Nashville – Episode 2.22 – On the Other Hand (Season Finale) – Review
I thought this was an excellent season finale, filled with juicy drama and revelations. While I had expected things to go poorly for Juliette and Avery, and they did, the ending wasn’t as hope-crushing as I’d expected – at all. That’s a relief. Moreover, the Rayna/Deacon scene that closed the episode was way better than I had anticipated and set up a wonderful cliffhanger that perfectly reflects the episode’s title (which is an awesome Randy Travis song from the ’80s, of course, one with lyrics that refer to golden bands…).
Juliette and Avery: Despite Juliette’s attempts to sweep her encounter with Jeff under the rug, the evil record label exec was never going to let that happen. Caught between a rock and a blackmail scheme, Juliette turned to the bottle in despair, at Deacon’s substance abuse recovery event, no less. One of my favorite aspects about this episode was how the characters stepped forward to support each other in such well-timed and knowing ways. Kicking that theme off was Deacon, who while infuriated at Juliette’s choice of drinking venues, didn’t want her to embarrass herself in public once again and had her physically restrained for her own good.
Rayna, who had previously been given every reason to assume that Juliette wanted out of Highway 65 simply because she was being ungrateful and bratty, nonetheless began to see how desperately troubled her frenemy really was. When Rayna showed up and demanded to know why Juliette was hurtling herself into this downward spiral, Juliette told her about Jeff and ran to throw up. This set off the funniest scene of the episode, which was also very touching, with Rayna helping the ill starlet in between giving wise advice about Juliette’s predicament.
Of course, while assuring Juliette that everyone deserves forgiveness, Rayna also suggested a scheme to give Jeff some hell for all of his misdeeds while keeping Juliette on Highway 65…all of which would necessitate Juliette telling Avery the truth herself. When Juliette lunged for the toilet again, screeching “hold my hair!” pathetically, it was too hilarious. I love the way when the chips are down and all pretense of celebrity is stripped back, these two women are able connect and help each other despite their differences.
Well, maybe Juliette would have told Avery if she’d had the chance, but after she disappeared in the middle of the gorgeous song he wrote for her (sigh), Avery never even having seen that she attended the show, he confronted Gunnar and Zoey, who were terrible at hiding that they were hiding something. By the time Avery and Juliette met again, he knew, and it was beyond awful. In the midst of Juliette’s tear-streaked pleas and professions of love, Avery said that he does love Juliette, too, but that he needs to get over it. Ouch.
However, the fun between Juliette and Rayna continued at the big show Rayna had thrown together to promote her album after Jeff’s trickery had cost her a GMA appearance. In retaliation, Rayna had ruined a bit of Jeff’s promotion for Will, costing him a #1 album for his new artist. And Jeff could forget about having Juliette back on Edgehill, since Avery already found out the terrible secret. The sweetness of seeing Rayna and Juliette take Jeff down a few thousand notches was extremely satisfying. I was also glad that Juliette managed to get out there on stage with Rayna and put on a good show with all she was going through.
Scarlett’s farewell tour (could she have procrastinated leaving Nashville any longer?) made a stop by Avery’s in a scene that turned out to be awesome. I was so happy the writers didn’t go for the dreaded “exes fall back into bed together” nonsense in this scenario. Instead, Scarlett stepped up to the plate with some advice about how awesome Juliette and Avery are together that was so sage-like, it’s clear she took something valuable away from having Rayna as a mentor. Avery was losing himself in the single-minded hurt of what Juliette had done (he was too adorable drinking beer in his underwear, wallowing in his woes), but he was too quick to dismiss all they had, and it seems Scarlett made him realize that at least a little bit. Also, kudos to Scarlett for giving Deacon a nudge in Rayna’s direction as well as doing the same for Avery and Juliette. Respect, girl.
It was enough to get Avery back over to Juliette’s, though he claimed he wasn’t really “back.” Juliette gave a heartbreakingly reflective and self-deprecating speech explaining the childhood roots of her insecurity and the reasons why she always tries to hurt herself before someone else can hurt her. As we left the couple until the fall (ahhhh! the suspense!), Avery seemed torn between going to Juliette and letting her go. I hope he chooses the former!
Gunnar, Scarlett, and Zoey: What I really gleaned from this part of the episode was that it’s super-obvious Scarlett and Gunnar still love each other. For one thing, their relationship never even got real closure after Gunnar’s problems with his brother drove a wedge between them and they both kind of ran away from each other rather than facing the problems head-on. And if Gunnar’s been avoiding Scarlett, maybe it’s because his feelings are still so strong where she’s concerned that seeing her is an intimidating prospect. But meet up they did, with Gunnar playing the song he wrote for Scarlett after her breakdown. Ironically, with the song’s lyrics focusing on not throwing one’s talent away, Scarlett couldn’t help chiming in a little, bringing us back to how wonderful it is when they sing together. Instead of a goodbye as Scarlett prepared to go back to school, this scene felt far more like a new beginning: for Scarlett as an artist, for her life in Nashville, and for her bond with Gunnar. I can’t wait to see what happens for these two next season.
Will and Layla: This was the part of the hour that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Melrose Place episode from the ’90’s. As Will continued to avoid facing Layla and kept his dalliance with the personal trainer going, his ability to maintain his false persona started to crack once he realized his album might tank. He’d put so much energy into this one goal succeeding that without it coming through, it seemed as if all of his deceit and pain had been for nothing. Gunnar reminded him poignantly of the cost of keeping secrets and living a double life, and then Will went home to tell Layla, finally, that he’s gay. While poor Layla looked dumbfounded and Will threw himself into her arms for a sobbing hug, a tiny hidden camera picked up the whole scene. Ughhh. As predictable as this taping of his confession was, and as much as it’s going to hurt Will when the truth comes out, ultimately it may be for the best. I think that being exposed and no longer having the lie to hide behind may eventually help him to accept himself for who he is, which is the better path for Will. As for Layla, what is she going to do now?
Rayna and Luke and Deacon: Throughout the episode, we could already see how Rayna’s heart was divided between Luke and Deacon, with her clearly trying to keep redirecting herself to the more trustworthy and safe-seeming Luke (even though part of me still thinks Luke might be sketchy). But in the scene of Deacon giving Rayna the guitar for Maddie, all of that old chemistry was back. And once Luke proposed on stage so dashingly and Rayna accepted, the disappointment in Deacon’s eyes was intense. I like how he and Maddie have this cute, sort of Parent Trap hope for he and Rayna to reunite someday, and it’s one of the only things about Maddie lately that’s not obnoxious. The writers should probably try to mix it up a bit and give Teddy more to do than feeling hurt every time Maddie neglects or insults him in favor of Deacon. It’s getting old.
Anyway, Deacon came over to Rayna’s house explaining that while he wanted to congratulate her and wish her the best with Luke, he was done being dishonest. Instead, Deacon told Rayna that he has changed and can now be the man she always needed. While apologizing profusely for all of the misery he caused her in the past, Deacon also reminded Rayna that the two of them are essentially epic and meant to be. After a tender kiss, he placed his own engagement ring into her hand, remarking that he never should have taken it back. This left Rayna with one hell of a decision to make: marry Luke, marry Deacon, or take the Kelly Taylor (of Beverly Hills, 90210) path and choose herself. Such a classic type of cliffhanger – I love it! Rayna, a little free advice: pick Deacon.
What do you think Rayna should do? How did you like this episode, and what else would you like to see in Season 3?