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Nashville - New Strings - Advance Preview: "Cosmic Law"

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Welcome back Nashies to another season of TV’s best country music drama. Yes, I realize that doesn’t really mean much given there are essentially no other country music dramas, but I digress. This moment is bittersweet as season 6 of Nashville will be the series’ last. After surviving a cancellation and successfully switching networks, the show will conclude after 13 episodes. My sneaking suspicion is that this was contractually motivated. Most shows usually have actors sign a six-season contract, and with those contracts about to expire, the showrunners made the right call to end the series now. The show barely survived the death of Rayna; it would have been an uphill battle to convince fans to stick around if either Hayden Panettiere or Charles Esten left. Some series will roll the dice, desperately trying to keep the show alive well past its expiration date. So I’m pleasantly surprised the showrunners made the choice to end the series on a high note – or at least on a higher note. With only 16 episodes left, I really hope the showrunners make every last one count, a fete they somewhat accomplish in “New Strings.” So without further ado, let’s dive in.

For those who griped last season about Hayden Panettiere’s lack of screen time, fans should be happy that Juliette is front and center during the season premiere. But just because Juliette is front and center doesn’t mean she won’t do things that will make want to throw a remote at my TV screen, trying to shake some sense into her. After a public meltdown, Juliette seeks to change her life with help from an unlikely source. On the one hand, I couldn’t be prouder of her for finally taking the initiative and seeking help. For seasons, we’ve watched as Juliette has only reached out to others once she had hit rock bottom time and time again. This may actually be the first time we’ve seen any of that fickle character development and growth stick, with Juliette coming clean about her problems. I was like a proud mother when she not only realized something was wrong but also decided to do something about it, yet that feeling of pride dissipated when it became clear who that unlikely source would be. I mean, it was pretty obvious during the character’s introduction that the individual would be the one to help Juliette, but that didn’t stop me from hoping she would rebuff the person’s efforts and see a therapist. Without giving too much away, the one word that comes to mind to describe this new character is cliché. From everything the individual does and says is so formulaic; it’s almost laughable. Basically everyone – other characters and audience members – sees this character for who he or she truly is except Juliette. It’s like she’s so desperate for help, to feel and get better, that she accepts it from the first stranger who offers it to her. Personally, I wouldn’t have picked this arc for the final season, but I will give credit to the writers for finally acknowledging some of Juliette’s character growth instead of ignoring five seasons worth of progress.

Meanwhile, Scarlett and Maddie take a trip to Los Angeles where Maddie meets Jonah Ford, a famous pop star. With the introduction of a singer of Justin Bieber proportions, it’s pretty clear the writers are planning for Jonah to be a possible romantic interest for Maddie. On the plus side, it seems like the guy is mentally stable and age appropriate, unlike Clay, and not your almost step-brother, like Colt. As for any possible drawbacks, well this is a guy who is plenty familiar with the limelight, essentially meaning any sort of relationship would be under public scrutiny. Maddie learned firsthand last season what can happen when things are taken out of context and everyone on the internet basically inserts themselves into your business. A romantic relationship with someone famous basically means Maddie can kiss her privacy goodbye. So I’m assuming viewers will be treated to half a season of Maddie and Jonah’s back and forth until they ultimately decide one way or another whether to start dating. I doubt people actually ship Maddie with anyone, but I’m taking the stance of wanting to see her put herself first during the final season. We’ve had to suffer through Maddie’s crazy personality changes and her endless boyfriend drama. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a teenager actually focus on growing up and figuring out her life before adding other craziness to the mix? Yes. Will it happen? Probably not.

And so while fans hoping for the three men and a baby reunion may be disappointed, they should take comfort in the return of Gunnar and Will’s bromance. It has been way too long since these guys just hung out and had a good time. I think the last time they shared this much consecutive screen time was either season 1 or 2. One of the things the show doesn’t really focus on, or at least show as often, is the friendships. Yes, the series is about the drama of the country music industry and the characters’ messy romantic lives, but part of that equation that is often ignored is the friendships. Watching Rayna and Juliette go from rivals to allies to friends was such an integral part of the show; it was essentially the premise of the series from the beginning. Somewhere along the way, the series got bogged down with unnecessary relationship drama, so it was a breath of fresh air to watch Gunnar and Will just goof around. There was very little talk of Scarlett or Zach; just two guys supporting each other. With Gunnar struggling, Will is there to coach him. And by coach, I mean, Will is essentially Gunnar’s cheerleader. The scenes the two shared together were some of my favorite of the premiere, as it was such a nice reminder how two characters pursuing the same dream can still be friends. There doesn’t always need to be a rivalry between the characters, like when Juliette unnecessarily stole Maddie’s song, for it to be interesting. So with that in mind, I really hope the writers continue to focus on Gunnar and Will’s friendship this season as I would much rather watch them than see more of the disastrous romantic entanglements between Scunnar and Will/Zach.

Lastly, we have Deacon dealing with his loneliness. I can’t really tease too much about this subplot without giving the details away, but it definitely seems like Deacon may soon be ready to start exploring what else life has to offer. After Rayna died, he sort of closed himself off from the rest of the world. Yes, he was mourning the loss of his wife and trying to raise two teenage daughters and run a record label with an egotistical man who only cared about the bottom line, but he sort of lost himself in the process. In trying to fix the world around him, Deacon lost sight of who he was at his core: a musician. I mean, it took him months after losing Rayna to finally pick up a guitar. What I really want to see for Deacon this season is for him to finally get back to living his life; just because Rayna is gone doesn’t mean he’s not allowed to be happy. I’m also much more receptive this season about Deacon moving on romantically. When Alyssa and Jessie were introduced in season 5B, I was vehemently against either one becoming a potential love interest. I mean Rayna’s body was barely cold before those two characters were teased as being romantically involved with Deacon. However, it’s nearly been a year – in real life – since Connie Britton left the show. The fans, myself included, have had time to “grieve” and get used to the idea of Deacon moving on with someone else. Whether it be Jessie or a newly introduced character, I’m not sure, but I want Deacon to be happy.

Some stray thoughts:
- I can’t believe Maddie is already 18. Like where did the time go?
- I still have mixed feelings about Gunnar’s hair. I can’t decide if I like it or not.
- Some of my major problems with last season have been rectified, which makes me happy beyond belief.
- I can’t believe this is really the last season.

Don’t forget to watch an all new episode of Nashville when it airs Thursday, January 4 at 9 on CMT.

So without further ado hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. Who is the unlikely source that Juliette turns to? What are your thoughts on a new romantic interest for Maddie? Who’s on board for a whole season of Gunnar and Will’s bromance? When will Deacon finally start living his life again?

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