'Nashville' Recap: Final Season Premiere - Rolling Stone
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‘Nashville’ Recap: Final Season Begins With Juliette’s Quest, Gunnar’s New Look

CMT/Hulu drama’s final season kicks off with new cast members and a “Music City Meltdown”

Hayden PanettiereHayden Panettiere

Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) is seen onstage before an explosive moment in the Season Six premiere of 'Nashville'


Nashville enters its sixth and final season with Juliette continuing her quest to find herself, Gunnar embracing the single life by testing the theory that blondes have more fun and Deacon brushing up on his presidential history. It’s after Christmas but just before the end of the year and Deacon, Maddie, Daphne and Scarlett are having their annual holiday photo taken together. Not that any of them realize, but it’s fine since the 12th day of Christmas – and thus the end of the holiday season – doesn’t officially arrive until January 5th.

Maddie gets an invitation to an MTV bash but the festive air goes out of the room when she realizes it will be the family’s first New Year’s Eve without Rayna. Daphne goes into full-on fangirl mode when she finds out that pop megastar Jonah Ford (cast newcomer Nic Luken) is playing on the same show as her sister. Scarlett just seems happy (as happy as she can, anyway) to have something to do that doesn’t involve Gunnar now that they have called it quits and he’s decided to embrace the blonde lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Juliette is frantically planning a party to kick off her Thicker Than Blood Tour, her first in two years. Avery wants her to postpone it. Apparently, Avery’s New Year’s resolution is a death wish. Will and Gunnar are playing one-on-one basketball as Gunnar, who fears that by losing Scarlett he’s also lost every shred of creativity, frets over a solo New Year’s Eve gig, his first since the Exes became the exes (again). Will offers to give Gunnar some coaching on how to be a great solo act and while he might have control of a concert stage, Will’s backstage game needs a bit of coaching once he runs into his ex Zach and his new man Mark at the launch of Juliette’s tour.

Juliette is just getting her groove back onstage when she spots a couple of protesters who are obviously still miffed that Juliette stole a song from Maddie. They hold up signs reading “Back Stabber” and “You’re No Rayna,” which Juliette finds confusing since she can’t remember the words to those particular songs. She confronts them and launches into a soliloquy about how she knows she has problems, how she just wants people to love her but realizes that’s just a trap because people don’t know her and if they did they wouldn’t love her. She tells the crowd she just needs to stop. And then she does, walking offstage in what news reports refer to as her “Music City Meltdown.” Avery, who should be jumping up and down and flailing his arms about, screaming “I told you so!” instead suggests they should just get away for awhile. A suggestion that will no doubt come back to bite him on the ass later.

Will visits Scarlett and they are both trying to put on brave faces. They are seriously concerned about Gunnar and his dye job. Later, Gunnar watches Will rehearse and before long is very uneasy. Will, who is either really trying to calm him down or has other things on his mind, tells him to imagine they’re just onstage together goofing around… naked.

Scarlett goes to check on Deacon, who is ignoring a sink full of dirty dishes so he can focus on reading a thick Teddy Roosevelt biography that could probably be classified as a lethal weapon. He assures her he will be fine with Maddie gone but Scarlett tries to convince him to go out on New Year’s Eve and put himself out there just to see what it’s like. Later, Deacon changes the quote on his Tinder (which he calls “Timber”) profile to “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” sending hordes of women to the ER with wrist pain from furiously swiping right.

In snowy Asheville, North Carolina, Avery and Juliette are finally getting away from it all. Juliette takes a nap but wakes up at In the hotel lobby, she meets Darius Enright (new cast member Josh Stamberg), who tells her he’s writing a book called Journey to Authenticity. He speaks in annoying aphorisms like “Sarcasm is the last resort of the fearful,” etc., and already we want to smack him upside the head with Deacon’s book.

Backstage at the Staples Center, Maddie locks eyes with Jonah Ford and doesn’t seem all that impressed even though every other woman in the crowd (except Scarlett, who has no idea who he is) is drawn to him like a flock of sheep. This could be b-a-a-a-a-d news for Maddie. When she starts to perform, Jonah is only mildly distracted by the crowd gathered around him and turns his attention back to her. Backstage, he gushes about her music and gets her digits (as the cool kids say), inviting her to the studio the next day. She thinks it’s “adorable” he has an entourage but not so cute when she shows up at the studio and he’s nowhere to be found. He texts her with an apology and wants to meet up the following day but she texts back that she can’t. (This ain’t her first rodeo, sheep or otherwise). When he shows up with an apology, a bouquet of flowers and the offer to fly her home to Nashville, however, she acquiesces.

Back home in Nashville, Juliette is sleeplessly channel-surfing when she happens upon a program about the bumper-sticker-spouting stranger she met in Asheville, who apparently runs a cult – oops, a motivational program – called “The Movement for Coherent Philosophy.” Noting that it’s , the same time that showed on the alarm clock when she woke up in the hotel room before encountering L. Ron Hubb… uh, Darius in the lobby, Juliette clearly believes this is a sign of something. When she finds out Darius called to try to get in touch with her (at exactly , natch), things go from oddly mysterious to total Twilight Zone-y. She calls and asks why he was at the hotel, thinking he may have been stalking her. He tells her she needs his help. What she needs to do is get Leah Remini on the line ASAP. Juliette goes to the center to meet with Darius, who assures her that he’s not running a cult or a religion (that bright red flag blinding her should tell her otherwise, but this is Juliette after all). Before long, she’s in tears as he’s talking about the “fake power of celebrity” and gives her a homework assignment that involves counting to 10, telling her she has to give up control to get control. During a radio interview, the host (Nash Nights Live‘s Elaina Smith) confronts her about her meltdown and her thievery of Maddie’s song, and rumors that she’s back on the booze. Please stand by while Juliette counts to 10… and we count the number of times Nashville has made the media look like a bunch of gossip-hungry vipers. 

While Scarlett wanders the streets of Los Angeles, she spots a duo performing and naturally thinks about Gunnar. Instead of calling him, she deletes him from her favorites on her phone, a move which takes Deacon to the top spot on that list. Deacon and Zach are at an event that appears to be some sort of cowboy-hat convention. Seriously? To quote Henry Gibson from the 1975 movie with the same name, “This isn’t Dallas, it’s Nashville!” Brad (the sleazy record executive introduced last season to the delight of exactly no one) shows up to taunt them, referring to Deacon’s label as “Driveway 65” (OK, that was funny) and calling Zach “Zach-aroni” (he should have quit with the first dig) before leaving to no doubt skeeve someone else with his presence.

Gunnar is rehearsing but it isn’t going well. When he talks to Will, he finds out that Will is just as messed up about his ex as he is about Scarlett. “We’re pathetic,” Will concludes. Later, when Gunnar’s solo performance begins to falter, Will takes the stage to provide backup and they both stand there naked. Figuratively speaking, of course. 

As everyone rings in the New Year, Deacon is happy to find his daughters and Scarlett at home. Juliette calls Darius to tell him, “I’m ready.” And as the show marches toward its inevitable finale, set for later this year, we are anything but ready, but we will be following it like hungry, music-loving, romance-starved sheep.

In This Article: Nashville


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