Post Mortems

Nashville Finale: Charles Esten, EP Weigh In On That Surprising Kiss

Nashville Finale Recap Season 4 Deacon Alyssa Kiss

Deacon might’ve been taken mightily aback by the moment in Nashville‘s Season 5 finale when Alyssa kisses him on the lips outside The Bluebird, but co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz saw it coming from the moment the bespectacled strategy guru first walked into Highway 65.

“It was our plan to do that scene all along. From the moment we introduced Alyssa, one of the things we said was that she was going to kiss Deacon,” the executive producer tells TVLine. “But what we had in mind for that kiss was very different from what you saw.”

He explains that, in the original concept, Alyssa came on a lot stronger, and that the smooch was her way of making Deacon acknowledge the sexual tension that had been building between them during the season. “It was Rachel [Bilson] herself who said, ‘We haven’t played that. That’s not the relationship that has happened between us.’ And we realized she was totally correct.”

Instead, “We wrote to the Alyssa that emerged, as opposed to the Alyssa we thought she was going to be,” he says. “And that has a lot to do with who Rachel Bilson is and how she comes off on screen.”

Even on the day of shooting, star Charles Esten recalls, the liplock wasn’t an absolute sure thing. “We shot it both ways,” he says — with and without the kiss — “and they were just going to wait and see if it worked or not.”

Herskovitz says he’s satisfied with the finished product. “It was a combination of [co-executive producer] Liberty [Godshall] and [series creator] Callie [Khouri] came up with that wonderful line— I really don’t remember [who] it was — where she said, ‘I just see people’s pain too much. It’s just exhausting.’ It was so beautiful,” he says. “It makes you just love her. This wasn’t coming onto him, this was actually feeling for him and who Alyssa was with Rachel playing her.”

Herskovitz declined to comment on whether Alyssa will be around when Nashville returns. Meanwhile, the season-ender made a point of showing Deacon and Jessie lingering over a slightly-more-than-friendly embrace, possibly paving the way for the widower to find love in Season 6. (Read our finale breakdown with Herskovitz for more on finding the right pacing in the Deacon-Jessie story.)

“Kaitlin [Doubleday] is fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed these scenes,” Esten says. “She was playing what I was playing: Two broken people that just happen to be around these other people that artistically they click with, and that they understand and feel for.

“And also, I like where it ends up, which is: Who the heck knows where it ends up?” he adds, laughing.

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