Picking Up The Pieces After A Nashville Crash
Kleenex stockholders, enjoy your sad gains.
Let's Just Get This Out Of The Way
Hah boy. This episode is a bit of a challenge to cover structurally, but since everything revolves around Rayna for raaaather obvious reasons, let's just knock out everything not directly related to her first. By characters:
Maddie And Clay: When Maddie arrives at the hospital, she almost immediately has a panic attack; Scarlett attempts to calm her down and counsels her to get some air -- whereupon Maddie hits the dryer in the rest room and stands in front of it, and I don't know why I find that so hilarious, but it's nice to have SOME humor in this episode. Anyway, she and Clay take a drive and get to know each other a bit more; Clay tells her about his mother being an addict who came and went from his life (he and Juliette should have a convo sometime), while Maddie confesses how horrible she's been to her mother and how Rayna was always there for her despite that.
Scarlett And Gunnar: After spending a very sex-positive day with Damien, Scarlett rushes to the hospital, but the tragedy surrounding them isn't enough to stop Gunnar from trying to discuss their relationship. Scarlett puts him off HILARIOUSLY, but when he finally gets so pathetic she can't take it anymore, she admits that she doesn't know what she wants from him. I actually want more of this; I like Scarlett best when she's maximally dismissive, especially to Gunnar.
Juliette: She starts the episode trolling WebMD for horrible diseases that might explain her leg pain (with some great I-just-lost-my-appetite faces from Avery); after rushing to the hospital to see Rayna, that same pain gives her a reason to stick around and have an MRI. Before that, though, her doctor and Avery both wonder if the discomfort might be psychological, prompting this reaction:
To use a recently-more-apropos expression: God love her.
Happy Happy Joy Joy
Who called the meeting? Rayna.
What's it about? She wants to write one more song for the concept album.
How'd it go? Fine, I guess? She tells Deacon she wants them to come up with one last offering, and when he points out that they already have plenty of material, she counters that they've only written about the painful times, and she wants to include something more joyful. We don't really get to hear it, but I'm sure when we do it'll be just as upbeat as she's imagining.
That Quote"Looks like the CMT Awards are not gonna happen."- Rayna, who probably will actually be featured at the CMT Awards, if not in quite the way she expected -
One Last Hurrah
Even taking into account my Avery love, my favorite scenes on the show -- as they should be -- have always been the ones with Rayna and Juliette, so I'm glad we get one here. First Juliette crutch-marches her way past a nurse who tells her Rayna's only seeing family at the moment, and then she produces an eye mask for Rayna, telling her it saved her life during her own hospital stay, what with all the bright lights and interruptions and whatnot. Rayna probs isn't about to cover her eyes after the whole stalker incident, but she thanks Juliette before remarking that something's different about her: ""You've changed. It's like when you fell out of the sky, somethin' shook outta you. After this whole nightmare, I wonder what's gonna shake outta me." Juliette: "Somethin' good." Awwww. As ridiculous as the plotting and writing have often been on this show, they never overused this relationship, which is part of what made their scenes together special. Sigh.
Who called the meeting? Rayna.
What's it about? Writing that song she's been on about.
How'd it go? Well, she struggles to articulate how she views the song relative to the other material on the album, but Deacon finally supplies the word "coda," and she's like, yes, that! Something to make everything make sense; that's what the song should be! Well, given what's about to happen: GOOD LUCK.
Mama I'm Coming Home
The Scene: Rayna is working on the song in her hospital room.
The Symbol: A vision of her mother (yes, that's Carla Gugino playing her), who gently tells her that maybe she doesn't need the coda: "Maybe the song is finished."
The Meaning: My notes: "IS SHE DYING OR WHAT?!?!?!?!"
Who called the meeting? Scarlett.
What's it about? Her conflicted feelings about Gunnar and Damien.
How'd it go? Just fine; when Rayna hears about Gunnar's stupid declaration that he's going to "fight for" Scarlett, whatever that may mean in his dumb badger language, Rayna points out that just because men often bluster and make grand statements doesn't mean women have to go along with them, and it's really Scarlett's choice in the end. Seems obvious, but Scarlett clearly needed to hear it, so that's nice, especially since she's going to be taking care of people's feelings a lot more than the reverse in the foreseeable future.
That Quote"Her mama was helpin' her with the song?"- Scarlett, putting her Mississippi accent to the best of disbelieving uses -
"Glee" Club Is Perhaps The Wrong Term
Who's causing a family crisis? Daphne.
How? Her school's chorus or glee club or whatever is having a recital that night, but she wants to skip out on her solo to stay with Rayna (especially because she feels like Rayna's the only one in her family who really cares about her).
Which relatives have a problem with it? Rayna herself, as she tells Daphne she has a gift she needs to share with the world.
Who's an unlikely ally? Flynn, that boy she likes, who gets the chorus to bring the recital to the hospital so that Daphne can do her solo in front of Rayna.
Spoiler: Um, this?
That Quote"All I ever wanted was for you to be proud of me."- Juliette, kissing Rayna on the forehead and saying goodbye while neatly summing up the core premise of the show to date -
R.I.P. Rayna James
With her death all but certain thanks to bone-marrow-related complications (specifics don't matter, really), Rayna's immediate family sits on her bed, and Maddie leads them in choking out a rendition of "A Life That's Good." Rayna opens her eyes and sees her family one last time, and then:
Goodbye, Rayna and your beautiful, beautiful hair.
In retrospect, I guess this move isn't that surprising, both given the show's new budget constraints and some fairly persistent rumors that Connie Britton was looking to leave, but it's still a complete shock in the moment and, I'm sure, extremely traumatic to the show's viewers. So, in case this helps, here's a link to a post Connie Britton made on Instagram thanking the show and the fans, and an interview in the Hollywood Reporter in which Britton explains the logic behind the decision. See you next week for more tears, I can only imagine.