Faithful “Nashville” fans have seen it all through the six-year run of the series that had its swan song on July 27 in its series finale episode, “Beyond the Sunset.” The episode shows Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) going ballistic at her baby shower, Rayna’s (Connie Britton) flings along the way to finding her way back to Deacon (Charles Esten), and Deacon dealing with his personal demons of self-hate and self-pity. The actors in “Nashville” didn't simply play musicians, they are musicians, and the flaws and struggles each of their characters faced felt real because the storylines reflected the real dilemmas of the music business and real family and societal issues simultaneously.

Much to its credit, “Nashville” stood for acceptance and inclusion of those in the LGBTQ community and multicultural appreciation in Country Music long before the powers that be endorsed fears, rejection, and border walls to keep anyone “different” detained. A storyline crafted around characters that are cared about can have an impact beyond bringing fans to tears, and creator Callie Khouri, showrunners Marshall Herskowitz and Edward Zwick, music coordinator Steve Buchanan, and the cast and team of the drama can be proud of doing what no music drama has done so authentically before. No single episode can please every viewer, but this finale sent everyone off singing, filled with good memories and a song to remember.

For Gideon’s sake

Daphne and Maddie (Lennon and Maisy Stella) are still voicing their concerns about their newfound grandfather (Ronny Cox) but Deacon is in no frame of mind to welcome him back.

Bucky (David Alford) arrives with good news instead of financial woes, telling Deacon that his groundswell of support is sufficient to bring them out on tour as a headliner, especially since “old guys” are doing better than ever. Deacon protests that “maybe it's not the right time,” but really, it's all he’s ever worked for, and his daughters insist that he take this opportunity.

The mail comes, and Daphne gets a note and a necklace from Gideon, along with an apology over the fact that he cannot be there for her Nashville “Next Country Star” final performance. On that front, Brad (Jeffrey Nordling) has assigned her a Top 40 type of typical country hit, but Ilse (Ilse DeLange) intervenes to guide her into making it her own, which is what Deacon had been saying all along.

Daphne tells Deacon that she's inviting Gideon to her performance, leaving him with a sweet kiss. Deacon still wrestles with the conflicting feelings related to his father. He goes to Gideon’s hotel room on a rainy night, and Gideon explains that the aftermath of the hurricane prompted him to “slip,” but he never backslid to the place where he was.

In a sense, this sounds like the spiel from an addict, but there is sincerity in Gideon's plea to consider that the bottle Deacon found [VIDEO] in his truck was still sealed, and he assures his son that he and his daughters are far too treasured to be taken away again by a drink. Deacon walks away. Gideon does sit in the audience for Daphne, who gives a powerful performance as her authentic, artistic self. She does not win the ultimate prize, but is sure to have a bright future -- she signs with dad’s company.

Brad books a gig for Alannah (Rainee Blake) in Memphis, of course, pledging to be her escort and maintain “separate rooms.” He calls her after her show to come to a party with people “you need to meet,” and not surprisingly, no one but him is in attendance. He makes a real move in this private setting, and she punches him out. He fires back that she is in breach of contract because this is how it works in the business -- the bosses help the female artists, and in return, get the “help” they seek.

After Deacon meets Jessie (Kaitlin Doubleday) in passing at school one day and learns that Jake (Myles Moore) will have to leave for Connecticut at the end of the month, against his or his mom’s will, he makes a call to Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins). He proposes a business deal that benefits everyone but Brad. The scene of Alannah, Zach, and Deacon marching into the snake’s office, with Alannah producing her recording of their entire exchange, and Zach demanding that he will own Shiny New Records for $15 million when he leaves the office, is so satisfying, topped off with Jessie and the entourage of Brad's other violated female employees. Jessie’s demand is full custody of their son and it's presented with the new evidence. Brad has no case. It's a shame that the relationship between Deacon and Jessie did not get to blossom fully on screen, but at least it ends without torment.

Love returns

Avery (Jonathan Jackson) definitely sees the change in Juliette but is perplexed by her abrupt decision to sell her house and move. She insists that she got an offer she could not turn down, and knows the farm will be perfect for Cadence. He confronts her, knowing there is more to the story. She simply replies that “these walls have too many memories,” in defense of her decision. Avery, at last, learns from Hallie (Rhiannon Giddens) that Juliette is pregnant [VIDEO], and rushes to find out the reason why he was not told.

Juliette tells him “You're not my husband anymore,” and that she did not want him to feel trapped or coaxed into the relationship. Holding his hands, she insists that she did not want Avery to save her or worry for her, but instead, to come to her because he was worried about himself without her. She tells Emily (Kourtney Hansen) that she keeps waiting for Avery to come through the door. Juliette tosses away a sparkling stiletto shoe, but does bring herself to sing in a touching scene, about being brave enough to open doors and take steps “from here to there.”

In a “months later” montage, Avery comes to Juliette while she's swinging Cadence. “That's a big suitcase for a short visit,” she says, and he tells her he's ready to spend the rest of his life with her before she puts her hand to his lips. They go off to see the animals, which Hayden Panettiere, the real-life animal activist, had to adore. Yes, it is a little too perfect, but it’s a beautiful remembrance after the horror of almost losing “Nashville” at the close of Season 4, with Juliette lost in the air as Avery and their daughter could do nothing but wait.

As much as Maddie cares for Twig (Dylan Arnold), she realizes she does not love him in the way he deserves, and after Scarlett (Clare Bowen) counsels her that she has to listen to her heart, she meets him for coffee, and he knows something’s up. She tells him she cannot love him as the center of her universe. He tells her that he's willing to be with her, on any level of love she can give, but she knows that's not fair. She gives him a parting gift of personalized, high-grade headphones.

Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery reminisce about the past six years, and Gunnar, at last, comes to the conclusion that going for every new girl who enters his life has become costly, and he should “let that go,” but not the music that the friends have made. At Will’s (Chris Carmack) urging, the Last Highway reunites without a female singer, staying a band of brothers.

“Don't freak out,” Deacon’s daughters tell him as they escort Gideon backstage at the Ryman Auditorium. Gideon tells his son that he has been keeping up with the whole tour, and Deacon is overwhelmed. He goes off for a quiet moment, and Rayna comes to him in a memory at their cabin just after their wedding. He compares the pain and trouble in the past to “drops of rain,” thinking that just one more might be too much. She, on the contrary, relates their love as being something that “gets in the bloodstream.” “We’ve both hurt each other, and we have a past,” she tells him, before saying “you have to choose each other, and I choose you, just the way you are.” They kiss passionately in the memory just as Scarlett knocks on the door to summon him to the stage and his waiting fans. Other tender scenes include Clare Bowen with her real fiancé, Brandon Robert Young, and Will and Zach strolling hand-in-hand. Maddie moves into her own place, savoring freedom. (Alannah gets her tour with the Lumineers, after all, too.)

After he greets those at “the mother church of country music,” he introduces Gideon, saying that he could have had his own career, had things been different. He asks his father up to the stage, and the elder Claybourne's guitar is brought out. Deacon apologetically whispers about not asking if his dad knew the song, and Gideon replies, “I know all your songs.” As they begin the Charles Esten/Deacon Claybourne “Nashville” classic, “A Life That’s Good,” past and present cast members fill that hallowed country music stage, and the multiple embraces are genuine. Callie Khouri personally thanks the city of Nashville and country music for inspiring all that was shown in the drama. There could not have been a dry eye in Nashville (or anywhere else) watching this one.