All the faithful “Nashville” fans who held on through the long summer months of melting got a welcome dose of melodrama and music in the September 23 Season 4 premiere, “Can’t Let Go,” from the drama that does drama better than any production in daytime, and tops it off with tasty cherries of darn good songs. Good news comes in the assurance that Deacon (Charles Esten) survived the transplant trauma of surgery, but sister, Beverly (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), didn’t fare so well, an aneurysm putting her in a coma. Like the music and the mayhem, good news and bad news come as one in this TV locale, and seem never to be separated.
Juliette’s career has always been her dearest baby, and the desperate lady, depicted to perfection by Hayden Panettiere, never seems to function well when life is at rest, no matter how much she professes to want that. Her new Patsy Cline biopic, Shenandoah Girl, makes its debut, and gets Oscar buzz already. None other than Steven Tyler, himself, liking the feel of country style and sound working on his latest album, turns up for a duet of “Crazy.” The rocker teases that learning his “Nashville” lines was the challenge, while blonde beauty, Panettiere, calls singing with Tyler a definite “bucket list” check off. Beaming in the spotlight, Juliette portends to be doting mom, but the truth is that Avery (Jonathan Jackson) has taken baby, Cadence, off to Texas to say with his parents, and buy a little time to decide if he and Juliette have any future together. Luke (Will Chase) contends that everything is great with his superstar, but a bathroom call from a breaking-down Juliette speaks quite differently, sending Rayna out to the rescue. Rayna herself is haunted by a sense that Highway 65 is sinking, no matter what she tries to keep her label afloat. After all her effort, and incredible scenes showing the thespian gifts of both Connie Britton and Hayden, Juliette spurns intervention again, leaving her doomed for a breakdown extraordinaire to come. Will (Chris Carmack) decides to make a bold stand, going out to dinner publicly as a gay man, only to be humiliated by an accosting woman, who reminds him that they once slept together. He is utterly dejected, and feeling that he can’t be either closeted or gay successfully, and Luke choosing not use his artistic talents doesn’t help his wasting esteem. Him him
The crisis of the final seconds of the finale last season were due to Beverly’s dire situation, and now that Deacon has survived, it seems there should be a sigh of relief, but he cannot bear Beverly’s nearly death, and goes to be with her in her hospital room, causing no one to be able to locate him. Everything that is a bit blah about Juliette’s duet with Steven Tyler, so very predictable, is refreshingly brilliant in the music between Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett (Clare Bowen). The two create magic again with “Wake Up When It’s Over,” never mind that Scarlett still cannot see the forest for the trees with Dr. Caleb Rand (Nick Jandl) maybe out of a guilt complex since he saved Deacon. Anyone longing for a tasty cat fight likely lapped up scenes between Layla (Aubrey Peeples) and Juliette. Conspicuously missing is Edgehill nemesis, Jeff Fordham, but his stand-in is Patrick, who Layla goes looking for in Juliette’s dressing room, leading to claws coming out over who Jeff will ultimately side with, Juliette making Layla a deviled egg bite as she reminds her that Jeff will spit his plaything ingénue out in a second when it comes to making a choice.
Rayna’s daughter, Maddie (Lennon Stella), makes an insightful observation about her mom being in a coma, too, one of worry, distraction, and pressure. Rayna hears every voice in her consciousness predicting failure, as she considers that all she has is invested in Highway 65. A bright ray comes when Beverly comes to consciousness, and shows glimmers of recovery. Avery decides that he and his daughter will head back to Nashville, and do the single dad thing with Gunnar, as final scenes show him and baby going down the road, and Gunnar singing wistfully with thoughts of Scarlett, as she goes to Caleb to say “I love you.”
Is going to take a while to figure out feelings and the future on “Nashville,” and fortunately, everyone has a whole new season to work and wail through it!