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Friday Night Lights “Expectations” Review (5×01)

26 Aug

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With change comes expectation, whether that change is for the better or for the worse. When you say goodbye and enter a new phase of your life, there’s always an idea in your head of how it should or how you hope it will turn out: will the transition be smooth or rocky? Will you go out in a blaze of glory or in a whimper? Are you ready?

Well, hell yes, I’m ready, and I’m also 100% bummed out about this being the final season of one of the most endearing, complex, and well-written shows I have ever seen. Let me take a second to compose myself, and then let’s jump in, shall we? So…as we open the fifth season of Friday Night Lights, our characters are saying goodbye, but as with any season premiere, there are new beginnings, new situations and environments they have to deal with as they come to terms with the fact that the past is not the present. Tami, for example, moves from principal of West Dillon to guidance counselor at East Dillon, and when she attempts to enact change, she has to do it without the resources she had at West Dillon; it’s a vastly different environment here, but I have the utmost confidence in her ability to do what she does best. She IS Mrs. Coach, after all.

Fittingly, both she and Coach are going through similar situations right now, the former dealing with a school content to be–or unable to be anything more than–as is, and the latter not as satisfied with how last season turned out as everyone else seems to be. 2-8 is just not acceptable, and well, they already have half their win total at the end of the episode, after one of those “comeback/win at the last second” games! The season’s already looking up, and not only do they have a win, they also have Billy Riggins as a new coach. Billy’s trying to turn a new page because he knows he should be in jail with Tim, and this wake up call pushes him to ask Coach for that job; it’s a great idea because he loves football, but also because Coach is, as his wonderful wife put it, a “molder of men”. Billy’s putting his life back together, and he’ll do so by also taking in Becky when she needs it the most.

Finally, though, let’s get to Julie and Landry, both of whom are heading off to college; Julie’s trying to act as if it’s no big deal and is ready to go, while Landry’s a bit disappointed because he thought there’d be more to his final days in Dillon. What matters, though, are the little moments we get throughout “Expectations”: Landry and Lorraine showing us how far their relationship has come, Landry getting one more Crucifictorious performance in, Coach telling his daughter that he’ll miss her, one last ping pong game, and of course, that final scene in which Julie heads off to college. Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler perfectly capture the happiness, the nostalgia, the pride, and the awe of Coach and Mrs. Coach seeing their daughter all grown up and starting a new phase of her life. “Wow,” Coach says as they hug, and that’s a perfect encapsulation of this moment.

You stay golden, Julie Taylor.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-So…where’s Julie going, exactly? Did they ever tell us?

-That last ping pong game is beautiful.

-Hi, Hastings Ruckle. I’m sure you appreciated Buddy Garrity creepily standing on the sidelines everyday watching you all play.

-Another shot of Lorraine’s tapping foot!

-Ha, Landry and Kandy at the Landing Strip. You’re such a good friend, Julie.

-I plan to take this one two, maaaaybe three episodes at a time, with the last four or so being single reviews.

Photo credit: NBC, DirecTV, Friday Night Lights

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