I've seen the series finale of Friday Night Lights about five times, having not only the NBC screeners but the full DVD box set already, but when NBC finally aired it last night, July 15th, I sat down with my tailgate food and my Tim Riggins sweatshirt, in the dark, and watched again. The commercials kind of did ruin the full emotional impact, but no matter how many interruptions or how many times I had already seen it, Coach's words hit me just as hard as they had before. And surprisingly, so did Julie's.
When Julie and Matt sat down with her parents over dinner, and she told them she believed her marriage could work, even though she was still so young, because she had great role models, she could have been any one of the viewers saying those things. They really weren't just Coach and Mrs. Coach, as they were in the film; the television show made Tami Taylor a fully fleshed out, well-rounded woman with strong opinions and a lot to offer. She challenged everyone around her to be better people; she spoke her mind; she compromised but never caved.
We got so used to hearing "Texas Forever" on-screen, but off it was "Taylors Forever" that I would chant around my living room before and after each new episode. They were the definition of what family should be, and it didn't matter where they ended up or why; as long as they were together they would be better than fine.
The journeys of the characters we know and love so much are far from over. Vince now has to prove himself as a weird Panther/Lion hybrid and try to lead this knew team to the victory they each knew separately-- without the man responsible for turning his life around at his side; Matt and Julie still have to actually make it down the aisle (They may be living together but they weren't wearing wedding rings-- yet); Luke has to come back home alive and in one piece; Tim has to finish putting up physical walls and perhaps still has some emotional ones to tear down.
I know Peter Berg is already talking about doing a movie, but I kind of think he should wait a few years, until these kids aren't kids anymore, and then do a proper reunion movie, perhaps even set at Dillion's own high school reunion. I'd love to see the people they turn into now that I have such high hopes and expectations for each and every single one of them. There really turned out to be not one lost cause in the bunch, and those are stats you don't often see in high school, let alone on a sports team. Will Tyra be mayor of another small town someday? Will Landry's band hit it big and his music play all around the world? Will Becky become a movie star after finally winning some pageant and find herself in a much bigger, faster world than what she is accustomed? Will Jason Street return home and sit on the porch with Tim Riggins and their kids, a beer in his hand, watching the great Texas sunset and reminiscing about the plays they made and the girl they shared?
I can see it all so clearly in my mind, and yet I would never try to put it down on paper. This is Jason Katims' baby, and he has raised it perfectly.
So many left Dillon in the series finale, and yet I find myself more than ever wanting to run to it. I always knew I was a small town girl at heart; Friday Night Lights just showed me why.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts.