‘Nashville’ Episode 21 – Season Finale – Recap & Discussion Post (VIDEO)

This is the real season finale of Nashville, and this time, Brad Paisley will really make a guest appearance as himself! (I’d originally thought last week’s episode was the season finale. Oops!)

In addition to a Brad Paisley guest appearance, look for singer/songwriter/Kree Harrison buddy Kate York to perform “Nothing In This World” (which she cowrote with Sarah Buxton) with Hayden Panettiere as Juliette.

Juliette is finishing up a meeting with a detective at City Hall, who tells her that there is evidence of Oxycontin use in both Dante and Jolene, and cocaine was found on Dante’s person. He says that while this could be a drug deal gone bad but it’s more likely a lovers’ quarrel. He asks Juliette if she had any indication her mother and Dante may have been involved. She lifelessly says she’d put nothing past them (or does she say “him”?). As Juliette exits the courthouse as a flood of paparazzi awaits, and we see local news reporting on it while Rayna, Maddie, and Daphne watch at home. Rayna turns the TV off and talks with the girls about how awful it must be for anyone to lose her mother. Maddie pointedly adds “or father.” Rayna reassures the girls that they won’t lose either of their parents soon. Daphne comments that Juliette will probably miss the CMAs. Rayna takes that as an opportunity to tell them that she and Deacon will be attending as each other’s dates and are officially boyfriend/girlfriend, and the girls should be prepared for there to be photographs and gossip. Maddie pointedly informs Daphne that Rayna and Deacon used to date before Rayna married Teddy.

Gunnar visits producer Jack in studio early in the morning, and Jack is excited about the marketability of Gunnar’s mug shot. He tells Jack the truth about stealing Jason’s songs, and says he doesn’t want to keep a pretense. Jack tells him not to be the guy who throws away his career over a girl.

Scarlett is sitting at the Garden Cafe when Will strolls by with an attractive woman. He stops by to thanks Scarlett again for bailing Gunnar out. For some reason, she doesn’t seem to blame Will for Gunnar getting arrested. Will tells her that Gunnar slept on his couch after Scarlett bailed them out, and encourages Scarlett to talk to Gunnar and work things out. There’s something very busybodyish about Will, and yet he’s kind of likable. Just then, Avery arrives, and Will teases that maybe Scarlett doesn’t want to work things out with Gunnar. After introductions, Will takes off, and Avery tells Scarlett she didn’t have to invite him to a meal. Scarlett thanks him for the whisk, and tells Avery that there’s trouble in paradise with Gunnar. He tries to be sympathetic without being smarmy. Avery tells Scarlett she has always been an artist and he’s sorry Gunnar’s the one who brought it out of her. Scarlett asks Avery if he’s playing around town these days. He says he has a small gig tonight, and invites Scarlett to come.

Deacon goes to see Juliette at her place, and despite his attempts to reach out to her, she goes from cold to angry, blaming Deacon for not realizing that her mother wasn’t going to get clean. She tells Deacon she is going to get ready to attend the CMAs where she believes she will win Female Vocalist Of The Year, and shuts the door in his face.

At the mayor’s office, Teddy takes a call from an old friend, Dashell Brinks of the US Attorney’s office. Turns out Dashell needs to talk about that old Cumberland deal and a loan Teddy took out. Teddy covers his fear and says he’d be happy to meet with Dashell about it.

Maddie goes to Deacon’s place and tells him she thinks he might be her father. Cue intro credits!

The CMA red carpet is in full force, and Rayna is backstage with Manager Bucky, wondering where Deacon is. Meanwhile back at Scarlett’s, Gunnar arrives. Because he has attended the Chandler Bing School Of Fixing Relationships, Gunnar doesn’t get that he can’t just erase Scarlett’s concerns about him with flowers and his hair combed right. He does tell Scarlett that he told Jack everything, and wants to start over. Scarlett tells him she’s not sure what she wants or what they had, but she is headed off to see an old friend play a gig.

Marshall and Former Manager Glenn visit Juliette in her CMA dressing room. She puts on her usual angry front when they express concern about her ability to deal with being at the CMAs in this time, and when Glenn tries to tell her she needs time to grieve, Juliette starts yelling about how she should be celebrating. But as soon as those words leave her mouth, Juliette realizes she’s in no condition to put on a brave face in public. She tearfully tells Glenn, PA Emily, and Marshall that she didn’t mean it, which of course they know. Glenn asks if he can take Juliette home. Juliette declines his offer but says she’s going leaving. Emily prepares to take her.

Over at Will’s, Gunnar walks in on Will and a woman in bed together. Gunnar awkwardly tries to leave, but Will smooths over the situation. Well, except for the part where he’s not sure of the name of the woman she just slept with (it’s Gwen). Gunnar is surprised to find Will with a woman, but Will reminds him that he is going to do what it takes to be the next big thing in country music. Will tells Gwen about Gunnar bunking with him until he resolves his girlfriend problems, and tells Gunnar that he saw Scarlett dining with Avery. Seriously, how is Will such a busybody but still so smooth and charming? Will heads off to treat Gwen to a meal. What a gentleman. Ahem.

Back at the CMAs, Brad Paisley admires Rayna’s sexy bustier outfit, and wonders where her band, i.e., Deacon is. Deacon finally shows up and when Brad ribs him about how only the name acts are allowed to be late, Deacon chuckles and apologizes. He tells Rayna he got “waylaid.” A Carrie Underwood voiceover introduces Rayna James performing with Brad Paisley, a song called “Bitter Memory,” which is written by Lucinda Williams and set to appear on Rayna’s upcoming album, The Parts I Remember.

Deacon visits Rayna’s dressing room backstage at the CMAs. He asks Rayna to explain Maddie’s visit and her revelation about a paternity test indicating Teddy is not her father. He wants to know that Rayna has not been lying to him for 13 years, but of course she has been. She tries to explain that Deacon’s substance abuse problems led her to marry Teddy and to do a paternity test after they were married. Rayna tells Deacon that Coleman told Rayna to cut Deacon loose for the sake of allowing him to get well. But really, she doesn’t have a good explanation for continuing the lie after Deacon got and stayed clean, and Deacon walks out as Rayna sobs.

The next time we see Rayna, she’s in a limo heading home before the CMAs are over. She calls Teddy to tell him that Maddie knows. He agrees to meet her at their house.

Meanwhile Scarlett has gone to see Avery play. When he spots her, he introduces a song he wrote a while ago for an “amazing woman,” and invites her to sing it with him since she is there tonight. Scarlett joins Avery to sing “Moon Is High,” written in real ife by Elvis Costello. Gunnar walks in and seethes over a beer.

To DOWNLOAD “Moon Is High,” written by Elvis Costello and performed by Clare Bowen and Jonathan Jackson, click HERE.

Meanwhile Juliette has gone to visit Jolene at the funeral home. She talks to her mother, telling her that she left the CMAs, where she had wanted to win but wanted her mother to see her win. She asks if she was so terrible, then offers to sing to her mother since Jolene always used to like that. Juliette talks role reversals, and then weeps asking her mom why she left her.

Back at Casa James/Conrad, Maddie is yelling at her parents for lying to her about her biological father. Neither has a satisfactory explanation, of course. Maddie currently blames Rayna more and says she wants to live with Teddy for now. Teddy tells Rayna to let Maddie work through this at his place if that’s what she needs, but promises Rayna that just as she promised Teddy that he would never lose Maddie, he’ll make sure Rayna doesn’t lose Maddie either.

Deacon is sitting at a bar with a drink in front of him, as Brad Paisley announces the winner of the Female Vocalist Of The Year category after a joke about wishing the nominees would wrestle it out. Deacon asks the bartender to turn off the TV before all the nominees are announced. After staring at the drink, Deacon gulps it down. Oh no! And he wants another.

The next morning, Teddy confides in his lawyer Walter about going along with Peggy “borrowing”/embezzling $2 million from a credit union but paying back the money. Walter tells him the worst case scenario is Teddy being indicted, the feds finding the smoking gun and presenting it to the court, Teddy being found guilty and going to federal prison, but thinks they may be able to cut a deal if they can tie Lamar Wyatt to the cover up. Teddy guesses that Lamar is the one who tipped off the feds and that he would only do that if he were untouchable. Hm. Lamar or the newly Machiavellian Tandy? Walter says the key may be making sure the feds never find the smoking gun and guesses the feds will try to work Peggy Kentor over for evidence.

Rayna is crying as she confides in Coleman what went down and how she cannot reach Deacon. She’s fearful that Deacon’s gone off the edge. A non-judgmental Coleman tells Rayna to let him find Deacon on his own.

Back at the bar, Deacon snoozed off on a bench. The bartender wakes him up and good-naturedly tells him he can’t stay.

Glenn delivers Juliette’s CMA to her at her home. She is cold to him and asks if there is anything else. He embraces her, and Juliette weeps at his kindness.

Rayna calls Deacon again, this time while she’s on her way to Jolene’s funeral. She tells him she loves him, and that she hopes she sees him at Jolene’s funeral.

Deacon, meanwhile spots Teddy walking across the green in front of City Hall, knocks him over and tries to punch him out. They berate each other while they tussle, and security drags Deacon off Teddy. Teddy tells Deacon that Rayna and Maddie deserve much better than Deacon, and tells Deacon to stay away from his (Teddy’s) family.

At Jolene’s funeral, Rayna and Juliette are having a moment. Rayna says she lost her mother too, though in different circumstances. Juliette gently says Rayna doesn’t know what it was like growing up with a mother like Jolene. She says everything was dirt growing up, and now she has to put her mother back in it. She says she grew up knowing this day would come, “dreading it, wanting it, hating myself for wanting it.” Juliette confides in Rayna that she thought if she were good enough, maybe her mom would be OK, that she tried but was always doomed to fail. Rayna tries to get Juliette to stop blaming herself, and tells her she is good enough. This seems to mean something to Juliette, who pauses and looks at Rayna, who gazes back at her to let Juliette know she means it. Juliette asks Rayna if Deacon’s coming, and Rayna doesn’t know.

Gunnar has come to visit Deacon at his home, but Deacon’s busy throwing up on his porch. Deacon tries to pass things off as the key in his door not working, but of course Gunnar opens his door with ease. Gunnar asks Deacon if he’s been drinking. Deacon asks what he wants, and Gunnar said he dropped by for some advice on Scarlett. Deacon says he has no advice and shuts the door in Gunnar’s face. Gunnar immediately calls Scarlett to tell her that she needs to get Deacon’s sponsor over to his house immediately.

A preacher prays at Jolene’s funeral as Avery arrives. Rayna is there, as are Juliette’s security guy, Former Manager Glenn, and Emily. Juliette hugs them all after the prayer and is a little surprised but pleased to see Avery there. He says he didn’t know the funeral was private, but Juliette tells him she’s glad he came. She says she needs a favor, and Avery agrees.

Coleman arrives at Deacon’s with Scarlett, and Gunnar quickly explains the situation. Coleman knocks on the door, and a totally enraged Deacon growls at him to go away. Coleman steps in, and Gunnar tells Scarlett to stay outside when he hears Deacon throwing things. Deacon has completely lost it. Coleman tries to get him under control as an upset Scarlett tries to calm Deacon down. Deacon yells at Gunnar that he’s not good enough for Scarlett and tells Scarlett that Gunnar is broken. Coleman refuses to leave when Deacon demands it, and Deacon swings and misses at Coleman. The three lift him up, but Deacon only throws Coleman against the wall and tries choking him.

Gunnar helps drag Deacon off Coleman, who makes Deacon look at an upset Scarlett and tells him to think about what he’s doing. Deacon crumbles and apologizes. Coleman tells Gunnar to take Scarlett home, though Scarlett doesn’t want to leave. Gunnar and Scarlett head off while begging Coleman to look after Deacon. A chastened Deacon lies face down on a couch, and tells Coleman he doesn’t want to talk. Coleman says he doesn’t want to talk either, but he is not leaving Deacon.

Tandy walks in on a strategy session between Henchman Albert and Lamar, and Lamar tells Tandy that Albert thinks the stadium site may still be viable. Tandy tells Lamar that Albert wanted to put a shopping mall on those grounds, and Albert says that was when they were discussing alternatives. Lamar informs Tandy that he is promoting Albert since Albert’s vision is more in line with his. An offended Tandy recognizes the power play for what it is, and quits. When Lamar asks her what she’s doing, she tells him it’s none of his business because she is just his daughter now, and he can apparently only get along with one daughter at a time.

Back at Juliette’s, the lead detective tells her that they found an irretrievably mangled SD card in the kitchen garbage disposal at her mother’s apartment, and asks if she has any idea what might be on it. Juliette pretends she has no idea, and the detective tells her she can keep the card since the police are done processing the crime scene (really?). The detective leaves, and Emily discovers a letter that Jolene sent to Juliette. A weeping Juliette realizes from the letter that Jolene did this all to save her from scandal.

Coleman calls Rayna from Deacon’s place while Deacon is passed out, and tells her that he will stay with Deacon, that the situation is bad, and that Rayna should stay away. Deacon comes to as Coleman wraps up his conversation with Rayna. Coleman tells Deacon that a lot of people are worried about him, and that Rayna told him everything. Deacon says he’s not ready to talk about that yet but he would like to go to an AA meeting. Deacon wants to take a shower and get some coffee. Coleman offers to get the coffee, and Deacon tells him that Coleman doesn’t need to babysit him. Deacon realizes he just flushed 13 years of sobriety down the toilet, and that all he can do is show up to AA and pick up a new welcome chip at the 8 PM meeting. Coleman agrees to meet him there, and Deacon takes his phone into the bathroom. This is clearly not going to end well.

Rayna is having a talk with Maddie, who is understandably still angry. Rayna tells Maddie that Rayna loved Teddy and more than anything wanted Maddie to have a father who would love her as much as Rayna did, which was more than anything in the world. Rayna promises she will never leave Maddie. Maddie weeps and goes to Rayna for a hug. I guess that in this situation where there are no satisfactory answers, reassurance is what a child needs.

Deacon is washing up in the bathroom at his home. He takes some pills (for the headache?) when the phone rings. It’s Juliette, and a deceptively functional Deacon apologizes to her for missing Jolene’s funeral. Juliette has no idea what’s going on on his end, and takes the blame for shutting him out. She says she is having a little memorial service for Jolene at the Bluebird that night, and that it would mean a lot to her if Deacon were to come. Deacon says he’ll be there. What about his AA meeting? There is a bottle of whisky that just happens to be in the bathroom. How did that get there? Deacon takes a swig, and his expression hardens. Chip Esten making the case that he’s Nashville MVP.

Teddy has gone to a dark garage to meet with Peggy Kentor. Really? Because there’s no chance he’s under surveillance? He thanks Peggy for meeting him, and tells her the feds are looking into the Cumberland deal again. A very calm Peggy already knows, because she has already met with them. Teddy assumes the worst, and asks if she did it because she’s mad at him. She tells him they approached her and offered immunity. Now Teddy really figures he’s in for it, and asks what she told them. Peggy told them nothing. A shocked Teddy wants to know why. Peggy Kentor is pregnant. Must say, this cool, collected Peggy makes more sense than the overly emotional one they had running around earlier this season. Soooooo, is she really pregnant or just trying to get Teddy back. And if she’s really pregnant, is the baby Teddy’s?

Dashell Brinks, US Attorney, approaches Tandy as she heads out of a building, and says he would like to have a conversation with her about her father. Tandy looks intrigued.

Over at the Bluebird, Juliette is on stage telling a crowd that includes Rayna, Marshall Evans, and PA Emily that though Jolene was a mess, she was Juliette’s mess and Juliette loved her. Juliette says Jolene’s biggest dream was to see Juliette play the Bluebird, and so she hopes that Jolene is somehow there watching as she dedicates “Nothing In This World” to her. Avery plays lead guitar, and Kate York is one of the background vocalists. Deacon watches from a corner. Rayna spots him, Deacon sees Rayna spotting him, and runs off. Rayna chases him. They argue as Deacon sits in the driver’s seat on his car, and Rayna realizes he is drunk. After a small tussle she grabs his keys. As Juliette continues to sing, Rayna starts driving, Deacon takes a swig out of a bottle and Gunnar and Scarlett meet at a park swing. As the song wears on, Rayna and Deacon start to argue. Pretty obvious this is going to end with a car crash, the only question is whether it will involve somebody else, like Gunnar/Scarlett or perhaps Teddy and/or Peggy.

Meanwhile Will is on a date with Gwen, when his eyes suddenly meet with a guy’s across the room. They appear to know each other, and after a brief flash of panic in his eyes, Will subtly shakes his head at the guy. The guy looks a little hurt but understands, and walks on by. Gunnar gives more signs he went to the Chandler Bing School Of Fixing Relationships by getting down on one knee and proposing to a shocked Scarlett, and Rayna and Deacon continue to have a huge argument as she drives. Rayna swerves to avoid a car she didn’t see while trying to get Deacon to stop drinking from that bottle. The SUV jumps and flips over into a small ditch. A tear falls from Juliette’s eyes as she finishes singing her song. Find out what happens….after the (summer) break!

Five Predictions for Season 2

  • The show isn’t going to kill off Rayna or Deacon. No way. The major plot point the accident will impact is custody, and at some point, Teddy will attempt to use it to retain parental rights to Maddie because he feels threatened.
  • Scarlett will get a phone call about Deacon and Rayna’s accident before she can respond to Gunnar’s marriage proposal. There will be at least one misunderstanding along the lines of Gunnar seeing Avery comfort Scarlett that drives Scarlett and Gunnar apart before she can respond to his proposal.
  • Chris Carmack will become a cast regular as his character Will makes his way up the country stardom ladder as a closeted gay country singer.
  • Juliette/Avery/Scarlett/Gunnar will become a love square.
  • Tandy will use the prospect of selling out Lamar to the US Attorney’s office as leverage to regain a major position at his company, and somehow down the road this is going to help Teddy escape criminal prosecution for the Cumberland deal. But not before Lamar encourages Rayna to use the Cumberland deal against Teddy as leverage in a custody battle.

Wrapping Up The Season

I’m not sold on the soapiness of Nashville, the often overly convenient plot developments, or the occasional continuity gaps/memory lapses of the writers. But a strong cast, led by Hayden Panettiere, Connie Britton, and Charles Esten, does make the show appealing to watch. Chris Carmack’s character Will intrigues me, and if the show handles his storyline with sensitivity and intelligence, I’m really looking forward to seeing Nashville address homosexuality in the context of the country world. Even though the show is crowded with plots outside the music scene, I think the family dynamics (and their spillover into local politics and industry) help prevent the show from seeming too insular and are interwoven nicely into the show. Episode flow has improved as the season’s worn on. Also, I like looking at Eric Close. Just saying. Too, I really appreciate that we’re getting different kinds of power playing women on this show, whether Juliette, Rayna, Tandy (whose emergence I’m liking), or even maybe Peggy.

Most of all, I am so glad Nashville is around to showcase the work of some great songwriters. The songs remain Nashville‘s best asset, and why I am really excited to see the show return in the fall for a second season. Now that Nashville’s had some time to settle in and stabilize, I’m eager to see where the show goes.

BONUS: Check out VIDEO of cowriters Sarah Buxton and Kate York and Nashville music supervisor Frankie Pine discussing “Nothing In This World (Will Ever Break My Heart Again):

Check out VIDEO of cowriters Sarah Buxton and Kate York performing “Nothing In This World (Will Ever Break My Heart Again)”:

About Deb B 432 Articles
Also known as Windmills, I cover country music news and live televised country events, in addition to recapping ABC's 'Nashville.' Additionally, I occasionally do long-form chart analysis that has been cited by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New Republic, NPR, and more.