Friday Night Lights: “Tomorrow Blues”

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Five months of TV time have magically passed since last week when our Dillon Panthers lost the State Championships on a buzzer-beating field goal. Now it’s spring, and with it new beginnings and exposed skin. We are welcomed by a montage: Tim and Lyla, tanned and poolside sipping contraband from red plastic cups; Coach and Buddy golfing; Billy Rig smiles as he picks up his wedding tux; Landry and Tyra lake-swimming — Tyra a Texan Athena emerging from the water.

At Senior brunch, Tammy announces where everyone is going to school: Rig and Lyla — San Antonio State; Saracen — Art Institute of Chicago. Tyra’s on the waitlist for UT, Austin. Apparently Landry is still only a junior. Mysterious.

Big board meeting coming up. The subject: who’s coaching next year. McCoy lackey Wade Aikman is gunning for coach’s job.

Grandma Saracen packs for the nursing home. She’s taking it in stride. She packs a lovely photo of brace-faced Matt.

Buddy and Tammy confront Lyla; she’s too good for San Antonio State (and Riggins). Apparently Buddy’s estranged brother might help pay for Vanderbilt.

Tyra can’t handle the stress of the waitlist. Landry tells her to visit the admissions officer — it’s worked on other shows… (see The O.C., Gossip Girl)

Coach confronts Joe McCoy about his attempt to replace him at the helm. McCoy is willing to deal, but there must be parameters: J.D. starts every game, and Wade Aikman calls the plays. Coach tells Joe where he can take his “opportunity.”

Tyra visits the admissions officer — could be a disaster of cliché. Luckily FNL still deals in realism; the guy barely notices Tyra. Her feminine wiles go untapped.

At an auction Tim and Billy bid on a hydraulic lift for Billy’s auto-repair shop. They win the auction. Good. Then Tim convinces Billy to bid on (and buy) an actual longhorn steer. “Things happen for a reason Billy.” Bad.

Taylors buy Julie a car. She is happy. Then she cries. Growing up, etc. She’s going to miss Matt.

Matt takes Grandma to the nursing home. The people look old.

Tim and Billy break down on the highway, steer in tow. Tim tells Billy he doesn’t want to go to college. Billy tries to fix the car, but fails. Hmm…Maybe he was premature in his decision to become an auto-mechanic. Luckily Tim is a “car whisperer” — maybe he should skip school and help Billy with the shop. Also, Mindy’s pregnant. This repair shop better work out.

Lyla’s changed her mind She wants to go to Vanderbilt after all.

Tyra gets her letter from UT. The envelope looks light. Tyra runs outside to open with Landry. They stand in a field, draped in moonlight. Tyra got in! Woohoo!

Board meeting re: next year’s coach. Eric Taylor arrives in a suit, and speaks simply, strongly. “I love my job, I’m good at it, and I’d like to keep it.”

Wedding day. Bride and groom enter the Dillon lodge to a shoddily harmonized version of “Ooh Baby I Love Your Way”. Tim Riggins even looks good in a white tux, pink bowtie, and white cowboy hat. Are these the Pearly Gates?

Couples dance, eyes swell, and Tyra looks hot. Bad news: Wade Aikman is the new coach. Eric has been offered the job at East Dillon High. Julie Taylor, permed and prettied twirls gracefully on the dance-floor. Matt watches, worried on the things he’ll leave behind. “We’re not breaking up,” he tells Julie. Young love. But Matt’s also got Grandma on the brain. He leaves the wedding to grab Grandma. They’re going to the wedding and then he’s taking her home. Art school be damned. Saracen’s heart is bigger than his ambition. Oh, and he wants to stay on the show next season…

The just-marrieds attempt to depart, ready to run amok in Puerto Rico. Before they get in the streamer-car, Tim grabs Billy with news. He’s not going to college; he’s going to stay and help Billy run the shop. But Billy is angry instead of elated. He won’t let little bro blow his chance at an education. “Our kids deserve better,” he says. Tim smiles, inspired. The eloped drive off into the sun.

Final scene: East Dillon High. Empty field, overgrown with weeds. The surrounding fence is broken; paint is flaking. The bleachers barely stand upright. But sun-streaks shine on Coach and Tammy. Welcome to your new home.