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Nashville Recap: Guitar Heroes

NASHVILLE - "Move It on Over" -- Rayna considers moving on after Deacon starts to set boundaries in their relationship; Juliette struggles with her mom's addictions and Deacon offers a helping hand -- which leads to difficult memories from his past; Teddy is worried that his mayoral campaign will be derailed when his past with Peggy and his financial troubles border on being exposed; and tension with Avery and Gunnar is at a boiling point, as Scarlet feels the pressure to pick her path, on "Nashville"

This whole "Deacon on the Edge" plot really took me by surprise. In some ways, Deacon seems almost too good to be true: kind, talented, studly, stubbled. Even this week, he was up to his usual Saint Deacon ways — performing that Deaconvention on Juliette’s mom and convincing her to go to rehab, then telling Juliette she didn’t need to sex him up as a thank-you. What a guy.

Okay, I guess there were chinks in the armor: Last week’s immature antics onstage at the country club and this week, spitefully telling Rayna she couldn’t use their song for that beauty product commercial. (Speaking of that commercial: Rayna’s cleavage deserves its own billing at this point, amirite?) Still, I never saw the full meltdown coming. When he pocketed those pills Jolene dropped on the ground before she reluctantly headed to rehab, I didn’t see that as a danger sign, did you? More like Deacon politely cleaning up.

So I was amazed when he defiantly brandished them in his meeting with Coleman, insisting he hadn’t taken a single pill. And I’m still not totally sure why he felt a need to punch out that heckler at the Bluebird, unless he was just looking to pick a fight. Look, I like the idea of Deacon being haunted by demons, but to me there was a bit of cognitive dissonance here. I’m not sure if it’s Charles Esten, who projects a kind of earnest, moist-eyed decency, or the writing, which has told us about Deacon’s troubled past without really showing it — but Deacon’s meltdown came a bit out of left field.

(Slightly off topic: Naming Juliette’s mom “Jolene” is one of the show’s many tiny strokes of genius. Dolly Parton’s hit came out in 1974. I’m sure lots of little girls were named Jolene in Nashville around that time.)

This episode also marked the highly anticipated return of Randy. Randy is BACK, people! High fives all around! (Who’s Randy, you might ask? He’s that producer guy Juliette slept with in episode one, who we all thought was going to be integral to the plot but then just totally disappeared. Randy got about ten seconds of screentime in this ep during that first scene with Juliette in the studio. I predict big things for Randy going forward.) This was also the ep in which we finally got clarification on Teddy’s shady business dealings. Turns out, he and Peggy embezzled $2 million from the credit union — and returned every penny of it! (No one on this show actually does anything bad. Juliette shoplifts a bottle of freaking nail polish and Teddy makes good on his embezzlement, presumably with interest. Worst. Criminals. Ever.) Teddy finally comes clean to Lamar and Lamar’s like, “Oh, is that all? I have hangnails more vexing than your little $2 million investment problem.”

I want a Lamar in my life.

Lamar assures Teddy he can take care of his problem. All Teddy needs to do is worry about the campaign. Then Lamar and his enormous dome meet with Peggy in a limo — it’s definitely a “look at your life, look at your choices” moment when you’re constantly having clandestine meetings with men in cars, just sayin’ — and tells her to “say nothing, betray nothing” and  “just do what I say.” Then he sucks on a tooth and they cut to the next scene. (I’m not making up this tooth-sucking thing. It was loud. And it was intentional. I actually wonder if it was in the script. I totally want it to be Lamar’s trademark.)

Over at Young Love Central, Scarlett has just pulled a casserole out of the oven when she tells Avery they need a guitar player for their demo. He agrees to play guitar and they make out. (I always get frustrated on TV when couples start having sex when there’s hot food on the table. That casserole isn’t going to eat itself, people!) At the studio, Avery does his best Guitar Hero impression and tries to hog some of the spotlight for himself. Gunnar is none too happy about this and calls him on it. (I actually thought it sounded pretty good.) Avery, in turn, calls Gunnar on making eyes at his woman. “It’s acting!” Gunnar says, Master Thespian style. Later, Scarlett makes sure that Gunnar is completely clear. “There’s nothing going on between you and I,” she says. (Gah! It’s me! There's nothing going on between you and ME!!!) (Funny how the show has been riddled with ain’ts and various other country contractions but one incorrect use of “I” and I go off the rails.) Then Gunnar tells Scarlett, no worries, I’m totally with Hailey. And then Scarlett’s face contorts into a paroxysm of jealousy. So no feelings there, obviously.

We later find out that Deacon’s little scrap at the bar has landed him in jail. We know this because Rayna gets a collect call late at the night from the county prison. Nice touch. She hangs up. She’s still pissed at Deacon for not letting her use the song for the commercial (he later caves) and also has this crazy notion she can salvage her marriage. Deluded girl. Juliette ends up bailing Deacon out. Any theories as to why Juliette moved into new digs? According to the show, she couldn’t stand to be around any memories of her mother. But that’s just ... odd. I say the location scout found the perfect house two weeks after they started production and the writers were all, “We got this.”

Final scene: Teddy and Peggy meeting secretly as a man in a car photographs them. I assume this photographer guy works for either Coleman or Lamar, but I swear I had to rewind twice because he has tousled hair, a perfect five o’clock shadow — good Lord, it looks just like Deacon!! So either (a) Even the extras look like Deacon on this show, which is beginning to veer dangerously into Being Deacon Claybourne territory here, or (b) it really is Deacon, in which case: WTF?

Photo: Royce Degrie/ABC