As quickly as the Nashville gods giveth, the Nashville gods taketh away. Cancelled by ABC at the end of its fourth season, the series was saved from the television graveyard by CMT, who opted to pick it up for Season 5. It's been a bumpy ride since then, and even though it feels like it premiered just weeks ago, the Season 5 midseason finale airs on Thursday, March 9, and it's not clear when Nashville will come back for the rest of its season.
When I say that Nashville has had a bumpy ride, I mean it. I can count the number of Season 5 episodes that have aired on two hands, and the following has already happened: Juliette survives a plane crash, goes through endless therapy, finds the woman who rescued her from the plane wreckage, and decides she wants to make her a star (don’t worry — she can sing); Scarlett and Gunnar make a steamy music video, Scarlett decides she’d rather be with the video director, and they split; Maddie finds a boyfriend and Daphne feels left out (nothing new there); Rayna and Deacon decide to make a duets album; Rayna makes friends with an Internet billionaire, is attacked by a stalker, and then dies in a car accident.
So yes, a lot has happened, and I can see why the season could use a break.
The only problem is, according to TV Line, Nashville is airing its midseason finale without any announcement as to when it will return. CMT ordered 22 episodes of the drama, so there are 11 episodes left after Thursday's "Fire and Rain," but there’s no word yet of when the season will pick back up and subject us to a dark, scary, Rayna-less world once again. Rayna, we hardly knew ye, except for the four and a half seasons we did, in fact, know ye.
Honestly, though, killing Rayna off is the best thing that Nashville could have done to keep its momentum going. It may lose viewers because the celestial Connie Britton is no longer on the show, but in the long run, it will make Nashville so much tighter. Before the move to CMT, ABC’s version of the series became bloated with characters and storylines that no one cared about. I know the show is a soap, but it was a lot with Cash and Layla and Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records and Luke and his son and Maddie’s emancipation and Kylie and blech. Everyone was living a different life, so much so that it was like these people were all on different shows.
If the episode that featured Rayna’s funeral is any indication, the slimmed-down cast of characters will be forced to interact and, dare I say, help each other. There are already slivers of that with Juliette and Maddie, as well as Teddy (even though he’s still in jail) and Deacon. Rayna’s death presents a new writing challenge on a show that desperately needed to hit the reset button. Let's hope that Season 5 returns soon so we can see what Nashville does with this fresh start.