Locally, the Indians had a multi-hour rain delay and the resumed game has cut into tonight's third-season finale of "FNL." Episodes do get posted on NBC.com and Hulu.com at some point. UPDATE: "Tomorrow Blues" is now on BOTH sites. And they just said on the air that it will air on Channel 3 at a time to be determined after talks with NBC; Channel 3 will announce the new time on its Web site, WKYC.com.
As for the episodes, I have the spoiler-heavy notes after the jump. Let me say here that I saw the first 11 episodes of the third season some time ago but had missed the last two. For an array of time-management reasons, I did not get to them until tonight. I watched with a great sense of relief since the show has been picked up for two more seasons -- again airing on DirecTV first, then on NBC -- but still admired the way that the season finale was designed both to work if it was the last show and to leave plenty of doors open if another season happened. And it has had a superb season, if not a perfect one.
Last week's episode, "Underdogs," would have by itself served as an uplifting season finale, with Dillon going to State, playing mightily but falling just a bit short. But "Tomorrow Blues" made an even better finish, picking up five months after the end of the football season with the students at the end of the school year, college admissions being in play, life looming and Eric's future uncertain. (His contract was up, and Joe McCoy had not forgotten how Eric had defied him and benched J.D. The show didn't have to spell that out. We knew.)
If I have a quibble with the show, it involves the Eric's-contract story for two reasons: It was hard to believe that Buddy, Eric and Tami would ALL have missed the indication that a coaching coup was in the works, let alone that some of the students close to them wouldn't have heard something either. And what appeared to be an easy decision to support the McCoy putsch should have seemed much harder; Eric had won State once and fallen just two points short of a second championship in three years. Maybe some of that was in the DirecTV cut -- I saw one provided by NBC which seemed to be have a broadcast-network duration -- but it wasn't in this version.
Still, one of the points the show has made -- particularly in Tyra's lovely monologue about Jason Street, and in her college essay -- is that life is not fair. Dillon didn't win State, Eric didn't keep his old job, virtue and justice did not prevail. So sending Eric off to East Dillon was a fine way to underscore that, while creating a ton of possible scenarios for next season. A big one: Where will old loyalties lie in that new world? At the same time, though, "FNL" has said that sometimes the good guys do win, and sometimes it's enough just to have a dream. Tyra again, I know, but also Landry (whose dreams have so often revolved around Tyra), Riggins (whose brother forced him to realize he shouldn't settle for less than he deserves), Lyla (also forced to dream big). And the big challenge sometimes is figuring out what those dreams are, and how you go about achieving them. Saracen is in the middle of that -- if his biggest responsibility is still his grandmother, how does he keep from losing all his dreams? Seems like a good time to quote Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Still, I am so ready for the next season, even if the statistician in me notes that the odd-numbered seasons have been really good and the lone even-numbered season so far was a misfire. Nevertheless, it is a super show, and it has lots of fascinating places still to go.