EXCLUSIVE: 'Nashville' First Look! Deacon Feels Musical Pressure After Rayna's Death in Spring Finale

ET exclusively debuts a sneak peek from Thursday's midseason closer.

Rayna’s death still looms large on Nashville.

On Thursday’s midseason finale, titled “Fire and Rain,” Rayna’s absence becomes a big issue at her record label, Highway 65, which is struggling to stay afloat.

ET exclusively debuts a first look from the episode, where Rayna’s widower, Deacon (Charles Esten), starts to feel the pressure professionally after hearing in a company-wide meeting that his unfinished album needs to be pushed up since it’s one of the label’s only “assets” at the moment.

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Deacon takes issue with the way in which his labor of love is being talked about and fights back -- hard.

“They’re duets, OK?” the angry musician tries to explain to Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins), the billionaire playing a key role in Highway 65, as if that should be all the explanation that’s needed. “Rayna’s part, that’s just a scratch track and I haven’t done my side of the duet.”

When Zach insists that they move forward with the work-in-progress track, Deacon blows up.

“Do you know what the songs are about? They’re about love. They’re about undying love,” an exasperated Deacon screams out. “You want something from me that I’m not going to give to you, that is clear. What is unclear is, are you threatening Highway 65?!” Watch the exclusive clip to see what happens next.

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Though life goes on in Nashville, the aftermath of Rayna’s death is going to continue to reverberate throughout the series.

executive producer and co-showrunner Marshall Herskovitz spoke to ET about the importance of letting the characters -- and subsequently, the audience -- grieve, saying the final episode before a months-long hiatus shows what life is like without Rayna.

“It’s incredibly difficult,” Herskovitz said, adding that Deacon goes “through the stages of grief” and the song he and Rayna were last working on “ends up playing a very important part for this family.” 

“People move on in life -- the show will move on and there is a show post-Rayna. Eventually, people will be comfortable with a show post-Rayna,” he added.

airs its midseason finale Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.

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