'Friday Night Lights': An Ode to Tim Riggins

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NBC

He bought his land and is dreaming of building on it. He's become an uncle. Life has never been better for Tim Riggins, and in this week's episode of Friday Night Lights, he finally exhales a bit. Riggins has consistently fought his own demons. But this week, he confesses to Becky that for one of the first times in his life, he's happy, content, at peace with himself and the life that he's built—though through illicit means. But all this was merely the calm before the storm. At the episode's conclusion, as he's stripping cars, playing air guitar and drinking a beer, police come into his auto shop and arrest him. And he crashes back down to reality.

Friday Night Lights viewers should savor Taylor Kitsch's performance this season as Riggins because rumor has it that Riggins in not going to be a serious regular next year in FNL's fifth and final season. Kitsch's portrayal of Riggins this year had both depth and breadth, and Kitsch the actor matured as much as Riggins the character did on the small screen.

He played the ex-football hero struggling with his mundane post-high school existence in a small town. The mature adult who helped an adolescent Becky get through a tumultuous period in her life. The blast from the past who gave Coach Taylor a second wind as he was putting together East Dillon's football program from scratch.. The better-conscience to his brother, who, in the end, like Vince Howard, ended up being a good soul caught up in a world to which he did not belong. The vulnerable and lost young adult around Lyla. The realist from the school of hard knocks to Becky's father.

One great thing about FNL has been its ability to seamlessly write off cast regulars while integrating newcomers. I'm curious to see how Riggins will be written off, and how FNL's dynamic changes because of it next season.

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

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