WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Nashville Season 5 Episode 8
It was a hard thing to see coming in Nashville Season 5. Fans didn’t even expect it, after hints that Connie Britton would at least still be around up until the season’s end. But reality bites: Rayna James has succumbed to her injuries from the car crash, and has died. Connie Britton exits the show with a final bow.
“It has been really hard, saying goodbye,” Briton said, of her experience in wrapping up the show, adding, “because I have loved this character so much, and I’ve grown from playing this character so much.”
She called it a “real honor” to pay Rayna, in an Entertainment Weekly interview. So, with Rayna James making her exit, what’s next for Connie Britton?
No Alternative For Nashville Season 5
In a feature by TV Line, Connie Britton tries to explain the rationale for her choice to leave the show.
“(The decision) was something that had been percolating over time, and there were lots of different reasons behind it. But my priority was really making sure that the timing was right… As I said, there were a lot of things that came into play. Some of them were personal… It was just the right timing.”
But she does express that Nashville season 5 and the future of the show was in good hands. The show had moved to CMT after 4 years in ABC. New showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick had their hands on the reins, and according to Britton, have the show in a place where “all of these characters can live and just be incredibly dynamic and amazing.”
Rayna James is especially shocking, given that she hinted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that the character would be around a little longer. She had said that she’d be around “for the duration”. Everyone thought she’d been referring to Nashville season 5. But apparently, the Emmy-nominated actress was talking about “the duration of her character”, and had to be purposefully vague to avoid spoiling the tragic twist.
Did she have to die, though? Apparently so: “There was no alternative,” Britton explains, talking about how the character would never leave town. Writing her off the show meant a final goodbye to Rayna.
All in all, Britton appeared in almost a hundred episodes over five seasons. And it feels like only yesterday that Rayna was meeting Juliette Barnes for the first time.
Much like her character’s slow turn away from the spotlight, it looks like Britton is getting time off for herself offscreen. “I’m going to take a little rest, if such a thing is possible,” she said, “I’ve been doing network TV for ten years straight without a break.”
She does, however, hint that she’d like to get involved in the development and creation of a new project, if she had to get involved with television once again.