The following contains spoilers from Nashville‘s Season 3 finale. (Because it would be a terrible recap if it didn’t.)
Nashville‘s fourth season needs to get here, STAT.
While I do not actually believe that a series built on the promise of Rayna Jaymes reuniting with soulmate Deacon Claybourne would eliminate one half of that equation at this point, I’d feel a lot better knowing for certain that the EKG flatline we see at the end of the Season 3 finale isn’t hooked up to his strapping, just-the-right-amount-of-furred chest.
And if it’s Beverly who doesn’t survive her only selfless act as Deacon’s sister? Eh, you had a bitter mean-spirited spiteful good run, lady. (I kid! Kinda!)
Also of great importance: Will. Is. Fiiiiiiiiinally. Out. And in love! And though the storm clouds of public opinion most certainly will loom on his horizon, let’s bask in the beauty of this rainbow while it lasts, OK?
I’ll be back at 11 pm PT to break down the episode in a post mortem with the ABC series’ showrunner Dee Johnson. Until then, read on for what happens in the Season 3 finale, “Before You Go Make Sure You Know.”
A GIFT FROM A BEV | Deacon is having recurring dreams of being buried alive, dying on the operating table, etc., which unnerves him in the final days before his liver swap. Also scary? The news that his tumor has grown so large, he’s been taken off the transplant list; Beverly is literally “a lifesaver,” Hot Doctor Caleb reminds us.
Even if he didn’t, Bev isn’t likely to let anyone forget. A sweet scene that begins with her and the girls (with Deacon on back-up guitar) singing a Fleetwood Mac-y song about limitless possibilities sours when she mentions that she’s thinking of permanently relocating to Music City. Rayna makes this face:
And then this face:
And then this face:
Which pretty much sums up my thoughts, as well. And when she checks in on Deacon’s sister before bed and thanks her for her “enormous sacrifice,” Bev is just a regular ray of sunshine.
“I’m not doin’ it for you,” she says, explaining that Rayna’s $1 million offer put her in a terrible position: Be the jerk that needed cash to step up and do the right thing, or be the jerk who wanted a bigger payday for the requested selfless act. I’m just about to admit that Beverly has a point, but then she self-congratulates for being a “hero,” annnnnnd I’m out. Rayna graciously and simply says, “You are saving the life of the man I love, and for that, I’ll pin a medal on you myself” — all the while looking like she’d like to pin that medal right between Bev’s eyes.
MANIC IMPRESSIVE | We’ll get back to Deacon’s big day in a moment. But first, let’s check in with Juliette, who has finished her album but still claims she’s too busy to hold little Cadence. “I don’t have time for that today. I don’t,” she says, infuriating Avery as she rushes off to present the new tunes to Rayna.
At Highway 65, Ju plunks the case holding her album on the table and starts manically rattling about a new tour and cover art and getting a jump on things. Meanwhile, Rayna’s eyebrows grow ever closer in concern. I’ll shorthand it; Juliette: “Go go gogogogogogogoooooo!” Rayna: “Slow your roll.” The encounter ends with Juliette saying “Screw you!” to everyone in attendance, then huffing off to Jeff Fordham’s house.
Brandishing the masters with a hand shakier than my excuse for breaking curfew on prom night (we really were just hanging out at the beach, Mom, I swear!), Juliette makes a case for the Smirky Turtle being her manager. “You took a reality show reject and platformed her into a celebrity. Now can you imagine what you would do with somebody who’s already a star?” she says. “Help me get my life back.” And because Jeff cares nothing about the new mom’s well-being or, really, anything related to basic human decency, he eagerly accepts.
Having met with a doctor about Juliette’s post-partum issues, Avery tries to give nothing but positive reinforcement when he finds his wife asleep on the couch. Still, he’d like her to show even a passing interest in their infant daughter. So she starts demanding, “Give her to me,” eventually escalating to screaming, “Give me the damn baby!” and hurling a snow globe over Avery and the baby’s heads and breaking the glass in a framed poster. She’s instantly freaked out by what she’s done, but Avery has reached his limit. “Get out!” he demands, and after she takes off, he cries while trying to reassure Cadence it’ll be OK. Man, Avery weeping throughout this episode is a gut punch, isn’t it?
By the end of the episode, Juliette has fired Glenn, hired Jeff as her new manager and joined Luke’s Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records as its newest artist… despite her existing contract with Highway 65. Though crossing labels is a terrible move and I fear Rayna’s retribution, I must admit: Juliette owning the stage as she opens for Luke — and that fabulous, bluesy rocker she croons — is pretty rad. And as much as I loathe the whole “she’s back in her jeans five minutes after giving birth!” thing championed in American media, it can’t be denied: Hayden Panettiere looks amazing. Get it, mama. (Related side note to Juliette: Get help, mama.) When Ju returns home, Avery tells her she can’t be around Cadence — “She’s not safe with you” — and instructs her to get help. Then he cries more, and I die more.
CLOSET? VACATED! | Will’s dad is still around, still anti-gay and still wanting to meet the woman in his son’s life. Meanwhile, Will is still attempting to butch it up just long enough to cement his straightness in his father’s mind. This gets tough when Luke confronts Will about the tabloid photos. Will denies that anything romantic is going on between him and Kevin — which, by the way, Luke knows is total horse hooey — and promises that both of them will say so at a press conference.
Kevin is not hot on this plan, but he agrees to say publicly he’s not dating Will. However, he also makes it clear that he’s not interested on closeted nookie, no matter how much he may enjoy fingering Will’s frets. That loss weighs heavily on young Mr. Lexington. So heavily, in fact, that after Kevin denies all at the press conference — and then leaves — Will announces, “The truth is, I’m gay. And I’m not ashamed of it.” Papa Lexington and his 10-gallon hat are disgusted, and there are likely to be repercussions related to Will’s career, but Will ends the episode holding Kevin’s hand after declaring his love, so all is well. Yes, this storyline might’ve taken longer than some of us would’ve liked to play out, but I think Chris Carmack has been great in it, and I’m looking forward to seeing Will as an out country artist. Who’s with me?
LAYLA LEARNS ALL | Bucky is worried that Layla has signed her life away to Jeff — her contract even gives him power of attorney! — and even more concerned that all of his calls are going straight to voicemail. That’s because the Turtle has directed his young artist/hookup to stay off the phone and Internet until her album is done. He’s also implied that she should lose weight and directed her to say only the things he tells her to in interviews… is it just me, or does this episode really amp up their relationship’s creep factor?
But when she sneak-listens to a worried voicemail from Rayna, then goes online and sees a photo of Jeff tweeting from her phone the night of Jade’s party, all bets are off. Layla grabs a golf club and goes full Elin Nordegren on Jeff’s car, but backs off when he says he did all of those terrible things because he was afraid of losing her. A passing police officer asks if she needs help, and she says no (yeesh), then hugs Jeff (oy). Nashville powers that be, I beg you: If you’re not going to give Layla a sustainable win, can you at least not subject her to an abusive-relationship storyline?
I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU… | Back to Deke. He freaks in his hospital room and asks Rayna to marry him, but she sees it for the desperate move that it is. When he confesses that he’s been having troubling dreams, her reply is so perfect that I’m just going to include it here verbatim. (Picture Deacon teetering on the edge of tears the whole time, and you’ve got the complete picture.)
“You know what? I’ve got dreams, too, about you and me getting old together. And we’ve got these girls, and I dream about us raisin’ them up. I dream about the beautiful wedding we’ll have, full of love. So no, babe, I’m not gonna marry you in some cold hospital room. But I will tell you this: I, Rayna Jaymes, take you, Deacon Claybourne, to be my husband. Your turn.”
Of course he replies in kind, feeling a bit steadier, and then she gently jokes, “Now don’t you dare go and leave me a widow.” He’s wheeled into surgery soon after.
HOT DOC, CHILLING NEWS | Gunnar shows up at the hospital to play the tune he wrote to accompany some lyrics Scarlett texted him late the night before — their version of a booty call, I suppose. And even though she’s told Caleb she wants to move in with him, after The Exes perform the song on the hospital’s roof, they get dangerously close to a kiss.
Elsewhere, Teddy refuses to help the Feds any longer after he realizes that doing so will implicate Tandy — and, by extension, Highway 65 (which she financed) — so he’s hauled off to jail right there and then. And even though the local news covers his disgrace, none of the women in his life notice (heh) because Hot Doc Caleb enters the hospital’s waiting room just as that story airs. (Side note: I absolutely loved that final, tiny injustice levered at Teddy. Made me laugh out loud.)
But let’s get serious here, because Hot Doc Caleb looks rather worried. What Rayna doesn’t know: There’s been a flatline in the surgical suite, though it’s unclear whether it’s Beverly’s or Deacon’s ticker that’s stopped ticking. (Grim-but-pragmatic side note: If it is Beverly who’s going to be singing backup with the angels from now on, at least the docs successfully harvested a slice of her liver first.) All we know is that Caleb says, “I have some bad news…” — and that’s it! See you in the fall, Nashies!
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Grade the finale via the poll below, sound off in the comments and make sure to come back at 11 pm PT for the post mortem!