Nashville closed its last episode of 2013 with a double whammy: Not one but two possible fatalities in an accidentally shot Peggy and a suicidal, staring-down-a-locomotive Will.
Dee Johnson, the ABC series’ showrunner, took some time to chat with TVLine about how Wednesday’s episode will affect the rest of the season, how the death of either character might play out and whose romantic storyline may just be beginning.
TVLINE | At the end, we have Peggy or Will walking toward that bright light.
Yes, we do.
TVLINE | Was there discussion about ending the episode on a cliffhanger rather than having a definite death and then dealing with the aftermath when you come back in January?
The plans for this storyline were in the works for quite a while and our airdates got changed on us. We were going to be off the air a lot longer, originally. And we really wanted to leave people wanting to come back to see what happens.
TVLINE | We’re to infer that Lamar put a hit on Teddy, yes?
I think that’s probably something we would infer.
TVLINE | I would imagine that Tandy is probably going to feel pretty guilty when the truth shakes out.
I think Tandy is definitely going to have lots of feelings about this. [Laughs]
TVLINE | I’ve been impressed that she hasn’t told Rayna anything. That’s a huge secret to sit on.
The idea that she’s essentially protecting Rayna is what kept her going, but the pressure of lying over such a long period of time to someone she’s that close to is definitely going to have some psychological blowback for her.
TVLINE | Let’s just say that Peggy is the one who dies. In that case, is there any way Teddy would find out about the mischief she was up to re: the pregnancy?
I think at some point he probably deserves to know.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about poor Will. This wasn’t his first time with a man, when he slept with Brent.
TVLINE | So what about this interlude pushed him past his breaking point?
I think that he thought that he had successfully sublimated those feelings. He has been pretty good at stuffing it for a while now.
TVLINE | You guys staged a music festival without actually staging a music festival – it must’ve been logistically tough, and you didn’t even have ticket sales to balance it out!
Oh, I know. I wish we had sold tickets. It was very difficult. It was something that was talked about; that would’ve been pretty cool. It was tricky… we had some bad weather, a few of our tents blew away. But you know what, it came across beautifully, I felt.
TVLINE | Deacon had his first taste of being a frontman at the festival – and it went pretty well. Will he pursue that?
He’s definitely going to be pursuing it. You know how some things are much more fun when you’re young than when you’re older and you’re trying to start from the bottom again? I think it’s going to be fun in a wry way for Deacon. He’s going to try to do it, but he’s starting from the ground up again. And that means all of the craziness that you have to endure as a new performer.
TVLINE | We saw Luke and Rayna establish themselves as boyfriend/girlfriend at the beginning of the episode and then by the end… was that a breakup we saw?
No. I think it was the first moment where they realized, “Oh, we’ve been having all this fun and I didn’t realize that you are a Democrat and I’m a Republican. Wait a second, where are we with this?” That’s where they are.
TVLINE | Juliette both runs into scandal and has a guy professing his love who may not be the best person for her right now — and it seems like she’s learning, albeit slowly.
Yeah! There’s an evolution that’s happened here. She went into that whole affair with Charlie because, at the end of last season, she was determined to never have her heart hurt again. The reason he was appealing was because he was at least initially supposed to be no strings and not about love at all. And then it went the way it went, and she has evolved enough to see that it was wrong. It was a big deal in our writers’ room to have her say “I was wrong,” which is not something that comes easily [out of] the lips of Juliette Barnes. But she said it – and to Avery of all people.
TVLINE | And then they have that terrible/amazing scene at the end of the episode where she shows up at his door.
I think that’s my favorite scene in the episode because they’re both so right there. And if you’re looking at both of those actors’ eyes, it’s really remarkable.
TVLINE | Scarlett wandered into that scene and didn’t seem to pick up on the charge between them. Does she have any inkling of what’s going on?
She doesn’t look like she does in that scene, but she certainly percolates on it.