There's no shortage of unanswered questions to be resolved when Nashville returns onWednesday (10/9c, ABC). Who will live? Who will die? Whose love lives will remain in limbo? Who will find domestic bliss? And what musical collaborations can fans look forward to in the second half of Season 2 — besides Kelly Clarkson's previously-announced appearance in this week's episode?
TVGuide.com turned to series creator Callie Khouri for some teases about where the show is headed. (Spoiler alert: For at least one plotline, even the producers aren't sure!) Check out our full Q&A below:
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Let's start with the biggest cliffhanger. The most recent episode left the fates of both Peggy (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and Will (Chris Carmack) up in the air. Any chance you can tell us whether one, both, or neither survive?
Callie Khouri: (Laughs) I wish I could tell you. I wish I could answer the question, because can you imagine how many times I've been asked? No, I can't say.
Hypothetically, if Will is still alive, what is his struggle going to be going forward?
Khouri: He's just a guy who not only is in a business that doesn't really seem to be very accepting of gay characters or gay artists, but he himself has a tremendous amount of trouble accepting himself as gay. I think that has been almost more than what other people think, more his own feelings about it. ... Because it's not just about how he's perceived. It's in fact how he judges himself that has caused him all this anguish. He's not a guy that's just like, "I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it." It's like, "I'm not gay."
Regardless of her fate, will Peggy's pregnancy deception ever come to light?
Khouri: I think all dark secrets eventually come to light. ... It's very likely that she will be found out eventually.
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Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) also had a huge moment in the fall finale, going to Avery's (Jonathan Jackson) house to confess her love. She's not a character who often allows herself to be vulnerable. What are the repercussions from that?
Khouri: Whenever Juliette allows herself to be vulnerable, she very quickly gets her hand slapped. And so, she's pretty shaken. I think she's in kind of a bad position, because I think for the first time, she's in a position where this whole thing has caught her off guard. The fact that she even is registering feelings for this guy is not anything that she expected to be feeling. She ends up holding her cards very close to her vest for a bit, because she doesn't go looking for pain. That's for sure. She just kind of waits and it comes her way. And so, I don't know that she's going to go running back to his arms.
After seeing that Avery's likely back with Scarlett (Clare Bowen), will Juliette return to her old ways in terms of romance?
Khouri: The thing I love about Juliette is she's a character that really does grow. It was one of the great things about catching somebody at that age, in their early 20s. I find it really interesting watching Taylor Swift and some of these other younger artists, because they have to just grow up in front of everybody, and all their mistakes are in magazines. But Juliette is a person who is really prone to mistakes and they hit her hard. I think when we started out, everybody just kind of thought, oh, she's so ambitious that she's kind of without feeling. But she's really, really sensitive. I think that was a huge moment for her, to actually go to his house. To say, "I want to be able to say 'I love you' to someone." That's one of my favorite moments of performance that Hayden has ever delivered. I just felt so awful for her. All the embarrassment and shame that she was feeling that minute was so apparent.
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Is Avery and Scarlett rekindling their romance a result of him changing, or is it more about her wanting to get over Gunnar (Sam Palladio) with someone who's comfortable?
Khouri: We've been really having fun this season with turning the Avery character into a very different guy than where he started out. He's the other character that I feel like has really come a long way. I think there's a little of [Scarlett wanting to get over Gunnar]. I think it's natural. I think if you've been in a relationship for a really long time, as they have — because they were together in college and she moved there to be with him — there was a real foundation there for that relationship. I think falling back into that for both of them was really kind of where you go to pull yourself back together again.
Will they face a bit of a rocky road going forward?
Khouri: Well, it's Nashville. Come on. (Laughs)
What about Layla (Aubrey Peeples)? Is she ever going to get taken down a peg?
Khouri: Layla is 19. She's a snake in the grass, but the grass is over her head. So, she is going to make a lot of mistakes too. Some people, their ambition can be their undoing, and I think she really walks that line. I think she thinks of herself as invincible, and I also think that she has never not been somebody's adorable darling. Even on her TV show that she came from, when she came in second, you're still the favorite of millions of people. And I think that she just doesn't ever consider that people aren't just looking at her feeling like, "Oh, isn't she fantastic?" And she's not in a world where that's happening right now. People are thinking,"You don't know your place."
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Is there hope for Deacon (Charles Esten) to get his career back on track? Will he and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) collaborate?
Khouri: I think that both of them were surprised at how well their thing went. So, yeah. All those characters musically start to explore things with each other. All the young ones really look up to Deacon, and Deacon is just kind of a man without a country at the moment. He doesn't want to keep doing what he's been doing. He doesn't want to keep being somebody's side man. And he's not going to go out and be Mr. Lead Guitar, as he's been for most of his career. [But] he can still write songs.
Deacon and Maddie (Lennon Stella) sing together in Wednesday's episode. What is their relationship going to be going forward?
Khouri: He's starting to learn a whole new skill set. This is the last thing in the world he ever expected, is to have to be a dad. Even if he had secretly wanted it, he certainly didn't know it was going to come to him the way that it did. And I think he certainly is starting to understand that that has some meaning to it. It puts him and Rayna in a proximity that certainly neither one of them expected to be dealing with each other on that level either. Rayna thought she had things pretty well under control when the show started. And the fact that I think Maddie seems to really want to have a relationship with Deacon too really puts Rayna in a tricky position. Because Teddy is still very adamant that he is Maddie's father and really just thinks of Deacon as if he were a sperm donor.
Things have been strained between Maddie and Teddy (Eric Close), to say the least. Will they grow any closer in the wake of Peggy's shooting?
Khouri: Clearly, something like that is so huge, and I think the whole family is in shock. Because I think for better or for worse, they were starting to accept that this woman was going to be in their lives. They weren't seeing the sides of her that we were showing the audience. They were seeing a woman who is really nice to them. They were kind of coming to terms with the fact that their father was in love with somebody that was going to be around for a while, and were feeling comfortable enough to treat her like teenagers treat their stepmothers. (Laughs)
Finally, what's going on with Rayna (Connie Britton) and Luke (Will Chase)? And is there any chance Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson) will be a love interest for Rayna down the road? It seems pretty unlikely, but that was something that was teased before the season began.
Khouri: It does seem unlikely at this point. Jeff and Rayna are really chalk and cheese. They really do not get along. They will continue to have many interactions throughout the season. And the Luke love interest, we weren't really sure when we started how we wanted that to go. We literally were just like, "Wow, wouldn't it be interesting to see Rayna in a relationship with somebody that's more her equal?" So, we're really playing that a little bit by ear. It's very interesting to us to kind of explore the ramifications of that, as we put her in these different situations.
Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC. Who do you think will die?