You can take “Nashville” out of the nighttime soap network, but you can’t take the soap out of “Nashville.”
Remember when CMT promised that the newly revived country drama would stick to more grounded storytelling? Well, it only took “Nashville” eight episodes on its new network to go full-on “Days of Our Lives” with an hour of television that might be Connie Britton’s last.
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the episode of “Nashville” titled “Stand Beside Me.”
On Thursday night’s episode, Rayna James (Britton) found herself knocking on death’s door not once, but twice, sending “Nashville” fans everywhere into a frenzy.
All season long Rayna has been pursued by a stalker and things came to a head when he broke into her office and held a knife to her throat. Rayna somehow managed to stay calm and appeal to his better nature by bonding over their shared experience of childhood trauma. But when the stalker realizes she dialed 911 and alerted her security team, he rushes at her with the knife. Fortunately, a bodyguard arrives just in time to convince the stalker to let Rayna go.
Phew, dodged a bullet, right? NOPE.
After this traumatic ordeal, an understandably shaken Rayna is escorted away in a police car. While on the phone with Deacon to let him know that she’s OK, an oncoming car crashes into Rayna’s side of the vehicle out of nowhere, leaving the country star’s life hanging in the balance.
It’s unclear how the series will resolve the cliffhanger ? there are still three more episodes until the midseason finale ? but the ending has fans concerned that Britton’s time on “Nashville” might be coming to an end. Rumors swirled after the network revived the country drama that the actress would appear in fewer episodes during the fifth season to pave the way for her eventual exit from the series. But Britton brushed off questions over her commitment to “Nashville” during a visit to “The Ellen Show” in February, telling the host, “I’m in. I’m in for the duration.”
In a post-mortem interview with Entertainment Weekly, Britton didn’t confirm her swan song and encouraged fans to be patient for answers in forthcoming episodes.
“If we did it right, the audience is right there with Rayna. It sort of plays into people’s darkest fears of feeling like you’ve gotten through something and then something completely unexpected blindsides you. It’s cringeworthy and scary,” Britton said.
“All I can say is Rayna’s tough and she’s sustained a lot,” she added. “Let’s wait and see.”
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