By LIZ MINIET
SPOILER ALERT: We’re about to talk about the May 25 “series finale” of ABC’s “Nashville.” If you haven’t seen this episode yet, please go watch it and come back later.
Did we really just watch the “series finale” of the TV show “Nashville”?
Well, we know ABC canceled it earlier this month, but Lionsgate TV, the studio behind the show, tweeted several days ago that it was having “numerous talks w/ interested networks.” The Lionsgate TV account was even live-tweeting the finale Wednesday night. That sounds like somebody hasn’t given up on the show (and perhaps wanted to show “interested networks” how much love for the show is out there). And while the episode tied up quite a few storylines neatly, it left us wondering about the fate of a major character (more on that later).
Fans certainly haven’t given up on the show. #BringBackNashville was trending on Twitter with 135,000 tweets by late Wednesday night; plus #NashvilleFinale was trending with more than 23,000 tweets. Since news of the cancellation, there have been online pushes to press for the show to find a home, and several of the show’s stars have been encouraging the efforts to win a fifth season for “Nashville.”
A change.org petition seeking a network for “Nashville” has been picking up steam. As of Wednesday night, it had about 110,000 supporters, up from around 36,000 late last week.
LAST CHANCE TO GO AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE “NASHVILLE” FINALE YET.
First, let me apologize if you get some kind of whiplash trying to follow this recap of what happened in this episode. The editors of this episode certainly earned their money as the show tried to touch on MANY storylines.
Here’s a basic rundown on where a few folks are as we start the episode:
- Rayna (Connie Britton), Deacon (Charles Esten) and Daphne (Maisy Stella) are at a fundraiser in NYC.
- Maddie (Lennon Stella), Rayna’s emancipated teen daughter, is meeting with a big-shot producer, also in NYC.
- Luke (Will Chase) and Will (Chris Carmack) both find out their exes are available again. But first, Will needs to face off with Cynthia Davis, that nasty TV lady, over the fact that he’s gay and won’t hide it.
- Layla (Aubrey Peeples) is happy about her new record’s sales, but Avery (Jonathan Jackson) is distracted by an offer from Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) to take baby Cadence to L.A. as Juliette waits to see if she’s about to become an Oscar winner. Let’s just say that Layla is NOT pleased.
- Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) are in the same room for the first time in a few weeks.
Got all that? It will help as we jump around storylines.
Let’s talk about the Exes. Scarlett declares her love just as Gunnar was about to tell her about Autumn (Alicia Witt), the redheaded superstar who has been doing her best to keep the Exes as exes so she can have Gunnar all to herself. Autumn mentions she and Gunnar just spent two weeks in Aruba. Seriously, it’s a nice place, but TWO weeks. That’s just showing off.
Back on the Rayna/Deacon front, they see Maddie is sharing details of her life online, and Rayna realizes her new producer, Vince, is a creep she dealt with when she was a young woman.
Let’s flip to L.A., where Juliette is ambushed by media who seem to know the truth about Jeff’s fall. (Helpful reminder: Jeff, played by Oliver Hudson, was Juliette’s manager and Layla’s boyfriend.) Hmm, who might have spilled those beans about Juliette being there when Jeff fell? Yeah, we’re looking at you, Layla!
Now back to the Exes’ drama: We hate Autumn. She’s trying to turn Gunnar against Scarlett and encouraging him to go solo. Yes, they have their issues, but we don’t think Scarlett is the manipulative one there. However, Autumn gets points for being a real soap villain. Hey, Cash (Jessy Schram), Maddie’s supposed friend, you could take some lessons here.
Skip to Rayna and Deacon: Rayna recalls to Deacon how creepy producer (the one now working with Maddie) made the moves on her as a youngster. We think Deacon had better not meet this guy. Rayna vows to put an end to Maddie working with Vince.
Next, Will and Luke meet with Will’s ex, Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey) the songwriter, seeking his support in setting up a protest in Atlanta as Will takes on Cynthia Davis.
Back to L.A., where Juliette tells Glenn (Ed Amatrudo), her manager, the truth about Jeff’s death occurring in trying to save her. She realizes Layla may have told, but doesn’t seem to blame her. (Juliette is still feeling guilty though she was pretty spaced out when it happened.) Watching TV, Glenn and Juliette see Jeff’s family calling for an investigation. Uh-oh.
Then we flash to Avery at the studio learning the truth about Jeff’s death. Layla is acting all innocent like she didn’t know what had really happened to Jeff (so not true!). Avery says it’s just gossip. Layla wants to stop the L.A. trip. Layla is trying to outdo Autumn on the manipulative scale in this episode. Layla calls Jeff’s sister and sends her in the direction of Luke’s son, who witnessed Jeff’s fall at the hotel, to help with a wrongful-death lawsuit against Juliette.
Glenn attempts to steer Juliette around a lawsuit. Avery is trying to reach Juliette, but she doesn’t want to talk to him.
In Atlanta, Luke finds out about the lawsuit (over the phone) amid the protest outside Cynthia Davis’ station.
And we’re back to New York, where Vince (the producer) invites Cash and Maddie out to his house to meet people. Yeah, we don’t trust you, buddy.
Rayna tries talking to a label exec about Vince and she’s dismissing Rayna’s concerns. (This label exec is just making us cringe.)
In Atlanta, protesters and counterprotesters show up over Will.
Blink and we’re back in NYC, where Deacon rattles off to Rayna all the ways Maddie has cut them off, including “She blocked us on Twitter.” Rayna decides to take an old-school route to reach her daughter: a letter.
Back at the protests, Will is singing. Aw, we’re seeing sparks with his ex, who’s in the crowd.
It’s nice to see somebody hopeful, because we’re not feeling that way about the Exes.
Scarlett: “I’ve really got nothing left to say, Gunnar.” They fight about their past and whether there’s a future.
Speaking of problems, Jeff’s sister wants $3 million. Juliette says to pay her, threatens to fire the lawyer if he doesn’t make a deal.
Glenn: Now you can go to the Oscars and not worry about anything but winning. (Sounds too easy.)
In New York, Maddie and Cash post a photo of themselves online at Vince’s house, then Maddie winds up touring the house with Vince.
Blink and we’re back in Atlanta: Will is grateful to Luke for his support. Luke encourages Will to give it another shot with his ex (and seems to be having regrets about his own divorce). Cynthia’s producer invites Will to do her show ASAP if it will quiet the protests.
The Exes’ manager goes nuts hearing that Scarlett and Gunnar want to break up the band. Gunnar mentions that Autumn offered to take him on tour as a solo act. Scarlett and Gunnar say it’s their last show together. (Gasp!)
Avery gets a call from Luke, who tells him, “I think there’s something that you should know.” (Well, thanks, Luke, you’re a few months late, aren’t you?)
Glenn calls Layla and asks her if she leaked the Jeff story. Layla acts all surprised (does she think she’s the one up for an Oscar in this episode?). Layla claims Juliette never told her the truth. Glenn sees through her and drops her. (Attaboy, Glenn! We always liked you.)
Layla: “I already have everything I need.” (Translation: Run, Avery, run, that gal’s grip is gonna get tighter.)
Meanwhile, Rayna writes “an open letter to my daughter” about her experience with the creepy producer, and tells Deacon that the Huffington Post is willing to run it.
At the producer’s house, Vince is getting creepy with Maddie as friends are starting to text her about Rayna’s letter.
Blink and we’re back to another drama: Avery tells Layla he knows that Luke’s son told her the truth about Jeff’s fall awhile ago, so why is she acting all surprised?
Avery’s answer to Layla going on about Juliette: “It’s not about her. It’s about you and whatever sick game you’re playing. What was I to you — a target? Some kind of revenge?”
Layla says it started out wrong but her feelings for Avery are real.
That’s not enough to keep Avery from going to leave.
Layla: “I had to show you who she really is. She’s a horrible human being.”
You can actually see a little light bulb go on over Avery’s head about who triggered Juliette’s current situation.
Avery tells Layla: “You’re crazy and we’re done.”
And the waterworks are going.
Meanwhile, the Exes’ manager encourages Scarlett to have a real conversation with Gunnar. Aw, he cares about them as people.
Then Will is on Cynthia Davis’ TV show. She is not nice, even in introducing him.
Rayna’s letter is triggering a response from other artists, but all Rayna cares about is hearing from Maddie. Deacon is getting restless. Oh, thank God, Daphne got a hug.
Back at the show, Cynthia Davis goes on a rant.
Will: “You’re scared, aren’t you? … You don’t want your audience to see me or hear me … because they might recognize me as their brother or their cousin or their friend or their co-worker.”
Will concludes with “there’s nothing to be scared of here.”
Back at the FosterMore charity event with Rayna and Daphne, Deacon sees the posting from the producer’s house while Rayna is on stage. We know where he’s going.
Glenn and Juliette are in L.A. for Oscar stuff. He’s trying to reassure her that things are OK now. Juliette has doubts about “perpetuating a lie.” She looks like a meltdown is coming. Glenn wants to help but Juliette rejects it.
Rayna hears that Deacon took off and goes on stage with her younger daughter at the charity event.
Back to L.A.: In the red carpet area, Juliette apologizes to Glenn and tells someone there she wants to speak to a reporter.
How about the Exes? Scarlett tells Gunnar that she really does love him but the feeling scares her. Still, “I ain’t hiding it no more.” Gunnar: How do I know you won’t change your mind?
Scarlett: “I told you I love you because I love you. (Really, Gunnar, what do you need at this point? Does she have to hire a skywriter? Is that even in this show’s budget?)
Uh, it’s time for the Exes to go on stage. Is this really their band’s last show together?
Back in New York (are you getting dizzy yet bouncing from one storyline to another), the creepy producer is spewing some intimacy B.S. at Maddie. He goes off to get them more drinks, giving Maddie a chance to see her phone. Will she follow the link to her mom’s letter? (C’mon, Maddie, put that smartphone to a smart use.)
As Rayna and Daphne perform together at the charity event, we see Maddie reading the letter on her phone and hear Rayna in a voiceover reading the letter.
Let’s take a moment to say that Daphne has a lovely voice. Still, I think she needs more hugs. This Maddie thing has been too much for the poor child.
Meanwhile, Juliette opens up to a reporter about Jeff’s death, admits she was on the roof and trying to commit suicide, says she was so messed up on drugs and alcohol that she didn’t realize until much later what had happened on the roof. (We see Avery watching her interview on TV. He’s looking very sympathetic.) Juliette explains that’s when she went into rehab.
Juliette says she’s not looking for sympathy, just wants to tell truth and let Jeff’s family and friends know that “he died saving my life.”
Blink and we’re back in New York, where the creepy producer makes a play for Maddie. She says she was never interested like that. He’s getting creepier. Maddie says she doesn’t want a “grown-up career” if that’s what it means.
Deacon shows up just in time to save his daughter and confronts the creepy producer, telling him the whole world knows what he tried to do to Rayna years ago.
Maddie runs into Cash and tells her off (in a “gift” to “Nashville” fans): “You said you’d protect me, but when I needed you, you were gone with some guy.” Cash apologizes but Maddie picks her family over Cash.
Will and his ex look headed to a second chance after his interview.
Juliette tells Glenn she’s probably undone all his hard work, but he tells her, “I have never been prouder.”
Just then, Avery is calling, apologizing for not knowing how bad things had gotten for her. “We’re still here,” he tells her.
Sad-looking Layla gets a call and hears that her career is about to skyrocket.
We turn to the Exes performing. Autumn and the band’s manager watch them, and it’s pretty clear she’s the couple’s No. 1 problem.
It looks like Luke is heading home to see his family.
Juliette walks out on the Oscars to head home.
Rayna and Maddie have a tearful reunion at the charity event. (What was the budget for waterproof mascara for this episode?) Watching the reunion, Deacon looks the happiest we’ve seen him in a while (another “gift” to “Nashville” fans).
Back to the Exes, it seems that love song is getting to them, and Gunnar kisses Scarlett onstage. Ooh, that look on Autumn’s face is PRICELESS. (I don’t think they care that she’s firing them.)
And back to Rayna’s family, we see the Maddie and Daphne reunion. What a sweet sisterly hug. (No, we’re not wiping our eyes from crying. There’s just some pollen floating around.)
Rayna thanks Deacon for getting Maddie and bringing her back. “I want to go home,” Maddie tells them. We see the family walk off together. Now, can somebody please visit Teddy (Eric Close) in prison if the show gets a fifth season?
Avery is waiting for Juliette at the airport. In a call from her assistant, he learns she didn’t win her Oscar, but that’s not the real problem: A guy at the airport informs Avery that they’ve lost contact with Juliette’s plane.
Even with all those loose ends that seemed tied up, that’s one storyline that would be sure to draw “Nashville” fans to a fifth season.