Miss Rayna Jaymes, queen of country music and all-around darling person, has been through a lot. Her father was a crazy man who had her mother killed when she was just a tween; her husband went to prison for embezzlement; she was stalked and held at knife point (just last week!); her eldest daughter tried to gain emancipation (and is generally the worst); and she’s been in love with an alcoholic most of her life. But if one person can survive all of that, surely a mere car wreck can’t cause her demise, right? She already survived one. Let’s find out on this week’s ominously titled episode, “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” (And check out Connie Britton’s thoughts on the hour here.)
After last week’s episode-ending mega-collision, Rayna is rushed to hospital with a fracture to the pelvis — there’s no time for autographs, people! Her life is hanging in the balance.
The rest of our characters are dotted around the city when they hear about the accident: Clay is driving Maddie home and talking about how awesome Rayna is when Deacon calls; Scarlett is still in Damien’s hotel bed when Gunnar calls; Daphne is singing in the choir at school when Scarlett shows up; and Juliette’s at home fretting over a possible (but unlikely) bone infection she’s convinced she has since she’s still feeling residual pain from the break.
Having witnessed the car wreck with Ray directly over the phone, Deacon is on the scene at the hospital in no time. The doctors inform him that his wife has a shattered pelvis and hip, but fortunately there’s no blood in her brain. They’re hoping to get her into surgery as soon as possible, but for now she’s on a morphine drip, so she’s comfortable — if a little loopy.
Deacon walks into the room and looks at Rayna like all his worst nightmares are coming true, but Ray just asks drily, “Can you believe this?” Classic Rayna: never the needless drama queen. She doesn’t remember the crash so much, but she does remember the knife incident with her stalker. But, not one to dwell on the negative, she’s already moved on to telling Deacon that they need to write another song together for their album, and it should be a happy one – after all, it’s not all been pain and gloom in their lives, and they need to write the beautiful parts of their story, too.
Daphne and Maddie show up not long after, but Maddie is barely through the door before she’s overcome by a panic attack and has to run out to the bathroom. Rayna is wheeled out to surgery, cracking jokes when the doctor tells her it’s showtime — “I didn’t even get a chance to warm up.”
In the bathroom, Maddie is convinced this is all her fault, that her mom’s brush with death is punishment for all the trouble she’s caused. I’m going to refrain from commenting on Maddie’s ability to make any situation about herself considering the serious tone of this episode, but just know that I thought about it. Scarlett talks her down and tells her to get some air. Maddie walks to the hand drier and turns it on her face – pretty sure that’s not what Scar meant by air.
While Rayna is in a four-hour surgery, an appropriately concerned Daphne refuses to leave the hospital. Maddie heads off to go drive around with Clay. The young couple wander to the same bridge Deacon and Ray hung out on a few episodes back, and Maddie describes her panic attack to Clay, who can relate, having seen his mom go through similar situations. He’s opening up more about his mother when Maddie gets a text saying her mom’s out of surgery and she should just go home for the night.
They head back to Clay’s place, and Maddie resumes talking about what a hard time she gave her mom. She confesses that she’s lied, run away, and taken her mom to court, and yet her mom has always been there for her. She knows she’s been selfish, but she doesn’t know what she’d do if anything ever happened to her mother. Please don’t let it be too late for Maddie to become a bearable human being.
MORE: Rayna wants a cheeseburger
Back at the hospital, Rayna wakes up and wants a cheeseburger. The surgery’s gone well, and she can even go home in a few days, but she’ll need a lot of rehab. She’s also starting to remember what happened, and she tells Deacon it was the most afraid she’s ever been in her life — but at least she has him next to her now, and that’s the sweetest feeling in the world. Bucky stops by to tell her that CMT sends its love (of course), and Scarlett says she’ll go and fetch Deacon’s guitar so that they can work on their last song — just last on the album, right? Gunnar tags along on the guitar retrieval mission and lays into Scarlett for not calling him the day before when she was late to dinner. He seems to know she spent the day in bed with Damien. Scarlett responds by pretty much ignoring him.
Gunnar only gets more pitiable as the episode goes on. When he shows up at the hospital later, he’s come to the conclusion that he’s kinda screwed whatever he does in this quasi-breakup situation. If he puts his foot down and tells Scarlett not to see Damien, she’ll just resent him, but if he looks the other way, she’ll run off with the guy. Mostly he wants to know how to win back her trust and thereby win her back, but Scarlett doesn’t know what she wants him to do. Normally, I’d reserve some more sympathy for Gunnar and more eye rolling for Scarlett, but I’m much too invested in Ray-Ray’s story line this week — so, back to the main event:
Juliette gets to the hospital and barges into Rayna’s room, blowing off the nurse’s protests with an, “I don’t take orders very well.” She brings Rayna an eye mask — it saved her life when she was in hospital – and they have a tender moment over how much Juliette has changed. Rayna tells her, “It’s like when you fell out of the sky something shook out of you,” and now she’s wondering what will shake out of her after this whole ordeal. ONLY MORE AWESOMENESS, RAY.
While Daphne sleeps between two chairs, Deacon and Rayna get to writing an epilogue-style song for their record. They’ve already got 16 songs, but Ray feels they need one that adds the promise of something more: a coda, if you will. They put it aside for now, and Deacon sings his wife to sleep.
The next morning, he shows up with smoothies and a cheeseburger because he’s the best husband ever. Meanwhile, Daphne’s having a moment, so Scarlett’s on duty again, cheering her up. Poor Daph doesn’t want go to her concert at school, even though she has a solo. She’s scared to leave her mom, plus there’s no one who can go to watch since her dad’s in prison and Maddie’s with Clay. Her mom is “the only one who cares,” and she can’t exactly go. When Maddie finds out Daphne is having a “breakdown” (not entirely sure who’s supposed to have texted her this information), she’s eager to get back to the hospital to help, but she and Clay hit some game-day traffic and get stuck in gridlock.
Since she’s spending time at the hospital anyway, Juliette has a scan on her leg. There’s an irregularity, and the little diva immediately assumes it’s cancer. The doctor (the same one who’s operating on Rayna, BTW) thinks it’s nothing and that the pain is probably psychological. Yikes. Miss Barnes does not take that suggestion too kindly.
Back in Rayna’s room, she’s trying to find a tag for her song. We assume she’s talking to Deacon about it, until the camera pans out and there sits a well-to-do, classy lady, pearls and all. Rayna’s mom tells her daughter that she’s been watching her all along and is proud of the magnificent woman she’s become, before adding that maybe Ray doesn’t need a tag: “Maybe this song is finished.” (I can’t with all these foreshadowing comments!)
Deacon witnesses the end of this conversation with an imaginary friend and gets worried, especially when Rayna explains it by telling him her mom’s been helping out with their song. He summons the doc to check her out, but the doctor thinks everything is normal; this isn’t unusual behavior for someone on opioids.
MORE: Read on at your own peril
Rayna’s having a one-on-one with every female cast member (apart from Maddie because she’s STILL not at the hospital), and now it’s Scarlett’s turn. Scar tells Ray that she’s intrigued by Damien and would like to get to know him better, but Gunnar just looks so miserable. Rayna advises that just because Gunnar is willing to fight for her, it doesn’t mean he’s the one for her. She says that too often in relationships, women let themselves be the object: A man says he loves you, so he gets to be with you. But the truth is that we get to choose, too. God bless that woman and all her sage wisdom.
On to Daphne’s alone time: The younger Jaymes daughter snuggles up to her mom, who is trying to convince her to go to the concert, reminding her that she has a gift and it’s her privilege to share it with people. She also throws in that Deacon loves her and that Daphne needs to believe that so they can both rely on each other. Yes, choke back those tears.
Just when you thought you weren’t going to have the pleasure of cute middle schoolers singing, all of Daphne’s friends show up at the hospital to perform in Rayna’s room, thanks to Daph’s crush Flynn. If Daphne can’t make it the school concert, the school concert will come to Daphne!
Halfway through a truly beautiful solo performance of “Make You Feel My Love” (seriously, it could rival Adele’s version), Deacon notices that Rayna is writhing around in pain. A panicked Scarlett yells to get a doctor. The kids are whisked from the room and doctors are ushered in as Rayna’s monitors start going crazy. It’s really a haunting moment: the juxtaposition of such a smooth and soulful song with the frantic beep of the monitors. I know I’ll still be thinking about when I wake up tomorrow.
As Rayna is carted off to the ICU, Maddie is still stuck in traffic. After a text from Deacon, she jumps out of the car and is off running to the hospital, where the doctors are telling Deacon that his wife’s kidneys are shutting down and her potassium is sky high — they might have to put her on dialysis. Fractured tissue from the bone marrow has leaked into her blood system and is wreaking havoc on her body. There’s not a lot they can do to fix it.
Oh, no, oh no. Deacon and I are really freaking out now. But at least he manages to sneak into Ray’s room when the doctors aren’t looking. Her breathing is labored as she asks him what’s happening. She starts to say her goodbyes, asking Deacon to stay strong for the girls, but he doesn’t want to hear it, telling her she’s not going anywhere. “Promise me,” she croaks as a nurse removes him from the room. Through sobs he begs her not to leave him, and Rayna just responds that she’s sorry.
Down the hall, the doctor is going over Juliette’s X-ray results, which indicate that her leg has healed nicely and she should be able to put weight on it just fine, when she’s interrupted by another doctor telling her she’s needed in ICU. Juliette overhears the interaction — particularly the point about the patient crashing — and realizes they’re talking about Rayna. It’s enough to motivate her to walk again as she casts aside her crutches and stumbles into her mentor’s room. The doctors tell Deacon that his wife’s organs are failing. Daphne wants to know if her mom is dying, and all the doctor has to say is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst. The younger Jaymes daughter breaks down in tears as Juliette tells Rayna all she ever wanted was to make her proud and kisses her on the head.
Finally, Maddie walks in and everyone else clears out, leaving the girls and Deacon alone with Rayna. Daphne calls Deacon “Dad” and asks if he thinks Rayna knows they’re there. He tells her yes and suggests that she tell her mom whatever she wants, but Daphne doesn’t know what to say. Brace yourselves: Maddie starts singing one of the songs she sang with Daphne way back in season 2: “A Life’s That’s Good.” The other two join in, choking through their tears. Just then Rayna opens her eyes, and Deacon almost smiles when he notices, but then a screeching beep emits from the heart monitor as Rayna Jaymes flatlines. Her daughters and husband break down in body-wracking sobs (all three actors deserve awards for their powerful performances in this scene) as the doctors come rushing in with the defibrillator.
I’m too heartbroken to end on any poignant thought other than: What’s Nashville without its No. 1 star? I guess we’ll find out next week.
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