or will this all end in tears for the man who definitely makes JD McCoy look like the whiny prat whitebread dickwad he is?
Jess Merriweather - If I didn't know better, I'd say Jess is the baby that Julie got switched with. Knows football, loves football, and is - with Julie disappearing - now the angel of Friday Night Lights. First, she guided Landry to a place of self-acceptance and confidence. Then she pulled Vince out of his own ill-thought vengeance, and is cobbling his life back together. She even - with the help of Coach - has bit by bit managed to pull her father, a man who, in the intervening years as a player to his place now as owner of East Dillon's best BBQ joint, lost all love for the game, back into the mystifying world that is high school football. Plus, she's got a sweet-ass bike to roll around on.
Buddy Garrity - the jester of Friday Night Lights, since sending his baby girl Lyla off to college, watched the sinking of something beautiful, his beloved Panthers, into the muck of greed and classism. So he told them off and went Lions on their ass, and brought together a booster club that, slowly but surely, is reinvigorating East Dillon into rallying around their team.
Becky Sproles - Despite nine billion different attempts to sleep with Tim Riggins, she got nowhere. With one meeting with Luke Cafferty, she got knocked up. That little problem got Tami forced out of her job as principal of Dillon High. Becky was the spotlight of drama on Friday Night Lights in Season 4. Last seen giving Tim Riggins one final kiss and one final talk before he shipped himself off to prison. There's still a spark between her and Luke, perhaps? Who knows where FNL's Freida-haired beauty queen will go in this final run.
Billy Riggins - Billy's still Billy. He will remain Billy until the end of time. Unless maybe Tim being a jailbird knocks some real sense into him, like a permanent version of his epiphany at the end of season 3. But then he wouldn't be Billy.
J.D. McCoy - Asshole. Talent. The Makeshift Demon of Friday Night Lights. His dad got Coach fired, Coach seeing Daddy Dearest push him around got his parents divorced, and slowly but surely he's acting out more and more. His future on the series is entirely dependent on where they go with East Dillon vs. Dillon this year, but I can't help but imagine that, after getting beaten on the field at the end of Season 4, he will grow only more into the dickwad he was born to be.
East Dillon and Dillon proper are beginning to collide - the haves and the have nots are now finding that they're pressing up against one another in ways that could lead to an explosion, emotional, physical, and social. The stakes have been raised; the general that Dillon tossed aside in an instant has managed to make a ramshackle team into possible future contenders for State.
So we're left with this final season.. and the fact that we got this far is amazing into itself. Fans of the show faced potential cancellation on so many occasions, the miracle of DirecTV's deal with NBC is probably the only good to come out of NBC's Zuckerburg rule.
Out of all of the original cast it seems like we only have 3 or so that are showing up on any regular rotation this year. We went from Matt Saracen being the main protagonist to Vince Howard in 13 episodes last season. It's only a question of what else changes within the 13 episodes this season before the end. Who we will see from the original cast. The only thing we know for certain is that we'll see it before NBC viewers ever do.