Is 'Nashville' Losing Its Most Promising Character for Season 5?

Nashville S04E20 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Mark Levine/ABC

Nashville S04E20 Still - Publicity - H 2016

The song isn't over for everyone on Nashville — but it is for one of the ABC-turned-CMT country music drama's most intriguing characters.

The entire cast is set to return for its recently revived fifth season on CMT, but Aubrey Peeples (Layla Grant) and Will Chase (Luke Wheeler) are exiting the Music City-based series.

While Luke seemed to be scrambling for a storyline at the end of season four and Chase has already booked a Broadway return, Layla will be a true loss for the show going forward.

Following Nashville's season-four finale, Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs made it clear that "there's more stories to tell" — but it seems as though that wasn’t the case for all of the characters under new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (My So-Called Life).

Like any other show, Nashville is no stranger to losing series regulars. But, when it comes to Layla, The Hollywood Reporter thinks there are a few reasons why this goodbye could hit harder the others.

Her love life is in shambles.

Layla has loved and lost having married a pre-out Will Lexington (Chris Carmack), romanced the now-dead record exec Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson) and dated newly divorced Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson). But as of the season-four finale, Layla is now alone after Avery discovered she had sold out Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), his ex-wife and baby mama, to the press and blamed her for Jeff’s untimely death.

Layla’s choice to try and take down her rival resulted in losing her man, her manager and potentially any friendship with the rest of the core group of characters. That set the stage for what could have been another reinvention for the formerly despised character who gained fans while she mourned what may have been her best romantic foil in the formerly toxic Jeff Fordham.  

She's the most complex character.

Layla’s final devious ploy likely ruined the good-will the character took on following Jeff's death. Since being upped to series regular in season four after heavily recurring since season two, Layla was a classic example of an up-and-coming singer whose moral compass takes changes with the wind as the character would literally do nearly anything to get her shot at stardom. 

It’s hard not to feel pity for Layla, as she often came across as a tragic figure more so than a villainess. In the season-four finale, for example, she was left crying in her bed but got a call that her debut record was a hit and stardom was finally within her grasp.

Her departure and newfound stardom (we're not counting that reality show with Will) will now go unexplored as Nashville's loyal audience won't get a chance to see what the future might have held for the controversial starlet — and if she could ever find redemption. 

Her story is still open-ended.

If anyone’s storyline is up in the air — besides Juliette, whose plane went missing in the final minutes of the finale — it’s Layla. Meanwhile, the remainder of the cast's stories almost feel too settled. Rayna (Connie Britton) and Deacon (Charles Esten) reunited their family, Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) rekindled their on-again/off-again relationship and Will stood up for the LGBT community and reunited with his former beau.

All of these characters — plus Juliette and Avery — are set for the 22-episode season on CMT, but given the happy endings most obtained in the show’s final ABC offering, the question of how much story there is to tell is questionable.

Nashville will return on CMT for season five; a premiere date has not yet been determined.