Friday Night Lights, Episode 501: Expectations

Welcome to another season of Friday Night Lights. But it’s not just any season! It’s the final season premiere. I actually watched this a few weeks ago, but re-watched it this evening to refresh my memory and review a few key points. Don’t want to spoil anything above the jump, so proceed with caution and read on about episode 501, “Expectations.”

It’s an interesting juxtaposition from the beginnings of Season Four and Season Five. S4 started with an episode titled “Underdogs,” which ended with the East Dillon Lions forfeiting a game. This one, as you eventually see, ends with the Lions pulling the upset thanks to new player Hastings Ruckle (pictured above). Coach Eric Taylor meets the forward pass and they become fast friends! Football fans, particularly those who follow the college game, had to love the two-point conversion play. Remind you of anything?

Thematically, we’re trading old for new in quite a few places. Landry and Julie are making their literal exits to college. (Landry is going to Rice, and despite watching the episode a few times, I still don’t know where Julie is going. Anyone? Anyone?) Hastings Ruckles trades in basketball for football. (He also made the least-believable basketball player ever. What was up with that senior citizen free throw stroke? I was impressed he made that many, however it was actually edited.) Tami Taylor has traded the cushy life at West Dillon for a serious reclamation project at East Dillon. Vince embraces being a role model of sorts for Andre, Jess’ little brother. Even Billy Riggins is trying to trade being a total moron for being a normal, responsible adult. (The Ronnie Lott quote, in all its awkwardness from Billy, was amusing.)

The episode doesn’t have the punch of last season’s premiere — and between the way the previous season ended and how that episode itself ended, how could it? — but it was an FNL episode that probably gets an 8 out of 10 from me as far as the show goes. At times it did feel a little bit like a middle-of-the-season episode, but Julie’s departure, as well as Landry seeing Matt’s grandmother, gave it a little bit more weight.

Some other stray thoughts and quotes as I debate whether to binge and watch episodes two and three tomorrow while I’m off.

— “I want to hug your neck.” — Grandma Saracen. I wonder if that’s the last we’ve seen of her. I always had a fear she’d die somewhere in a storyline, so if that’s it, I’d be OK. Maybe they bring her back for a trip home for a trip home with Matt at some point.

— Landry ending things by being at a strip club, totally out of his element was fun. The “Hey Julie, I think she likes me!” and “I want to know absolutely everything there is to know about you” lines had me rolling. Best of luck to Landry at Rice. (I know he’s not a real person; leave me alone.)

— I wonder whether the franchising storyline means we’ve seen the last of Big Virgil, Jess’ father. Hope he’s back. Always enjoyed his interactions with Coach Taylor. Either way, Vince’s talk was great with Jess’ younger brother.

— You tell me: Was the lingering shot on Hastings Ruckle a sign that he was digging on Jess and we’ll have Vince, or was that just an extended shot to show him realizing a girl had just called him a coward?

So what’d you think of the premiere?

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