Wow. We're lucky that the show got renewed, because this was not a lot of closure. We pick up five months after the Panthers have lost State, and there's a lot of jostling going on.
Joe McCoy is making a move to make Wade Aikman Head Coach. Coach confronts him once over his double dealing, but McCoy just stands there looking like Guy Smiley with his jutting rich dolt chin and telling Coach Taylor that he has the money, and the kid with the golden arm: what he says goes. And, actually kind of shockingly, McCoy is right. The Board votes to hire Wade Aikman as Head Coach of the Dillon Panthers. The catch? They also vote to hire Eric as Head Coach of East Dillon's new football team. The episode ends with Tami and Coach standing in the middle of East Dillon's football field -- the school has been closed for twenty years, and the field is tiny and in total disrepair. They look daunted, but all I can think is: MUD BOWL ALL THE TIME? BRING IT!
So, the kids. They're all jostling around, too, wanting and wishing and fearing. Nobody knows which end is up. Matt has been accepted to the Art Institute, and is planning on going. Julie is the saddest girl with crimped hair evah, and tries to break up with him, but he's like, "Um? No." In preparation for Matt leaving for college, Grandma Saracen has moved into a home, and I would be lying if I tried to claim that I didn't do the ugly cry the first glance we get in her new room. It just isn't home, you know? Matt is clearly totally conflicted. In the end, he leaves Billy and Mindy's wedding to go grab Grandma to come over and party. He tells her that aftewards, he's taking her home. As in, home. We get no answers here, but it's looking like Chicago is going to have to wait for its Matt.
Lyla continues to stubbornly pursue her lifelong dream of going to a crappy party school. Tami and Buddy finally intervene, telling Lyla that they've confirmed that Vanderbilt will still take her if she wants to go. She brings it up with Tim in a very annoying way -- bringing it up only to assure him that she would never even think about it -- but Tim quickly tells her that she has to go to Vanderbilt, she's too good for San Antonio State. So, there she goes. Tim's motivation might not have been totally pure, as after he tells her to go, he runs to Billy to say that he's decided he isn't going to college at all. Tim has been waxing prematurely nostalgic for Dillon and basically just wanting to hang around town, shooting the shit, and helping Billy with his new auto shop. Billy -- literally on his way to his honeymoon after the wedding -- tells Tim to cram it, he's going to college, won't somebody think about the children?!?!
And then there's Tyra and Landry. They're still going strong, but Tyra somehow got back on the loop she'd been on for a while. I don't know what it is -- I mean, I was honestly moved and inspired by Tyra's college essay last week -- but this loop of "I've worked so hard, but I'm going to be stuck here forever" "Tyra, you have to believe in yourself!" is pretty much a snoozefest. This time, the angst comes from the fact that Tyra's been waitlisted at UT. She gets in. And, you'll be happy to know, she and Landry get into a heated argument in the middle of nowhere and DON'T kill anyone. Three cheers for progress!
In true FNL season finale tradition, we get our montage. We open on shots of blooming spring flowers, and then a ball flying through the bright blue sky. This show rewards visual memory beautifully -- this shot of a ball slicing across the unbelievable Texas sky brings me right back to the same shot we got at the beginning of Season Two, when we opened with everyone at the community pool. That opening sequence remains one of my absolute favorite ones of the entire series. Crucially, the ball flying through the air is not a football, but a baseball, and as it lands in the mitt of a Dillon baseball player, the caption "5 months later" appears at the bottom of the screen, and we go into the montage, set to a very sweet Jakob Dylan song that I've never heard, "Something Good This Way Comes."
Tim and Billy walk out of a tux rental place, all warm weather smiles. Buddy and Coach Taylor play golf and josh around. Tim and Lyla lay out in the Riggins' backyard, Lyla looking smoking in her bikini, Tim dangling two beers by their necks as he leans in to kiss her. Matt and Julie are at the movies, Matt's arm around his love, laughing at the screen. Landry and Tyra are at the lake, Tyra sitting all long legs and bikini on the edge of a dock, Landry getting out of the water in a dripping t-shirt and, get this, water shoes. They kiss in the late afternoon sun. Tami and Coach walk around a little blue car at Buddy's car dealership, apparently looking at it to buy for Julie. Then over in the high school cafeteria, it's a waffle breakfast, and everyone's there.
The music fades out, as Tami takes the podium at the end of the cafeteria, a handmade sign behind her declaring that this is the Dillon High Annual Senior Brunch. She makes announcements concerning our beloved characters: Matt Saracen is going to "the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago." Applause. Tim Riggins is going to San Antonio State. Applause. "And Lyla Garrity, number two in her class, will be attending..." perfect pause from Tami Taylor here, "...San Antonio State next year." Her intonation is perfectly flat. And Tyra Collette? Tami tells everyone to give her a big hand for doing such a great job as student council President, and then bluffs that Tyra is "in the process of making a decision about some real exciting possibilities." Angela shouts out from the crowd "She's been waitlisted at UT!" to Tyra's mortification. As Tyra shushes her mother and brushes her hair from her face, you can see that she's feeling the twinge that comes from her "exciting possibility" being that she's been waitlisted at a university.