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Nashville - Farther On - Review: "We're All In This Together" + POLL

Well that’s one way to end a penultimate episode with the future on Highway 65 hanging in the balance. What started out as a somewhat slow episode, really kicked into overdrive during the second half. The two big plot points of "Farther On" were Zach’s ultimatum and Deacon’s decision. Well, Deacon made a decision, and it looks like Zach will make good on his promise. With only one episode left of season five, the entire fate of Highway 65 hangs in the balance. Could this really be the end of our favorite fictional record label? Only time will tell.

So let’s kick things off with the character who’s fault this is: Maddie. I’m just kidding because this actually isn’t her fault. While a lot of things over the past five seasons have been, this isn’t one of them. She starts out the episode pretty apprehensive about doing the commercial, but still goes along with it. She may not have been thrilled about her appearance or going to the party with the executives from the mascara company or the repeated takes that had her soaking wet, but she doesn’t really complain. Sure, she’s not thrilled about going to the party and the multiple takes since she’s exhausted, I would be too, but she soldiers on the good little artist she’s supposed to be. However, when the mascara company wants to change her lyrics, that is the final straw. She up and refuses to do the commercial moving forward, but she technically is in breach of contract because Zach hid a clause about the company being able to alter her words. This leads to a very real conversation between her and Deacon with Maddie finally realizing how hard life can be when you’re an adult. All of last season, she was so desperate to get emancipated so she could pursue her music career and be out in the real world. Now she’s realizing that sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t want to do, that being an adult comes not just with freedom, but responsibilities too. The best thing Maddie has said all season is that she doesn’t want to be a grown-up. She finally gets it through her head that she shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up.

I think this was an episode that really showcased how much she has grown. She put up with a lot at the shoot and wanted to stand up for her beliefs, but she put the needs of everyone else above her. I’m not an artist, but I am a writer. While Maddie was really opposed to doing the commercial, once she finds out that it could mean the end of Highway 65, she quickly changes her tune. I’m not an artist, but I am a journalist. My words get changed on a daily basis, and I’m pretty sure lots of other artists have had parts of their songs rewritten for different purposes. However, when Maddie’s describing how her song came from the bottom of heart, how she poured her soul into that, I understood of where she was coming from. For me, it’s usually the phrasing of the words or restructuring the article, but it’s not the core of what I wrote. It’s little changes that don’t bother me. But to her, it’s not just the alteration of a line, but a complete change of something she poured every last ounce of her being into. This really did feel different from the other temper tantrums she’s thrown over the course of the series. It felt like it was something real worth fighting for. So I get you sometimes have to do things you don’t like, but if you feel so strongly about something, then you have to stand up for what you believe. However, I did think it was big of her to decide to finish the commercial when she knew the future of Highway 65 could be on the line. While she may have been willing to risk her career, she wasn’t able to risk everyone else’s. So congrats on finally becoming a tolerable character Maddie. Let’s hope you stay that way.

Now onto a character who I love every episode, but especially this one: Deacon. At the start of the episode, Deacon is stretched way too thin with running Highway 65 to helping Jessie record her album and parenting Maddie and Daphne. Things only get more stressful when Deacon gets an opportunity to play the Opry but is hesitant since he doesn’t know when he’ll have time to practice. Add in the fact that the sky starts falling when Zach threatens to pull Highway 65’s funding, and it’s a wonder he didn’t have a heart attack from all the stress. Thankfully, he has a great support system to lean on. Instead of making this decision on his own, Deacon turns to the people closest to him, the ones he calls family, and has them make this decision together as it affects everyone. There isn’t even much discussion during the initial conversation as everyone believes Deacon will do what’s right. They all have tremendous faith in him. Deacon, meanwhile, is struggling what it will mean to give up on one of Rayna’s biggest dreams. Even though people keep pointing out Rayna created the label for artists to express themselves and this label isn’t that anymore, it still takes him awhile to decide. The tipping point is essentially Jessie “kidnapping” Deacon and forcing him to clear his head. I know some viewers won’t be happy that Jessie got screen time, but he had a million and one things on his plate that he definitely needed an hour to himself. She also gives him pretty great advice that Rayna would want Deacon to live his life as best he could rather than holding onto something that makes miserable. In the end, Deacon did what we knew he would do all along and refused to give in to Zach’s ultimatum. He basically proved he’s a superhero this episode from standing up to Zach to performing two amazing songs at the Opry after everything that happened. His decision will definitely have ramifications for Highway 65, starting next episode, but for the time being, let’s enjoy the sweet victory of watching Zach not get his way for once.

Now let’s shift gears slightly to the romantic pairing of Deacon and Jessie. In this episode we had a handholding moment in the car that lasted way too long to be strictly friendly and a hug at the end of the episode that gave Daphne pause. We also got the incredibly raw scene where Deacon confides in Jessie that everyone wants him to start moving on, but he can’t. Jessie had the perfect response with saying that maybe he never will completely and no one has the right to tell him how to do this. That conversation definitely helped inch me closer to accepting their eventual romantic pairing. We all know it’s coming at this point; the only we can do is either get aboard or be run over. Deacon still has a long way to go before he’s ready for a romantic relationship, but Jessie seems to understand Deacon’s grief better than any other character. She gets what he’s going through because she has been through something similar with her son. She also realizes that no one could ever replace Rayna, and she’s not trying to. For this romantic pairing, I need things to continue to move forward at a somewhat glacial pace because I’m still grieving the loss of Dayna. When Rayna died, it wasn’t only Deacon who lost the love of his life, but viewers who lost a beloved character. So if something were to happen in season six, then I think I would be okay with Deacon moving on and finding happiness. However, I still think something may happen in the next episode as it is the season finale and all, and the writers would love to throw that cliffhanger in there.

After watching this episode, I am definitely clear on my feelings toward Zach. I hate him more than ever as he has surpassed Scarlett-level annoying into a category all his own. It really does feel good to label him as a villain as opposed to the somewhat “sympathetic” character the writers were trying to turn him into with his romantic relationship with Will. At the beginning on the season, he so desperately wanted to help Highway 65 succeed, and now he’s the one threatening to pull the plug because he didn’t get his way once again. He basically throws the ultimate hissy fit but has the nerve to look surprised when things don’t go his way. He really did seem surprised that Deacon didn’t cave. He kept going on about how much he’s put up with at the record label, but it’s not like he’s been some benevolent overload. He’s been a total dicktator from forcing Scarlett to do a music video she didn’t want to firing Bucky, who had been with Rayna since the beginning, and bringing in Alyssa to force the idea of brand partnerships down everyone’s throats. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean that you get to control everyone. I’m so glad Deacon stood up for the artists and himself. I would have loved it even more if Deacon had been the one to end their partnership, but I will settle for him deliciously telling Zach to do whatever feels right. What I’m really hoping is that Zach leaves for Silicon Valley at the end of the season, and we never have to see him smug slimy face again. I’m aware that he’s the source of funding for Highway 65, but there have got to be other people willing to write blank checks and want to stay silent partners. Or better yet, what if Nashville pulls a Grey’s Anatomy, and the artists pour their own money into Highway 65 and run it together? I would definitely take that any day over Zach.

Lastly, we had the pointless storyline of Avery and Gunnar on the road. Like I said in my preview, it was basically the same plotline as “The Night Before (Life Goes On).” Life on the road continues to put a strain on Javery’s relationship as Juliette still finds it difficult to be on her own. She continues to guilt Avery at every turn. Another random woman basically tells Avery that relationships aren’t supposed to be that complicated, that he doesn’t always have to take care of everyone, and tries yet again to hook up with him. As one commenter pointed out, why do all of these random women keep propositioning Avery and Gunnar? This is the third time in the last four episodes where this has happened. I’m really sick of continued recycled plotlines. Like it was great that Gunnar revisited the town where he grew up and Avery finally put himself first by going on tour, but why do these random women have to keep showing up to put things into perspective for the duo? Couldn’t a heart-to-heart conversation between the two of them have worked just as well? Picture Avery and Gunnar on a tour bus, drinking beers after a show, just talking about their shared romantic problems. That would have been a great way for them to see the truth without these random women trying to sleep with them. It also just feels a little strange that the random women keep offering their opinions about Avery’s romantic life with Juliette. It’s like it’s none of your business, and what gives you the right to comment on something you know nothing about. Sure, they’re right that Avery constantly fixes things for Juliette and he shouldn’t have to, but still. Like I said, I really feel like we’re headed toward Javery taking a break in the season finale. Avery’s time on the road was supposed to give them space, but Juliette is still so reliant on Avery, that their time apart hasn’t really given Avery any freedom.

With only the season finale left, I really hope Nashville ends on a high note. Zach appears to have emptied Highway 65’s bank account, but instead of taking the money and running, he appears to want revenge. He basically wants to make everyone suffer until they come crawling back to him. It also looks like Deacon finally finds out that Juliette stole Maddie’s song. With Juliette being the most expensive artist and money basically being nonexistent, I think there’s a chance she could get dropped from the label after what she did. There was some foreshadowing this episode where Avery tells her they may have to change course, but they won’t stop making music. And lastly it looks like Gunnar gives Scarlett some tough love about if she’s ever really let anyone in enough to trust them. My guess is that a Scunnar reconciliation is coming or Scarlett will have to watch as Gunnar moves on. I think she’s going to take his words to heart, but the only question is will she get there fast enough.

So hit the comments below to let me know what you think. Is this the end for Highway 65? How much do you hate Zach now? (The answer better be a lot). What do you think will happen in the season finale? And are you planning on watching the show next season?

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