In its mid-season cliffhanger episode, "Nashville" proves it can do soap opera drama, but also drama drama.
In its second season, everyone's favorite guilty pleasure about the salacious life of the country music scene is wading into real issues, along with the sweet trash we've grown to expect. From a manly cowboy coping with homosexuality to a teenager trying to build a relationship with both the only father she's known and her biological dad, "Nashville" is showing itself as willing to address serious issues.
But before we get to the dark side of "Nashville," let's roll through the lighter, not-so-surprising plot twists in this final episode before the mid-season break: Rayna tells new beau Luke she's not ready to be his girlfriend publicly; Juliette attempts (and fails) to confess her love of shoulder-to-cry-on Avery; Scarlett resents best friend Zoey for hooking up with ex-boyfriend Gunnar; Rayna scrapes up the funds necessary to buy herself out of her studio contract.
After winding through the predictable, "Nashville" sought to jolt us out of our collective coma with a bang-bang (literally) series of events that sets up a wild rest of season. After a multi-episode arc of building tension between Will and Edgehill Records studio talent wrangler Brent – who we know used to hook up – the two are seen in bed together. Will has struggled with his sexuality this season and had most recently been in a for-show physical relationship with Layla, the youngest, hottest Edgehill starlet. But it's clear in the episode, and the lingering look on Will's face as Brent leaves his bedroom, that Will has passed an important milestone in his personal journey. For those cheering the union, the excitement may be short-lived. In one of the more jarring scenes of the dramatic episode, a tearful Will is seen standing in the train tracks with a locomotive lumbering toward him.
The other contender for most-surprising-moment is when a gunman tries to shoot Teddy, Nashville's dashing mayor, but instead hits his new wife, Peggy. The episode ends with a shot of Peggy on the ground, leaving her storyline either tragically ended or (perhaps more tragically?) continuing in a big way when new episodes resume.
Fans of the show will get plenty of doses of sassy Juliette, snapping at Layla and her manager, Glenn, over rumors she broke up Charlie's marriage to Olivia.
"Am I just never supposed to work with a married man?" says a delightfully indignant, yet guilty, Juliette. "It's a rumor, it's not like some sex tape is suddenly coming to light here."
And Rayna and Jeff tussle over the rights to her music, with Rayna's last straw being Jeff's insistence some of her new tracks just won't do well over her protestations that all the songs on the album she made need to stay.
"People don't care about albums," Jeff says.
"I care about albums. That's what I created; that's what I believe in," says Rayna, tugging at our quaint belief that professional musical artists actually write and care about their music. "You can't just hack that up because you want to exploit the fact that I was almost killed in a car accident."
But the show's climax is what people will be thinking about, as Rayna's haunting words linger over the audience awaiting the fate of Will and Peggy.
"Guess everything works out the way it's supposed to," she says to Teddy, just before the shooting.