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Nashville EP, Star Dish Maddie/Juliette Feud in Season 5 Finale — Plus: Watch Deacon Angrily Confront Zach

Keep this in mind while watching the exclusive Nashville finale sneak peek above: Showrunner Marshall Herskovitz says the confrontation between Deacon and Zach over the fate of Highway 65 is just as painful for the tech wunderkind as it is for Rayna’s widower. (Though we’re pretty sure we know with which one you’re likely to side.)

“Even though [Zach] is in the position of being the bad guy right now, it’s not a position he at all relishes,” Herskovitz tells TVLine in advance of the season ender, which airs tonight at 9/8c on CMT. But that’s little comfort to Deacon, who has to decide how best to carry on Rayna’s dream in the absence of petty cash, electricity, payroll etc. after the zillionaire begins to pull out of the business.

At the end of the clip, Zach points out that Deacon didn’t seem to care before Maddie was directly affected by the record label’s new push for brand partnerships — a story decision Herskovitz says “had a kind of dramatic unity about it.”

He explains that Maddie’s growth over the past season, particularly since her mother’s death, has opened her up and made her “more generous and more aware of the people around her.”

He adds: “Who better to take this position that some might consider to be selfish?… She is finally 17 years old and she is passionate about her music the way her mother was.”

That passion extends to her feud with Juliette, a matter in which star Charles Esten says Deacon has been hesitant to intervene. “I see a lot of her mother in her, and when her mother was that age, she was living these things. She didn’t have Lamar stepping in,” he reasons. “Although the caretaker that Deacon is, he just wants to get in and fix everything.”

But in the finale, as the American Music Awards — for which both Juliette and Maddie are nominated — approach, “Saying that there will be some Deacon involvement in that situation is putting it a little lightly, OK?” he previews, laughing.

Press PLAY on the video above to get a look at what’s coming up later tonight, then hit the comments with your thoughts!