May 25, 2013

Nashville: "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" Review

There were stellar performances all around on this week's drama-filled season finale of ABC's Nashville. As Hayden Panettiere's Juliette brought the house down with "Nothing in this World (Will Ever Break My Heart Again)," the hearts of the viewers were breaking.

It was Panettiere and Charles Esten who shone brightest in the season finale. Aside from the spectacular music (and edge-of-your-seat drama), what Nashville does best is create incredibly complex characters. Panettiere delivered an authentically angry, hopeless, and helpless reaction to Jolene's death, which fully revealed the internal sorrow that's been working its way through her rhinestone exterior all season. Esten's remarkable portrayal of Deacon's spiral back into alcoholism added depth to that character, but  also served to explain his history with Rayna. It made Rayna and Teddy's decision to keep the truth from him understandable. (Shout out to newcomer Lennon Stella. Maddie's realization of her true paternity was real and heart-wrenching. This young actress is going places.)

Key to these performances was the way they were set up - all season long, but particularly in this season's penultimate episode. Juliette's mother's death, Scarlet's ultimatum for Gunnar, and Maddie's discovery set the stage perfectly for the season finale "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive." For the characters, everything is falling apart, but for the story, everything is coming together. That's what made the final five minutes of the episode outstanding. Despair, but not a single plot hole.

Though it brought me to tears more than once, I  thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Nashville. It followed a kind of finale formula - break everything apart in the final moments, leaving your audience on the edge of their seats until the fall. But the formula works, even when we can see things coming. (Put anyone in a car in the last scene of a season finale, and we know it won't end well.) In the last five minutes, we were slammed with one cliffhanger after another, not the least of which was Deacon and Rayna's deadly looking car accident. Suffice it to say, I'm thrilled that ABC has renewed Nashville for a second season. I can't wait to see what happens next. It just might break our hearts. 

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