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Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 05/14/2011

‘Friday Night Lights,’ the final farewell: ‘Kingdom’

“Friday Night Lights” already came to a close on DirecTV and on DVD. But the final episodes of the Dillon, Tex., drama are now airing on NBC. And that means it’s time to bid the final-for-real farewells by assessing each installment shortly after it airs on the Peacock network every Friday at 8 p.m. EST. Why? Because “Clear eyes. Full hearts. Must blog.” Or, um, something like that.


Julie Taylor, pre-fry bread and library shouting match. (NBC)

Life in the “Friday Night Lights” episode “Kingdom” was pretty good for: Coach Eric Taylor and the East Dillon Lions — or the “Loins,” as the Crowne Plaza in Kingdom, Tex., prefers to call them. The boys banded together, played a satisfying game of revenge ball and beat South King High School, the team that prompted a forfeit last season. Then everyone celebrated by engaging in late-night, illicit drinking and busting out bad pick-up lines. (“So ... what’re y’all wearing?” Aw, bless Coach Taylor. He’s so righteous, he doesn’t even know how to attempt barely naughty phone sex. )

Tami Taylor did pretty well, too, downing four bottles of chardonnay with new best gal pal Laurel, listening to her drunk husband hit on her via telephone (see previous twangy pick-up line) and then welcoming a surprise visitor: daughter Julie, who suddenly needed to do all of her laundry at home in Dillon.

On the other hand, life in “Kingdom” was not so good for: Julie Taylor, who suddenly needed to do all of her laundry at home after being confronted by a decidedly nutso Alison Bishop, wife of Derek, the wussy T.A. Oh, things also stunk for the general manager of the Kingdom, Tex., Crowne Plaza, whose hotel was overrun by a bunch of loud, pool-hogging, ice-hoarding football players. But matters were clearly more dire for Julie, a key player in an episode that will forever be known as That One Where Julie Taylor Was Called a Slut.

If that comment doesn’t win in this week’s best quote poll — which follows, along with a summary of key points from this episode — I will question both the 15 or so FNL fans who vote in said weekly poll, as well as the notion of online democracy in general..

Related links:

Episode 4 Recap: ‘Keep Looking’

Episode 3 Recap: ‘The Right Hand of the Father’

Julie Taylor

When confronted by almost any pair of options — go to class or take a nap after a night of love-making with Derek; listen to poetry or eat frybread with Derek; acknowledge Matt Saracen’s role as the love of her life, or describe him to Derek as “just this guy in Chicago” — Julie Taylor consistently made the wrong choice.

As a result, she eventually got slapped across the face by Derek’s wife Alison, who also publicly announced, loudly and repeatedly, so the entire dorm could hear: “Julie Taylor is a slut.”

Now I ask you, America: are these the actions of a woman who is supposedly an in­cred­ibly intelligent professor doing remarkable things while on sabbatical? Because calling a college freshman a “fricking cliche” for sleeping with your husband and spreading the breaking news about her sluttiness seems more like the behavior of a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast member who accidentally took a Texas detour.

In any event, Julie brought all this over-the-top drama on herself. So she headed home, dragging her palpable sense of shame and her dirty laundry (get the metaphor?) along with her.

Vince Howard

The QB and his daddy are getting along better and better. Vince and his father even had a productive meeting with Coach Taylor, promising to keep him apprised of any offers that Vince may be fielding from recruiters. Vince’s dad and Coach shook hands on their agreement, which means it will never be violated. Mr. Howard won’t start talking to guys from TMU less than 24 hours later and not tell Coach about it or anything. Nope. Won’t ever happen.

Luke Cafferty

Young Luke proved that his hip-hop skills are questionable (“I like country but this is rap/You put ‘em together it sounds like crap” — wait, that was originally a Jay-Z track, wasn’t it?); his drunken desire to brand his own skin is unstoppable; and his loyalty to his teammates, especially Vince, is unshakeable. Which means that when Luke realizes what’s really going on with this TMU thing, he’s going to be beyond crushed.

Buddy Garrity, Jr.

In the course of a single episode, Buddy went from bumbling, ice-spilling butt of jokes to the MILF makeout king who was fully embraced as one of the guys. At the post-game, tatted-up hippie party hosted by friends of Hastings Ruckle, all Buddy Junior had to do to get some action was tell a woman: ”I really like the way you’re putting your lipstick on. It’s like you’re from a commercial.”

Question one: is that line better or worse than Eric’s “So what’re y’all wearing?” gem? Question two: do we think Buddy lost his virginity with that older woman, a possibility hinted at by Hasting’s question about Buddy’s sexual experience earlier in the episode? Given the way the lil’ booster was gazing fondly at the tube of lipstick he snagged as a memento, that seems like a strong possibility.

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So there weren’t too many huge plot developments in this week’s episode. But there were plenty of those small, wonderfully observed moments — I didn’t even talk about Billy Riggins’s brilliantly unnecessary “We will run with hate in our hearts” motivational speech — that make “Friday Night Lights” such a fine show, one we will sorely miss after the upcoming last eight episodes have aired.

Now, a look at “Kingdom” by the numbers:

The Final Season Cry-o-meter Rating for “Kingdom,” on a scale of 1 to 10: A 0. There was definitely more laughter than tears in this episode. (Speaking of laughter, I also neglected to mention Tinker’s amusing cluelessness regarding basic hotel protocol: the candy and porn aren’t free, son!)

The Tim Riggins Hotness Scale Rating for “Kingdom,” on a scale of 1 to 10: 1. Once again, Tim Riggins was absent — he will return later this season. His brother Billy, however, was consistently amusing. And that made me think about Tim Riggins a couple of times. And the Tim Riggins I pictured in my mind? Hot. Hence: 1.

Julie Taylor Irritation Spectrum Rating for “Kingdom” on a scale of 1 to 10: 8. I didn’t upgrade this rating to a higher level this week, simply because I felt a little sorry for Julie, given the slapping and the slutty rant. But there’s no question that Julie’s willingness to fall for Derek’s beyond-cliche rhetoric about invisible hands that guide him to all things great and good remains highly irritating.

And here’s the quote of the week poll. “Julie Taylor is a slut,” this is yours’ to lose.

By  |  12:11 PM ET, 05/14/2011

Tags:  Friday Night Lights

 
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