|Friday Night Lights (season 3)|
Season 3 DVD cover
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Original network||The 101 Network (first run)|
|Original release||October 1, 2008 (2008-10-01) – January 14, 2009 (2009-01-14)|
|List of Friday Night Lights episodes|
The third season of the American serial dramatelevision seriesFriday Night Lights began airing in the United States and Canada on October 1, 2008. It was the first season to be aired on DirecTV's The 101 Network. The 13-episode season concluded on The 101 Network on January 14, 2009 and then began its run on NBC two nights later, on January 16, 2009, and concluded its NBC run on April 10, 2009. The show was renewed for two more seasons in March 2009, with both seasons airing in the same format as season 3, containing 13 episodes each. The third season was released on DVD in region 1 on May 19, 2009.
The season continues to focus around the Dillon Panthers and the pressures faced on and off the field. This season also has four main characters leave the show by season's end.
See also: List of Friday Night Lights characters
Unlike the previous two seasons, only eight of ten major roles received star billing in the opening credits: Kyle Chandler portrayed Eric Taylor, head coach of the Dillon Panthers. Connie Britton played Tami Taylor, wife of Eric and new principal of Dillon High School; Zach Gilford played quarterback Matt Saracen. Minka Kelly played Lyla Garrity, now girlfriend of Tim Riggins, fullback and resident bad boy, portrayed by Taylor Kitsch. Adrianne Palicki played Tyra Collette. Jesse Plemons played Landry Clarke, Tyra's not-quite boyfriend and Saracen's best friend. Aimee Teegarden played Julie Taylor, Eric and Tami's daughter.
Supporting characters include: Brad Leland as Buddy Garrity, Lyla's father and head of the Dillon Panthers Booster Club; Derek Phillips as Billy Riggins, Tim's brother; Louanne Stephens as Lorraine Saracen, Matt Saracen's grandmother; Liz Mikel as Corrina Williams, Smash's mother; Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Angela Collette, Tyra's mother; Stacey Oristano as Mindy Collette, Tyra's sister and Billy Riggins' fianceé; and Kevin Rankin as Herc.
Gaius Charles and Scott Porter were billed as guest stars during their 4-episode run as Brian "Smash" Williams, who left for college, and Jason Street, who left to become a sports agent in New York, so he could be near his baby, Noah, and Noah's mother.
The new characters first introduced this season include: The McCoy Family (D.W. Moffett as father Joe, Janine Turner as mother Katie, and Jeremy Sumpter as son J.D., a quarterback for the Panthers) and Shelby Garrett (Kim Dickens), Matt Saracen's estranged mother.
The season begins with Coach Taylor's having failed to lead the Panthers to another State championship the year before, creating new pressure for him. Quarterback Matt Saracen's position is threatened by the arrival of freshman J.D. McCoy, an amazing natural talent who comes from a rich family with an overbearing father, Joe. Matt eventually moves to wide receiver after Taylor names J.D McCoy the starting quarterback, but Matt is pushed back into his former role in the playoffs. Matt and Julie Taylor reconcile, and rekindle their romance.
Smash Williams, who had injured his knee during the previous year's playoffs, rediscovers his love for the game, gets a tryout with a college, and succeeds in winning a spot on their team.
Tyra Collette starts dating a cowboy named Cash, leading to complications in her relationship with Landry and her academics. Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity start dating, and Tim pursues a college football scholarship. Billy Riggins gets engaged to Tyra's older sister Mindy Collette. He, Tim, Herc, and Jason Street decide to flip Buddy Garrity's house for a profit. Jason eventually finds a job at a sports agency in New York City and moves to the northeast, to be close to his girlfriend and newborn baby. Tami Taylor becomes the principal of cash-strapped Dillon High School and fights with Buddy Garrity about the allocation of funds toward a Jumbotron.
While Eric Taylor and Buddy Garrity are visiting a possible recruit who just moved into town, the coach learns of a plot to have him replaced as head coach of the Dillon Panthers; Joe McCoy wants Taylor replaced with Wade Aikman, J.D.'s personal coach. After the school board meets to decide who gets the coaching job, Aikman is offered the job at Dillon High School, while Taylor is offered the job of coaching the Lions of East Dillon High, which is reopening after years of being closed.
With the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike cutting the second season in half, there is a longer story gap between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 than occurred between the other seasons of Friday Night Lights. Some plots are quickly summarized, while others are never again mentioned in season 3. One example of the latter is Santiago, the street kid Buddy Garrity took in, who in season 3 is evidently no longer living there and is not seen or mentioned again. Another is Lyla's relationship with Chris and her devout Christianity. Lyla is now living with her father and in a relationship with Tim Riggins. Landry and Tyra have dated and are now broken up. Smash Williams was seriously injured in a playoff game the preceding season and, consequently, has lost his college football scholarship; he is now a manager at the Alamo Freeze fast food restaurant. Playing without him, the Dillon football team fell apart and failed to win the state championship. Jason Street was last seen in season 2 trying to convince Erin, a waitress with whom he had had a one-night stand, not to get an abortion; in season 3 we see that Erin has had the child, but the couple is not living together. Tami Taylor is now the Dillon High School principal.
Fictional game results
|Fictional game results|
|South Pines Tigers||Win||44–13||1–0||1||"I Knew You When"|
|Laribee Lions||Win||49–6||2–0||2||"Tami Knows Best"|
|Arnett Mead Tigers||Loss||17–21||2–1||3||"How the Other Half Lives"|
|McNulty Mavericks||Win||42–39||3–1||5||"Every Rose Has Its Thorn"|
|Westerby Chaps||Win||31–17||4–1||6||"It Ain't Easy Being J.D. McCoy"|
|Fort Hood Cougars||Win||15–14||5–1||7||"Keeping Up Appearances"|
|Arnett Mead Tigers||Win||10–7||6–1||9||"Game of the Week"|
|Buckley Bisons||Win||16–13||7–1||10||"The Giving Tree"|
|West Cambria Mustangs||Win||15–14||8–1||11||"A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"|
|South Texas Titans||Loss||28–30||8–2||12||"Underdogs"|
- a While Friday Night Lights is presented as a serialized show with seemingly no gaps between episodes, public high schools in Texas typically play a ten game regular season.
- b While the playoff bracket only consisted of one regional playoff game, two games are played before moving on to the quarter-finals (as seen during the first season).
See also: List of Friday Night Lights episodes
On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the third season scored 83 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "Universal acclaim".
- ^Elber, Lynn (March 31, 2009). "NBC renews 'Friday Night Lights' through 2011". USA Today. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
- ^"Friday Night Lights: The Third Season (2009)". Amazon.com. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
- ^Ryan, Maureen (February 8, 2008). "'Friday Night Lights' - is it game over, or will the Panthers play again?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- ^"Critic Reviews for Friday Night Lights Season 3". Metacritic. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
I cringed when Tyra began reading her final essay out loud: It was a little cheesy, cheesier, at least, than her fabulous outburst in the car with Landry, where she surprisingly says, "Two years ago I had enough hate in my heart to start a freakin' car." (Emily, I think she says "start," not "stop.") That sentence conveyed that power of ignition so many teenagers carry in their hearts but have no clue how to use. By contrast, her finished essay seemed more stylized, written, and less authentic. (Hmm, note to self—was Kerouac right about revision?) But I gave in, as you suggest we must, Emily. For one thing, she is 18, for God's sake. For another, for Tyra to let herself say these things is itself a development, a surprise. The language becomes surprising in her mouth. Just think back to the mouthy, sassy girl she was when the show started.
This exchange between Landry and Tyra underscores one of the strengths of the show: character development. Too often, characters on network TV change suddenly (and unbelievably) as writers search for plot twists. But on FNL, as one of our readers pointed out in a recent e-mail, there is a "fictional authenticity," an internal narrative coherence. Tyra might have started out as a slightly different character—a bad girl casually sleeping with Riggins, not valuing herself highly—but, as she points out, she evolved, and the evolution was the result of events like Street's injury and how they affected her. We could've presumed this, but we never quite knew it, and it's satisfying to come into contact with Tyra's own sense of her inner world.
I can't help feeling that Tami and Eric made the wrong decision, but I recognize they were in a bind. Here's where the show allows a pleasing complexity by not making a lesson out of the dilemma. Or if there is a lesson, I guess we could say it's this: You're screwed either way. As a public educator, if you do what the law requires you to do, a kid who should be with his family could get taken away. If you don't do it, you could lose your job (and, perhaps worse, find out you made the wrong call). I left this episode feeling that it's Katie McCoy who's in part not doing what she should be doing. Joe is a jerk and ultimately to blame, but she does not stand up to him, which has given him a sense of increased permission.
But it was the sounds and sights that touched me in this episode. Saracen and Riggins standing alone on the field in Austin being interviewed by sportscasters, empty seats looming around them like promises that can be broken. Later, the two of them walking past the Capitol building in the dark, flipping a wet Frisbee back and forth, Riggins' voice deepening as he says, "You know what I mean?" to Matt, who's asked him if he's "excited" about going to San Antonio State. (Riggins' answer: He's just trying to think about the game. He's trying not to get that far ahead of himself. What he doesn't say but we hear anyway: He's not excited. This time is one of the most important of his life. And it's almost over. He's never going to play football with such personal need again. He's going to grow apart from the girl he loves. He'll become someone who's lost the promise that's currently folded around him, promise designed to bloom briefly and fall away.)
Or J.D. bouncing off the field in pique at halftime, acting like the spoiled, privileged kid he still is. All season, I kept wondering: How on earth can J.D. become a leader—as quarterbacks must be—if he is still such a prissy poppa's boy? The downside of being told you're talented your whole life—the downside of private coaches and tutelage—can be that you have no sense of generosity. J.D. believes the team is failing him and never pauses to ask whether he is failing the team. Stepping back for a moment, you could see J.D. as a timely critique of the CEO model of leadership—the idea that a leader is so important to a team he or she deserves outsize recompense and adulation. It doesn't work so well here on the field against the Titans.
Other moments: Eric's eyes moving as he watched the Titans' final kick pass through the goalposts. Tami waiting for Eric to come out to the bus after the game, kissing him, and then watching him as he walks away. You could see the whole history of their relationship there. The way they fell in love as teenagers and somehow toughed it out through their 20s. How uncertain they are about their own future, still, with one girl not far off from college and another not even in pre-K yet.
And yes, Hanna, that moment you already mentioned, when Riggins puts down his cleats on that field and walks away. The camera lingers on the open, empty field, leaving us with only the sound of passing traffic in our ears.