Nashville finds some closure for the Jaymes family, Gunnar and Scarlett, and Will and Luke, but a giant cliffhanger leaves Juliette and Avery in limbo

By Kyle Fowle
May 26, 2016 at 09:37 PM EDT
Credit: ABC/Mark Levine
S4 E21
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Oh boy. As it turns out, when your show is canceled two weeks before the finale there’s a good chance said finale is going to lack the emotional finality needed to be rewarding. Even more troublesome is that your series could end on a cliffhanger. Nashville sure did, and unless it gets picked up elsewhere, which seems pretty unlikely, we’ll forever be wondering about a certain plane and a certain blond singer. But, we’ve got a lot of finale to get to before that final moment, so let’s get to it!

The episode begins with Juliette doing her best impression of all of us: She’s at an Oscar party complaining that she just wants to go home. When Glenn informs her she still has other appearances to make, she asks if she can just wear pajamas. Juliette understands us all, and I’m going to miss her so much.

At the same time Juliette realizes that she’d rather be hanging with her family, so she asks Avery if he can come to L.A. with Cadence (and even Layla, if she wants) so that she can spend some time with her daughter. Of course, Layla isn’t too happy about the arrangement, and she goes in on Avery for even considering it. Don’t worry; things get much, much worse later.

For a little bit it looks like things might be looking up for the Exes. Scarlett has decided to tell Gunnar that she loves him. That never really goes over well on Nashville though, and as soon as she does it Autumn walks into the room and puts her hands all over Gunnar because apparently they’re a thing now. Gross. Autumn needs to go; time for a season change.

Meanwhile, Rayna, Deacon, and Daphne are in New York City for the benefit concert that we all forgot about and they’re all agonizing about how Maddie is only blocks away and yet they can’t see her. See, she’s in New York taking on her new recording project, working with some super popular producer named Vince Pierce. When Rayna finds out that he’s her producer, via Maddie’s Instagram, she flips.

As it turns out, Vince was Rayna’s producer when she was a teenager and he basically forced himself on her. She never spoke about it, other than to her manager who told her it was no big deal, but now she’s worried about Maddie getting put in the same position. Thus kicks off a fairly nuanced and deep look at sexism in the music industry and the culture at large. Considering Nashville‘s tendency to go big and dramatic, the nuance on display with this subplot is a nice touch.

As if that’s not enough drama for a finale, Juliette gets confronted by a single paparazzi and is asked about being on the roof when Jeff Fordham died. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this tactic before… if only we could place it. Oh yeah, that’s right, Layla is a ridiculous person who’s trying to destroy people’s lives, so she’s probably the one who tipped off the paparazzi. After all, nobody else really knew the truth.

NEXT: You’re crazy and we’re done

Let’s get to something a little more hopeful, shall we? With Cynthia Davis refusing to allow Will on her show, he decides he needs to take a more drastic step. He wants to head to Atlanta and protest outside of her studio. In order to do so, he needs someone who can organize a rally, someone who’s in touch with the gay community. Thankfully, there’s a handsome dude just waiting to step in. That’s right, Kevin is back, and he’s newly single and willing to help out.

Will, Luke, and Kevin head to Atlanta and the protest draws quite the crowd of supporters. They set up a stage outside the studio and play songs, baiting the homophobic folks who’ve shown up to protest the protest. That manages to get Cynthia’s attention; she agrees to have Will on her show, but he has to go to the studio now, as the show starts in 15 minutes.

No prep is no problem for Will though. Cynthia starts by ripping into him, calling his sexuality “domestic terrorism.” Will takes the high road though and he owns her. He tells her she’s scared; scared that if he speaks her viewers will see him for who he is, not as a gay country singer but as a son, a friend, a human being, and a good person. That shuts her down and I’m just so happy Will got such a big moment in before the series ended. Plus, Kevin waits outside for him, and as Will stumbles through asking him for a second chance, the two share a kiss. Hurray for love and joy on this show!

Alright, back to the depressing stuff. Kate Fordham, Jeff’s sister, decides that with the recent news she’s going to sue Juliette for wrongful death. She decides on $3 million, and Juliette agrees to pay, as she’s racked with guilt and just wants it all over with. Later though, right before she attends the Oscars, she has a change of heart. She realizes she needs to start owning up to her actions. So, she goes in front of a camera and tells the truth. It’s a moving moment, especially as we see Avery at home tearing up at the revelation.

Meanwhile, with Maddie potentially in trouble, Rayna does the only other thing she can do. She writes a blog post for The Huffington Post detailing the disgusting actions of Vince Pierce. That gets to Maddie just in time, as she’s in his basement recording studio and he’s getting way too close and aggressive. He begins telling her that this is what she needs to do for a career, to be a grown-up. Just as things are about to get worse, Deacon shows up and saves his daughter. It may be the only time I’ve ever liked Deacon.

That leads to a legitimately moving moment, as Maddie goes to the benefit concert with Deacon and reunites with Rayna and Daphne. All four of them leave together, as a family. That’s as close to closure as we’re going to get in this finale, so you better take it.

NEXT: Exes and then not and then Exes

To be fair, the series finale does churn out a montage that ties up a few loose ends. After deciding that they’re breaking up the band, Scarlett has a change of heart and spills every one of her feelings to Gunnar. It doesn’t seem like it’ll make much difference, but as the two finish performing a song while opening for Autumn, Gunnar pulls Scarlett in and kisses her in front of thousands of screaming fans. The look on Autumn’s face is just the icing on the cake.

Hell, even Luke gets a nice little moment to end the episode. He learns that his ex-wife is single again, and he decides that if he can tell Will to pursue a second chance, then why can’t he? The moment where he makes the call is kind of tacked on to the episode, and there’s been no mention of his ex-wife all season, but hey, I’m not about to deny a character a relatively happy ending here.

Then, there’s the doozy of a cliffhanger. As Juliette flies home after skipping the Oscars, deciding it’s better to reconnect with Avery and Cadence, Avery waits on the tarmac at the airport for her to arrive. Then, someone comes out and tells him that he needs to come inside, that they received a distress signal from the plane and then lost all contact. And that’s it. The camera cuts to black on a huge cliffhanger that will likely never be resolved, and we can all either laugh or cry about it.

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Reports say that the studio, Lionsgate, originally had the series ending with Avery and Juliette reconnecting in person, but decided on the cliffhanger ending in order to drum up interest in a renewal from other networks. That’s… a bad decision. But, what say you Nashville fans? How did you feel about the finale, and this season as a whole? I thought it was a real downer of a season, but I’m also sad that we (probably) won’t get a more appropriate end to the story. Let us know what you think in the comments! For now, that’s all, y’all.

Episode Recaps



Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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