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TV Review: Friday Night Lights – “Texas Whatever”

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NBC’s Friday Night Lights ends for good next week. Which means this week’s episode, “Texas Whatever,” provides some closure and sets up the final plots for the series. The Lions campaign hard to keep their team, but despite their best efforts, it is decided the Dillon Panthers will be the only high school football in town next year. The Panthers move quickly, recruiting Buddy (Brad Leland), hoping he will coax Vince (Michael B. Jordan) and Eric (Kyle Chandler) to get on board. Eric ponders it, infuriating Tami (Connie Britton), as her husband isn’t seriously considering moving north for an exciting job she is offered. Tim (Taylor Kitsch) gets some advice from Tyra (Adrianne Palicki), and gives some in return to Luke (Matt Lauria).

Tami rightly points out that she has put her life on hold for Eric’s career for many years. While she does pursue jobs in the field she loves, serving as principal and guidance counselor during Friday Night Lights‘s run, these are supplementary to her role as coach’s wife. Their marriage hinges on what Eric does professionally, and despite being a pretty decent husband most of the time, in this instance, Eric dismisses her far too quickly. He doesn’t even seem to consider the move. Oftentimes, when Tami disagrees with Eric, she swallows it because she is happy enough. This time, her displeasure is obvious and ongoing. Which will hopefully jolt Eric awake to his error.

Despite this recent anti-feminist attitude, Eric and Tami have one of the best, most solid, most realistic marriages on television. There is much give and take and compromise over the run of the show, and in “Texas Whatever,” they are merely going through a rough patch. Seeing their love and dedication to each other spurs confidence that the issue will be worked out in a satisfactory manner. It also telegraphs what has to happen, because only one decision will end the fight. Should Eric continue to deny Tami the opportunity of a lifetime, one she is recruited for because of her high skill level, he will be saying he does not have that same level of faith and pride in her that she does in him, as well as telling her she is not as important in the marriage. This would run contrary to the give and take shown over the past five years. Eric will make the right choice.

Buddy switching sides may seem out of character at first, but it’s really not. The loveable business owner is nothing if not loyal. He switches his allegiance to the Lions when Eric is treated unfairly, and seeing an opportunity to return Eric to what Buddy considers his proper position, and knowing the battle to save the Lions is lost, he makes the best of a bad situation. He truly wants to do right by those he cares about, and in this case, that means brokering peace between his closest friend and the people who ousted him.

Watching Jess (Jurnee Smollett) and Vince pull together to try to save the Lions is incredibly touching. The two have had their share of problems, but they bond over Dillon football. Because of what Eric puts into the program, the team is more than just guys playing sports. It’s a community that inspires and teaches the students to grow as people, not just athletes. Only Eric’s version of football can mend relationships and lead his players to greatness. All this is demonstrated brilliantly in the scene where the former couple go before the school board president to beg for the Lions’ survival. Even their failure takes nothing away from that moment.

About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com