Friday Night Lights, Episode 511: The March


First up, I’ve got to say apologies for no write-up last week. Sporting News had its editorial summit and despite the fact I’d watched the episode in advance, I just didn’t have the steam after the two days of meetings on top of coaching and life. (In short, I really enjoyed it, but was surprised how over-the-top the positive reaction to the episode was. Thought some of the resolutions came too easily, to the point where I wondered whether they were final.)

Anyway, on to this week’s episode, 511 – The March, which leaves us with just two episodes before we say goodbye to Dillon forever. Is it dusty in here? Thoughts on this week’s episode, which airs on the DirecTV 101 Network at 9 p.m. ET, after the jump.

I think I’m 90 percent positive on this one, with maybe 10 percent lingering with questions. I’ll get to the actual plots dealt with here, but first I have to ask: How does everyone feel about blowing through the playoffs in just one episode? It was inevitable that either this would happen, or they’d lose very early. Given that the second option was so unlikely, I guess they had to fly through them all at some point. If given the choice with only three episodes (counting this one) remaining, I’d rather spend time on the characters than football, but it was certainly the first time — other than the return from the writers’ strike at the beginning of Season Three — when we got the quick recap of numerous events.

But it’s not just the football plot that seems to go from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds. It’s everything. Tami is being offered a job as the Dean of Admissions at Braemore, a school somewhere in the Northeast. (No mention of a football program, by the way.) Right as Coach Taylor has turned down a college gig, can Tami do the same given all the financial strife that East Dillon faces?

As we get toward the end, everyone is dealing with pivotal choices in their respective situations, fighting to better themselves — or just to keep from backsliding. Tami could take a great leap as an educator. Vince’s mom fights for the improvements she’s made with O. Tim Riggins is forcing Billy and Becky to be better, even if he’s screwed up his life. Jess is trying to become that one-in-a-million coach.

So while I have these lingering doubts about the pacing of things, I loved the powerful scenes.

What’s not to love about the tension-filled scene at the BBQ joint with O where it’s clear he’s doing more than just a little drinking? He’s fully back into the game, even selling drugs and trying to pawn off leather jackets as a sign that he’s still the man of the house. That’s Vince’s role, and he seems ready for it. And staying in the Howard family, it’s an incredibly gratifying moment as Vince gets off the bus and sees his mother. (Tell me you didn’t have a lingering fear they were going to hit us with something awful right there, like her not showing up, but turning up OD’d somewhere.)

And if that’s not your favorite scene, the Riggins-gone-ham moment in The Landing Strip has to take the cake.

How long are you going to hold it over my head?
The rest of my life if I feel it needs to be.

Yes, Tim has changed, as Mindy points out, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. He may not be the same fun-loving, Texas Forever guy we knew before, but he might be ready to get his life in order.

And of course, there’s the moment of despair before the Arnett Mead game when Coach Taylor finds out there will only be one football program in Dillon next season.

Which program are they planning on cutting Levi?
Well, that’s next week’s fight.

There is just enough plot thread to pull on after the rapid-fire pace of this one that I imagine we’ll all be a mess after the last two episodes, so let’s just brace for it now.

On to the random thoughts…

— Love Jess’ story. The more I watch her, the more I think they misused her early on. She was in such a shell last season, but she’s got a great personality, even when dealing with Coach Taylor being kind of stubborn. They play off each other well.

— Nice Smash cameo at A&M, although Buddy’s comment about his lead blocker looking a lot like Tim probably stings just a bit for his newest bartender.

Use protection this time my friend.” — OK, I guess Tim has a funny line or two left in him.

— Is anyone particularly invested in whether Luke and Becky wind up together? Not saying I don’t care, just saying I hope given all that’s left to do, that we don’t spend too much time there.

So what’d you think? Come back next week on Wednesday after the show airs on DirecTV’s 101 Network at 9 p.m. ET and we can discuss the penultimate episode of the series. I won’t judge you if you need a Kleenex.

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