Nashville 5.11 review: A big surprise for Scarlett! Plus Maddie and Juliette team up

*This article contains spoilers: Nashville season 5 episode 11*

I didn’t review Nashville’s last episode, mainly because I had a feeling most of its plot points would be resolved in this week’s midseason finale (episode 5.11, “Fire and Rain”). I wasn’t crazy about the funeral episode, but I liked this one a fair amount. It remains to be seen if the show can function long-term without Rayna, but this week’s episode did a nice job of highlighting some potential silver linings of her death. I’m not ready to pull a Maddie and say “thanks mom,” but I am intrigued enough to keep watching.

The most interesting thing about this episode to me was Maddie and Daphne’s continued, and completely different, reactions to Rayna’s death. Maddie in particular already seems destined to be Nashville’s connection to her mom, though I didn’t expect them to explore it this soon. Daphne also has her mom in her, of course, but Maddie’s older and has a bit more of Rayna’s fire, making her a better choice for now.

Maddie’s hasty decision to go to New York felt very much like the kind of spontaneous thing Rayna would have done for her career. When Deacon reassured Maddie that they would be fine back home and watched her car drive away, it was easy to imagine her as Rayna. Though, Maddie’s behavior also showed that she has a lot of growing up to do before truly filling Rayna’s shoes; the “thanks mom” slip was pretty bad, but I chalked it up to immaturity and stress, not overt selfishness.

I also liked the talk show storyline because it subtly introduced the idea of which women the girls will turn to in light of Rayna’s passing. Scarlett and Juliette obviously care about both Maddie and Daphne, but Scarlett’s better suited to watch out for Daphne (softer, sweeter, with a gentler touch) and Juliette for Maddie (wilder, and with a bit of a hot streak). You could add Rayna and Deacon to the mix too, actually; to me, Deacon has always fit in with Daphne and Scarlett, while, as mentioned, Rayna shared more personality traits with Maddie and Juliette.

I think Juliette and Maddie’s relationship will be especially important when season five resumes, particularly if Juliette sticks with her promise of managing Maddie. Maddie needs the tough love approach that Juliette employed in this episode, though it came across extra harsh so soon after Rayna’s death. I also wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the partnership completely blew up in their faces. Juliette really relied on Glenn to ground her in her career, and I think she’s going to struggle to do that for Maddie, even if her intentions are good.

Other thoughts on episode 5.11:

Zach hasn’t clicked with me as a character, and I outright disliked him in this episode. As Deacon pointed out, Zach didn’t know Rayna well or long enough to have an opinion on what she would have wanted. I’d also like to think everyone would have figured out the album solution without Zach breathing down their necks. It’s a bummer Will’s involved with him now, but it also speaks to how directionless his character is this season.

I know it was resolved in the last episode, but I’m beyond grateful that the custody battle between Teddy and Deacon never materialized. Kudos to Teddy, and especially Deacon, for quickly putting their feelings aside in favor of the girls.

Call me crazy, but I actually loved that soapy Scarlett/Gunnar pregnancy cliffhanger. I think potential parenthood coupled with Rayna’s death could finally get them back on track.

What did you guys think of “Fire and Rain”? How about season five so far? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

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