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Nashville Recap: Ladies’ Night

NASHVILLE - "Lovesick Blues" - Marshall Evans continues to pressure Rayna and Juliette to collaborate at an event at the Ryman theater, Teddy is forced to reveal the truth to Rayna when Peggy's desperation hits its peak, and in an effort to move past her failed relationship to Avery, Scarlett finds herself closer to Gunnar, on "Nashville," WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Now, was that so hard?

Lots of Rayna/Juliette interaction + smoldering Deacon + jealous!Gunnar + Machiavellian Lamar + new duet that needs to get in my iPod NOW + sassy one-liners + random Wyclef Jean cameo = great episode. Hooray.

It still gets my goat that Juliette is, like, a shamed woman or something all because of that shoplifting “scandal” — I’m just not buying that thing has legs. But whatever. I love the fact that the sports press are blaming her for the ineptitude of her new QB beau. Because the sports press? Actually does that. (See: Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson. For the record, they broke up and he still can’t win the big game.) So label head Marshall Evans, who seems to run Edgehill Republic Records like some sort of actual republic (making threats and offers his artists can’t refuse), wants Rayna and Juliette to close the big anniversary show at the Ryman with a duet. If Rayna says no, he will threaten her with artistic death (i.e., a Greatest Hits album). If Juliette says no, she won’t get to play the gig at all.

So they’re stuck with each other. Excellent.

It’s movie night over at the Conrad-James household and this is notable for two reasons: Teddy gets a top-secret call from Coleman and has to leave (chick flicks it is!) and that has to be the lamest depiction of microwaving popcorn I’ve ever seen. On TV, the microwave dings and you run over and open up your bag of fluffy delicious popcorn. In real life, you compulsively hover near the microwave, have an existential crisis trying to decide if it’s officially two to three seconds between pops, burn your hands opening the package, throw away the charred bits on top, and THEN eat. But I digress.

So why does Coleman need this emergency powwow with Teddy? Because he IS in fact blackmailing him with those photos of Teddy and Peggy. Who knew Coleman had that in him? I thought he was one of the good guys. (Also? Those photos? Not incriminating at all. One thing Nashville doesn’t seem to do well: Create authentic scandals for its characters.) Lamar could make the embezzlement scandal go away, but this might prove to be tougher. He seems to already be looking for some way to discredit or shame Peggy, and he wants to leak the news that Coleman was found with drugs to the press, so we’ll see where that goes.

I’d just like to formally come clean on/apologize for an actual thought I had while watching last night’s ep: “Aw, Deacon and Scarlett would make a cute couple!” Then I remembered that Deacon was her uncle and I scrubbed myself down, came back, and finished watching the episode.

But Scarlett does, at least, need a hug, because she’s having regrets about the way things ended with Avery. So Hailey, that sexy chick from the label (and Gunnar’s new girlfriend), decides to take her out for a night on the town. (“The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else,” she says. Wise woman.) The night out involves alcohol and sexy shoes and a (lame) rendition of “Ring of Fire.” (By the way, I had to laugh when Scarlett popped onstage to do her song. When the bandleader said, “Come on up here, darlin’” I thought he meant to sway back and forth, maybe tap a tambourine — not grab a mike and go to town. I guess it’s a Nashville thing.)

Over at the Ryman, Juliette stands onstage and contemplates her life. Then Deacon materializes out of nowhere and stands next to her and, for a brief moment, I thought they were going to break into a production of Our Town. Instead, he just gives her advice about the duet with Rayna. “There’s a lot you can learn from her,” he says sagely.

I think we all need a Deacon in our lives, showing up when we need him most, dispensing solid life advice, all while maintaining the perfect amount of facial hair.

Needless to say, Rayna and Juliette can’t agree on a song to close the big show. They argue as Deacon and Liam (who earlier summed up Juliette thusly: “Nice rack, decent voice”) sit around looking baffled. Then Rayna says something legitimately mean to Juliette (“you have not earned that place [on that stage] and everybody here knows it”) and Juliette storms out. “That girl seriously needs to get laid,” Liam says. “That is SO not her problem,” Rayna says dryly.

Laughing for days over here. But, a-ha! Maybe it IS her problem. 'Cause turns out QB1 won’t put out! Gay or virginal or both? He insists he’s not gay, just a good Christian waiting for marriage. (That enormous tattoo sleeve says otherwise ... and dag, that thing is ugly.) For now, we believe him, right?

Then, there’s a commercial for the music of the show featuring Sam Palladio, the actor who plays Gunnar and — what the hell? — he’s British. I already knew that Clare Bowen, the actress who plays Scarlett, is Australian, but this is too much. Next you’re going to tell me that Brody guy from Homeland is also English! Heh.

Scarlett is mad at Gunnar because he decided to go all macho-protector-guy at the club when she was kissing on some new boy, but she’s even more angry at Avery, because she caught him in a compromising position with Marilyn, the slutty manager. She decides to focus on her “songwriting” (for now at least, not a euphemism) with Gunnar.

“If I’m going to lose someone, I’m glad it’s not you,” she tells him.

Deacon gives Rayna a demo of the song he wrote with Juliette. And Rayna must at least be a little impressed, because she shows up at Juliette’s place and says the best solution to their duet problem is to write a new song together. They pull an all-nighter and their defenses seem to be wearing down a bit, because they both admit they’re writing about Deacon. (However, the original chorus: “I wish that I was Deacon’s girl” was apparently scrapped.) “Do you have orange juice?” Rayna asks wearily, as the sun comes up. “I have some vodka,” Juliette replies.

Finally, it’s time for the big duet. Both ladies look sharp in their skintight dresses. (But what the hell is up with Juliette’s tomato-red lipstick? Girl shoplifted the wrong shade.) I liked how super-pro Rayna is able to strut onstage and effortlessly be America’s country darling. She’s had years of practice suppressing her true feelings in public.

On the other hand, it takes Juliette a few moments to steel herself before putting on her game face and joining Rayna onstage.

I loved, loved, loved the song. And I loved how all the tension, bad blood, grudging respect, and maybe even the tiniest bit of affection (?) was coursing between those two as they performed. Sets up a great dynamic for the relationship going forward. What I don’t love? All this talk of next week being the “Winter Finale.” What the hell, show? Things were just heating up.

Photo: Donn Jones/ABC