During the offseason, we are continuing our weekly series discussing thoughts on arguably the best football TV show ever in Friday Night Lights. If you haven’t seen it, there is no better time to start. If you have seen it, there’s no better time to rewatch it. And if you’re like me, and watch an episode or season every year in preparation for college football, you’re right on track. Regardless of which category you fit into, it’s on Netflix (and Peacock), and you can follow along each week (on a Friday, of course) as a different episode from season three will be discussed, from the opening episodes with an up and coming freshman QB all the way to the big game in the season finale.
Random thoughts in live-tweet form.
- The Panthers have a big rally in the gym to send off the team as they go to state. Buddy is predictably leading the charge.
- Tami is being told that both her and Eric are mandated reporters and need to report the physical abuse Joe inflicted on JD. Tami is torn between helping her friend and doing what she needs to do to help her friend. She tells Eric and they both feel burdened by what they have to do, knowing they don’t have a choice. Eric offers to make the call but Tami decides to do it.
- On the radio, it sounds like the Panthers are big underdogs and they say even the ‘81 Panthers would have a tough time winning.
- Lyla and Billy both have to use the bathroom. Lyla gets there first and Billy goes in teh sink instead.
- Billy shows Tim and Lyla he bought a barn to start Riggin’s Rigs, their latest business focused on fixing cars.
- Tami awes at Matt’s art portfolio and he is dreaming of going to Chicago for art school. Julie tries to be supportive but cleary doesn’t want to be away from him.
- Landry critiques Tyra’s essay for college and tells her to dig a bit deeper.
- Child Protective Services and a sheriff shows up at the McCoy household to ask questions. He asks for a lawyer. JD tells them that he isn’t afraid of his dad and wants this all to be over and doesn’t want to leave his family. Joe doesn’t react well.
- Matt seems really excited for school (presumably Columbia) and worries about paying for it. Shelby says she can help out a bit. Lorraine worries about how far it is and what she will do without Matt and doesn’t want to live with Shelby and starts to talk him out of it.
- Buddy and Lyla meet for food and to talk. He says he will get back on his feet but apologizes to her and says he only did all this because he didn’t want to disappoint her (which doesn’t make sense) and wants her to move back in. She agrees and says Tim helped and they are actually going to go to San Antonio State together and get a place. Buddy is surprised by that.
- Landry tells Tyra he will be playing in the title game and Tyra says she can’t go because she needs to finish her essay.
- The team is sent off and everyone is in high spirits. Eric talks to Joe and says he hopes together they can help JD get through this. Joe tells Eric he started the fire and he can handle JD on his own. Matt realizes Landry isn’t on the bus and he overslept after being at the party all night.
- Landry convinces Tyra to drive him to Austin so he can play in the game because he is in no condition to drive. Tyra says she will drive him if he helps her with the paper.
- JD and Matt are not in good moods on the bus, but everyone else is.
- Lorraine asks Julie why Matt wants to be an artist and says she doesn’t want to hold him back. Julie says she doesn’t want to either.
- Tami stops Katie to check in about how she’s doing. Katie tells Tami that they need to take parenting classes and CPS can drop by for the next year whenever they want and may take JD away. Tami says she has no choice and Katie says while Tami did what she had to do, Katie wants nothing to do with her any longer.
- Landry tries to help Tyra find her inspiration and she is stressed about it. He asks her what changed two years ago to stop all the hate she had and she says it was after Jason’s accident. She realized that he was a great guy and something bad happened to him and life isn’t fair for anyone, not just her. Then she met Julie and Tami started looking out for her and Landry came into her life and she felt like he belonged for once.
- Tami is crying in bed about how everything went down. Her and Eric go to the balcony to talk. Eric says he has no idea what’s going to happen. Tami says win or lose the sun will come up.
- Tyra writes her college essay and it’s great. Her and Landry kiss.
Coach Taylor’s speeches.
- Let me just ask you one question, can you play like champions? Then let’s go get ‘em.
- We need more... What are you looking at? You want to be out there on that field so bad? Then show me something. There’s a fight going on out there, gentlemen. Why don’t you get in it? Clear eyes, full hearts.
- I wanted everyone’s friends and family to be in here to hear this, gentlemen. I have never been more proud of a team than I am right now. I am in awe of each of every one of you gentlemen. You played great football, tonight. This is the game that people are going to talk about for years to come. This is the game you are going to talk about. There is not a single person in this room that’s ever going to be the same. You be proud of yourselves. Because gentlemen, you are champions.
- Mac is back to coaching and as the coaches and players watch film, they see how big and fast the opposing team is. Coach Taylor tells them all it will be a big fight.
- Coach Taylor recognizes Landry’s hard work and says he has earned a spot on special teams. The team is excited for him, expect JD.
- JD goes to talk to Coach Taylor and asks if he called CPS on his dad. Coach Taylor tells him it was and tells him it’s the law. JD says he wanted to do it because Coach Taylor hates his dad. JD is mad, saying he plays football for him and that’s it. It makes sense he is angry and doesn’t know what to do but seems like so much has changed within only a few days.
- Coach Taylor talks to JD and tells him he knows its difficult, but the team is depending on him and there is a freedom instead of pressure. JD doesn’t look at him but says he hears him. It’s clear the damage has been done.
- Matt and Tim talk (for the first time all season?) about their future. Tim says he doesn’t want to look beyond the game. They find a frisbee and toss it around. They agree to have no regrets for their last game.
- The title game has arrived and we learn the South Texas Titans are undefeated. They get the ball first and score on the first play on a deep pass. The Panther crows is stunned.
- Dillon gets the ball and JD is sacked and then throws a pick six. He tells yells at Saracen to run his route. Coach Taylor tells him to shake it off and he snaps on him, saying, he has no time to throw.
- JD is drilled play after play as he holds onto the ball too long. He takes it out on his teammates and coaches. On the last play of the first half, JD throws to Riggins and the pass is tipped and intercepted. The Titans return it like 105 yards for a touchdown and the team goes into the half down 27-0.
- JD pushes his teammates around and goes to mope on the bench. Coach Taylor realizes a shake-up is in order.
- At half, Coach Taylor makes adjustments in the schemes and benches JD, going back to Saracen at QB. The team is fired up, but JD stays in the locker room and throws his helmet.
- Landry is on the receiving team to start the half and gets run over but gets back up and makes a huge block to ensure the Panthers return the kickoff for a TD. Suddenly, they have some momentum.
- Ssracen hits Riggins for a TD on a screen pass and they look like the Panthers of old.
- Saracen tucks and runs, showing off his shiftiness and runs for a TD of his own. Suddenly, they are down 27-21.
- With under 2 minutes to go, Dillon picks off a pass and gets the ball back. Before the ball is snapped, we see JD emerges from the locker room to join the team. Saracen tosses to Riggins, who fakes a run and then drops back to throw to Saracen on a wheel route for a wide-open TD for the lead.
- The Titans get the ball back with enough time for a drive. They get into Panther territory and set up for a field goal on the final play of the game. Their kicker hasn’t missed from this range all season and sails one through the uprights for a Titan victory. Everyone is heartbroken as their comeback is not enough to win the championship.
- In the locker room, everyone is silent. Coach Taylor calls parents and fans in to hear his post-game speech (seen above). It’s one of the best monologues in the entire series.
- As the team boards the bus, they wait for Riggins. He is on the field, taking it all in. His arm is in a sling and he knows he gave it everything he had. He leaves his spikes on the field as a sign of the end of his (high school?) career, and the episode ends.
- How good were the ‘81 Panthers?
- JD pulls a complete 180 from the end of the last episode and Katie does too to some extent. We don’t see what it looked like for them to go back home and be with Joe. Obviously, family dynamics are complicated and there is a lot of love between them despite all the dysfunction. However, JD going from I hate him and never want to go back there to being worried he will be sent away feels a bit off.
- Why is Wade Aikmen still coaching even though Mac has returned?
- It’s worth noting two of Matt’s best games of his career result in heartbreaking losses that are in no way his fault.
Quote of the episode.
“Two years ago, I was afraid of wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying, and trying would lead to failure. But now I find I can’t stop wanting. I wanna fly somewhere in first class. I wanna to travel to Europe on a business trip. I wanna get invited to the White House. I wanna learn about the world. I wanna surprise myself. I wanna be important. I wanna be the best person I can be. I wanna define myself instead of having others define me. I wanna win an have people be happy for me. I wanna lose and get over it. I wanna not be afraid of the unknown. I wanna grow up to be generous and big-hearted, the way that people have been with me. I want an interesting and surprising life. It’s not that I think I’m gonna get all these things. I just want the possibility of getting them. College represents possibility. The possibility that things are gonna change. I can’t wait.” - Tyra Collette
Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t Lose. official counter: 22
Texas Forever official counter: 9
Riggins quitting the team official counter: 4? (didn’t quit but is ditching practice for a bit)
Coach Taylor calling Landry ‘Lance’ official counter: 9
Jason’s job aspirations:
quad-rugby player, football coach, car salesman, flipping houses, sports agent