Nashville's Charles Esten on Rayna's 'Gut Punch' of a Betrayal, Finale Scoop

Nashville Season 3 Preview Charles Esten

All the Nashville fall finale teases in the world aren’t as telling as this one, courtesy of Charles Esten‘s wife, Patty.

“Sometimes my wife reads the script before I do,” the actor tells TVLine. And when she flipped through the pages of the fall finale episode, which airs Wednesday (ABC, 10/9c), “from the other room, I hear, ‘Oh my God!’ So that always means there’s something about to happen. This was one where she made a little noise from the other room, like a gasp.”

He adds with a laugh: “That can sometimes be a good barometer, and in this case, it was.”

The hour picks up a few weeks after Deacon confessed his unending love for Rayna… who reasserted that she’s marrying Luke and Deke needs to get over it. But Esten tells TVLine it’s not that simple — and it may never be.

The actor repeatedly apologizes for being “absolutely handcuffed” by not being able to reveal much of what happens in the episode, but he did have a lot to say about how Rayna and Deacon’s relationship is entering a new phase. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to that troubling scene in the promo, which shows the recovering alcoholic unconscious near some bottles of booze, in just a moment).

We’ve heard Deacon profess his devotion to Rayna before, but last week’s monologue was markedly different — and for good reason, Esten says.

“Deacon is processing pain and loss and trouble a lot better than he used to,” he says, lapsing into speaking for his character. “I have a connection that I am admitting. I think she has it, too, but she’s not admitting it… She’s fought her way through it, doing the ‘smart’ thing, the right thing, the best thing for her.”

So when Deke told his ex to do what she thinks is best — though nothing she does will sway his feelings for her — “that’s not what she wanted to hear,” Esten says, laughing. “Which is why it didn’t go well.”

Still, the Rolling Stone article was “a real gut punch” to the bandleader. “When you’re in the public eye or when you’re near somebody who’s in the real heat and light of the public eye, there’s collateral damage,” he says. “You can get hurt from having a life with them.”

That’s why, Esten says, despite Deacon’s feelings for the redhead, he doggedly peeled her tour sticker off his guitar case at the end of last week’s episode.

“That Rayna Jaymes sticker on that guitar case was there in Season 1. It already looked old in the pilot,” Esten says with a laugh. “Every time I picked up my guitar, there it was. It was like a symbol, this faded sticker that’s barely hanging onto this old guitar case: That’s Deacon.”

In the spirit of moving on, Deacon decides to spend this week’s episode in Memphis after Luke’s tour wraps there. It’s a way to avoid the insanity of the Ruke wedding taking over Nashville, and Scarlett tags along.

Of course, the pair winds up singing a duet — and for a change, it’s a lighthearted moment during a fun night on the town.

“We sure known how to pour our hearts out in a brooding, darker way as these characters,” he says. “So to have us up there just having a flat-out ball was really exhilarating.”

Now, about that visual of Deacon lying on the floor…

“Unfortunately, sometimes right when you think [you’re in control of an addiction] is when you’re the most vulnerable,” Esten says, choosing his words carefully. He adds that even in Memphis, Deacon can’t escape media coverage of his true love marrying another man.

“There’s no getting away from that wedding, no matter what city you’re in. So that makes it harder, for sure.”

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33 Comments
  1. Julia says:

    I love Charles Esten and Connie Britton…but I’m getting really tired of this love triangle. This show needs to just make them happen or be done with it.

    • Amy H says:

      Agreed! I’m just about at my limit on this show. As much as I love the cast, the scripts have been terrible this season. Rayna has turned into an unlikable character, and no one is happy. And even the music has gone downhill this season — with a few exceptions. Will always love Charles Esten though. His work is terrific.

    • Whatevah says:

      ^^this^^

    • Emily says:

      Agreed. I find myself getting frustrated at the endless will-they/won’t they between Rayna and Deacon, and I worry that if they keep on with it, I’ll get tired of the show.

    • Ptf says:

      Yep, it’s boring me to tears this season. I really don’t understand when people “oh the show will be over when Rayna and Deacon get together” – I couldn’t disagree more! It’s dying a slow death like this.

    • MP says:

      Nashville is/was my favorite show, but I’m growing very tired of the love triangle. I want to see Rayna and Deacon together making music, singing duets, actually having some scenes together that are longer than 30 seconds. They have such amazing chemistry and the writers are squandering it. I also don’t understand how the story ends when they get together. At this rate, I don’t have high hopes for another season, so hopefully they will please fans sooner rather than later.

  2. Amy says:

    I wish Rayna’s only storyline wasn’t about this love triangle. I loved her character at the beginning of the show, but now all she does is go back and forth between these two. Get her back to being a strong female character.
    Also? I really, really hope they don’t make Deacon fall off the wagon again. Let this guy have some happiness.

  3. Stephanie says:

    I was really enjoying this show, but not anymore. I don’t like Rayna – this season she has come off as selfish and insecure. She’s tortured Deacon and she doesn’t really love Luke. Why do the writer’s make it seem like she needs a man? Can’t see be on her own for 5 minutes?

  4. Sue Adelson says:

    Does anyone like the Rayna/Luke pairing? I have never found it believable, and far too much time has been wasted on that unappealing story line. Rayna and Deacon need to be together, because that’s what works for us – the viewers. Give them a bumpy road, but get Luke out of the picture.

    Also, what’s with both Gunnar and Avery being/becoming fathers? It’s a stretch with just one, but two?

    I’m OK with Zoe being out of the picture, and I think Scarlett needs to get back together with either Gunnar or Avery.

    The scene written for Juliet in which she drove that cart around the fair in a disguise was totally ridiculous.

    Get back to good writing, and focus on the characters we care about. Otherwise, I’m tuning out and hoping Chip Esten shows up on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” again.

  5. Irene says:

    Deacon is the glue that joins most of the other characters. Some don’t have scenes with others but Deacon does with most. The writers must realize how far they have strayed with all the award nominations they have not received. Oh, I guess the did not get choice awards. Too bad as some scenes were worthy of serious consideration.

    • Judith Augustson says:

      Totally agree that Deacon is the glue for Nashville!! Without Deacon I wouldn’t be watching and just need for him to have some peace in his life!!!

  6. Amy says:

    (Another Amy..not same as above)
    I’m definitely in the “this is dragging on too long camp.” And I am all-in, all the time, for Charles Esten as Deacon. I only discovered him via Nashville; he’s my favorite character on the show. He just never disappoints as Deacon, week after week, with everyone he intereacts with. Period. Love him.
    As for Rayna…I think they have shown her strong side too, with the way she finessed Sadie, the way she runs Highway 65, schmoozing, negotiating business.
    But as far as Ruke, and what a mistep and disaster/lie it is…I think the writers are purposely showing her “messed-up” when it comes to this. All these bad choices with choosing Luke & selling herself out commercially, at the cost of her family values…it all shows how desperately she is trying to run from Deacon and what scares her there, digging herself deeper into this new life she’s trying so hard to believe in. Her distunction in her personal life to me is in direct response to how deeply the repressed, unresolved “Deacon stuff”, (love, fear etc.), is.
    I think that is why she is so “unlikeable” in some ways to some now…I think it’s to show just how these “choices” she made are not authentic Rayna, and not as “healthy” as she’s wishing they’d be…done for the wrong reasons. She’s not living authentically, so she’s “not herself”…but I think they had to make her this way because her motivation was running from her true Deacon feelings.

    • Amy says:

      Bingo. And now Rayna can start her way through her unresolved “stuff”…the way Deacon did last year to now. I kept saying…Deacon may always have the recovered alcoholic thing, but at least got himself to a better, honest place last year, that he’s been living by. Rayna hasn’t done that yet. It took the fiasco of Ruke, to force her to wake up…now maybe they’ll write some interesting stuff for her & Deacon to have some kind of real relationship that’s “today” and not their past.

      • Ellie G. (@Ellieca1673) says:

        Yes, totally agree! Kept seeing some posting about how Deacon’s just a mess of a drunk, and all I could think was that at least he’s honest with himself and other people– he deals with his stuff. That’s actually mature and healthy, unlike Rayna, in fact. Hope, like the character’s good bye monologue to Luke last night, that Rayna finally deals with her side of the street for once. Lord knows, there’s a lot there to deal with!

  7. debra cox says:

    best night ever

  8. Amy says:

    one more thing….BUT DANGgggg….Feb 4thhhh?!! Realllly?!!! arggggh. :-/

  9. Linda Stevens says:

    Finally The writers have made some good choices..Am so very happy Rayna finally seen the light.Can’t get enough of Deacon.Think he has come along way.since the beginning.One thing he always knew and never deterred from was his love for Rayna..but so sad that writers spent so much waste of time on the Luke and Rayna storyline.We could as viewers have had more moments of Deacon and Rayna..More then a few fast seconds at a time.To me Rayna always called the shots with Deacon..Deacon always went along with whatever Rayna said.Sad sometimes..Know Deacon and Rayna went through some bad things because of his drinking.but so does any woman who has to deal with alcoholic.But Rayna did alot of things wrong also..What happened in the 14 years that Deacon wasn’t drinking,Could she have not let him be a dad to his child.Rayna hates liers, but yet, she lied to him all those years.Anyway all I am saying is let these two charactors have some time together.Let them deal with their ups and downs like real people do.Let nashville continue.with them together making beautiful music together..it can be done and Nashville doesn’t have to end because Deacon and Rayna are reunited..it could be all new beginnings and more about the music which is great by the way..(:)

  10. Angel bethany says:

    I can’t stand the Raina character. She is always running to multiple different men and acting like she can care less about Deacon. I hate the way he pines over her. I want to tell Him to “man-up” and move on. She is def. not worth the heartache.

    • Lexie says:

      I agree that this season hasn’t been all that thrilling as let’s say season 2:)
      Best season ever!!!,,but what a season finale ! Finally the spark is back. I will still be a loyal fan of the show and I’m hoping they come back for more season’s. I’m praying that it doesn’t get boring and the music gets better like the previous season’s. I love Juliette and Avery. They are so cute together and I’m super excited to see more of the next season.

  11. I don’t want to see Deacon and Raina together at all. Is he going off the show with this new cancer story line? I hope not. He’s the glue that holds the show together..

    • Looch says:

      I love Deacon and Rayna. Let s see more of them and how they work this out. They belong together … I agree, let s have more than 30 seconds with each other.
      We all knew she should not marry Luke! I really dislike him.
      Can’t wait for the show to start up again. As far as Deacon and his illness.. if they write him out of the show.. I will never watch this show again. He is the best part of this show.
      Can’t wait for him and Rayna to get together again… signing and writing and lovin!!

  12. Btw, Juliet’s personality has so many layers and is very likeable. Sure, she can be a bit**, but we love her anyway. I’m so glad she married Avery. They are so cute together. Hats off to the writers for making us love her and thank you to the actress who plays Juliet. She is an extremely talented and versatile actress. Every role she has played (heroes, etc) has been very believable.

  13. Wiley says:

    Ok, here goes my sanopsis of the show in a nut shell. Folks can move to Nashville, find some friends, write songs, become famous and make lots of money. They can also appear on the Grand ‘ol Opry and sing at the Ryman within months of being there. Hum? I love the show, don’t get me wrong! The whole primis is that if and when you get famous… you hide the truth from the rag-mags and try and build a pubic persona that is perfect and lovely. We are seeing that all of the characters are human and flawed, no matter how hard they try to be perfect in the public microscope. That is what it all boils down to. Murder On Music Row… (that is a song by George Strait, by the way …) so, is this the idea for this show? The characters are good, interesting, and predictable, yes, but do they follow real life? Sorta. Does success come that quickly? Not usually. Do people die chasing their dreams? Yes, some do! Will Layla die? Maybe. I have been in this music business for 20 years. I know and have seen in real life these exact characters. Muses leave to find others who will a-muze them more. Good luck Zoey! I can only say that we can all see how things are shaping up. Whatever the writers do next will be no surprise. The state of Tennessee has lost it’s Tax revenue, let’s see if they move the whole show & cast of Nashville to Austin or LA to film? Won’t that be good for music row? One must wonder?

  14. Wiley says:

    Ok, here goes my sanopsis of the show in a nut shell. Folks can move to Nashville, find some friends, write songs, become famous and make lots of money. They can also appear on the Grand ‘ol Opry and sing at the Ryman within months of being there. Hum? I love the show, don’t get me wrong! The whole primis is, that if and when you get famous… you hide the truth from the rag-mags and try and build a pubic persona that is perfect and lovely. We are seeing that all of the characters are human and flawed. No matter how hard they try to be perfect in the public microscope. That is what it all boils down to. Murder On Music Row… (that is a song by George Strait, by the way …) so, is this the idea for this show? The characters are good, interesting, and predictable, yes, but do they follow real life? Sorta. Does success come that quickly? Not usually. Do people die chasing their dreams? Yes, some do! Will Layla die? Maybe. I have been in this music business for 20 years. I know and have seen in real life these exact characters. Muses leave to find others who will a-muze them more. Good luck Zoey! I can only say that we can all see how things are shaping up. Whatever the writers do next will be no surprise. The state of Tennessee has lost it’s Tax revenue, let’s see if they move the whole show & cast of Nashville to Austin or LA to film? Won’t that be good for music row? One must wonder?

  15. Wendy Peek says:

    Nashville is one of my absolute favorites. But the thing I love the most is the music soundtracks. I am so ready for this seasons music to be released! Any ideas on when we might expect to see a new soundtrack available from this season?? I know there’s a Xmas album out but that’s not what I want to hear. Please! Please! Please! release something soon!

  16. PJK says:

    I loved the Dec 10th show. Reyna came to her senses, hope not too late, and I nearly died when Avery asked Juliet to marry him, I thought they were breaking up! So glad for them, Juliet needs a break. Please, please don’t let Deacon have cancer now that Reyna is going back to him! I love this show so much and so do a lot of people I talk to. Sure it had some moments this year, but they had to work it so you thought Reyna was going to marry Luke, but I figured she wouldn’t because he turned out to be kind of a jerk Please don’t let Deacon blow it this time.

  17. karkar says:

    Sorry to say this ,but there is a good chance Deacon will reject Rayna even when she comes to him. He is a very unselfish person and if he has cancer he will keep it a secret from her. He will just walk away. Now they will both be lost souls.At least for a couple of episodes.

  18. Suzanne says:

    Is Nashville coming back in 2015?

  19. Rosann says:

    I love all the characters on this show and they are all so talented musically!!! This show can not be taken off the air!!!!