October 28, 2010

There Aren't Enough Tissues In The World

As the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights started last night, I realized that I am in no way prepared for how much it's going to hurt to say goodbye to these characters forever.  On this show more than any other I've ever watched, the characters seem like people to me.  People I could know.  People I do know.  As they leave the show and then the show leaves the airwaves, I am losing these people that I have come to care about. 

Before you roll your eyes and tell me that I need to learn the difference between reality and fiction, let me say for the record that I know these are all actors playing parts.  I don't expect that Connie Britton is much like Tami Taylor or that Taylor Kitsch has anything in common with Tim Riggins, but for those 42 minutes a week, they aren't Connie and Taylor, they're Tami and Tim.  At least for 12 more weeks. 

Last night Julie and Landry both went off to college bringing us some wonderfully touching goodbye scenes.  In particular I loved Eric and Julie in the garage and Landry and Grandma Saracen.  Landry, like with most of the characters who've left before him, lifts out of the narrative pretty cleanly, while Julie's story remains anchored to Dillon by virtue of her parents being the heart and soul of the show.  She's off to college but we'll be visiting her there along the way. 

Here parents, meanwhile, will continue to fight the good fight in Dillon.  Coach still has his work cut out for him, moulding the young Lions men and creating a football program that the school, the students, the players and their families can be proud of.  To that end, he's recruited his two star players, Vince and Luke, to recruit the new kid in town - basketball playing hippie Hastings - to join the Lions as a wide receiver.  Luke is not good at recruiting and Vince knows he probably isn't either so he gets Jess to help them out in her capacity as a football loving hot girl.  Naturally that does the trick. 

Speaking of Jess, her dad is off opening three franchises and she's left to take care of her three little brothers on her own.  Or, rather, with the help of her boyfriend Vince who does a great job of helping the oldest boy see that acting out isn't the answer, becoming the man of the house is. 

Tami is just starting her new job as the counselor at East Dillon and realizes that she's inherited a much bigger task than she anticipated as the faculty's antipathy and ambivalence are matched only by that of the parents.  The Tami we met 5 years ago might have managed to stay positive under such circumstances but she's been through a lot in recent years that has worn down her optimism.  Worst of all, she's having a really hard time letting go of Julie.  The strong, confident, in-control woman that we've come to know is showing signs that she's straining under the weight of her world. 

Finally, Tim's time in prison has taken a toll on him.  He has none of the swagger and charisma he used to have.  He's got 3 months left on his sentence (with good behavior) and Billy is visiting him often and Tim wishes he wouldn't.  He also asks Billy to tell Becky not to come so often.  Speaking of Becky, she's having a rough go of it while her mom works a job on a casino boat that keeps her away from home for long stretches.  That means her dad and his new wife and daughter are there to look after her.  Since her dad drives trucks, he's also gone a lot of the time so Becks is stuck with her awful step mother.  When she can't take it any more, she goes to Billy for a place to stay, remembering that Tim said they'd be her family now and would be there for her for whatever she needed.  Billy welcomes her in - owing as he does, everything to his little brother who spared him prison - but Mindy doesn't look pleased.  Oh, and Billy is feeling a bit lost now that he's fucked up so spectacularly and caused such pain to someone he loved.  He asks coach for a job so that he can learn from Coach how to be a better man.  This is maybe the first time Billy's ever had a plan that wasn't incredibly stupid. 

Oh yeah, and also the Lions win their first game of the season. 

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