Friday Night Lights, Season 5

Series Finale: Is Vince Smash II?
Talking television.
Feb. 10 2011 7:19 AM

Friday Night Lights, Season 5

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Adrianne Palicki as Tyra Collette.
Adrianne Palicki as Tyra Collette

David, you win a tall cold beer at Buddy's for your expert tally of the finale's finest moments. A few more for the road: the opening shots of a jaunty, sunny Christmas in Dillon. Eric trying to buy off Tami with a his-and-hers closet, and then crawling into her suitcase: "It's your turn. Will you take me with you to Philadelphia, please?" Vince giving a sober, team-oriented TV interview. Matt going from asking Eric if he and Julie can get married to telling Eric that he and Julie will get married. (Coach: "No, until the sun burns out." Matt: "She already said yes. This is really just a courtesy.") Julie telling her parents that they are her inspiration. Becky telling Tim she is over her crush on him. Matt's grandma telling Julie that she just has to wash her wedding dress in the kitchen sink, and it will be all ready for a second run. (I would like to report here that Lorraine is right: I wore my grandmother's 60-year-old wedding dress at my wedding, and all it needed was a good, thorough pressing.)

David, you asked whether I'm ready to join you in celebrating Matt and Julie as the next Coach and Mrs. Coach. I mean, how can I say no? I didn't buy Matt as heartless hipster and I didn't see why Julie had to stay at Burleson. Eric is right: They seem so young. But I'm thinking of the high school sweethearts I know who are still sweet on each other, many years and kids later—and remembering that my husband and I met when I was 19 and he was 20—and thinking that maybe it's a Blue State version of narrow minded to insist that teenage couples can't grow old together. I wonder, though, what Julie is doing in Chicago, other than putting away the cereal in the morning. I love your point about how the epilogue showed everyone drawing satisfaction from work, but Julie and Becky were the exceptions, and I would have liked a hint about what they do with themselves when they're not waving goodbye to their men.

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About Vince: I suppose we can picture him as Smash II, taking the Superteam to State and then flashing onto the TV screen at Buddy's to throw the winning pass for his college team. But you're right: Except for his mother, Vince was stripped of the people he loved, though off-screen, which spared us the pain of watching him deal with it. We didn't even get to see him register Jess' move. Or learn whether the FNL gods might tolerate one exception to the Thou Shall Not Text commandment to help bridge the distance from Dillon to Dallas.

I am not sure, though, that Tyra shut the door on Tim. Maybe his jailbird past isn't her best ticket into politics, but hey, in Texas they understand redemption. They also understand both the appeal and the limits of Sarah Palin. Hanna, you invoked Palin last week, and now here she was in the mouth of Tim, as the anti-example of Tyra's future. She doesn't want to be the next Palin. She wants to be the next Mrs. Taylor, "except bigger." This is pitch perfect FNL: an ordinary, possible goal that is also for Tyra a stretch to the tips of her fingers. We know and appreciate this because we've watched her go from a desperate waitress ready to believe any guy's mumbled promise—remember that very first one-night stand?—to a person who will size up Tim's promise never to break the law again and make the right decision for herself about whether to move into the house he and Billy are building.

One reason I am not ready to divide Tim and Tyra is that long-term union has rarely looked better than in the closing moments of this show. Throughout, Eric and Tami have kept us watching, in hopes of seeing flashes of our own better married selves in their humor, grace, and small triumphs over the daily toll of irritation that intimacy entails. At the end, they're in Philadelphia, because it was Tami's turn to take them there. It's the end of the day. They look out over the new football field. Tami asks Eric whether he's ready to go home. He is.

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Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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