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Major Nashville spoilers below for anyone who hasn't watched Episode 8, "Stand Beside Me."
For the love of all that is holy, Nashville, can you stop putting our favorite characters inside of vehicles that are destined to put them in harm's way? Tonight's episode finally put Rayna up close and personal with her creepster stalker, and while that situation ended fairly well for the musician and her obsessor, everything went to hell soon after. Rayna was the victim of another brutal car accident, and it really doesn't look good. Showrunner Marshall Herskovitz explained the reasoning behind this shocking conclusion is tied to the history of abuse that came up just before. In his words:
I guess you could say there's a deeper thematic point here that this idea of childhood trauma is a profound one, and things had happened to Rayna in her life that she might never escape. The fact this was an accident was in a way irrelevant, because this would have never happened if she hadn't been in this situation with this man and they hadn't put her in a car and were rushing her home. So it's entirely connected, but more of a karmic connection rather than a direct connection to the man himself.
Rayna is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't, while holding all the short straws. While she's great at times about looking like she hasn't got a care in the world, the problems she experienced as a child obviously still inform her life, and "inescapable doom" is an interesting angle from which to conceive a character's arc. I mean, fiction is filled with characters who never win (Charlie Brown) and those who will always be haunted by the past (Ash Williams), but mainstream dramas invested in realistic situations aren't usually the ones putting archetypal motivations behind character conflicts. I like thinking about things in that context.
Nashville puts most of its characters through differing depths of dramatic turmoil, with Rayna taking on her fair share of it all, and she's potentially more doomed than ever after getting T-boned in that cop car. But in the scheme of things, it's actually pretty important for Rayna as a character that she fell victim to this car accident and not old Carl-Wayne-Carl, her #1 fan for so many years. Marshall Herskovitz says the intense ordeal in the episode's final act was inspired by both the 1982 incident when the Queen of England talked down a man who broke into her bedroom, and the 2005 case, about a woman held hostage by a murderer, that inspired the film Captive. The showrunner was inspired by those cases' non-violent turnouts, and he told EW this about Rayna:
She manages to reach this man, she makes a personal connection and because of that she disarms him emotionally, so it felt like a contradiction of the entire scene if he harms her. Because she succeeded.
As one preview for next week's episode shows us, though, she's not exactly succeeding while laying in a hospital bed.
With what looks to be an emotionally debilitating next episode on the way that may take Rayna out of the equation entirely, Nashville airs Thursday nights on CMT. Check out the trailer for the next episode on the next page and head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what other shows will get you in tears soon.