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In final episode, 'Friday Night Lights' gets extra points for closure

Omar L. Gallaga
ogallaga@statesman.com

For five seasons, Austin-shot "Friday Night Lights" has maintained a remarkably high bar for a TV drama, giving us a clear-eyed view into the lives of coaches and students in fictional Dillon, Texas.

Tonight on NBC, the stadium lights finally go out on Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), his wife, Tami (the incomparable Connie Britton), and all the surrounding characters fans have come to love. (DirecTV aired the final "FNL" episode earlier this year.).

In the Christmas-themed finale, the Taylors face one big surprise and must make a life-changing decision that will affect the entire town. Quarterback Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan) faces a future in which even the existence of the team he's led is in doubt. And the Riggins family might finally get the peace it deserves after an epic run of bad luck.

Without spoiling plot specifics, we can say that the series ends its run in extremely satisfying ways, tying up more than a half-dozen storylines involving current players and returning favorites from the original cast.

With tonight's 90-minute episode, " Friday Night Lights" is allowed to revel in the details one last time in the sharp yet humanistic ways it always has. There's not a play of actual football until close to the end of the episode, and it's in near-silent slow motion, a beautifully shot meditation on all that Coach Taylor and his team (and fans of the show) have been through.

Chandler and Britton have some of their best scenes together in this finale (and that's saying a lot, given the consistent high quality of their work); it's an emotional wringer for anyone who's followed the series.

(Originally published Feb. 9.)

'Friday Night Lights' series finale