Let me start at the end and say that I didn't even know how much I missed the "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" catchphrase until Coach Taylor tries to get his new team in Philadelphia to chant it with him. Yes, the Taylors leave Dillon, TX, which is so tremendously right and wrong that I barely even know what to say. But like the famous catchphrase, the Taylors perhaps will also be revivified by a new setting. They will not allow themselves to grow stale or comfortable. But damn, Dillon, TX without the Taylors? One can barely even imagine it.
And it wasn't an easy decision. Things got worse between Eric and Tami before they got better, because I think just like me, Coach Taylor's imagination just ran up against a brick wall when he tried to think himself out of Texas. But he realized what it would mean, long term, for his marriage, if he asked Tami for yet another sacrifice without offering something in return, turned down the position as Coach of the SuperTeam Dillon Panthers, and headed north. I hope they know where to buy winter coats! And boots! Cowboy boots actually don't work so great in the snow, Tami!
Bringing the Taylors closer together even before Coach made his decision was Matt Saracen's proposal-- yes, you read that correctly-- proposal to Julie. He got on bended knee in front of the Alamo Freeze, and pretty much every marriage proposal ever going forward forthwith can just forget about trying to be the most uniquely romantic, because Matt Saracen just locked that romance shit down. Julie says yes immediately, which gave me palpitations, because she is eighteen, but when she tells Matt that he has to go back and retroactively ask Coach "permission" I'm relieved and know SOMEBODY is going to throw his body in front of this misguided romance train. And Coach does, literally laughing in Matt's face, before Tami steps in and suggests the four of them go out for dinner and have a conversation about all this. During which Matt and Julie kind of convince the still-feuding Taylors that their love is true (which it is), that they aren't planning on getting married right away, and that Julie is just going to be that weird girl at college with a fiancé (you know the one).
Meanwhile, Tyra has successfully, with the power of her ahem, convinced Tim Riggins that it is Texas Forever for him and always has been. Alaska, Tim? Really?! She's not dropping out of college and coming back to live with him or anything, but the door is left open for a relationship in the future, and as they sit in chairs, looking over his land, nobody is complaining about that OR about the hypothetical babies they might produce because COME ON with that!
And, finally, the small question of the East Dillon Lions and the State Championship. It's a tough game and victory is not assured, and it all comes down to a final play that features Vince cocking back his arm and throwing the ball, the camera following its spiral through the black, black night and.....cut away. Because it doesn't really matter what the score is in the end. It's enough to cut a few months forward, where we glimpse on the hands of Vince, Tinker, Luke, their championship rings, showing us that they won, but also showing us that they are already moving on, their victory a part of the past already. Vince moves on to the Panthers for a senior year of potential heartbreak (see: Jason Street) or triumph, Tinker to a place on the Panthers as well, and Luke Cafferty (in what I found to be one of the most wrenching but not dwelled-upon plot developments) shipping off to the Army (because what else does a boy who only knows football do when he realizes that football is not his future?).
Lots more to talk about, and I will in the recap, but let's let Vince Howard say what we all feel about this show and it's characters, "You changed my life, Coach."
Okay, friends, here we are. Thank you for reading and for writing and for just generally being as obsessive about this show as I am. Are you ready? I mean, none of us are ever ready, are we? But let's look inside and ask ourselves, are we ready to be tested to our very souls?! Heh. I'm just joking. (No, actually I'm not.)
We go riding around town with the camera once again, Ray's Bar-B (Missing Q), church with nativity scene and "We Love Our Lions" sign, The Landing Strip with ladies wearing Santa hats, East Dillon High, run-down houses with lots of Christmas lights, all while John Evans' "Christmas in Texas" plays in the background.
Cut on over to the East Dillon football field, where we're five days before the state championships, and the field is overrun with reporters and news tents interviewing the boys (my brain cuts over to Tim "I Just Like To Hurt People" Riggins in the first episode). A reporter asks Buddy, Jr. how he feels about the Lions' elimination; he calls the question like it is: "stupid." A reporter asks Vince about getting paired up with "this Sterling kid" and Vince, puzzled, reminds her that Sterling is a Panther. "Yes, but I'm thinking about next year, with the formation of the Super Team," she says. Vince tells her he doesn't want to talk about that, he wants to talk about how the East Dillon Lions are going to win State. The reporter asks the hard-hitting question: "Is that a promise?" and Vince, looking over at Coach, who sits next to him silently, letting the kid feel his own way through the media frenzy, responds, "It's a fact." Coach Taylor -- as much as he can from behind his sunglasses, hair, and eye lockdown -- approves. Back across the way, a reporter asks Buddy, Jr. and Hastings what their plans are for next year. They just look at one another and back at the reporter, no comment, and there's two kids I'd like to see a little short spin-off about. When Tinker gets asked the same question, he calls the reporter a "jackass" and then knocks some shit over on his way out of the tent. Billy Riggins, over in another tent, is asked if he thinks he's in the running to be coach of the Super Team and he's like, "Hell, yeah! My breath smells like nachos!" As for Coach, he tries to deflect the questions about next year as best he can, he's focusing on State, he has no comment, no comment, no comment, doesn't want to make a comment, until finally he just walks away from the questions because they won't stop asking them.