Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Star is Mourned: Rayna's Reign Rains Down on Nashville

 Wild West Wynona Necklace

Top: Bongo, Sears
Skirt (dress): Kohl's
Boots: Two Lips Too, DSW
Bag: Arizona Jeans, J. C. Penney's
Belt: Sheplers
Sunglasses: Kohl's

Fabulous Felt Cowgirl Cutie Necklace

Top (dress): Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Ross
Boots: Alloy
Bag: Nine West, Ross
Belt: Gifted
Sunglasses: Kohl's

"Give boredom the boot with this Fabulous Felt Cowgirl Cutie Necklace and her sassy sidekick, Wild West Wynona . . ." is what I'd say if I were listing these necklaces on Etsy instead of keeping them for myself.  But these days I want to hold on to every little bit of country I can.  I'm referring, of course, to the recent bombshell dropped on beloved TV drama "Nashville."  

The last time I blogged about "Nashville," ABC had cancelled it, and the last episode featured everyone living happily ever after except for Juliette (Hayden Panetierre), who may or may not have been killed in a plane crash.  Although I was sad to see the series, which was one of my favorites, go, I was comforted that no more havoc could be wreaked on the lives and loves of Music City's brightest.  Then, in a plot twist that no one (okay, everyone) saw coming, "Nashville" got picked up by CMT.  Naturally, I was elated, scrambling to see if my cable plan included Country Music Television.  It didn't, and one argument with the Comcast lady later, I was happily signed up for Hulu, where I could watch my old pals plus plenty of new ones for a mere $7.99 a month.  Come January, I eagerly tuned in to Season 5.  And discovered that, land sakes, Juliette was alive!  Paralyzed from the waist down and touched by an angel and all of that jazz (or maybe I should say bluegrass), but back to driving everyone crazy.  As for the rest of the show, it seemed folksier and lighter than before, with an unmistakably fresh, down-home feel.

Or so I thought.  Before long it reverted to its red alert, hot mess roots, with Scarlett (Clare Bowen) forsaking Gunnar (Sam Palladio) to hop into bed with her edgy but verbally abusive new music video director, the aptly named Damien, and Rayna (Connie Britton) being held at knifepoint by a stalker only to (MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE ON OUT) fall victim to yet another major car accident.  One second she's on the phone with Deacon (Charles Esten), then smash! -- the next, something plows into her.  It was so abrupt, so jarring, I jumped.

Rayna spends the next episode in the hospital.  At first, recovery seems in the cards.  Deacon asks her what she wants, and she glibly says, "A cheeseburger."  Ever the knight in shining armor, Deacon obliges, soon returning with the tasty treat.  But Rayna's fate is sealed when her dead mother appears in her hospital room and gently tells her to stop struggling with her new song because "maybe the song is finished."  Deacon is visibly shaken, pulling Rayna's doc aside to ask if it's normal for her to be seeing visions.  "Perfectly," she assures him, "it's just a side effect of the medication."  But Deacon knows different, and, it seems, so does Rayna.

For the rest of the hour, Rayna focuses on imparting wisdom to her nearest and dearest and saying goodbye, not only to them, but to us.  Rayna is the soul of "Nashville," and her life has touched the life of every other character, as evidenced by her full hospital room.  All too soon it's just Deacon, Maddie (Lennon Stella), and Daphne (Maisy Stella), singing the sweetly heartbreaking "A Life That's Good."  Rayna flutters her eyes . . . then closes them forever.

As character deaths go, this one was as sad as any country song worth its margarita.  A Google search confirmed the rumors that Connie Britton wanted to leave "Nashville," and that Rayna dying was the only way to make that happen and do Rayna justice.  Although it's perhaps unfair to attribute symbolism to a character's death when you know that said death was motivated by the actress's plans to leave the show, I couldn't help but think that Rayna James and Juliette Barnes traded places.  As in, Rayna's life was sacrificed so that Juliette's life could be saved.  And that Juliette, with all her Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes insights, would one day flower into a full-fledged (albeit snarkier) Rayna.  

After all, the show must go on, even without its leading lady.  As showrunner Marshall Herskovitz pointed out in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Nashville" is, at its core, an ensemble story:

". . . the show of Nashville is a world, it's not about one person.  As great as Connie is and Rayna was, it was never just one person.  What people will find as they process their feelings -- and maybe fans will be angry at us or at her for this happening -- but they'll find the fabric of the show more than holds.  It's still this vibrant passionate creative world of people who live their lives in a way that has a fire beneath it."

Well put.  Nevertheless, "Nashville" won't be the same without Rayna's unique brand of guts, class, and grace.  

I'm just glad she got that cheeseburger.

1 comment:

Jewel Divas Style said...


I've got pink cowboy boots too. Got them brand new from an op shop for just under $50.