Tonight marks the end of season three of Friday Night Lights, the vastly underwatched Texas-high-school-football drama. After a disappointingly melodramatic season two, this one returned to FNL’s quieter roots, delivering a well-written emotional arc without any fantastical turns (Tyra-and-Landry murder plotline, we’re looking at you). With the recent news that the show’s been re-upped for two seasons comes the inevitable question of what comes next for the cast and characters; Matt, Tyra, Tim, and Lyla are all graduating, and it’s unclear who’ll make it to college and who’ll stay in Dillon (and, thus, the show).
If you believe online rumors, both Minka Kelly (Lyla), and Adrianne Palicki (Tyra), are leaving the series for good. (Kelly’s even signed on to star in a new CW drama, Body Politic.) According to Taylor Kitsch, whom we met with for a recent magazine profile, his character, Tim Riggins, doesn’t go to college as planned, but instead stays behind in Dillon to work with his brother at their newly opened body shop.
Kitsch also revealed that Zach Gilford (Matt) is staying on the show; Matt will attend a college near home so as to be near his ailing grandmother (at the close of season three, Matt is contemplating going to art school in Chicago), and Minka Kelly will indeed be departing, as Lyla realizes her dream of going to Vanderbilt. An NBC spokesperson confirmed only part of this news. “We do know that the writers will be wrapping up Minka Kelly's character over a multi-episode arc, similar to what the writers did with Gaius Charles and Scott Porter this season.” But NBC remains mum about Palicki and the others, insisting that the writers themselves don’t even know what’s going to happen (the new scripts have yet to be written). We’re taking Kitsch’s inside knowledge with a grain of salt: he spoke with us in January, before the show was definitely set to continue. As for Kitsch’s hopes for the future of bad boy Tim Riggins, much reformed this season, he’s still looking for some tough love: “I’d love to do something where Tim learns the hard way about drinking and driving. Or goes into the Army.”