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"I'd consider your offer, sir, but you don't have a beard."

‘Friday Night Lights’: Season Ends, for Now, Mid–Cycle of Life

The Friday Night Lights writers like to keep the narratives cycles as tight as Tyra’s gym shorts. So in this, the final show of the season (for now), when Smash was trying to sort out his football future — exploring ridiculous options like arena football and begging the recruiter at Alabama to give him a second chance — it looked like a process that could naturally extend over a couple of episodes, at a minimum. Instead, it was suddenly over when Smash went with Coach Taylor to visit Whitmore College, a black school quite far below Smash’s view of his rightful place in life. But the coach there — an older black man with a gray beard, which is to say, pop culture’s leading signifier of wisdom — turned out to be, yes, a wise old man, and after mere seconds of reflection, before he’d even left the practice field, Smash gave his oral commitment to accept a scholarship at Whitmore.

This doesn’t mean the story line is over, of course. In fact, it sets up an obvious reversal: The Alabama recruiter comes back into the picture, possibly because Smash has made a spectacular return to the playing field or maybe just because their other recruit blows out his knee, and Smash is forced into a character-defining dilemma — to stand by his commitment to Graybeard or go for glory with the Crimson Tide. In the real world of high-stakes recruiting, it would be the Tide all the way, but on FNL, Smash might have to make the honorable choice.

Another big choice looming in the near distance is the one to be made by the waitress with whom Jason had a one-night stand. She turned up at Buddy’s car dealership, where Jason now works as a salesman, to announce that she’s pregnant. Jason is thrilled, as he thought his spinal injury left him sterile, but she doesn’t want to have the baby because they’re both just 19 (even if both actors look closer to 40 than 20) and because, well, he’s in a wheelchair.

Meanwhile, one story line that has become loose and baggy is Riggins’s pursuit of Lyla — he just keeps acting like the same jerk over and over again, showing up at her church, hosting a show at the same radio station where she does hers. Hasn’t he been reading his Neil Strauss? The worst of it is that one way or another, Lyla has to come back to him, because if she doesn’t, what the hell have we been wasting all this time for? And now it seems she’ll be back for the dirtiest, lowliest, most animalistic reason — because she needs to get laid. Her beloved Christian dude pulled out of their hot embrace this week, just when things were getting interesting, and man, you could tell that Lyla was fighting with her faith not to rip off all her clothes and demand action.

Finally, FNL’s executive producer Peter Berg appeared in a cameo role, as Tami’s old high-school boyfriend wearing a black cowboy hat. Hmm, what they were trying to tell us? After much annoying behavior and few too many whiskeys, he ends up accusing Coach of unfairly stealing her away from him all those many years ago, and then the two men took to good old-fashioned brawling. In a season of generally strong story lines within the Taylor household, this was generic bullshit, and Berg, though a good actor, could do nothing interesting with what was essentially a crap part.

Oh, and this week, girls' volleyball was nowhere to seen, and there was — can you believe it? — a football game. Matt even did his pal Landry a solid by getting him a score in garbage time to impress Tyra. This is their few minutes of bliss before Landry gets run over by love again. —Hugo Lindgren

Photo: Courtesy of NBC