Nashville returns, as flawed and fabulous as ever: EW review
Take my hand, Nashies; the end is near. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of the diehards, someone who’s stuck with Nashville from the very beginning in 2012. We’ve seen this show evolve from a pedigreed, serialized drama — the first TV project from Oscar-winning director Callie Khouri — about the country music industry to a nighttime soap opera about heartbreak, family, and (currently) a sinister cult with an outpost in Bolivia.
But the show is still called Nashville, and music does play a role — though nowadays it hums quietly in the background as the characters deal with their more colorful life quandaries. And so in tonight’s return episode, “Pick Yourself Up,” Will (Chris Carmack) tentatively turns to songwriting to heal his broken heart, because his previous method of coping — steroid abuse and excessive working out — sent him to the hospital with an acute case of endocarditis. Recovering alcoholic Deacon (Charles Esten) — who was already worried that Maddie’s (Lennon Stella) relationship with pop star Jonah (Nic Luken) was causing her to neglect her music — is apoplectic when she comes downstairs one morning with a hangover. And Gunnar (Sam Palladio) is ticked at Avery (Jonathan Jackson) after learning that their bandmate Alannah (Rainee Blake) spent the night at Avery’s house.
With Deacon and Jessie (Kaitlin Doubleday) now the official Grown-Up Couple of Nashville (RIP 4-EVA, Rayna James!), their relationship tribulations will likely take center stage for these last eight episodes. While it’s pretty unlikely Jessie’s heel of an ex-husband Brad (the wonderfully obnoxious Jeffrey Nordling) will succeed in taking their son Jake (Myles Moore) away from her, I sincerely hope he sticks around to needle Deacon and Jessie until the very end. Not that I wish ill on poor Deacon — Lord knows, he’s seen enough misery — but as the sweet beating heart of Nashville, Esten is all the more loveable when his Deacon is in a teary-eyed fight for the ones he loves.
As for the young(er) lovers, I am far more invested in Twig (Dylan Arnold), Jonah’s friend who loves Maddie from afar, than I could ever be in Alannah and her sudden fixation with Avery. Sure, they may kiss (as teased in the trailer), but Little Miss Purple Hair needs to make like Layla Grant and disappear — we all know that Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) is gonna bust her way out of that Bolivian fortress and get back home to Cadence and the man she loves. But one of the many wonderful things about Nashville is that you can let your mind wander a bit as you watch, strolling through the thicket of nit-picky questions we reserve for the shows we truly love. Why is Scarlett (Clare Bowen) wearing a sweater that looks at least four sizes too big? Is there anything more pathetic than the image of Gunnar standing alone in his boxers after Alannah hits it and quits it? Does Maddie leave her false eyelashes on when she sleeps?
We may never know the answers. But what does it matter, when Nashville gives us scenes like the one that ended tonight’s episode: Deacon, Maddie, and perpetually-forgotten Daphne (Maisy Stella), snuggling on Daphne’s bed, a whole and happy family unit — at least for now. This show is, in so many ways, not very good, but it’s also somehow a pure delight. Rather than question Nashville’s magic, let’s be happy that we don’t have to put dirt on its grave just yet. B+