Season finale, and… well. I liked this episode a whole lot, although once again I’d find it difficult to explain why. I think I’m just Avery to Nashville’s Juliette, if you see what I mean. We’ll come to them, though. First up this week is Deacon, no-one’s idea of a top CEO, but doing his best to keep Highway 65 going after Maddie’s refusal – “This”, Deacon says to her, “is not because of you” – to play ball with a company which was prepared to pay actual money to use her music. He even, for a few seconds, listens to Brad, Jessie’s appalling ex and apparently some sort of music business expert, or maybe we knew that.
Ah yes, I was musing to myself, I wonder how Deacon will be able to keep the H65 lights on… then the lights go out. Which means that, finally, Zach – whose analysis of the music business in the 21st century has been pretty spot-on until now – has revealed himself to be a sociopath after all. He’s pulled the plug on H65 and cleaned out its bank account. Now, season 1-4 Deacon would have punched his punk ass out for that sort of thing. Season 5 Deacon, though, is much more Zen; and, in time-honoured let’s-just-do-the-show-right-here style, he takes the H65 crew down to Tracks, a local recording studio, where everyone – including my beloved Kacey Musgraves – sits around and sings, which is presumably meant to be an adequate substitute for proper funding and management of a record company.
Jessie is there too, of course, which has Daphne looking anxiously on and wondering if she and Deacon are going to “make music” together. Bless your heart, Younger Girl, but don’t worry: no-one on this sexless show is, uh, making music at the moment. We do, though, get a proper WTAF?! moment when Alyssa, out of literally NOTHING, kisses Deacon. She’s endearingly unapologetic about it, though. Her character has been all over the place – and may not be coming back next year – but I liked Alyssa, so there.
Gunnar is back from tour, and wanders into the Tracks jam session, where Scarlett seems to be a little put out that THE MAN SHE’S ON A BREAK FROM AND CUCKOLDED didn’t, like, rush to let her know the very second he returned to Nashville. They talk and, yet again, Gunnar feels the need to be self-abasing: “I understand you’ll never trust me”. Now, I know I keep going on about this, but I am truly, genuinely baffled about what it is Gunnar is supposed to have done. Apart from, that is, love Scarlett, stay faithful to her when they were together, offer to act as a father to the child she conceived with an abusive TV ad director, and accede to her increasingly petulant requests for time, space, etc. And this week he finally locates his you-know-whats, telling her that not everything is his fault, and observing that she pushes away the people who love her. Damn straight. So they perform one more time as The Exes at The Bluebird, then she moves out. Finally, I think. But they still have that chemistry on stage, you know. They still do.
Avery is still on the road, and once again fielding whiny phone calls from Juliette (who really has suffered at the hands of the writers this season) while Polly, the perky tour manager (?), looks on knowingly and slurps her ice-cream. He’s very much not interested in her, though, and when Juliette publicly tells the truth about stealing that song from Maddie he realises that she needs him and heads out into a storm to drive home to her. I was half-expecting yet another weather-related transport calamity, but he gets back to Nashville in one piece, and to a warm welcome for once. Juliette needs a little bit of light and shade next time round, I’d say. Hayden P can do so much more than this.
Meantime, Deacon and Jessie share A Moment when they hug, and almost kiss… but don’t. I say again: I like Jessie; I like Kaitlin Doubleday; I like the scenes she shares with Deacon. But dear GOD someone on this show needs to get a good seeing-to.
Which is more or less where this season of Nashville ends. With new show runners at the helm it’s been a bit up-and-down, tonally and in terms of quality. In particular, the tranche of episodes after Rayna’s death were both miserable and lacking in confidence, as if no-one quite know what to do without Connie Britton. And, as I’ve said, some of the writing and characterisation was unhelpful to one or two of the actors. On the plus side Lennon and Maisy Stella had good seasons, as The Girls were actually given something to do, and Chip Esten was MVP by some distance. I love you, Nashville, and I can’t help myself, so I’ll be back for season 6. Of course I will.