Without a doubt one of the best episodes of a season just filled with great episodes. It was so good that we found ourselves wondering what the writers could possibly do with this week’s season finale to top it. What cliffhanger could they possibly engineer to top (Spoilers!) Jolene Barnes’ murder-suicide? That came completely out of left field and created a whole new paradigm for the show. Yes, it scarcely felt like Nashville anymore. This was straight from the pages of the most drama-filled dramas out there, and felt incongruous when compared to the relatively light-hearted and occasionally tongue-in-cheek offerings that we usually get. This was serious.
Juliette’s gutturally vocalized and visceral reaction on finding her mother’s body was surprising, even shocking, and our final view of the young songstress alone in the dark and in tears did more to shake up the show than Tandy’s mutiny, Teddy’s restraining order, or Gunnar and Scarlett’s split ever could. Juliette had long ago disowned her mother but, having finally reaccepted her into her life, her sudden loss will likely send Juliette spiraling. The manner of the murder-suicide also raised issues of motive which will likely come back to bite Juliette in the ass, if not in the season finale then certainly in Season 2. The cops will be investigating Dante’s death and, if they do their jobs right, will almost certainly recover the SD card Jolene thought she had disposed of. Will Juliette become a suspect? Will the cops wonder if she asked her mother to do what she did? It seems likely that the arc won’t end here, but it remains to be seen whether it takes the dramatic latter route or whether the writers will opt for the more restrained but no less upsetting angle of Juliette falling apart. Previous episodes hinted at a Juliette on the very edge of alcoholism. If this doesn’t push her over, nothing will.
Other aspects of the episode that are worth discussing are those mentioned above. First up, Tandy’s mutiny. She is coming increasingly closer to forcing Lamar out, outright. As he tries to get back on his feet, she seems ever more resentful. This episode saw her finally broaching the subject with the board of her father’s company, and gaining their (reluctant) support. The finale may see her take the plunge and bring that mutiny out into the open. Next season may see Rayna as the golden child, Lamar as the kindly old man, and Tandy as the villain of the piece.
Teddy’s restraining order was notable, if short-lived. Worried about Deacon being around the girls, solely for the practicality of keeping the Maddie secret, he legally stopped Deacon from coming within 100 feet of the girls. Rayna convinced him to drop it, and he did, but it’s bound to come up again in next week’s finale for reasons we’ll get to later.
Gunnar and Scarlett’s split came in back of a series of unfortunate events that were the straw that broke Scarlett’s back. Already uncomfortable with Gunnar’s new persona and attitude, as well as with his song stealing, his failure to appear at her label debut because he got in a bar fight prompted her to end things. This certainly plays into our prediction of us finishing out the season with an Avery/Scarlett love affair very much back on the cards. This idea was only cemented by the inclusion of a thoughtful gift from Avery and his presence at the concert, smiling so calmly and lovingly up at Scarlett. The peripheral hints of tension between him and Juliette won’t go anywhere, we suspect. And the more we see of the new Avery, the less we hate the idea of him in Gunnar’s place.
This arc did have another silver lining, mending the rift between Will (who was the second act to sign with Rayna) and Gunnar. We’re anticipating this bromance gradually shifting to become a full-on romance and we’re a little reluctant to see it. Not because we’re anti-gay – we’re not – but because we’re beginning to resent the implication that every show must have a gay couple in order to be acceptable viewing. We’re sure Nashville will handle it well, never making it an abject lesson or a teaching moment, but we do question its necessity in the first place. It feels like the twisting of a perfectly nuanced character for no reason beyond tokenism. Of course, we’re massively jumping the gun here. We could have it all completely wrong. We hope we do.
The only plotline that could even come close to pushing Jolene out of the limelight with this episode was the closing moments revelation for Maddie. After a frank conversation with Rayna, her curiosity was piqued and she went digging in hidden lock-boxes in her parents’ closet. Never a good idea. She uncovered a paternity test that shows that Teddy is not her father. This paints a picture of a season finale that will successfully turn everything, especially Rayna’s happiness, on its head. With Maddie now in possession of this long-kept secret, it can’t be long before Deacon finds out, too. We sense that Rayna’s about to lose a whole lot. We just hope Deacon can understand why she didn’t tell him. We can’t have them taken away from us. We have one question, though: why would Rayna have kept the paternity test all this time? Surely she only needed to read it once. – K
Quoteworthy: “I fell in love with you, not your brother.” – Scarlett