Monday, August 9, 2010

'Friday Night Lights'' Season Finale -- Sweet and Neat

*Warning, spoilers ahead from the Friday Night Lights season finale.*

Considering that this was one of the strongest seasons that this underrated show has had – kicking some serious butt on the Vince Howard storyline with his tale of a teen trying to overcome poverty, drugs and gang violence, and daring to go “there” with a story about teenage pregnancy – I admit that I was somewhat disappointed that the season finale wrapped up some of the stories a bit too neatly for my taste.

Having the underdog East Dillon Lions beat the playoff-bound West Dillon Panthers . . . I’m sorry, as much as I love seeing Joe and J.D. McCoy’s smug noses rubbed in defeat -- especially after the lousy punks vandalized the East Dillon Lions’ field -- that victory wasn’t realistic, though I was happy to see Landry make that field goal. Given that the bulk of this season been marinated in difficult, messy reality, this Lions victory seemed improbable.

As for Tami Taylor, I was cheering when I saw Principal Tami walk out of the school board’s meeting without reading that bogus apology that the board had written for her, leaving those who wanted to scapegoat her for a young woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy, all in a tizzy. “Listen, y’all . . . I’ve always put the welfare of the students ahead of everything else, every action that I made was with that intent and it always will be,” Tami said before she left the meeting, calls for her firing heard in the background.

But to have Tami leave her West Dillon principal’s post, after being told she was being placed on “administrative leave,” to take a step down and run the guidance program at East Dillon (she was a guidance counselor before she became principal), seemed, what's the word . . . off. (Plus it makes the folks who run West Dillon High, as well as the school board, seem pretty stupid, dumping two successful members of the Taylor family from the West Dillon faculty in two consecutive years.)

The rosy ending to Tami’s multi-episode arc – with the warm, homey final scene, the folksy music, Tami’s smile, Eric putting up Christmas lights while the girls played with decorations on the front lawn – made me think that the writers simply had a hankering to leave viewers with visions of a happy and contented Taylor family, with Eric’s team having beaten West Dillon and Tami keeping her dignity and having a job that she’s good at.

The story wasn’t so rosy for the Riggins brothers. “You are my brother and you are all I have,” Tim said. “You have a family now. You are a father. And you need to be one.” Watching Tim Riggins take the fall for Billy the moron was so upsetting. Billy should have known better. Tim already has a ton of obstacles in front of him if he wants to succeed in life, but now having to serve time for chopping up stolen cars, that’s certainly not going to help his cause any. Now this was a story that ended on a realistic note, as was the scene with Jess dumping Landry and Matt and Julie finally breaking it off.

Overall, the “Thanksgiving” episode was a moving the-good-guys-can-still-sometimes-win conclusion capping an outstanding season. I absolutely cannot wait for the fifth and final season to begin.

Image credit: NBC.