It was a sad, sad time on Nashville following the death of Rayna James (Connie Britton). The Thursday, March 2, episode began on a rainy day at the funeral for the late star. Deacon (Charles Esten) read a poem to his beloved but barely finished because he broke down in tears. Later, everyone convened at the house to remember Rayna, and to comfort each other. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) was walking again, and came with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) and their daughter, Cadence, in tow. Scarlett (Clare Bowen), Gunnar (Sam Palladio), Will (Chris Carmack) and Clay (Joseph David-Jones) were also in attendance.
Deacon wasn't feeling very social and wandered off by himself, while Juliette received news that CMT was eyeing someone else to sing one of Rayna's famous songs at her upcoming tribute. Juliette wasn't having that, and Glen spoke to CMT to get her on the ticket to sing. Juliette was pleased … for now. In another part of the home, Zach Wells (Cameron Scoggins) found Will and asked if his number was still in Will's phone. It was a brief, awkward exchange that set the stage for them to kiss later … which they did.
Maddie Supports Deacon
Later, Maddie (Lennon Stella) helped Deacon into bed. As he curled up in despair, she rubbed his back. "I don't know what I am without her," Deacon said. Maddie didn't miss a beat before replying, "You're my dad." After everything these two had been through, those words no doubt meant a lot. She stayed with him until he fell asleep.
The next day, Deacon; Scarlett; Rayna's ex-husband, Teddy Conrad (Eric Close); and Rayna's sister, Tandy Hampton (Judith Hoag), met at the lawyer's office to discuss the guardianship of the girls and Rayna's estate. It turned out that Rayna hadn't appointed guardianship for either, and soon the stage was set for a battle between Teddy and Deacon for those rights. Legally, Teddy had a pretty strong claim to the guardianship, but Maddie clearly wanted to stay with Deacon.
Later, at home, Maddie overheard Teddy and Tandy talking, and went straight to Deacon, urging him to do something "right now." Deacon did.
Deacon Confronts Teddy
Deacon found Teddy in the kitchen and told him, "Rayna was my wife. We discussed every single business decision." He then told Teddy to "back off a bit." Teddy didn't like that so much and said if they couldn't settle this matter themselves, they would have to go to court. "Looking forward to it," Deacon declared before storming out.
Meanwhile, Daphne was freaking out that she and Maddie might get split up. Maddie reassured her sister that that wouldn't happen. As Maddie was comforting Daphne (Maisy Stella), Deacon was talking with Aunt Tandy.
Tandy said, "Deacon, we have to talk," and he replied, "About what? Giving up my girls?" She then told him he wasn't capable of running Highway 65, and he wasn't up for raising the girls by himself. After a few more unpleasant incidents, Deacon decided it would be too much to ask the girls to go through a legal battle on top of everything else, so he sadly agreed to let Teddy be their guardian.
Juliette Has Second Thoughts
During rehearsal for Rayna's tribute, Juliette said she felt really off, like she was watching herself from across the room. Avery told her it would all turn out OK, but after hearing her recording from the rehearsal, she didn't seem so sure.
The night of the tribute finally arrived, and moments before Juliette was slated to go on stage, Maddie was summoned to Juliette's dressing room. Once there, Juliette said it wasn't her song to sing: It was Maddie's. She then asked Maddie if she would sing the tribute instead. Maddie was worried about what everyone would think of her, and Juliette told her that she had to stop worrying what others thought.
On stage, Juliette said a few words about Rayna and then caught Maddie's glance from the wings. That's all she needed to follow through on her plan. "The world loved your mom, and now the world just wants to know your heart," Juliette said as Maddie walked out.
A Bittersweet Ending
Despite her nerves, Maddie managed to sing a beautiful version of the song, until about halfway through when she broke down in tears. Daphne and Deacon went up on stage with her and hugged her — and then Daphne picked up where Maddie had left off, and the three finished the song together.
When they were done, Teddy met Deacon in the wings and told him he had changed his mind: Deacon could be Maddie and Daphne's guardian.
Tell Us: Do you think Teddy and Deacon will keep the peace?
Nashville airs on CMT Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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