I am sorry it has taken three weeks to get back on track with FNL because now that I’m there, I am totally addicted. It took every ounce of will-power not to use the Netflix instant queue to keep watching. Because, really, what the hell was that secret meeting in the head couch’s office of TMU all about? If they are so gung-ho about Vince, why the song and dance with Luke? Is this a violation of NCAA recruiting rules or something? I know that all these kinds of meetings are supposed to be run through your high school coach. Is this TMU’s way of getting an extra meeting with Vince, a secret meeting to make him feel really special? Do they even want Luke or is he really the overly adorable, zealous sacrificial lamb? And is all of this building to another giant recruiting scandal?
I think one of the things I love about this season is that the possibility of a recruiting scandal is the biggest threat of real drama we have right now. The rest of the story is keeping us deeply anchored in the everyday dramas of being human: Tami trying to work her tough-love magic on another troubled girl who needs her help. Eric trying to keep his team’s hopes alive while molding the next generation of Dillon men. Vince and Jess sorting out their competing ambitions. Julie falling into an adulterous relationship. Buddy learning how to parent again. Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty of drama in all of these situations, sometimes maybe just a little too much, but it is the drama of the slow burn instead of the explosion. For a final season, I am glad they are keeping it close to the heart of Dillon.
That doesn’t mean I am totally convinced by everything that is happening. I love Vince and he is definitely the new Matt. I used to think that role was all Luke’s, but no, the tough family life, the heart of gold, the sweet disposition, the urging to figure himself out – Vince has it in the bag. The look of pure astonished joy when he walked in to the head coach’s office melted my heart, even if it will land him in hot water with the NCAA. But even my melted heart hardens up just a little bit when it comes to his relationship with his dad. It all feels just a tad after-school special – who really talks like that? Who really deals with their conflicted emotions so calmly or in such well-controlled outbursts?
Likewise with Julie and her slimy TA. First of all, I love TV representations of academics. He rolled up his blazer!! He is a perpetual graduate student but his wife is already on sabbatical (making her, most likely, 6-8 years into a tenure track job). Not impossible, but kind of implausible. And what is Julie thinking? I get that she feels lonely and isolated, but really, a beautiful, funny, football loving girl like Julie can’t make a single social connection with someone her age? Is this some kind of weird father/authority complex coming out of hiding? Then again, she has always been attracted to strange, slightly predatory older guys (that English teacher in high school, the free spirit Habitat leader). Oh Matt, where are you?
Even these slightly irksome details aren’t enough to keep me from wallowing with delight in this season. The only reason I didn’t resort to Netflix was the panic that I would get to the end too soon. I too want the slow burn of this final season.
I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the last few episodes.
p.s. did it seem a little teenage soap-ish (think Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries) to have music playing so prominently over the practice scene early in the episode? Even if that music was the twangy tones of heart-break southern rocker Jay Farrar…
Ok, and my “coming out of writing the dissertation stupor” for a minute comment – yes, I am totally with you on the music (on everything you’ve said actually, but particularly that). In the training montage, I actually wondered aloud whether the producers had promised the song’s writer to get it in there somehow. It felt too prominent and strange. And I love both AA Bondy and The National – so I was thrilled to hear them used elsewhere…but it all definitely had the feel of the CW’s attempts to simultaneously sell soundtracks with every episode. I was left wondering how this is all an outgrowth of the money-making monster of “Glee”.
I am looking forward to finishing up this intense work period I’m in and rejoining you on these shows properly in a few weeks!!