Spoiler warning: This is a recap for Friday Night Lights Season 5, airing now on DirecTV. If you’re waiting to watch on NBC, please read no further!
Please don’t go, Friday Night Lights. I am officially in mourning. This week’s fantastic episode was the fourth to last of the series, and one by one, each character is starting to move on to their next steps in life.
Tim Riggins is up for parole early, after good behavior in jail. Billy is determined to get Tim out, still guilty over roping him into stripping cars and getting arrested in the first place. Billy gets Coach and Buddy Garrity to speak at the hearing as character witnesses, in addition to himself. Billy is nervous, practicing his speech beforehand, to make sure he doesn’t screw it up. Except that Tim requests he not speak at all on the day of the hearing, saying he’s done enough damage. He still does, but Billy’s nerves get the best of him and despite his intentions, he barely scrapes by. Coach gets up to speak, and in the touching Taylor speech style, regards Tim with the utmost respect and care. Buddy insists on speaking, trying to demonstrate loyalty to Eric, and voices that he considers Tim part of his family, and offers him a full-time job at the bar for when he’s released. The support works, and Tim is released on parole. But he’s a shell of himself. Disappointed in his mistakes and angry with Billy, he doesn’t seem to fit in back home. It’s heartbreaking to watch the boy who wanted nothing but Texas forever be so lost.
Luke, now that he’s accepted the fact that football isn’t going to be his ticket to college, is trying to figure out a new plan. He talks to Tami, who suggests that he think about what he’s good at. And Luke decides that he likes where he is after all, and he’s good at working on the farm. He also likes where he is with Becky, and even asks how she would feel about living the rural life. It may not have been what he planned, but he seems happy.
Vince’s future isn’t panning out as planned either, but with less comforting results. After hearing that Oklahoma Tech isn’t going to offer Vince a spot after all, he knows that his father has been messing up his recruiting entirely. He goes to Coach, and says that whatever it takes, he will earn back his spot on the team, and gives up the college talk for now. Vince’s dad won’t take no for an answer, still setting up meetings, until Regina finally steps in. Vince realizes his mistakes, and it’s his turn for a heartfelt speech when he finally admits to Coach that he would be nowhere without him. Vince begs him to stay in Dillon, promising he won’t cause any more problems.
Vince isn’t the only one desperate for Eric to stay in Dillon. Now that Shane State in Florida has officially offered Eric the head coach position, rumors are flying. And it certainly doesn’t help that the Lions are headed into the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, and there’s already a lot on the line. Buddy is out in full force, trying to rally everyone together to keep Eric in town. He turns the Athletic Banquet into a tribute to Coach Taylor, and gets all the players to go up and say a few words about their fearless leader. He even throws out the idea of erecting a statue as a guilt maneuver (and you know he would). His efforts may be transparent, but he’s planting doubts in Eric’s head nonetheless. Tami is all for taking advantage of the great opportunity, and for a new house with a pool. But Eric surprises everyone, including me, when he announces that he wants to stay at home with his community in Dillon. Whether it was the reminder of the impact he had on Tim’s life, or the kind words from the Lions, or bad memories from the TMU experience, Eric has no made his choice to stay and continue to inspire these young men.
This week had everything that we love about the show so much: moving speeches, tough choices, and a lot of heart. Can we stand outside with signs begging the show not to go? No? It’s done? Okay, well then I guess we’ll have to make the most of what’s left.