Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Friday Night' Choices

I always find it difficult to write about episodes of Friday Night Lights because no words that I could ever write would even come close to doing the episode, or the show as a whole, justice.  But even I have been unusually silent about this season.  Blame a busy real-world schedule and my own conflicting emotions and thoughts about one of the story lines this season.  Since I wasn't sure how to cover it properly (without letting my own emotions take over), I decided not to write about the show for a large chunk of this otherwise excellent season.  Well, last week's fantastic finale has taken me off the sidelines and pulled me back into the action.  Who could stay silent when a beloved character returned, another took the full blame to spare someone close to him, another took a stand even though it cost her her job, and the upset of all upsets unfolded right when it seemed beyond impossible.

The entire time Matt was telling Julie why he left suddenly without even saying goodbye I kept thinking, "I hear what you're saying, but...".  Maybe that's because there is no valid explanation for what he did to Julie.  And after he left, he added insult to injury by not calling her for a long time and when he finally did, he acted as if nothing had happened (in true guy fashion).  So, he was back to visit and things were supposed to be fine and dandy because he came back, but Julie wasn't having any of that.  And guess what?  She had every right to stay angry, but she didn't.  This meant that her finale decision was the right one.  She didn't take that plane ticket and head to Chicago with Matt.  She has a whole life ahead of her and she needs to live the life that she chooses, not the one Matt does and she goes along with so she can be with him.  She made the hard choice, but it was the right one.

Speaking of hard choices, Riggins made the toughest of them all.  This has always been a show about consequences.  Characters have never been able to run around willy-nilly without facing the music.  While Billy won't be sharing a cell with his younger brother for striping those stolen cars, he will live with the fact that his baby brother went to jail (taking full blame) so that he didn't have to.  What Tim did was admirable.  It was just so darn hard to watch.  Billy needs to take this second chance and do right by it to honor what Tim did for him and his family.  Things are different now and Billy needs to act accordingly.

Tami also made a tough decision.  She decided to stand on her principles and resign as principal at West Dillon High.  Next season, she'll be back in the advisory role but at East Dillon with her husband (and daughter).  It was the right decision.  Having watched that controversial scene unfold between her and Becky, I agree with her side of the story.  Could she have counseled Becky harder to choose adoption or to not choose abortion?  Sure, she could have.  She remained very neutral throughout the discussion.  But, and this is where things get tricky, her role as an educator is to simply provide options and resources.  Had she counseled Becky against abortion, she would have actually imposed her own personal views.  I'm not arguing the merits of either side of this emotional and divisive debate, but Tami's hands were a bit tied as she was put in a bad situation.  I think ultimately, Luke's mother was upset about her loss and she may have mistook Tami's neutrality as an endorsement for abortion.  Like I said, she could have counseled Becky to make another choice, but I never got the impression that she influenced her one way or the other.  If anything, it was Becky's hysterical mother who FORCED her to have the abortion without even considering what her daughter wanted.

Oh yeah, and the Lions BEAT the Panthers!!!!  So glorious!!  'Nuff said.

Friday Night Lights will return next season on DirecTV's 101. Meanwhile, this season will be seen in its entirety this spring on NBC.

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