Before we start: Some of these captions are long. I just discovered that in addition to using the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to move through slides, you can ALSO use the up and down arrows to inch the captions up and down. If you don’t like the “i” button for instant zapping, and you don’t like the scrolling, give that a shot instead.

If you clicked into the recap, then you want to be spoiled, so let’s not be cute about it: Rayna dies in this episode. And reader, I cried. Not because of her, per se, but because of the Stellas and Deacon; this was a really, really well-performed episode. I felt like I was watching them open a vein, and though I’m not a crier at TV and movies particularly, it totally got me. WHAT IS DAPHNE GOING TO DO? Her birth father is in jail for banging hookers and her mother just died and her sister is super self-involved! Is Scarlett going to have to explain to her about not flushing tampons?!?

Connie Britton claims Rayna’s death was always in the discussion for season five, even before the show moved to CMT, so she’s not just being a network snob (my words). I believe that. I think Connie had done pretty much all she could with Rayna. She and Deacon simply couldn’t be divided again except by force, and without that there wasn’t much to do but pay Connie a large amount of money to nod sagely at people and give hugs. Not very creatively satisfying for her or for the writers, and not the best for your bottom line. Hayden Panettiere will surely be next — she can’t be cheap — and I assume some of the others will drop out one by one as they shrink the budget and try to turn the show slowly into something that’s sustaining itself with all new country blood. Because there’s not a ton of gas left in the Gunnar/Scarlett tank. The show doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with Will. It got rid of Luke Wheeler and Layla… I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow but steady exodus and changing of the guard.

It does stink, though, that fans ended up getting misled. I’m all for keeping a tight lid on your spoilers, but once word leaked out that Connie wasn’t staying for the entire season, it was tacky to have her go on the talk shows and “deny” by saying she was “in it for the duration” — which, of course, you can retroactively interpret as “the duration of Rayna’s life.” My theory is, Britton’s people were the ones who leaked her availability so that Hollywood knew she was in play for pilot season, and the network got mad because it might keep people from tuning in to its newly acquired property — besides which, it boned their twist a little. But I’m not sure having her turn around and double down on what turned out to be a falsehood was in great faith.

Regardless, it changes nothing: Rayna is still dead and Deacon and Daphne and Maddie I GUESS are making me very sad. Will the show remember Tandy exists, and bring her back for the funeral? Maybe SHE can remind Daphne to open her menses present.

This might be an elegant time to end our recapping era, as well. I’ve said that a hundred times in Nashville’s existence but I keep watching, and then I think maybe the other people who are still watching need a place to feel their feelings, so I never quite quit. We’ll see how the next few go. At the very least, maybe they’ll be irregular check-ins.

Tags: Nashville