Nashville 4×03 “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye?” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Tonight’s episode was heavy. And I mean really, really heavy. There should’ve been a warning. So in case you haven’t watched yet and you chose to read this in advance, grab some tissues.

Episode Summary: After careful consideration and an ongoing argument with Deacon, Scarlett decides it’s time to take her mother off life support. Daphne, Maddie, and Rayna make their amends with Teddy. Avery reconsiders getting a divorce. Juliette’s still partying. And the drama’s intensified.

Review | Analysis: Tonight’s episode featured some of the best performances I’ve ever seen on television and for that reason alone, I almost hated it. As weird as that sounds, I wish these actors were actually bad and didn’t sell those scenes so well because then maybe I’d actually be able to write about it. That said, this is a fair warning that reviews for the series may be a bit shorter than usual because while I love my drama and excellent performances, I have a very difficult time discussing topics that are too sad.

The pacing of tonight’s episode was much better than last week’s, we weren’t jumping from one thing to another, but rather the storylines felt less overwhelming despite the nature of events.

For starters, I cannot stress how happy I am that we’ve finally gotten some resolution between Teddy and the girls. I didn’t even expect Rayna to fall into that picture but she was written into it wonderfully. It’s pretty sad how often I actually laugh at Teddy’s storyline because of how ridiculous it is, but it was nice to finally see a man in him. And it was great to finally feel just how important his daughters are to him. It’s always been clear that he’s loved the girls, but during season three especially, his actions never matched up with his heart’s intentions. It was admirable to finally see him take responsibility for his actions with his choice to plead guilty and pay for his crimes. It took Daphne getting suspended for us to finally confront her feelings but I still don’t feel it’s enough and I hope we get to see her feel as though she belongs more. However, I loved finally getting a strong mother/daughter scene between Rayna and Daphne because we hadn’t had one in a while. Connie Britton and the adorable Stella sisters were so wonderful during that breakdown — their tears felt so organic and the showcase of familial love was so sincere, I’m completely satisfied with this turn of events.

On another confrontational note, Will feels overwhelmed by the idea of being the openly gay man that’ll change the country music scene. I get his frustration — for the most part, he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality because there’s much more to him. I loved that he stood up for his beliefs, but I was mostly proud of him for telling Kevin that at the moment, he matters most. Kevin’s helped him open up about who he is and it’s great for him to acknowledge that nothing’s changed between the two of them.

Additionally, the conversation between Gunnar and Scarlett was shocking. It’s been a while since they’ve had a real, sincere moment where audiences could see just how much they care about each other. Tonight wasn’t about pushing any boundaries or a romantic relationship, it was about Gunnar showcasing how well he knows Scarlett by empathetically reminding her of what a great person she is. Gunnar’s kindness allows her to see that the decision she makes will be the right one no matter what because she’s a good person. She wouldn’t have cared so much if her mom didn’t matter and that’s what reveals her character most, not the decision itself. It reminded me so much of Gunnar in season one because he was the one person who always knew how to speak to Scarlett in a graceful tone that’d help her feel safe. (Where have you been for the past few weeks, dude?)

I’m so frustrated with how often I’ve already written I wish the series would confront Juliette’s postpartum depression already. So sadly, I can’t even bother anymore because I don’t know what else to say. I’ll talk about Juliette when the series actually gives me material that reveals we’re on the road toward progress.

Clare Bowen broke me in this episode. It’s that simple. There were so many opportunities where she could’ve overdone this emotional turmoil, but it felt so raw, my heart’s in pieces. This was anything but easy for Scarlett, and though she thought she couldn’t do it alone, I’m so proud to have seen her conquer it. I’m so proud that she did it alone because letting go of everything was all on her and I’m really looking forward to where this takes her character. She forgave her mom. She loved her mom. And she was there until the very end revealing that everything she’s gone through has only made her stronger and better. However, before Beverly went, the greatest thing is that she was given the opportunity to make amends with her daughter. She was able to apologize and understand that she was wrong and Scarlett can now move on with full confidence that her mother loved her. Their relationship’s not something that needs to be looked back on angrily but rather lovingly, and at the end of the day, it’s what matters the most.

And then there’s Charles Esten whose performance felt so ridiculously raw, much like Bowen’s, it was pretty much unbearable to watch. That final breakdown in the bedroom was horrifyingly heartbreaking. This wasn’t your typical crying scene — Esten sold that breakdown to the tee. I am astonished. I knew the man was gifted but tonight’s episode was on a whole new level of amazing. Esten and Bowen were incredible scene partners this week, truly selling the whirlwind of emotions within them impeccably. This will have Deacon spiraling in so many directions, I can’t even imagine where it’ll lead him. Prayer circle it doesn’t lead him to a bottle or all this has been for nothing.

Bottom line is, lovely readers — I just don’t have a lot of things to say because talking about the episode is making me pretty sad. And I imagine reading about it will make you all sad as well. So here’s to hoping things get better from here on out because I really want to cover good moments. We can have tons of drama, but tonight’s was just too heavy.

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