Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven't seen the Nashville Season One finale - "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive".
In a perfect world last week’s episode would have been the season finale and this episode, the actual finale, would not even exist. Not to say that everything in this episode was bad… but it also wasn’t good.
The entire freshman season revolved around soap opera tropes in a new countrified setting. Nashville consistently delivered well-developed characters and storylines that, however absurd, always had an air of truth. Last week’s penultimate episode delivered those staples once again, giving us logical (if tragic) outcomes to the storylines we’re been following all season and a cliff hanger that would have been perfect to salivate over all summer. But instead of ending it there, we were given a depressing, redundant episode that culminated in nothing but overwrought clichés that made little to no sense within the story.
The main problem with the first 2/3 of the hour was the overwhelming sadness. True, when the episode before ends with a murder/suicide and a paternal revelation it doesn’t leave much room for levity, but between Juliette’s grief masquerading as indifference and Maddie’s grief masquerading as white hot anger there wasn’t much time for the charm and wit that has made Nashville so enjoyable.
Instead we got Juliette being horrible to everyone being kind to her (again) and then coming to the realization that she should be thankful for the (dwindling amount) people who still care about her (again). It was as poignant and touching as it always is, but it was more than disappointing that the major finale plot for one of the stars of the show was just another reiteration of the same plot she’s had in almost every episode of the season.
Maddie, on the other hand, hasn’t had much to do this season and even with a finale plot revolving around her parentage, she still didn’t have much to do besides yell at her mother and eventually forgive her. We have had the luxury of knowing that Deacon is Maddie’s father from about the third episode and have known for about as long that the revelation would rock Nashville in the foreseeable future. On that front the finale did not disappoint.
Maddie, being non-stupid, quickly figured out that the likeliest candidate for her bio dad was the man her mother was dating fifteen minutes before her wedding. But, being a little stupid, she decided to confront Deacon with the information mere moments before he was due on the red carpet to take his and Rayna’s love public (finally!). Instead he spiraled out of control and threw his 13 years of sobriety out the window faster than a Juliette mood swing.
Meanwhile, Scarlett’s love life chugged right along, not letting a silly thing like breaks up slow down her mojo in any way. The day after her bail out/break up with Gunnar, Scarlett met up with Avery for a little thank you lunch. I know the writers really want to push the love triangle angle, but I would much prefer Avery and Scarlett to find a friendship in the remains of their failed relationship. Yes, Avery has made great strides in becoming a decent human being, but the damage he wreaked on Scarlett cannot be undone. They have a history and that should be respected, but I think the love door has firmly closed for them. Besides, I much prefer Avery with Juliette at this point and Juliette needs a decent guy(even by Avery standards) real bad right now.
All of this would have been acceptable (but just) as a finale if it hadn’t been for the last three minutes. As Juliette sang a (quite beautiful) tribute to her mother we got a montage that “wrapped up” on going storylines and “teased” future ones. Usually the music montages are Nashville’s shining moments, but this one felt like such an after thought it was insulting.
Its like the writers looked up “how to end a TV season” in some back alley guide book and decided to go with “all of the above”. A surprise pregnancy, a proposal and a car crash are just a lot to handle in one finale. And it all felt so… contrived. It didn’t feel necessary or warranted in the slightest, but the cheapest, easiest possible attempt at creating buzz and excitement for the coming season.
Nashville has fought hard to distinguish itself as more than an average prime time soap, but managed to undo all that effort in the span of one well written song. Luckily the writers now have a summer to figure out how to fix this mess. I only wish they had taken that time after last week’s episode so we could have had a quality finale as well as a hope for an exciting second season.
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