Nashville – Season Finale Recap and Reflection

Welcome to the B-Hive, the regular feature written by Blaire Knight-Graves. Something’s got her buzzing in TV-land… Will it be something good, or something bad?


I had fully intended on writing this article about Gunnar’s fall from grace; how I felt it was in no way, shape, or form organic; how angry I was that Nashville was successfully making me feel sorry for Avery, and how I didn’t like any of what was happening on this series between these two characters. I was convinced that Nashville was doing everything wrong.

But during the season finale I had a revelation. Nashville is actually doing everything right.

There are two different kinds of shows that really keep me locked in: series with a super likeable supporting cast of characters and series that consistently transition any given character from the role of protagonist to that of a villain.

A part of me believed that Nashville was playing Character Roulette (a term lovingly coined by my colleague Kyle Trembley) with Gunnar and Avery. In the game of Character Roulette, there are consistent character attitudes and traits on a series but these traits are simply shuffled around and randomly assigned to whomever the writers deem needs them in any given episode. I thought that Nashville couldn’t figure out who Gunnar and Avery were at their core, so the series continually waffled two different personalities between the characters.

Chip Esten’s (Deacon) performance in the finale completely changed my mind.

Deacon and Rayna, despite their occasional missteps, have been the consistent good guys on Nashville since day one. Rayna sometimes gets a little bit on her high horse and Deacon is a little bit of a serial heartbreaker, but they’ve otherwise remained in the audience’s favor throughout the entire first season.

That all changed tonight. Deacon fell off of the wagon—becoming a villain—and all of the terrible stories that the audience kind of refused to believe about him became a horrible, devastating reality.

It. Was. Glorious.

I watch a lot of TV and movies. I’ve seen a lot of alcoholic characters in my day; mostly I’ve seen actors who have no clue how to act like a raging alcoholic, making me painfully aware that I am watching a scripted scene. Not with Deacon, not in the slightest.

The same could be said of Juliette, whose character has transformed immensely throughout the series’ initial run. She has at times been likeable as well as downright intolerable. What had become a run with self-destruction in recent episodes became her redemption in her own mother’s death in the finale. Much like Chip Esten’s performance, Hayden Panettiere blew everyone out of the water as the grieving child of a dead parent, thus redeeming Juliette to the audience, if only temporarily.

Avery and Gunnar are both human. Gunnar fell into a deep, environmentally destructive depression with the death of his brother. He lost control and stopped communicating. Avery let the possibility of fame overwhelm his sense loyalty and in so he lost not only a woman he loved dearly, but also any kind of common sense. He was so starstruck by himself that he couldn’t see himself being taken advantage of and was forced to take drastic measures in order to save any kind of pride he may have once had. Both have come out of the other end realizing what they did wrong and are willing to acknowledge their mistakes.

I thought that I was going to write about how silly Nashville was for having inconsistent characters, but instead reflected upon the first season in its entirety and discovered that no, they are not inconsistent. They’re all perfectly human. They’ve all made mistakes or even committed intentional atrocities as villains, but they’ve also all acted in the best interest of another as a hero.

I’ve just been brainwashed into believing that a protagonist must always be good. So thank you to the Nashville season finale for reminding me otherwise.

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1 comment

  1. Well said! I liked this review, and I like this show. I was a bit unnerved and very surprised that I somehow formed a bit of respect, and perhaps even began rooting for Avery by the season finale. If anyone had told me at the beginning of this series that I would have sympathy for Avery and begin to really dislike Gunnar, I would have ‘laughed out loud’ (if only there were an acronym for that). The writers and actors have done an excellent job allowing the characters to drastically develop throughout the series and actually make it believable. The subject matter of the music business combined with politics certainly helps their cause.

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