‘Nashville’ Season 5, Episode 10 Recap: Picking Up the Pieces
Aptly titled “I’ll Fly Away,” Episode 10 of Nashville picks up following the shocking death of Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), the show’s anchor for more than four seasons. How will the show’s characters (and the show itself!) survive after losing their matriarch?
This episode opens at Rayna’s funeral, with her grieving husband, Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), eulogizing the fallen star over her casket. It’s a stark scene, but it helps bring closure regarding her death. To see her daughters (Lennon and Maisy Stella) weeping alongside Deacon makes it obvious that Nashville‘s queen of country music is gone — and she’s not coming back.
Rayna’s death brings back a few players who haven’t made appearances yet in Season 5: her estranged sister Tandie (Judie Hoag) and her ex-husband Teddy Conrad (Eric Close). When the crowds begin to disperse, those closest to Rayna finally have a little time to deal with their emotions: Maddie seeks comfort in Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones), who’s no doubt feeling like the odd man out after Tandie hands him a tray of hors d’oeuvres to serve to guests, and realizes that he may not be capable of helping Maddie deal with her feelings. After she’s done playing hostess, Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) is suddenly overwhelmed with grief, and finds her way back into the arms of Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), with whom she’d recently decided to part ways.
As Rayna’s friends and family mourn, some of them also start angling for their place in the future. Teddy and Tandie begin to plot how to get their hands on Rayna’s daughters and her record label, speculating that Deacon won’t be able to emotionally handle either in the aftermath of Rayna’s death. (Whether or not that is true, these two shady characters should be kept far, far away from both the Conrad daughters and Highway 65.) Additionally, Juliette Barnes’ (Hayden Panettiere) comeback becomes an opportunity to perform a tribute to Rayna on the CMT Music Awards.
But then there is Deacon, who may very well not be able to make it without Rayna. He takes shelter in the solitude of the bedroom that he shared with her, and as a cover of the gospel classic “I’ll Fly Away” (performed by Lennon and Maisy) plays, Maddie tucks him into bed and sits by his side. Perhaps it’s the only logical conclusion for a classically tragic love like Rayna and Deacon’s, but only time will tell whether or not at least one of them will make it out on the other side.
When it comes time to read Rayna’s will, her heirs learn that she hadn’t made any decisions on who would take care of her children or her business. Teddy is getting out of jail in a few months and legally has a right to custody of the girls — even Maddie, who is Deacon’s biological daughter but was adopted by Teddy while he was married to Rayna. As mad as Nashville fans might be about that, Rayna undoubtedly be even more pissed that Tandie and Teddy are attempting to cut Deacon out of the equation.
But then, Maddie finds out about their plans. As she and Daphne try to figure out how they’re going to deal with this forthcoming custody battle, Tandie attempts to dissuade Deacon from staking a claim to both custody of the girls and Highway 65. When, later on, Teddy tries to make up with Maddie, the child he raised but didn’t father, Deacon kicks him out of the house (while somehow managing to not punch his smarmy face).The parallels between what is happening to Rayna’s daughters are reminders of her own backstory: She was a girl who lost her mother at a young age, then had to free herself from her conniving father.
Meanwhile, Juliette is rehearsing for her appearance on the CMT Music Awards … and things aren’t going well. She’s struggling to “feel herself” (whatever that means), which probably isn’t that unreasonable considering this will be her first big performance since before her plane crash. It’s strange to see the ever-confident Juliette struggle with singing Rayna’s song onstage, but it further cements her new-found maturity.
When Rayna’s family attends the CMT Music Awards, Deacon and Teddy have a heart-to-heart about how to handle custody of the girls. Deacon summons all the maturity in his body and tells Teddy to take guardianship of Maddie and Daphne, which Teddy accepts. It’s hard to believe that settles it, but everyone takes their seats to watch Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) and Juliette perform as a Rayna video montage plays behind them …
But then, Juliette summons Maddie to her dressing room, where she drops a major bombshell on Maddie by asking her to sing the tribute. Looking as glamorous as she ever has, Juliette takes the stage and tells the crowd about the first time she ever heard Rayna sing. She calls Maddie up to sing, and it was impossible to not get choked up as Maddie looked back at the band to bring them in and command the stage with the same power as her mother.
But, like any normal human being would, Maddie breaks up at the end. Deacon and Daphne rush to the stage to be with her, and the three begin to sing and cry and work it all out. It was pretty hard to imagine that the Nashville writers would be able to tug on viewers’ heartstrings any harder than they did with the loss of Rayna, but this moment definitely did the trick.
This tear-jerking hour of television finishes with a curtain call for Deacon, Maddie and Daphne, presenting the trio as a united front. A family. Even Teddy is so moved that he tells Deacon to take guardianship of the girls.
Call me sentimental, but there was really no more fitting tribute to Rayna. In true Nashville fashion, it was deeply dramatic, but ultimately left viewers feeling pretty okay about the uncertain futures of everyone on the show.
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