Friday Night Lights Season 3 Finale – New Beginnings

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In three seasons of Friday Night Lights, this is the first season that’s ended with the show’s future not in doubt and it feels good.

Season 3 is over for both DirecTV and NBC and what a season it has been. After the schizophrenic sophomore season last year, which compared to the rest of TV, still was one of the best hours of television. And that says a lot about Friday Night Lights.

But season 3 in particular, I think, has managed to at the very least, come close to matching the greatness and excellence of season 1. That magical first season that defied all expectations and began the run of this exceptional, down to earth, true to life television series.

Now before we get to the end of season reflection, how about the season finale itself. Emotional with plenty of MaGMCM (Make a Grown Man Cry Moments), and frankly Friday Night Lights is one of the few hours of television to have legitimate MaGMCM.

Five months later, the football season is long over, baseball isn’t really a big draw in Dillon, and we are nipping at the heels of summer. Coach lets the football team go until August and that is only the beginning of change.

Matt and Gramma Saracen

Probably my most favorite relationship on the series, even more than Mr. and Mrs. Coach has to be Matt and his grandmother Lorraine. They’ve been through thick and thin. Each being the only one the other’s got and the love is just evident. The show’s MaGMCMs? 9 out of 10 times, it’s because of these two and I absolutely love it.

Matt has decided on going to the Art Institute in Chicago and Lorraine will be moving in to a nursing home. Matt, Lorraine, his mother, and Julie are packing when Julie finds a picture of Matt in 7th grade. Lorraine tells Matt that she wants to bring it with her and hang it on her wall so that when she gets one of her spells and forgets him, she’ll just look up at the picture and remember. *cue my tears*

Later, Matt drives her to her new home. They walk in, hand in hand. They head to her new room and he helps her unpack and get set up. She insists he go home and that she’ll be fine. They hug and he walks out into the hall. Lorraine sits on her bed, Matt leans against the wall, both emotional. *cue even more tears*

Tyra and Landry

Tyra is still on waitlist to UT Austin. She becomes frustrated when other girls (we assume they aren’t so bright) are getting into other good schools while she just sits and waits. Landry suggests they go to Austin and she talk to the admissions person that wrote the waitlist letter.

She feels desperate, so they go. She walks into the admissions director’s office and he has no problem telling her they get thousands of applications every year with 1,000 other people on the waitlist as well. On the drive back to Dillon, Tyra beats herself up over the fact that she probably has no shot and tells Landry they might as well get married and have babies now since she isn’t going to be going anywhere.

Landry can’t take it anymore. He stops the car and they get out. He tells her he still believes in her. She isn’t making matters any better with her moping. He loves her no matter what happens. They get home, Tyra’s mother and sister are debating whether or not to show her a letter before tomorrow’s wedding. Tyra sees them, grabs the letter, runs outside to catch Landry. They read it together and she’s in. Tyra is going to Austin.

Tim and Lyla
Lyla is called in to the principal’s office. Buddy is there with Mrs. Coach and they have been talking about Lyla’s decision to go to San Antonio State. Mrs. Coach says she’s talked to Vanderbilt and they have agreed to extend the deadline for her decision to go if she wants to. Lyla is set on San Antonio to be with Tim and besides they have no more money after Buddy spent it all at the Landing Strip. He tells her though that they can talk to her Uncle Gary who could help.

Meanwhile, Tim and Billy are putting the finishing touches on their new garage and prepare to finally getting it up and running. They go to an auction to get a hydraulic lift, which they do. But they also manage to get a genuine Texas Longhorn steer. Tim says he defies anyone not come into their new garage and become lifelong customers after seeing that steer standing in front of it.

On the way home, their truck conks out. Tim starts subtly talking about San Antonio State not being all that great of a place to be. Billy gets frustrated. He can’t find out what’s wrong with the truck, Tim fixes it. He starts doubting his decision to buy the garage. He just wants to make a life for his new family (Mindy is pregnant). Tim assures him everything will be all right and they roll around celebrating the newest addition to the family.

The Taylors
Julie has just gotten a new car. She’s grateful, but she feels funny with all her friends leaving Dillon. But most of all, she’s upset about the possibility of she and Matt being so far apart and maybe not working out.

Coach’s contract is up and to their surprise, he isn’t a lock for next season. On a recruiting trip with Buddy, they learn Joe McCoy and J.D.’s personal coach Wade Aikman have already been there. The family they talk to get the impression Wade is in control of the team, not Coach Eric Taylor.

Coach can’t believe what is happening. He feels he’s done his job and just can’t believe how far the McCoy money will go.

At the school board meeting, Coach arrives to speak for himself. He had told Tami he felt like he shouldn’t have to go and defend his job. But he stands up to the board and the kind boosters and says he wants to keep his job. He keeps it short and sweet and leaves to head to the wedding.

The Wedding

It’s the big day. The union of Billy Riggins and Mindy Collette. Everyone’s in the pews as the best man and maid of honor Tim and Tyra (always awesome seeing them together every once in a while) walk down the aisle followed by Mindy and her mother. Tami arrives just in time and she takes Eric’s hand and gives him a look that he’s lost his job as coach of the Dillon Panthers.

She whispers something to him though. All that redistricting from a few episodes ago? Well, it turns out the board as offered Coach the job of leading the new team at East Dillon High.

Everyone is partying at the reception. They’re having fun.

Lyla looks deep in though and Tim grabs a flower from the table settings and heads over to her. She tells him all about Vanderbilt. She says they managed to get the money from her uncle and that she could go if she wanted to, but she wants to go to San Antonio with him. Tim tells her to go. He doesn’t want to be the one to keep her from her dreams.

More dancing and fun, but this time it’s Coach and Mrs. Coach deep in thought.

Only the Beginning…
Julie is dancing with Landry to “Mustang Sally” with Matt in his seat. He smiles at his two best friends. Julie comes over to him and tells him , not to be a Debbie Downer, but that she feels they should break up because of the distance that’ll grow between them with Matt going to Chicago. She doesn’t want to be the high school couple that stays together just to show everyone and the type that gets into fights because of being apart from each other.

But Matt says they aren’t breaking up. He loves her and they’ll be fine, everything will be okay. They kiss and Julie says his grandma would’ve loved this wedding. Matt begins to think, smiles and we see him walking into his grandmother’s room. He tells her to get her curlers out of her hair because they’re going to a wedding, and then he’ll take her home… for good…
“Honey, no you can’t do that.”
“You’re the only person that’s never left me. I’m not going to leave you.”
MaGMCM #3!

Back at the reception, Coach and Mrs. Coach are dancing to “When a Man Loves a Woman.” She says it’s been a sucky day. He says he doesn’t know what they’re doing there, he doesn’t even know Billy Riggins that well. (chuckle) She tells him she’ll always be behind him no matter what. He knows.

Matt and Gramma arrive and they head to the dance floor. Julie looks on and smiles. We see Tyra and Landry, Tim and Lyla, and back to Mr. and Mrs. Coach holding each other tight.

We move outside as the new couple is about to head off to their honeymoon. Coach tells Mrs. Coach they need go somewhere. (“Well gimme the keys, cuz I’m driving honey, you’re drunk.”)

Billy and Mindy are walking to their limo, rice is in the air, but Tim stops them. He has to tell Billy something. (Mindy to Tim: “Are you kidding me? You’re an ass!”)

He tells him that with Lyla going to Vanderbilt, he has no reason to go to college. He can stay in Dillon with him, Riggins’ Riggs FTW. But Billy tells him that he needs to go to college. For their future children, Billy wants to do right by them. Do better for them than their parents, God bless ’em wherever they are, did for them. Tim will set the example for the future Riggins of tomorrow.

Everyone waves the new couple off as they head to Puerto Rico.

Across town, we see Coach and Mrs. Coach walk into a desolate looking East Dillon stadium. They look around and stand at midfield. (MaGMCM #4:) They put their arm around each other and we get a beautiful shot of them with the sun setting behind the stands… East Dillon Lions it says.

Breathtaking, just one of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen on TV.

And season 3 is over.

Season 3 Reflection
What a season it has been. I am so happy I stayed spoiler free even after the episodes made their DirecTV debut. From episode 3 onward, the NBC airings were the first time I watched the eps.

And what amazing episodes they were. Like I said, I was probably one of the biggest critics of the show last season. So many things seemed off or just wrong (and it wasn’t just the dumping dead bodies). And even though there were some shining moments in season 2, it wasn’t the FNL we had in season 1. Still one of the best hours of television, but not up to par with the high standard season 1 had set.

With season 3, I felt like the show got back to its roots. Friday Night Lights is a show about Dillon, Texas, it’s citizens, their lives and the local high school football team that brings together the entire community. The characters that we’ve gotten to know have become so emotionally engrained in our television experience, that their ups and down resonate so much.
It helps that you’ve got one of television’s best ensembles and led by two of the best TV parents ever Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

There is no other way to describe the show’s 2 season, 26-episode pick-up other than, a miracle. Thanks to DirecTV, NBC feels a little more comfortable taking a chance and sticking with the show despite the horrible ratings. The unique deal that saved the show last year will ensure two more seasons of truly (and now with Battlestar Galactica finished) television’s best hour of drama.

I remember saying, you don’t need overarching, convoluted mysteries and mythology, you don’t need a crime to solve every week, and you don’t need big guns and special effects to be a good TV series.

Friday Night Lights just manages to capture that slice of life that we can all relate to. The show’s sincerity and authenticity made for some amazing television. And the show’s unique style separates itself from everything else on TV.

“Clear Eyes… Full Hearts… Can’t Lose.”
Words we can all definitely live by.

Miss the episode? Or want to watch it again? Watch the full episode at Friday Night Lights

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