This is what the 10.0 score is for. Episodes like these where everything sort of falls into place effortlessly, as if the writers knew we'd get here all along. This episode, the penultimate one of the season, was superb in the way they meshed the tension of the game with all of the character moments lingering. For instance, Matt announces to his grandmother that he wants to go to art school in Chicago and while his grandmother initially grows upset, Julie and his grandmother come to some sort of understanding at the game that Matt deserves to do what he wants.
There's a lot to talk about here and I'll try to avoid going overboard with it. The game brought plenty to love about the episode. At the beginning of the episode, Coach and Tami call the Child Protective Services, making J.D upset that Coach interfered in his life. As they head to State's, J.D's inexperience also begins to show through after he puts the Panthers in a 21-0 halftime hold. As a result, we get what many people probably hoped for: a return to QB position for Saracen. And Saracen does as good of a job as he can, bringing the team to within two points of a win and instead losing when the other team gets a field goal.
It's a heartbreaking loss, but proof that the writers aren't afraid to do the hard thing and let the team or characters lose every now and then. But Kyle Chandler sells the hell out of that final locker room scene, where he brings the players' loved ones into the locker room so he can say "I've never been more proud of a team than this one right now." It's a powerful moment, and if the show were to end right here, with this episode, I would've been perfectly happy with it. I mean, the scene where Riggins places his shoes in the end-zone before walking out, with no music in the background, was the best scene the show has done (in my opinion).
We also had Landry and Tyra kissing for the first time in about a season. Some shows love to split up their actors over and over, which diffuses the tension over time, but this show earned the way it brought them back together. If you have good writing and amazing acting, you can get away with just about anything.
And while the music is usually always excellent, it was on its game tonight. The music playing over the final moments of the game gave me chills, and the montage in the middle of the episode as the team gets on the bus was great as well. It's rare enough when a show gets everything right once in its run, but this show is so consistent that it's a shame that more people didn't watch it during its run.