'Friday Night Lights': Getting Out of Texas


>Friday Night Lights' Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity could not be more different from Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor. On the surface, Tim and Lyla seem like the prototypical couple in Dillon, Texas. He was the star-studded football player. She was the cheerleader. And to a large extent, their lives revolved around the pageantry leading up to and that surrounds Friday nights in Texas. Matt and Julie, on the other hand, have always a future beyond football. But both couples deeply love each other and theirs have been the most enduring relationships on the show.

In this week's episode, though, we saw that in both relationships, love is as much about timing as anything else. And unfortunately, the timing was just not right for Riggins and Lyla and Matt and Julie.

Lyla, who is back in town while on break from Vanderbilt, attended Matt's father's funeral in last week's episode and reunites with Riggins this week. We learn that they have not been in touch since they went off to their respective colleges, and it seems like Riggins is the one who just didn't bother calling Lyla and dropped off the face of the earth. Tim tries to convince Lyla to stay in Dillon by telling her that when his auto shop's business starts taking off, he'll need someone like Lyla to manage its growth. Lyla is unconvinced and asks Riggins what he really wants. Riggins can only tell Lyla that all he wants is her. In a heartbreaking scene, Riggins has the vulnerable look of a man who knows that what he currently has to offer is not worthy of someone of Lyla's caliber.

Matt and Julie sneak off to Austin to watch a concert, and during the concert, Matt yells to Julie, "Maybe I should have left already ... Do you even want me to stay?" Julie doesn't give Matt a direct response; instead, she desperately and repeatedly yells "I love you!" to Matt. Julie sees the writing on the wall: Matt's heart is telling him he needs to get out of Dillon, and Julie is realizing she needs to let him go.

One thing Friday Night Lights does well is that its storylines can mean different things to different demographics. To younger audiences, Lyla and Riggins and Matt and Julie could have simply been a realistic portrayal of high school sweethearts whose time had come to an end. To older viewers, they were soulmates who just met at the wrong point in their lives.

At the end of the episode, Lyla takes a bus out of Dillon—and out of Riggins' life—and Matt—finally (!)—drives out of town. Just like Friday Night Lights did last season with Brian "Smash" Williams and Jason Street, Matt Saracen and Lyla Garrity were sent off seamlessly in ways that didn't disrupt the general flow or storyline arcs of the show.

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Tony Lee contributes to The Atlantic Online. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTonyLee.

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