Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 9 Rayna Dies

Nashville: [Spoiler] Dies — Yes, Really

Warning: This post contains major spoilers from this week’s Nashville. And if you need to catch up, check out the previous Nashville recap here. 

Connie Britton is, indeed, leaving Nashville. And this week’s episode chronicles in heartbreaking detail the tumultuous final hours of Rayna Jaymes’ life. (As it turns out, the hour isn’t Britton’s last with the show. More on that here.)

“If Tomorrow Never Comes” is a great — perhaps the best — episode of the country-music series. It is also the most heartbreaking. I have watched a lot of screeners during my time at TVLine, but this installment of Nashville was the first one that made me cry at my desk. And I won’t be able to hear “A Life That’s Good” the same way again.

Read on for the highlights of the episode.

PHEW! | From Rayna’s point of view, we experience her being wheeled into the emergency room. It’s not good: The car crash at the end of the previous episode left her with a crushed pelvis and hip and a broken leg. While Deacon speeds to the hospital, he calls Maddie and tells her to get there ASAP; Gunnar phones Scarlett, who’s still in bed with Damien, and relays the message that Deke needs her to pick up Daphne from choir practice at school.

Rayna is looking pretty beat-up (and understandably so) when Deacon arrives; she’s on a lot of morphine, and she needs surgery soon. But she wakes up and gives him a sheepish smile, asking, “Can you believe this?” The officer driving her car is fine, and Ray doesn’t remember much about the accident. But by the time Scarlett, Daphne and Maddie arrive at the hospital, Rayna is making loopy jokes — “What is it with me and car accidents?” — and teasing the doctor who wants to play her music during the operation to choose the playlist carefully, because “there were a couple of clunkers back in the ’90s.”

Maddie, meanwhile, takes a few panicked gulps of air and then runs out to throw up in the ladies’ room. Scarlett follows her and assures the guilty-feeling teen that her mom’s coming to see Clay play didn’t directly lead to the accident. While Rayna’s four-hour surgery is going on, Maddie retreats to Clay’s car — he’s dutifully waiting in the parking lot — and asks him to drive while she cries.

CRASH POSITIONS | Everyone else — Deke, Daph, Scarlett, Gunnar, Bucky and Will (oh hey, Will!) — hang out in the waiting room until Rayna’s surgeon comes in to say that everything went well and that, with rehab, Big Red should be OK. Yay! And when she wakes up, Rayna tells a relieved Deacon that she really wants a cheeseburger… and she’s starting to recall details about her ordeal. It’s a lot like the last time she woke up in a hospital bed after a crash, she says, except “What’s different now is that you’re right here next to me. That’s just the sweetest feeling in the whole world.” Then she holds a brief business meeting with Bucky and demands that Deacon get his guitar, because they’ve got some songwriting to do.

He gently says no, but she’s insistent that they write a coda to the album, one that makes it clear that their relationship hasn’t all been about pain: “We’ve got to write that beautiful story,” she says, drugged but sincere.

MOM TALK | Deacon texts Maddie to let her know everything is OK. She and Clay are walking on the bridge where her dad proposed to Rayna… y’know, the second time, not the drunk time that ended with the throwing of jewelry. Maddie muses about a day when she and Rayna were walking on the bridge together, and Maddie realized for the first time that her mom was a person outside of being her primary caretaker/punching bag. Clay chimes in that life with his mom was always a “rollercoaster.” (Side note: I realize this is so not the point of this episode, but I’m still not loving Clay. He feels like everything I thought was interesting about guys when I was 15… but later realized was either emo-boy posturing or gigantic red flags. Maybe that’s the point?)

RELATED Nashville Midseason Finale Date Set

JULIETTE ARRIVES | When Juliette learns what happened to Rayna, she pushes right past the nurses and barrels into Big Red’s room. The country divas engage in some gentle ribbing (JULIETTE: I don’t want to talk about me right now. RAYNA: But you’re so much better at it than I am.) before Rayna dreamily notes that her former frenemy has changed. “It’s like when you fell outta the sky, something shook out of you,” Rayna explains, wondering what will shake out of her when all is said and done. “Somethin’ good,” Juliette says quietly. What a gorgeous, intimate scene for the two of them. I wish we’d have had more of these.

The next morning, Deacon brings his beloved a smoothie and a cheeseburger, which she downs handily, and everything seems like it’s going to be OK… until Rayna starts seeing her dead mom — played by Carla Gugino (Wayward Pines)! — sitting in the chair next to her bed. “I’ve really missed you,” Rayna says, crying, then telling her mama that she and Deacon need to write another cut for their album. But VisionMom disagrees, saying, “Maybe this song is finished.” Guys, I don’t think she’s talking about music. Reba take the wheel!

After Deke comes in and sees Rayna talking to an empty chair like she’s Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican Convention, he freaks — but Rayna’s doctor says nothing is wrong. So other friends come to visit, like Scarlett who evokes one last burst of feminism in the feisty invalid when Rayna points out that women often find themselves the objects of relationships instead of equal partners in them. “We get to choose, too,” Ray says. “We get to choose to be happy, because we deserve it.”

I’D GO CRAWLING DOWN THE AVENUE | After a sweet interlude with Daphne — as they lay next to each other, Rayna reminisces about how she used to nap in the same bed as her younger daughter back when they were traveling on tour buses — Daph’s crush Finn organizes the school choir to sing in Rayna’s room so she can hear Daphne perform her solo. Their acapella version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” is gorgeous. It’s perfect. And it also is the soundtrack of the beginning of the end.

While Daphne sings her heart out, Deacon notices that Rayna’s not doing OK. Soon, the medical staff is pushing the kids out of the way to get to Rayna, Deke is panicking, monitor alarms are going off and this? This is the exact moment that Michael Ausiello noticed my emotional state and messaged me, “Please don’t try to hug me.”

Rayna is immediately wheeled to the Intensive Care Unit. Deacon texts Maddie, who’s stuck in traffic after spending the night at Clay’s, and tells her to get back now. So she gets out of the car and runs toward the hospital. In the ICU, a doctor explains to Deacon that Rayna’s kidneys are shutting down because tissue from her bone marrow leaked into her circulatory system, and all they can do is wait and hope everything straightens itself out. He sneaks into her area when no one’s looking, and Rayna makes him promise he’ll be strong for the girls “if something happens.” He kisses her on the mouth as the nurses rush in to tell him to leave, and that’s when he breaks a little. “Don’t leave me!” he cries. And when Rayna replies not with “I won’t!” or “It’ll be OK” but “I’m sorry,” that’s when it becomes clear, at least to me: She’s dying.

Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 9THE END | Daphne realizes the same thing when she winds up outside Rayna’s door, and Deacon just holds her as she completely falls apart. Juliette, who earlier in the episode complained that her leg felt like it was “rotting” but who just got good news that she’s fine, makes her way to the ICU with Avery in tow and figures now is as good a time as any to dump her crutches and walk on her own. So, she does. She kisses a comatose Rayna on her forehead and whispers, “All I ever wanted was for you to be proud of me,” which is sweet and all but which struck me as a very melodramatic moment in an episode that otherwise felt very real. Gunnar, Scarlett and Maddie also show up, and there are a whole lotta tears all around.

Later, it’s just Deacon, Maddie and Daphne sitting by Rayna’s bed. When the younger sister says she doesn’t know what to say to her mom, Maddie starts singing, “A Life That’s Good” in a cracked, teary voice. Daphne joins in, harmonizing. Deacon adds his voice on the line, “I don’t need faith.” IT IS GORGEOUS AND EXCRUCIATING AT THE SAME TIME. As they hit the part about “Two arms around me, Heaven to ground me,” Rayna opens her eyes and sees them for the last time. Then she closes her eyes, flatlines and dies.

The girls start sobbing, lying on top of their mom, and Deacon can’t do anything but collapse on top of them. The nurses come in to try to resuscitate, but it seems like a formality. The camera closes in on Deacon’s face, gripped in grief, as a tear slips out.

And just like that, Rayna’s gone, y’all.

Now it’s your turn. Did you ever think Nashville would really kill Rayna? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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126 Comments
  1. Garbo says:

    Oh, HELL no, I just watched

    SPOILER William die on This is US SPOILER

    and now this ? What is this week of TV trying to do to me ? Periodic bursts of ugly crying is kind of frowned upon at my place of business, y’all, just putting it out there.

  2. JD says:

    This was a really hard episode to watch. I kept not wanting to believe it, even though the writing was on the wall.

    Also, Charles Esten was absolutely incredible.

    • Louise says:

      yeah pretty hard to watch after I lost my partner to illness of Friday

      • Molly says:

        So sorry for your loss Louise

      • Amy says:

        I’m sorry for your loss, Louise. That’s real loss…makes me feel silly railing about a tv show character. But yes, not what we were hoping for from Nashville…life’s tough enough…the show was a great escape when it was about the Deacon/Rayna love story and the musical journeys of all these terrific characters. Not interested in mean-spirited family feud style soap. Next week’s previews looked like Nashville ABC! :(

      • christopher bee says:

        So Sorry too, missing my wife for almost two years now. Nashville made me cry and sob all over again, because they´ve made it feel real.

      • Sorry to hear about your loss. God Bless

  3. Chad says:

    Maybe now that Rayna’s dead Chris Carmack will get a little screen time. It feels like forever since Will’s been around.

  4. Forest Ballinger says:

    Incredibly surprising. The show was already on its last legs and I think now it’s done. She was the star and her character keep the whole show together. I’m probably done watching and I doubt it lasts past the next half season.

    • Deb says:

      She was the star , I feel the same way ! I was so happy CMT picked the show up and now I’m done !

    • DIANNA SCHROEDER says:

      I LOVE ALL THE CHARACTERS. she was a big part.. but she wanted to Leave..I want to see about Deacon.. HE IS A GREAT CHARACTER.. AND CLAY THE NEW GUY.

    • Jane says:

      I and all my friends that watch and discuss Nashville feel the same way. Rayna was the star that held the group together. We all feel it is not worth watching it any longer with out Rayna.We all were crying watching her die. it was horrible and we were shocked and ticked off too.

    • I agree she was the central character that connected everyone. It would be a way to end the whole show that would make sense. Too sad to watch any more of this and some of the other characters are annoying.

    • Marilyn says:

      Yep. She was the star and the glue. My favorite show no more 😥😥😥😥

  5. Shirlee says:

    Complete surprise I’m still DRYING MY TEARS HATE THIS DECISION

  6. iHeart says:

    I haven’t watched this yet but already I know I’m going to need Kleenex. it kind of makes me wonder, where will the show go from here? sure there’s going to be some mourning to do, and who is going to run highway 65 now? I’m going to end up asking so many questions as a result of this

  7. Jason says:

    Please tell me what the point was in bringing the show back if they were going to do this? Is this better than cancellation? I’m not sure…

    • iHeart says:

      I think the point was mostly to assure us that Juliette survives her predicament, or something like that. I might be wrong though

  8. Ann says:

    This is the worst week for my favorite tv characters…first William Hill, now Rayna James! My heart cannot take this!!

  9. Rosalee M Salansky says:

    Way spoil it with the first line of the story in combo with the headline. Smh.

  10. Melody says:

    I can’t believe Rayna is gone!!! Say it isn’t so – her and Deacon didn’t even get to be together long! Now Ted and her sister are coming back? I was so happy when CMT picked up Nashville but without Rayna and the whole story line that goes with her I don’t know how long I’ll watch.

  11. Amy says:

    “This is the exact moment that Michael Ausiello noticed my emotional state and messaged me, ‘Please don’t try to hug me.'” I’m currently crying of laughter – which is a nice change after that episode.

  12. Fan says:

    I figured this would happen when they moved to CMT. LOVE the show, but it will be hard to go on without Rayna and Connie. She was the heart of the show. I like Juliet/Avery & Will but I don’t think they can really carry the show. I do not care about the kids and can not abide Scarlett. I love Deacon, but not sure where you go with him without Rayna. If the writers have Deacon spiral and start drinking again I might be done……

  13. Songwriter Pop Buckeye says:

    More questions: Why are they showing “I’ll Fly Away”/Pilot on 3/2? Instead of 510?
    Watch it on CMT at 9PM & 11PM. Keep the ratings up!!!
    Are they canceling the show or not?

  14. Bridgette Green says:

    I was completely SHOCKED….wow, I can’t wait to see how this plays out….Good luck, Nashville….I love the show

  15. Nancy Borsk says:

    So, so disappointed. I just started watching this show about 2 years ago, and was so sad when ABC cancelled it. Then it moved to CMT and I thought “good”! What a huge disappointment. The show will die…….

  16. Songwriter Pop Buckeye says:

    I love the show, but season 5 has been sad. Now This! I can’t believe it! Are you trying to make me watch old Mary Tyler Moore episodes?

  17. Prayer says:

    I can’t believe it! Wow!

  18. Gisele says:

    I don’t believe the writers killed off Rayna. She and Deacon are the ones that made this show interesting. I loved the relationship between those two. The show will never be the same. Bummer!please bring her back to life…

  19. Donna says:

    I am so disappointed. Rayna’s and Deacons love story was why I watched. Please say it isn’t so and it’s just a dream . She and Deacon are the main stars of the show.😭

  20. Hanna says:

    Sadly I think the show is done? Why bring it back at all if Britton wasn’t onboard for at least a full season? It would have been better just to do a two hour movie and close out all of the story lines. I thought all the episodes up until last week were just too happy sappy to last all season. I really don’t see where this will go other than Deacon, Maddie, Scarlett and Juliette all going back in their funks. I may be done watching. This is sad.

  21. kn1231 says:

    I didn’t watch the episode, as I wanted to read the outcome before I invested my time to watch. And after reading this, I won’t be going back to watch it. After this week’s This Is Us, I can’t handle anymore death. I actually stopped watching Nashville mid-season 4 due to it no longer holding my interest, but I started season with the hope it really would be better. Unfortunately each week I still find it a struggle to get through each episode, and Connie Britton was really the only reason I was holding on. For the fan base, I hope the show can survive this loss but I definitely will no longer be tuning in.

  22. Louise says:

    WTF. not watching again. Bull crap

  23. mary drum says:

    Bring Rayna back the show will never be the same without her. What in the world are you people thinking. No Rayna No Nashville.

  24. Angie says:

    Never saw that coming. I’m devastated, she is the show. This episode needs to be somebody’s bad dream.

    • Amy says:

      I totally saw it coming. It was all too positive, too tying up everything in little bows with each actor…and I knew and had heard there’d be twists tonight. So at the end, I didn’t even cry…I wasn’t in the zone of the show at all, but in the reality of Nashville dying. And feeling duped into this hopeful season, when Connie/CMT signed on knowing she was leaving.

  25. Tina says:

    I can’t believe Rayna is killed completely off the show, it just got started again. She could have went to like a rehab for therapy or something but killing one of the main characters just about done this story in. Decon just got his life on the right road and Maddie needs so much help. Crazy… don’t know how much I want to keep watching now because the previews is really bad and I don’t think I am interested in the jailbreak dad thinking he is better for those girls….

    • Amy says:

      Exactly. Me either! THOSE PREVIEWS?…they made matters worse that THAT is where this show is headed now? So bad. Just ugggh. So mad. And no, CMT, not watching Sun Records either…and I had planned to. :(

    • I totally agree with you! I think rehab would have been the best plan. Not have her die and leave the show. Rayna is who keeps everyone together. I never read that her ex was coming back!!!! I seriously hope he doesn’t try to take over. Mattie might set him straight, or will he put a wedge between the sisters? I pray to god that Decon stays away from the booze.

  26. Amy says:

    And just like that Nashville’s gone y’all.
    What a dupe.
    Bummed. Mad at Connie.
    Hate it all.
    Hate next week’s Dallas like family fueding over the girls with Teddy & Tandy? Are u kidding me? Deacon and WE the FANS WHO FOUGHT FOR THAT not THIS show deserve! Done.
    I’m also mad that CMT, Connie…signed on knowing all this and just to give her her ego/actor ending…duping the fans that they were getting the Nashville we wanted.
    Pissed. Hope Chip Esten finds an equally great part to play because I’ll miss watching him.

  27. Apryl Clay says:

    This episode of Rayna dieing ruined the whole show, I really don’t care to watch it anymore at all. She was the only character that made the whole show happen.

  28. Leslie says:

    I can’t believe Rayna is gone! Why?? I thought Connie Britton was in for the long haul!!!

  29. Ann says:

    I would rather that they didn’t renew the show and have Rayna live forever and Juliette’s fate left to viewers to debate whether she survived or ironically died in the same manner as Patsy Cline than to bring back the show to save Julliette and kill off Rayna who was the star of the show.

  30. N says:

    Don’t see how people call themselves fans of a show then quit cause someone dies.

    • Kay says:

      I agree- I don’t get why you wouldn’t at least give it a chance, for a few episodes, to see where it goes and whether you might be interested before you just bail. I get feeling disappointed, but jumping ship like this feels rude to the show and the people continuing to work so hard on it.

    • Spikenalabama says:

      Personally, I am not invested in any other characters on the show besides Rayna and Deacon so why would I continue to watch? Love Avery but not with Juliette (who is unredeemable); Maddie is a spoiled brat (was hoping that they would change that this season, but no); Scarlett is so annoying I can’t watch any scenes with her in them and Will is boooooring. What is left? Now, granted, this is just my opinion but, like the saying goes: “Opinions are like buttholes, everyone’s got one”.

    • We all have our favorites and when the story you have invested 4,5 years is ended most cruel way it´s kinda natural for not watching after that. Doesn´t mean not having been fan.

  31. M Vaughan says:

    I can’t believe Rayna died. She is awesome & the love between her & Deacon is fantastic. Why when everyone is in a good place do you have to go to such a sad place. Please bring her back. The show is wonderful & the characters are wonderful.

  32. I knew Connie Britton was only in 10 of this season’s episodes, but I was hoping that meant her character would “take time for herself” or “go on a world tour” or something that kept her away for the rest of the season, but not this!!! I’m kinda feelin’ what others are saying about being kinda done with it…I agree she & Deacon were the heart & soul of the show…I just don’t see how it could go on, and then to bring back Teddy and her sister to create a ridiculous soapy storyline with custody right…reminds me of the whole “Maddie imancipation” storyline that we’re all trying to forget happened…ugh, why do some shows have to ruin a good thing!???!

  33. Virginia Crawford says:

    This Sucks , Nooo, !!!!! I’m Done … what’s wrong with the shows this season ? My favorite shows like Grimm is Gone ! Now Rayna leaves Nashville after I just got used to it being on and Cmt at that ! Geezz !!

  34. Scottyboy says:

    I will say this. I have been a big fan of this show from the beginning and have throughly enjoyed the two leading ladies even with all the drama. Rayna’s character was just one amazing woman who had her own weakness as well and I really enjoy how the normalize the show in projecting these truths. That’s one thing Nashville does well even with some of the whiny characters. Still it was a emotional episode and I had tears in the end and hated to see Rayna go that way. I really don’t know what the future of the show will be now with the main lead gone. Maybe it can pull a TVD and last one or two more seasons, but when shows kill off one of the main characters that most the story revolves around they don’t seem to do to good and it’s time for the writing to do their best to end it justly. At this time I will be really surprised if this show can pull out another season after this new one started not long ago. It especially will suck for CMT who just acquired this show with intention of running it for more seasons. As much as I hate Rayna dying and all I will still watch the show, but they have to come up with some good stories that are not filled with much whiny and mopping such as with characters like Maddie and Scarlett. However, they better not get rid of Juliette or make her character become worst because right now she is one of top reasons I want to keep watching this show. I guess we will just have to see how the writers deal with this tragedy, but please don’t make Decon or Maddie spiral out of control again because enough is enough. Best of luck to Connie Britton and her future endeavors. Cross your fingers guy!

  35. Mary Ann Gagnon says:

    I would never had stared watching if I knew you would let her die. She is the best part of the show. She is what kept it together. Please let it be a bad dream and bring her back. I may never watch again.

  36. Rosalyn Reed says:

    What a powerful episode. I hate Rayna is leaving the show. She is such a brilliant actress. She will be greatly missed.

  37. I worked on this episode as an extra and it was a long night, full of emotions. She was an actress, it was time for her to do other things. Nashville has a lot of super things happening so farewell and best of luck to Connie….<3

  38. Dd says:

    Been watching this from the beginning and was so shocked by the show tonight. I hurt so bad I feel like I lost a family member

  39. Nick says:

    My fear is this will now become the “Maddie Troubled Teen” show. They are losing such a great actress please let the grown-ups be the focus now!

  40. Donna Wood says:

    I am quite upset. I just can’t believe they are letting Rayna die. I continued to watch the show because I like her and her charater I feel betrayed and I can’t see Nashville staying successful without her. They have made a grave mistake and I know all her fans are going to be just as pissed off as I am.

  41. CeCe says:

    What exactly was the point of your spoiler tagging Rayna’s name but showing her picture on the front page. Thanks a whole lot for spoiling this episode for me since I made the mistake of wanting to look at news on your site before I could get home from work to watch this. Its a mistake I won’t be making again in the future.

    • Wrstlgirl says:

      I cracked up laughing when I saw this post on twitter. “spoiler dies” with a pic of Rayna clearing dying and her family in tears around her. An obvious spoiler but some people just don’t care, sh*t happens.

  42. Linda Locklear says:

    Might not watch it anymore going to miss Rayna
    Cried so much

  43. I absolutely love Nashville! To me Rayna is Nashville.
    I cried last week when that jerk had her at knife point, and harder watching her get hit in the car accident! As I sat and watched this weeks episode on pins and needles, it ended with me crying like a baby. I seriously was yelling at my tv!!!! I love all the actors on the show but Rayna is the Queen of them all! I respect Connie’s (Rayna) decision, but it is truly going to be heart breaking to watch the next episode with everyone and me having to say good bye!. I will continue to watch Nashville for the support of the other actors. This is not easy on them either. I wish Connie all the best and hope to see her soon in her next adventure. CHEERS XOXO

  44. Babs says:

    Daphne is a fantastic singer and actress. Her grief was so raw and real. As always Deacon’s emotions were over the top.

  45. VegasGal72 says:

    “And just like that, Rayna’s gone, y’all.” And so am I. There is not enough storylines left to keep me interested.

  46. Mariam Becker says:

    I totally freaked out! The last thing I expect is Rayna dying. I am too devastated. How can Nashville continue without her? She is the whole show!!! How could you do this to the fans?

  47. Ann Firman says:

    So upset that you killed off Rayna. Don’t know if I can watch again. So happy for her and Deacon then you do this. Very upset.

  48. Debra says:

    Surprised, yes! Absolutely loved Rayna and will miss her much. Perhaps the new and improved Juliette will take her place as being the solid rock for every one to turn to now. She and Avery seem to be bringing the joy to the show now. They make a solid couple who has been through enough and they deserve some good times. Flashbacks with Rayna will suffice when needed. Life goes on.

  49. Carol Desilet says:

    I have never missed an episode & honestly was devastated last night with the ending. I also believe it was really distasteful that Rayna died as her young daughters were singing to her. I won’t watch the show ever again.

    • Kim says:

      Distasteful?? But, that’s life…and death.

      The real shocker for me was when that guy, can’t remember his name now, was trying to save Juliette from jumping off the roof and he falls off instead!! My mouth was open for days on that one. He was starting to turn into a good guy and I was starting to rootfor him and his girlfriend, Layla.

  50. Miranda Black says:

    Nooooooooo! This means poor Deacon will no doubt hit the bottle yet again, I can’t watch him fall apart yet again 😭