Post Mortems

Nashville EP on the Mystery Flatliner, Hope for Juliette and Why the Hospital Wedding Almost Really Happened

Nashville Season 4 Spoilers

If you’re a Nashville fan who was gunning for Rayna and Deacon to get hitched in the Season 3 finale, you should know that showrunner Dee Johnson was ready to throw some rice right alongside you.

Johnson tells TVLine that the show’s writers “completely, totally entertained that idea,” which would have seen the terminally ill Deacon and his redheaded love officially (and legally) tie the knot just before he was wheeled into liver-transplant surgery. Instead, the couple exchanged informal, heartfelt vows, West Side Story-style.

Why didn’t Rayna and Deke make it official? Can Juliette undo the damage inflicted on her and Avery’s relationship? What’s next for Will, now that he’s out? And for the love of God, who flatlined?! Johnson — who wrote the episode with series creator Callie Khouri — addresses all of these questions and more below.

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TVLINE | You have two patients on the table at the end of the episode, and one of them flatlines.
How about that, right?

TVLINE | Let’s just say that it’s Beverly who’s going to that great honkytonk in the sky. I imagine that would cause some survivor’s guilt for Deacon.
Well, I mean, if that came to pass, and by the way, just for the record, a flatline doesn’t necessarily mean somebody doesn’t get resuscitated. I’m just putting that out there. But if the scenario you’re talking about came to pass, one would certainly have some issues as a result of it. If anybody was going to donate something and they died on the table, certainly that would be pretty hard to live with.

TVLINE | Why did you decide not to go through with a real wedding in Deacon’s hospital room?
Such a complicated thing… I think the largest reason is that the general feeling from many, many parties who are involved in making this show is that it would be nice to see a real wedding at some point — if certain scenarios came true. But I’ll be honest: It was something I wanted to do. I wanted them to get a chaplain and get it done… On one hand, it’s a cold, horrible situation. But on the other hand, it couldn’t be more amped-up and romantic in that way. All that said, they basically in spirit got married in the room, and that’s what we wanted to have happen.

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TVLINE | I loved that Teddy gets upstaged by Deacon even at his absolute lowest moment — as he’s getting hauled out in handcuffs — when Rayna and the girls turn away from the TV to hear what Caleb has to say.
[Laughs] I thought it was really a cool way to do it… It was too much to have two things happen in that moment of such urgency. It was a way of covering our bases and having it play neatly in the background.

TVLINE | Here’s the way I have my next question written down, verbatim: “Juliette and Avery: Are you trying to kill me with this?”
[Makes small, sympathetic sound.] Yes, I’m trying to kill you. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Every time they get a moment of happiness, she sabotages it. Moving forward, she can’t be around her baby, she’s defied Rayna and signed with Luke, she’s represented by Jeff. These seem like very big, season-long problems for when you guys come back.
Obviously, it carries over. We haven’t had an opportunity to really break next season, but in my mind, I love that couple — I think a lot of people do. I think a lot of people are rooting for them. In my mind, I don’t think it’s a season-long… they’re never going to be perfect, but I don’t think it’s going to take a season to get them back together because they have too much tying them together.

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TVLINE | Will comes out in this episode. It’s taken him a while to get to this point; why have it happen now?
You know what? There was so much pressure all along to get him to pop out of the closet, like it’s so easy. I, personally, was so invested in making sure that story got told in what felt more like real time to me. We took him on a journey. We wanted to see every step — the first encounter, the first admission that he actually is what he is, getting him to a place where he is finally comfortable enough to come out — and then finally being in love with somebody for the first time in his life… That was our plan. Coming out publicly is going to have a huge impact on his career. But beyond coming out publicly was the next big thing in any person’s life, which was finally being allowed to feel love for somebody.

TVLINE | Are you thinking of keeping Kyle Dean Massey as a regular next season?
Who knows, in terms of regulars or not? But I do think he did a really great job. They really clicked together. He’s definitely in my mind certainly going to be a presence.

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TVLINE | Layla and Jeff — when she was beating on his car with the golf club, I was thinking, “The show can’t not want us to think about Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren at this point.”
[Laughs] When it came up, we wanted — because he’s always been golfing, because Oliver [Hudson] golfs. It’s always been a presence in the show — when she put it all together, and he has that nice Bentley, we thought, “You know what? She should just lose her stuff and let him have it.” …I’d say maybe it was sort of an after-the-fact homage to that moment.

TVLINE | At times, it seems like they might be good for each other. Other times, it seems like it might be very bad for her to be with him. What can you speak to about their relationship, moving forward?
There are so many of those type of relationships, historically in Hollywood or the music industry, where you have somebody who is very controlling. It’s kind of that weird, psycho dynamic thing. It can result in huge success but personal psychosis, and I think that they are in a very George-and-Martha sort of relationship. There is a love connection there, but it’s maybe not the healthiest love.

TVLINE | Scarlett and Gunnar: I don’t think I’ve ever been that physically close to someone in my life and not kissed him.
[Laughs] It takes incredible restraint! But to Scarlett’s credit in particular, she did just say that she’s going to move in with Dr. Rand. I mean, look: Those guys are the flip side of the Rayna-Deacon relationship. They are that kind of star-crossed, never at the right time, have crazy emotional attachments to each other, but here they both are, both with one foot out the door, and yet there’s something that’s very deeply present.

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  1. DSoR says:

    What I wouldn’t give to see Deacon in a tuxedo and Rayna in a white wedding dress flanked by those lovely daughters of theirs or maybe a beach wedding, sandals, the air of sea in Connie’s already perfect hair …

    oh,wait this is Nashville, a cabin by the lake wedding will do just fine then, glad they didn’t make it official.

  2. jbj says:

    I think the pacing of Will ‘s coming out has been great. That the writers have paired him with an out and respected artist in country bodes well for his trajectory. Whereas, being outed any earlier might have sent him in a tailspin. Sure, he has friends who support him, but they have their own struggles, too,

  3. Ian says:

    Im glad they didnt have a ceremony yet either. Save all that for a big special 3 episode Nashville event extravaganza.
    And Im never going to feel like Gunnar deserves Scarlett ever again, so they need to stop.
    And not wanting to put it in cast status terms about Kyle probably just means that Will’s storyline isnt going to become any bigger a part of the show than it is now, but Will and Kevin are in love, so Kyle better be sticking around.

    • Isobel says:

      Agree I hope Kyle sticks around, I like the will/Kevin relationship

      • abz says:

        I hope so too. He’s been a great addition this season and it sucks that Will doesn’t get nearly enough amount of screen time that he deserves in general.

    • blancaster60 says:

      Why does Gunnar not deserve Scarlett? He is the one a couple of seasons ago who first asked her to marry him and she said no. She broke his heart when that happened. So why is he the bad guy?

      • smartysenior says:

        He dated her best friend! That is so hurtful on so many levels that you really don’t come back from it. Let her have some dignity after all the humiliation she’s suffered with her public meltdown and also the way he treated her. Move her in with the solid young Doc and let her grow and start to mature as she continues to write music and care deeply about her uncle. She’s in a good place right now while he’s still flitting around with his two past girlfriends at the same time.

        • RUCookie says:

          Exactly! And her didn’t just date (or sleep with the best friend), he moved in with her, he proclaimed love for her AND he formed a band with her. She broke the girl-code. He should have destroyed his chances with her. Its the music that brings them together.

      • me says:

        I agree. I think Gunner should get Scarlet back! At least for a while. I don’t care for Will’s character. He seems to whine a lot & always seems awkward. I would like the see Avery ,& Juliette’s mgr end up together with the baby.

  4. Lo says:

    Ten bucks says the one who died on the table was his sister. Which would be fine by me because I can’t stand her.

    • Sonia says:

      I am thinking the same thing

      • me says:

        I bet no one dies, just a close call. I bet the sister tries to blackmail Rayna not thinking that Deacon knows Rayna wrote that check. I would be okay if she’s removed from the show!

        • Tony Barneman says:

          Deacon’s sister is horrible and very bitter person!!! Not to mention the way she treated Scarlett!!! I hope she dies off of the show. However, she will probably live and make trouble for Deacon and Rayna. Some people are just not nice!!!!

  5. Alicia says:

    I absolutely love Nashville and Deyna are the big draw for me. I loved the Rayna&Deacon scenes but for me for leads there wasn’t enough of them. I agree & I’m glad Rayna&Deacon said the vows but didn’t get married coz it needs to be at the cabin on a summers day. Really wish the writers for next season have established what should happen coz I don’t think this writing the Ep a few weeks before it airs is working for Nashville. We need to get back to those strong scenes Ray&Deac had in season 1. They need to stay together though coz I wld absolutely stop watching if anything splits them now. I just feel there’s to many writers who don’t know the characters true lily and as a true fan its spoiling the show for me. The flashback where Rayna&Deacon met history was rewritten from season 2 wen Ray told Maddie how they met. Camera shots too they r so close up we don’t know Wots happening most of the time. Show is lucky they have such a fantastic cast

  6. Alicia says:

    Forgot to add Connie Britton &Charles Esten are phenomenal as Rayna&Deacon and more than make up for all the wrongs created by writing and camera shots love them

  7. aph1976 says:

    I’m fine with Deacon and Rayna not officially getting married right now but them just doing some heartfelt vows just between themselves because it showed their commitment to a future together.As for Will i’m wondering if his personall and professional lives will collide even more now that he’s out publicly.

    • rowan77 says:

      It reminds me of the Post-it wedding in Grey’s Anatomy. They think of themselves as married and that’s the important thing. They can do the wedding later because we all know Chip isn’t leaving the show so clearly he’s going to live (and I know it’s a TV show, but a flatline means there’s no electrolytes inside the heart, so you can’t bring them back. You’ll only burn the heart).

  8. J says:

    Agree more time needs to be spent properly mapping everything out next season: too much time is wasted on secondary characters whose stories go nowhere while Rayna and Deacon, Juliette and Avery get crazily edited mega-short scenes. So infuriating!
    And if the writers could watch all of the previous episodes and not screw up the backstory that they themselves established that would be great too.

    • smartysenior says:

      And if the writers could ask a lawyer about contract law I’d be happier too. Pretty sure you can’t just fire your manager and label in a fit of temper. It’s a bit jarring to me that we seem to be ignoring the very real legal consequences of breach of contract.

      • RUCookie says:

        There should also be something on her state of mind when she signed new contracts with Jeff and Luke. If she does have post pardum psychosis, then she shouldn’t (couldn’t) be held to the right standard for “acceptance.”

      • Ryan says:

        I don’t necessarily think we are. I think that will come back in a big way in season 4….

  9. wrstlgirl says:

    Why have Will finally fall in love/come out and then not make his partner a regular. I hate it when these shows do that. Same thing happened on The Night Shift. I’m gonna stay positive and hope that these writers know what to do with Will and Kevin.

  10. The Kaibosh says:

    Not intending to be morbid but am I the only one who thought that Will’s dad was going to show up and shoot his son?

    • RUCookie says:

      Can’t rule that out yet… something is going to come from this Dad appearance. It has to be more than “my dad doesn’t approve of me.”

      • abz says:

        I remember reading when they cast the dad that there was potential for the character to extend beyond this season, so I don’t think this is it for the dad storyline.

  11. RUCookie says:

    What a holy mess Jules has made – in her relationship, in her career, with her kinda-friendships with people…(1) Avery was scared of her and he should have been – she threw glass at him and the baby. WOW. And while she looked like she understood in the moment how bad that was, she comes home and plays the “you made me mad” card. He left. Its gonna take more than an “i’m sorry and miss you” to fix this. (2) Bucky – she FIRED him!!! (3) Rayna – she just spit in her face on so many levels! Juliette was the first Hwy 65 artist and she still has a contract. She went to the competition. Rayna’s ex. On a personal, career and legal levels, she screwed up big time. (4) Herself – she hired Jeff Fordam, the very guy that she worked so hard to get out from under. She she comes too, she is going to be distraught.

    Legally, there may be a way to argue that she was not in her right mind when she signed any agreement, but that is going to be an ugly contractual law case. And the trust issues that got served up with a cherry here will not be fixed that easily. Its gonna be a lonely and difficult season for Ms Barnes.

    As for Rayna and Deacon, everyone has said it – would have loved to see them married. Glad they didn’t. And it has to be Bev that flatlined on the table. (is it horrible that I want her to flatline). I only hope she flatlined AFTER the liver was cut apart. I can see them saying she flatlined before hand and the surgery didn’t happen again.

    Will finally told his truth. It was wonderful to see him stand up to his Dad that way… because that is a way I saw it. He watched the man he loved lie for him and leave in sadness. He saw his happiness walk out. He saw his dad make judgemental faces at others at the diner (and listened to his crap). He looked at those cameras and told the truth… I applauded. I sure hope that the repercussions are not as bad as he thought they would be.

    I think Teddy had an admirable moment!?!??!?! And that DA has a vendetta against Tandy and doesn’t seem all that concerned with the other (much more serious) stuff gong on. Sure, embezzle, but don’t back out of a promise to me!!!

    The less said about the horrible Jeff the better. He is gross and Layla needs out pronto! Why she signed the papers without reading them or having another read them, I will never understand (especially when she knew she should).

    • Kaycee says:

      I’m pretty sure Scar was the first artist signed to HWY 65. Besides, of course, Reyna. She created her label first and foremost to have control over her own music. Jules wasn’t signed to HWY 65 until after she got Jeff to fire her.

  12. Jake L. says:

    Another question: With Teddy in jail, how involved will Eric Close be in the show next season?

  13. blancaster60 says:

    I actually didn’t consider until now that it could be Deacon’s sister that didn’t make it. I guess I just didn’t think her part of the procedure was that high risk. Anyway, it would make for some interesting post surgery drama, such as Rayna, Deacon and Scarlett all feeling extreme guilt for pushing her so hard to be a donor to save Deacon’s life and then she dying as a result .

    it’s really hard to see how Avery and Juliette can move past everything she has done over the last few episodes. But I thought Avery finding out hearing she had signed Jeff on as her manager – the guy Juliette had slept with and thereby almost destroyed their relationship permanently – that was a gut ripper for the guy. it showed him in no uncertain terms that his wife cares absolutely nothing about anything but her career. And leaving her and taking their baby with him was exactly the right thing to do.

  14. Jules says:

    So… Maybe the flatlining IS Deacon, but he’s not dead, he’s just in a coma for the first three or four episodes. Noooooooo! I don’t want to live with his sister on the show for any amount of time whatsoever, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed she’s the flatliner. As for Avery, anyone who saw Jonathan Jackson on General Hospital knows he is a first-rate weeper. I am imagining more of that coming up!

  15. monica4185 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that no one is dying? I think Deacon really did flatlined but just for a couple of minutes and the bring him back. Dr.Caleb just came in to tell Rayna that and that even though the transplant procedure was a success they are going to have to wait until Deacon’s anesthesia wears off to see if there was any brain damage.

    I don’t think Beverly would be killed off because that would just prove her point right and I don’t think is something Rayna,Deacon and Scarlette will be able to live with it. I don’t think they’ll be able get over that ever.

  16. imagia says:

    If Deacon is in a coma, who is his legal next-of-kin? Beverly? In theory, the hospital should have ensured that he executed a medical power of attorney. But if he didn’t… Beverly could make a whole lot of trouble…

  17. dawn says:

    Awesome show ! My only complaint is juliette. I truly hope the writers bring back her fun goofy side when she was pregnant, after she has recovered from ptsd. Her character was so fun and pleasant in her prego days-I loved it! I’m tired of the *B side. Looking forward to S3! :)

  18. Miffy says:

    This show is so unbelievably cheezy. Does anyone with an IQ over 100 watch it?

  19. abz says:

    I’m thinking that Will will switch labels and become a member of Highway 65. I think he’d be a great fit there with Rayna. His coming out was the best part of the finale. He can finally be himself. They should definitely bring Kyle back next season and make him a regular. They’re always pushing Will and his storylines to the side or giving him only like a few minutes an episode. I’d much rather see more of Will and Kevin than Jeff or Teddy…..The rest of the episode was just okay. We know Deacon isn’t gonna die unless the show wants to shed even more viewers. Juliet’s post-partum has been dragging on too long. I have no problem with a PP storyline, but they just don’t seem to be doing anything about it. They’re just damaging her relationship with her baby and Avery more. It’s interesting to see the contrast. Will gave up his career (or put it at risk) in order to be open and finally allow himself to have love, whereas Juliet sacrificed her love and family and friends for her career. I hope Will is still successful and that Juliet gets the help she needs. I hate how much strain they’re putting on not just her relationship with Avery, but with Rayna as well. We’ve already seen the childishness and animosity between them in the early seasons. It was great to see them finally become friends and become close. I would love to see that again….I could care less about a Scarlett/Gunnar romance. I’m so over the two of them. I like the way the sing together but that’s it…..I don’t hate Layla as much as a lot of people do. She has a great voice and she was very sympathetic during her marriage to Will. I just wish the show would let her catch a break. They keep pushing her back to Jeff and screwing her over.

  20. izzieb says:


    So even though we all hate Jeff and he’s a total slimeball, Teddy’s storyline never seems to fit with anything else happening, and Layla is totally lacking in any self-confidence and is easily and stupidly brainwashed, I STILL LOVE THIS SHOW!

    This is pure entertainment. Frustration, yes! For all those moments that writers (purposely) drive us crazy, there is also anticipation, anxiety, laughter and joy. These actors bring it every episode, and they are giving stellar performances. Thanks, Nashville cast and writers, and thanks, Kimberly for the great recaps!

  21. Nashville is definitely one of the best series on television. It gets into so many important topics such as morality, love, hurt, good and destructive relationships, health issues, betrayal, trust and so much wonderful music and talent. Thx ABC For renewing.

  22. Nashville has to be one of the best series on TV. It covers so many topics such as love and hate, health issues, betrayal, trust, hurt,
    Importance of family, and loads of wonderful music and talent.
    Thanks ABC for renewing Nashville
    for another season

  23. kathy beebe says:

    The fake baby Avery is always holding is killing me.

  24. Is it crazy that I am obsessed with Layla and Jeff… Turned into my favorite story line this season. A lot of chemistry there.. Like seeing him vulnerable and jealous!

  25. Lorraine says:

    Deacon cannot die…Nashville wouldn’t be the same. Scarlet and Dr Rand should stay together. Omg…cannot wait for Season 4

  26. Rachael says:

    Nashville dies if Deacon dies

  27. Byh says:

    I think jillet and Avery and the baby should be together in season 4 if not I might not ever watch it again

  28. Myron Barris says:

    I really enjoyed Season 1. By the end of Season 3 I just wanted Deacon to die, Juliette to never come back, and every other whiny character to disappear. Only Rayna and Luke seem to be able to conduct themselves like adults.

    It’s a bummer… but I think after S04E01 I’m done. Or I’ll mute it and just stare at Connie.

  29. deb says:

    I for one have watched EVERY NASHVILLE SHOW! ! I can’t get enough of it! I tell everyone I meet about Nashville! I had to call dish customer service one day and the lady at dish and I was comparing not oh how season 3 would end! Great job to the writers and especially the actor’s and actresses!! I can’t wait for season 4, I’ve even put a reminder on my smart phone!!! Keep up the great shows and PLEASE keep many more seasons coming!!

  30. Joyce Harris says:

    I am physically exhausted watching Juliette screaming and everyone allowing her outbursts!!
    And, I really hope Deacon doesn’t blame Rayna for his sisters death. I would just like them to be completely happy for a few episodes.

  31. Karen Carper says:

    Just love watching Nashville❤

  32. Tony Barneman says:

    I bet the girl Gunner was dating who was Juliette’s best comes back with a baby!!!!!!!! It seems she just vanished!!!

  33. Brian says:

    I’d have asked how many people are going to get shot this year. I’m guessing 3.

  34. I watch NASHVILLE weekly(look forward to every episode). Looking back in time (1970’s), look what happened with the summer fill in show “DALLAS”. If memory serves me correctly, this tv summer fill in went to a #1 rated weekly series. Think of what is possible!!!