Thoughts about ‘Nashville’ Finale Part 2: “Thank You for Letting Me Live”

During the course of one Nashville episode, Rayna Jaymes managed to launch a new album, kick Jeff Fordham’s ass, hold Juliette’s hair above the toilet, perform at LP field and get two marriage proposals.

Well played Rayna, well played.

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But sometimes less is more and it just so happens that Rayna’s defining moment during that episode wasn’t any of these big events, but a different, and a very small one.

Rayna’s defining moment was a short scene with her sitting alone in front of a mirror in her dressing room, just before going up on stage, praying.

It was a subtle, intimate moment and a very rare one since we hardly get to watch Rayna in this type of intimate situations.

It’s also a moment that echoes to the first time we met Rayna in Nashville’s Pilot episode and in a way comes full circle with it.

We are introduced to Rayna during the opening scene of The pilot. In that scene we see her running after Maddie and Daphne through the corridors of her house while wearing a bathrobe and hair rollers.

Related: All About The Nashville Characters 

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary domestic scene; just a regular evening in the life of a family. But soon we find out there’s more to it than meets the eye. That’s because the everyday woman in the bathrobe is also a legendary country singer who is on her way to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

Rayna’s transformation from ‘ordinary’ to ‘superstar’ is swift. One minute she’s a regular woman standing at home in front of a mirror and the next she’s at the Ryman, owning the stage and singing her heart out about inner strength and independence.

The same way Clark Kent takes off his glasses and puts on his special suit to become Superman, Rayna lets her hair down and adds rhinestone to transform herself into the queen of country music.

Only that it seems that for Rayna there’s nothing wondrous about it. It appears that for her it’s just a job, a routine.
The understanding that this is something extraordinary is reserved to us, the viewers, at that point.

Back to the season 2 finale, and yet again we meet Rayna as she’s preparing to go on-stage.

Once again it’s just her in front of a mirror.

It’s almost the same…almost.

This time Rayna takes her time.

This time going on stage isn’t just part of a routine but also a personal triumph.

This time that ‘job’ of hers is a prize, a gift, a wonder.

Therefore it’s only fitting she’ll use this moment to count her blessings. After all, as she discovered during her journey from the Pilot episode until this moment – NOTHING can be taken for granted in life including (and especially) life itself.

And so we meet a very grateful and humble Rayna. She is thankful for her children, her man and her strength.

It’s a sweet moment that becomes even sweeter with the rotation of the camera that shows us Rayna through the pink flowers on her dressing table.

It’s an image that tells a story of adversity and triumph and it fits perfectly to the narrative she’s trying to project as a public figure. This image could easily be copy-pasted into an Oprah special featuring Rayna telling “all” about the year she’s had.

But the rotation of the camera quickly gives a somewhat dark twist to this intimate moment and gives us a moving (and quite needed) insight into Rayna’s inner world.

As the camera moves away from Rayna with her eyes closed to the flowers, we can still hear her but can on see her face. She’s almost hidden behind the flowers and consequently, behind her image.

When the camera finds her again, it’s from a different angle.

From the new angle the flowers are no longer main feature. That status is now reserved to Rayna herself, that we now notice, is wearing black. When the camera is fixated on her, she opens her eyes, slightly lower her head and look straight ahead at her reflection.

“Thank you for letting me live”, she says in a voice that seems to have come from a very deep and dark place in her soul.

No more filters, distractions or false images.

Just Rayna, the woman, sharing her truth.

Just Rayna, prioritizing and by that subsequently admitting even she can’t have it all.

Then we understand that this season, for Rayna, was about one thing, and one thing only – survival.

She got her life back and it’s one hell of a gift.

Now, it’s no longer only us, the viewers that know how extraordinary her life are, she knows it as well, and she’s grateful.

Cut to the next scene, again just like in the pilot, and Rayna, the woman, magically transforms into RAYNA JAYMES.

She’s walking on to the stage accompanies by the cheering crowd. Everyone she cherishes is there and the stage is all hers.

She’s radiant.

While watching her smile from ear to ear it’s hard not to think about the fact that it’s the first time this season we have seen Rayna happy, truly happy.

Related: Thoughts About Nashville Season 2 Finale Part 1: It Ain’t Yours to Throw Away

It’s not that she didn’t have her share of good moments but this is different, because here, for the first time in a very long time, she appears to also be free and in control, just like at the Ryman when she sang ‘Already Gone’ in the pilot.

That leads to our understanding that for Rayna, the foundation for living is being in control of her career and her ability to sing and perform.

It’s not even something she does, it’s who she is and it’s quite beautiful to watch.

Watching her on stage in her element creates the illusion that all she did in the past 2 season is fight hard to go back to the beginning, the place where she started in the pilot.

After all, she once again gained control over her career, has a man that supports her career, and does what she was born to do. Hey, she even had a moment with Deacon when she picked up the guitar for Maddie that can take them back to ‘soul-mates-friends-secretly-in-love-it’s-complicated-having-eyes-sex’ status that they mastered so well over the years.

But is it really the same?

No, not really because Rayna is not the same.

The most significant difference between then and now, the one we notice through looking at the way she’s looking at herself in the mirror, is that now she appreciates life more and is more grateful for everything she has.

The importance of her appreciation of everything life has to offer is that now she has much more to lose and that in order to keep what she has, she must make a commitment to do so and forsake everything that doesn’t support and nourish this commitment.

And commitments comes with a price.

Trying to hold the rope at two ends for too long, as Rayna discovered the hard way, is a receipt for disaster. It’s really a choice only when you’re willing to give something up and consequently pay a price for it.

We simply can’t have it all and Rayna is now painfully aware of it.

The question in front of her is what should she commit to?

In Nashville finale Rayna’s options are presented by 2 different men that represent 2 possible paths in life.

If we look at what each of them has to offer, then her dilemma now is not whether to marry Luke or Deacon, but a much broader one.

Her dilemma is whether now that she got a second chance to live and got all her ducks in a row, so to speak, she should step on the gas and conquer new frontiers or maybe slow down and reconnect to her roots.

Her dilemma is the dilemma between the performer, businesswoman Rayna that now has the opportunity to break the glass ceiling and become a force to be recognized in the Country music world, and between the Rayna the artist and family woman that has the chance of exploring the depths of her soul (without alcohol to tarnish it) and have a real chance for ‘a Life that’s good’.

Rayna needs to pick her vision of herself and pay a heavy price for the vision she doesn’t pick.

What will she pick? Will it ultimately be the right choice for her? Will it hold? How will her decision effect the people around her? And how heavy will be the price she’ll have to pay for her decision?

Soon we will know.

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5 comments

  1. Nice summary. I have to say,though, not sure why the character would come this far, only to gain her success on the coattails of a male performer, no less. If she’s truly wants to break the “glass ceiling” she doesn’t have to do it by marrying someone else. And, having to sacrifice the ‘life that’s good’ to do that, doesn’t seem like a very feminist route to me. Seems more like a traditional patriarchal version of success.If she’s going to have a company that is truly a ‘refuge’ for artists, she’s going to have to pave a new road to success– not a road similar to Edge Hill or probably, not even similar to Luke Wheeler’s path.

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    • Thanks for the comment. I think feminism is being free to express yourself and it’s different for each person.
      As for Rayna, think that the choice is not Luke or Deacon but going forward with what she already started or changing her route.

      The fact that Luke proposed in front of all these people made it impossible to say no so she’s pretty much stuck with him cause breaking up with him right now means damaging her career at a very sensitive spot.

      To choose Deacon right now means not being in control of many things and also sharing a life with someone with a different vision than hers in career. For me all of these choices are feminist because it’s real dilemmas. It’s fun to think we can have it all but none of us can and it’s really interesting to see the struggle.

      If Rayna was a man we wouldn’t have asked this question because it’s acceptable that a man would choose a career and the woman will still stick by him and his family will stay strong. When women make such a choice they pay a price and I think it’s interesting to see Rayna’s journey towards a solution that makes her be on top and being that ambitious and still be with the man she loves and have a family… Its really a journey.
      I’m really interested to see how it will play out.

      Rayna I believe is one of the most feminist characters I’ve seen on TV because she is not making it look easy but still going after what she wants even if she’s not “likable”while doing so. Meaning, being a good girl and pleasing everyone.

      As for her and Deacon, think he will keep reminding her what she lost even if she really won’t choose him until she’ll realize she made a mistake. The mistake in this case is that she doesn’t have enough faith in them to make that kind of gamble but she will get pulled to it until they’ll build that trust cause what they have…its worth everything as long as you believe it can work. That’s not a feminist or not feminist question but a regular relationship problem; that’s a question of the heart.

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  2. Well said, again. I think my main point is that a spouse having a different vision in career doesn’t mean that will get in the way of your own vision. Look at Meryl Streep, for example. But I get the fact that calling it off with Luke so soon would be a dagger in Highway 65- and that may not be worth risking at this moment especially with such a risky Deacon. I guess my problem with the picks (that might be visions of the future) of her in blue jeans with Deacon is that i’m not so sure her route to success has to be so much different with him, down the road, than with Luke (or on her own). In fact, his lack of need for huge success could in the end, make her family life easier, more balanced.

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    • I’ve been wondering about that (how her life with Deacon will look like) and I really hope we’ll get enough seasons to watch them explore that because Deacon is not Teddy. I mean, Teddy also didn’t have any musical aspirations so she could go off on tour for months at a time. Think the challenge with Deacon ( wouldn’t call it a problem but it is a challenge) is that there’s something about them coming together that makes them function as one unit. As a couple, they’re symbiotic. It’s quite amazing in some aspects but it’s really challenging when you try to build something that’s only yours. For example, it’s hard for me to imagine her going on tour without him. He will be willing to stay with the kids, but think they’ll miss each other too much not just as romantic partners but also as musical partners. I can say that’s it’s a storyline, I would REALLY love to watch down the line.

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  3. So agree — would be so great to see that journey! One thing–Teddy didn’t have musical aspirations, but I think he had a need to be in the spot light and a need for power, thus his run for mayor.He had some major insecurities, that ironically, I don’t think Deacon has. Deacon’s insecurity is with Rayna’s heart & commitment.

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