Nashville: “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” Season 1 Finale Review

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Nashville concluded  its freshman season with an episode full of dramatics and big revelations.  The smaller moments actually ended up leaving a stronger impression, but boy what an ending.

After last week’s double whammy of Jolene’s death and Maddie’s discovery of her biological father’s identity, things hit the ground running.  Juliette goes to meet with coroner before he begins work on her mother’s autopsy, and she looks miserable.  Not miserable in a weepy, hysterical kind of way, but miserable in an emotionally unhinged and exhausted kind of way.  It seemed like a very in-character way to react, and Hayden Panettiere continued to deliver a quietly powerful performance throughout the rest of the episode.

Juliette tries to remain strong, but hits her breaking point at the CMAs before she’s about to perform.  She visits her mother’s casket in the funeral home, and laments that she left her all lone.  Luckily, this isn’t true.  Her former manager Glenn comes back to console her and, in a somewhat surprising twist, Rayna comes to her aid as well.  The country divas have basically been at each other’s throats all season, but they were able to put their differences aside and share an excellent moment together during Jolene’s funeral.  Sure it’s fun to watch them fight, but the truth is these two make a great onscreen pairing, no matter what type of scene it is.

It’s amazing Rayna had the time to comfort Juliette, given the severity of her own problems.  Maddie takes it upon herself to visit Deacon and give him the paternity news.  Deacon confronts Rayna at the CMAs–after her performance with country superstar Brad Paisley of course–and she confirms the story.  What follows is a chaotic downward spiral of screaming, punching, and drinking.  Maddie eventually forgives Rayna, but Deacon is another story.  He seemed to be holding it together for most of the season, but I guess this news was his tipping point.  Deacon falls completely off the wagon, leaving a path of destruction behind him.  His shouting and shoving matches with various characters in the show are one too many if you ask me, but his rage is palpable.

Not too much happens in B-plot territory, but Teddy’s past comes back to haunt him when the State’s Attourney’s Office begins to look into his financial history.  It all leads to Peggy revealing she’s pregnant with his child, which would be a big deal if she wasn’t such an unlikable character.  Instead, it just comes off as annoying.

Lamar has some shady dealings as well, looking to restart his campaign to build a baseball stadium and demoting Tandy in the company.  These scenes felt kind of pointless, but I guess they’re going to lead somewhere next season.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has to choose between born-again nice guy Avery and nice-guy turned clumsy badass Gunnar. Her decision is unclear, but Gunnar popping the question to her at the end might sway her in one direction.  Also, there’s a very strange plot involving Will sleeping with a girl so as to appear straight (I think?), and then awkwardly shutting down the advances of some guy he clearly knew romantically at a bar.  The whole thing was given very little attention, so I really don’t know what to make of it.

This was definitely a more depressing episode of Nashville, but the final scenes did give us one hell of a cliffhanger.  Juliette, who looked as though she was starting to find some solace, holds a memorial for her mother at the Blue Bird.  As she sings a sweetly melancholic song in Jolene’s honor, we see cuts of several people dealing with the ups and downs the season has given them.  The worst of these is Rayna and Deacon, who are having an intense argument in his car.  They’re so busy yelling that they don’t see the other car headed their way, and end up veering off the road in a sudden crash.  Okay, so the fact that they clearly weren’t paying attention to the road was an indication of something bad happening.  Still, leaving the life of two of your main characters up in the air is a pretty bold move for a show to make in it’s first season.  Nashville‘s freshman outing wasn’t perfect, but it certainly has me excited for what’s to come next fall.  Grade: B+


By Mike Papirmeister

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