One of the reasons the characters on Friday Night Lights dig themselves into trouble is because they are constantly looking over their shoulders. (It’s so bad you’d think the entire Texas landscape would be covered with pillars of salt). Matt can’t stop looking over his shoulder to see JD McCoy gaining on him. Smash can’t stop glancing back at the player he was and the starry path he’d laid out for himself. Lyla ran right back into the arms of her past. Landry can’t stop looking back at Tyra, who can’t stop looking back at her old life. Coach got himself a nice little smackdown when he couldn’t stop looking back for the coach’s wife who had a less demanding job and only one child and could devote herself more fully to telling him he’s great.
And that’s what makes “Hello Goodbye” so satisfying–people look forward, focusing on the future, which lets them move forward. Tami embraces the fact that she’s lost the Jumbotron wars and starts new wheels turning. Coach Taylor admits that his freshman QB is pretty good and installs an offensive scheme that will help his team succeed. Matt’s grandma releases him just a bit from the ghosts of the past so he can forge a tentative relationship with his mother and get some freaking help already. Best of all, of course, is Smash Williams stepping over the ashes of his old plan, owning that field, and moving to a whole new world. It’s so satisfying that I know I’m going to catch myself feeling more sympathetic to Texas A&M football this fall just for the fictional chance “they” gave a fictional character, and that’s just not okay. If the show indulges a bit and gives us one more Smash “touchdown” with his boys on the Dillon field, well, that’s the kind of looking back we don’t mind.
Next to look forward? Jason Street. See, Tyra? People can get out of Dillon after all. We’ll just miss them an awful lot when they’re gone.