Landry and Julie leaving for college -- with a completely unexpected sendoff. Vince and Jess settle into a relationship while finding ways to help each other with challenges. A new player who can jump joins the Lions. Tim is in prison, but you can feel the chemistry between him and Becky. New challenges for Tami as the guidance counselor joins her husband on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. There are many great stories, and all of the characters seem so real. Even small characters like the principal at East Dillon are just perfect.
The various conversations around the new player Hastings are great fun, as is the brief one that finally gets him to join the team. The on-the-field action is a kick. You see the real dynamics of the game and the swings in confidence.
The writers and director have a certain smugness in their material, but they deliver with nuance and grace. They have a great story to tell, and they appreciate the details. I love when the camera wanders to Coach Taylor to see his amusement, frustration, and occasional joy.
Early in the show, Taylor pauses to say to his wife and daughter, "I'm gonna miss this." He's talking straight through to us, and I share the sadness. FNL starts its final season, and we're going to miss it.