Rayna has been hospitalised after the car accident which closed out last week’s episode. It doesn’t appear to be too serious, though – a broken pelvis, an operation, a few days to recover – which means that, while we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, the episode is somewhat flat.
Meantime, the other characters shuffle around a bit: Maddie has a panic attack and seems to spend a lot of time being driven by Clay, while being reassured by Scarlett: “You haven’t put your mom through any more than any other kid your age”, which is obvious nonsense. Gunnar wonders what he needs to do to “win (Scarlett’s) trust back”, which once again starts from the false premise that he needs to. Dude. Cut your losses. Juliette has a mysterious pain in her leg, and clearly doesn’t take kindly to being told that she might just need to “push through it”. She does, however, get one of her rare but powerful scenes with Rayna, when she tells her “AlI I ever wanted was to make you proud of me”.
But then the endgame starts. Rayna hallucinates seeing her mother, and although it could be put down to the drugs she’s on, Deacon seems to intuit that it’s a bad sign. And, sure enough – while Daphne and her choir are singing to her in her hospital room, which is a little too mawkishly on-the-nose – Rayna crashes and has to be taken into intensive care.
So, in time-honoured TV fashion, the cast starts to assemble in expectation of a big death. Which is hella moving when it happens; although I was spoiled for Rayna’s demise I’m not made of stone, and if The Girls’ grief is entirely unfeigned they’re acting the heck out of it. But it does leave Nashville with a huge gap at its centre: yes, Rayna’s storylines have perhaps been less than satisfactory for a while now, but to start with she was the show’s raison d’être, and Connie Britton is a proper star. I’m not at all sure that swapping Juliette in as Fading Star and Maddie, in turn, as Rising Star will quite do it, although – as will have been evident – I’ve been more impressed with Maddie’s contribution this season. (And Maisy Stella, as Daphne, is also showing signs of becoming an interesting actor.) As an episode this was two-thirds dull and one-third intense, but it’s what comes next that really matters.