If you watched last night's episode of "Nashville," you, like all other Nashies, were probably left completely shocked and rattled -- like, I was having heart palpitations.
But thankfully, in an effort to dissect and understand the episode's unexpected plot twist, Entertainment Weekly sat down with show creator Marshall Herskovitz and star Connie Britton to talk about the drama.
*Obviously, this article contains "Stand Beside Me" spoilers, so turn back now or forever hold your peace.
Apparently, the Rayna-stalker scene was something Marshall and fellow writer-producer Ed Zwick had planned from the start of season five.
"Marshall wanted it to be a very drawn out, almost theatrical scene," Connie said. "I was thrilled with it, and I thought it was written very well. What I liked was it feels reflective of Rayna as a character. She's confronted with this dangerous conflict, and she's able to dig into the psychology of how to deal with that and also find a way to relate to this guy so that he goes in a different direction. It felt like a cool moment for Rayna, and the actor [Linds Edwards] did a such a wonderful job. It was a really intense long two-person scene — which in television is unusual — and it was fun to go toe-to-toe with him."
For Marshall and Zwick, the scene was inspired by two real-life situations -- the time in 2005 when a woman was held hostage for seven hours and the time in 1982 when a man broke into the Queen of England's bedroom, and she patiently talked with him until someone intervened.
"In both incidents, there was a woman in jeopardy who managed to keep her head and connect with the man and resolve the situation where she was not harmed," Marshall said. "And I find that to be so extraordinary and fitting for Rayna."
Upon joining the show, Marshall also noticed how many of the "Nashville" characters had been victims of trauma and abuse. This realization inspired the stalker storyline.
"Rayna's father was basically a psychopath, Deacon's father was an alcoholic who beat him, Juliette's mother was a drug addict who was horrible — just on and on," he said. "This is such an important subject for all of us in America to talk about because it has so many implications in people's lives. When we talk about the opioid epidemic or child abuse or crime, people don't necessarily connect that with childhood trauma. So for me, it presented an opportunity. This man who himself was traumatized was drawn to Rayna unconsciously because he understood she was a kindred spirit. He recognized she had been traumatized; that's why her music spoke to him so passionately. It ends up being this amazing opportunity to have these two people in the most bizarre of circumstances actually connect."
Now for the moment in episode eight that really got me...
Marshall then went on to explain why, after everything, he decided to end the episode with a devastating car crash.
"She manages to reach this man, she makes a personal connection and because of that she disarms him emotionally, so it felt like a contradiction of the entire scene if he harms her," he said. "Because she succeeded. It just seemed wrong for her to them harm her."
He went on to say that the "randomness" of Rayna's car accident mimics "the horror that lurks beneath everyday life."
"Time and time again in our lives, the best and the worst happen together," he said. "The phenomenon that I call 'the horror that lurks beneath everyday life' is something that seizes you by the throat when you least expect it. I could go on and on about the ways in which you're going along and everything's fine, and then all of a sudden life changes."
Though I was hoping for a little peace of mind, Marshall wasn't quick to disclose what this drama means for next week's episode.
"It's been our longstanding practice has been to never talk about upcoming stories," he said. "The experience of a story is the most important thing. You know she's alive in the previews for next week. But we want people to be in the same state her family is in."
"All I can say is Rayna's tough and she's sustained a lot," Connie said. "Let's wait and see."
Deep breaths, everyone.