It’s no surprise that after cancellation and the death of their leading lady, Nashville would need a fresh start. Unfortunately, season 5 was dragged down by the noticeable departure of Connie Britton after Rayna was killed off unexpectedly in the first half of the season. The later half, which aired during the summer, couldn’t quite build up to the show’s potential because they had to keep Rayna’s spirit around so the characters didn’t move on “too quickly.” Now, after almost a year has passed, can Nashville shine during a season completely without Rayna? I’d say yes, for several reasons.

Deacon’s Life

Deacon has always revolved around Rayna Jaymes. During the first four years, he was her love interest, the man Rayna could never have because of his drinking and the emotional stability he lacked, but the two got married, and then he was simply Rayna’s husband. Even after her death, Deacon lacked the individuality to make his character a person, rather than just Rayna’s widower.

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With a new season comes a chance for Deacon to become his own person, his own character, and to live a life that isn’t all about Rayna. He can find a new love interest, begin his own music career (where he isn’t just known as Rayna’s killer guitar player), and he can be a great father to Maddie and Daphne while keeping their memories of their mother alive. There’s so much Deacon hasn’t done with his life because of his drinking, his pining over Rayna, and everything else he’s done that was solely based on how Rayna would think about him.

Maddie’s Stardom

Throughout the first four and half seasons of Nashville, we saw Rayna consistently put up a fight against Maddie pursuing a career in music on her own, especially without her mother standing behind her. Then, following Rayna’s death, Maddie’s career took off without any pause from Deacon.

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If we’re following Maddie’s career, we need to see the good and the bad times. Enough of the constant good news for Maddie — being a star comes with downs, like we always see with Juliette. And we need to see Maddie acknowledge what her mother was trying to protect her from. As of now, it seems like everything Rayna did for Maddie was for nothing because the writers have completely disregarded everything that happened.

Juliette’s Legacy

Instead of the constant battery to Juliette’s music career, let’s see the classic Juliette taking advantage of the bigger spotlight on her. She fought Rayna for so long because Rayna’s legacy forever overshadowed Juliette’s own, but with Rayna out of the picture, maybe Juliette can finally shine.

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It’d be interesting to see how Juliette would react to being the top name in country music as Maddie’s career is building up, and without Rayna there to fix things for her when things go awry. Juliette finally has the chance to be the country star she’s always wanted to be, but she has to start acting like it to become the legacy Rayna was or even half of that.

Without Rayna, the series has an outstanding chance to let the other characters shine. Her memory isn’t overshadowing this season as it did with season 5, and it’s a fresh start for every character as everyone has moved on from Rayna, at least for the most part. She’ll always be a legacy, but it’s time for other characters to shine and for new legacies to be built. Season 6 can do that.

What do you think? Is the series in a better position now without Rayna? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Nashville airs Thursdays at 9/8c on CMT. Like our Nashville Facebook page!

(Image courtesy of CMT)

Jay Ruymann

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV