Before Friday Night Lights Ends (Again), Some Predictions for the Finale and Beyond

The Emmy nominations came out yesterday. Since I don't have HBO, and since the Emmys are pretty much an HBO cast party, I didn't spend too much time with the nominations, but I did take a moment to control-find the names of my two favorite shows: Community, NBC's ode to oddball reference humor, and Friday Night Lights, DirecTV and NBC's even ode-ier ode to Texas football.

Community came up predictably empty, but FNL scored three nominations, righting "an egregious wrong" by the Emmy nominators: best actor (Kyle Chandler), best actress (Connie Britton), and best drama.

The timing couldn't be better. After debuting its fifth and final season on DirecTV in the fall, FNL will end its run again on NBC tonight, bringing a close to a show that captured small-town football life and small-town high school life and any-sized-town family life as well as any in recent memory.

Many of you have already watched and mourned the end of this show. Some of you, like me, are only now on the verge of having it leave that gaping hole in your culture-consuming life. Some of you haven't heard a single "hey y'all" or "Texas forever." It's this last group I'm most jealous of.

No matter which group you fall into, you're encouraged to chime in on what follows: a series of predictions for what happens on tonight's finale, and what happens to the characters in my mythical TV after-life. (The actors themselves are already showing up everywhere, like a really white version of the cast of The Wire.)

Note: Feel free to light up my predictions in the comments; I won't check them until after I watch the finale, so have no fear of spoiling it for me. Like you would give a shit.

Billy Riggins Tonight, he's named the head coach (or maybe the defensive coordinator) for the new Panther-Lion super team, hereby known as the Pantherions. In the future, he leads the team to three consecutive losing seasons and is fined by the Texas High School Football Association for allowing his two-year-old twins to serve as ball boys. He continues to drink a twelver per night and be hilarious.

Tim Riggins Tonight: Lured by the promise of being an uncle to Billy's twins, and by the sudden maturity of Tyra, and by the results of Googling "Alaska" and "weather," Riggins decides to stay in Dillon and help Billy coach the Pantherions. Down the road, he marries Tyra, is banned by the THSFA for punching a referee, fathers four little girls and drinks even more beer than Billy.

Becky Gotta love Becks. Tonight, she finally forgives herself and forgives Luke and forgives her parents and forgives Luke's parents and forgives Tim and, finally and most definitely on a hay bale, lets Luke make sweet Texas-farm-boy love to her. Down the line, she quits that Landing Strip job and becomes a very reliable if somewhat dissatisfied farmer's wife/cheerleading coach, with a lucrative side gig selling raw milk on the black market. She stays sort of hot but not really that hot forever.

Luke It's his hay bale, of course. In tonight's title game, he plays the game of his life, either taking a pick back for a touchdown, causing a tide-turning fumble, or both. He leaves his shoes on the field, Riggins-style, and makes vague plans to stay in Dillon. Down the line, he replaces Billy Riggins as Patherions coach -- a perfect job for an early-rising farmer -- and realizes that Riggins was spending so much time teaching the players various Pacific Island warrior dances that they don't know how to tackle. Things get better once everyone knows how to tackle, and all his players' moms fantasize about him.

Vince Howard Tonight, it's all good for Vince. He plays well, he wins, he's nice to Jess, his dad stays out of trouble, his mom shows up and cries at all the right times, and there's a scout -- a good, clean scout from a school that's not too big but just big enough -- there to see it all happen. In college, the boosters get to him again, and he sits out a couple of games for breaking some indecipherable NCAA rule. That causes him and Jess (she's pre-law) to team up and lead a group of NCAA athletes to protest the exploitation of college athletes. They fail miserably, because not even in my wildest fantasies can I imagine the NCAA losing at something.

Landry/Lance Do we see him tonight? We must. He must show up at the game, doing just swell but contributing very little to the episode. Down the line, he runs a gas-drilling company in Forth Worth and keenly uses his profits to lobby the legislature for looser gas-drilling regulations (with a little mixed-use real estate development on the side). He marries way up, but still occasionally sneaks into the basement with Trya's old yearbook photo to, you know, reminisce.

Matt Saracen Tonight -- we know this from the previews -- he proposes to Julie Taylor. Terrible idea. High school romances should be banned by the PTA or something. Luckily, though, Julie will say no tonight -- she loves him, but his life is in Chicago, and hers isn't, and it's OK to say goodbye to someone you still love. Down the line, Saracen will be a successful graphic designer with a super hot wife who takes him for granted.

Julie Taylor Tonight, she gives Saracen's proposal the Heisman in the most adorable manner possible, deciding instead to transfer to a college in the northeast where her mother suddenly has a connection in the admissions office. By her senior year she is the editor of the college's newspaper, penning smart, earnest stories about the mistreatment of the cafeteria staff and one awkward editorial about the school's lax admissions standards when it comes to admitting football players. To seek refuge from her always-dramatic family, she marries too early. But she thankfully escapes that starter marriage without a child -- a decision made three years post-college, after an awkward but familiar romp with Saracen in his empty childhood bedroom when they're both home for Grandma Saracen's funeral.

Grandma Saracen I guess I gave this one away, but she dies. Not tonight, though. Tonight she's just her awesome slipperless self.

Coach Taylor Tonight, he wins another state title. While it'd be funny if they won 34-7, I suspect it will be a squeaker. Sometime after the game, he tells his wife that she has to take that job up north. That's good, Tammy Taylor says, because guess which school's coach just got promoted, and guess who now needs a new coach? If only Peter Berg was the creator of my life.

In the years to come, Taylor will become a fake-life Larry Kehres, living contently as the most dominant Division III coach in the history of football, turning down offer after offer from that wheel-chairing super agent Jason Street, and eventually having a statue erected in his honor. At the statue's dedication, he will stand there, hand on hips, trying to get some words out, and will eventually give up before simply tipping his ill-fitting ball cap and saying, "It's a real honor thank y'all I mean that I really do" and walking off with his head down. Then he'll go win like nine more national titles.

Tammy Taylor Tonight, she'll put her fucking foot down. She's done resigning herself, and the fiscal reality of her dilemma will keep her locked in on taking that job up north. Luckily, Eric is finally on board. Off they go. I hope they factor in the state income tax.

Down the road, she'll continue being unyieldingly sexy while reshaping the admissions world and eventually being named the university's president, because no unrealistic promotion is too unrealistic for Tammy Taylor. She will not die for a really long time (there is no cancer or drunk driving in fantasy TV futureland), but when she does, there will be approximately nine million people at her funeral, and seven million more who are really sorry they couldn't make it. They'll definitely make a donation in her honor.

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