'Nashville' Recap: Will Recovers as Final Season Resumes - Rolling Stone
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‘Nashville’ Recap: Will Recovers, Brad Strikes Back as Final Season Resumes

With just a handful of episodes before the CMT musical drama ends, Will’s brush with death brings a surprise visitor

Chris CarmackChris Carmack

Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) recovers but keeps a secret from his bandmates on the midseason premiere of 'Nashville.'

Mark Levine/CMT

It’s a big week for country music as CMA Music Festival gets underway and, hot on the heels of the CMT Music Awards, Nashville returned to the network Thursday night to finish up its five-season run with the show’s last-ever episodes. And even though Juliette remains MIA, presumably still in the clutches of the cult that has her holed up somewhere in Bolivia, a face from the past did return. To quote Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death.” But on Nashville this week there was plenty on which to feast. So, as the Brits say, let’s tuck in.

When last we saw Will, he was rapt by ‘roid rage, shredding guitar with his Last Highway bandmates on ABC’s The Chew until his heart exploded right there on daytime TV. As the episode opens he’s fighting for his life in a New York City hospital. No surprise, it wasn’t the daytime cooking show’s calorie-rich desserts that did him in. The official diagnosis was endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart brought on by his steroid use. When Gunnar, Avery and Alannah visit him, he apologizes for his stupidity and his mood swings. Let’s hope he also sent a nice heart-healthy muffin basket to The Chew crew. Later, the doctor tells him he might require surgery and that he shouldn’t even be thinking about getting back onstage anytime soon.

As the band members, including Will, travel on the bus back to Nashville, Alannah cheers everyone up with a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer, slit-your-wrists post-breakup tune, all the while locking eyes with Avery, whom she’s been eyeing like a thick slice of lemon meringue pie every chance she gets. Gunnar breaks the weirdly depressing lack of sexual chemistry with the news that the band has been booked to play the Music City Music Festival. Will, however, hasn’t broken the news that the doctor told him he shouldn’t be performing. Avery gets a call from a nosy reporter regarding Juliette’s whereabouts, and after he hangs up on her, Alannah is, of course, there with a sympathetic shoulder. She probably has a fork and some whipped cream stashed on her as well.

Deacon apologizes to Jessie for going after Brad, who broke down his son’s bedroom door when young Jake bristled at the idea of being shipped off to military school. Deacon explains that his split-second reaction was brought on by flashbacks of his own dad’s abusive behavior, which is perhaps some foreshadowing of a future event. Jessie gets served with court papers informing her that Brad is suing for full custody of their son. When she goes to Brad’s office to talk the situation over with him, the spawn of Dr. Evil claims he’s worried about their son’s safety because of Deacon’s violent, impulsive behavior. Deacon and Jessie talk to a lawyer about the custody case. It looks bleak for both of them. He tells Jessie they should just be apart, but later Jessie convinces him otherwise and they decide to fight their common enemy together. After a romantic steak dinner, no doubt.

Jonah is hanging with his buds, playing video games and celebrating his birthday with shots – of the alcoholic variety, not the performance-enhancing kind. Maddie downs one even though Jonah’s BFF Twig, who is hopelessly smitten with her, reminds Jonah she doesn’t drink. Jonah takes Maddie to Bridgestone Arena and gives her an official Nashville Predators hockey jersey. Arguably, this could have been timed in anticipation of the team’s Stanley Cup hopes, which were recently dashed, just like Twig’s when he spots Maddie and Jonah playing tonsil hockey. Later, Twig and Maddie dance and, just like that, hope springs eternal for the lovestruck millennial. Maddie, however, overindulges and wakes up at home with a hangover. Not a great move when your dad’s a recovering alcoholic. Deacon, understandably, is less than pleased. And breakfast is ruined when Maddie declares she’s moving out!

Will continues to recuperate at home, eating healthy snacks when he is surprised by a visitor. It’s his ex, Zach, who reveals he has broken up with Mark. They don’t quite make up but we can see a healthy breakfast together in their future.

Meanwhile, Alannah and Gunnar have sex and she can’t even be bothered to stick around for an after-sex breath mint. She shows up at Avery’s, naturally, where the two of them flirt, drink and dance, then end up waking up next to each other in the morning. When a gossip website picks up on her presence at Avery’s house, Gunnar is so mad at Avery he accidentally punches a nearby, completely innocent guitar player right on the nose. If Nashville were to do a completely ill-advised and unnecessary spin-off series, they might as well try a comedy this time and call it That’s So Gunnar! and give the hapless musician an unpredictable, outspoken sidekick as a co-star. We hear Roseanne’s available.

As the episode ends, we’re reminded that with all the food and drink that weaves its way into the average Nashville episode, what these characters really have an appetite for is expressing their emotional roller-coaster lives – and loves – in song. Deacon asks Maddie why she hasn’t written anything lately, and even though Will sees himself as more of a showman than a tunesmith, he manages to write a song – and a damn good one at that – about getting a taste of his own medicine. As Daphne grieves another potential loss, Maddie tells her she’s changed her mind and Deacon is convinced it’s his pancakes that did the trick. 

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