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Nashville Recap: Family Ties

NASHVILLE - "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" - Rayna finds comfort in the arms of an old friend after revealing to Daphne and Maddie her plans to divorce. Juliette is invigorated by the response to her new sound and takes steps to reinvent herself -- against the guidance of her management. Things are looking up for Scarlett and Gunnar when Rayna makes an offer to sign them to her label. While their hard work begins to show signs of success, Avery struggles to find his old sound and is forced to consider an attractive offer, on "Nashville," WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/KATHERINE BOMBOY-THORNTON)MICHIEL HUISMAN, CONNIE BRITTON

Hey, you guys, this episode was directed by Eric Stoltz! As in Some Kind of Wonderful Eric Stoltz. As in the one guy we all used to mention at a party when someone put forth the theory that there are no hot ginger men. (21st century corollary: Eddie Redmayne). So good on you, Eric Stoltz. You may have cruelly lost out on the role of Marty McFly to Michael J. Fox, but you did an excellent job directing a filler-ish (sorry) episode of Nashville.

Anyhoo, as the show starts, Rayna is taking the news of Teddy’s request for a divorce harder than I would’ve thought. I get it, I guess. She kept stalling Teddy because she didn’t want to make it real, which would mean telling her daughters, which she definitely doesn’t want to do. Teddy, who has gotten all Mr. Bossy Pants lately, however (turns out he really did just need to get laid), insists that they tell the girls tomorrow, when Rayna is home for a visit.

This sends Rayna into a ten-second fugue state onstage — as Deacon watches her from the audience: “Something is wrong. Something is wrong!” Then Rayna snaps out of it and puts on a great show. As my friend @CleverTitleTK pointed out on Twitter: This was the nervous breakdown they teased in the preview? (There has to be a word for that kind of sneak peek bait and switch: Shock Tease?) Good news for Rayna (and us): Liam just happens to be staying at the same Atlanta hotel — and he’s just the kind of sexy, hard-drinking, hat-wearing man she needs to give her a “vacation from her life.” (Note to future suitors of Teddy and Rayna: They seem to like hats.)

Elsewhere on tour, Juliette is still trying to reinvent herself as an acoustic, ballad-singing artist — somewhat tiresomely, I must say — much to her manager Glenn’s dismay. She holds a cast-and-crew-only meeting, saying that they’ll be going in a new direction. Glenn, in turn, holds a private meeting of his own, saying: Not so fast. (He conveniently doesn’t invite Deacon to this meeting, 'cause he knows that Deacon is Juliette’s boy.) Anyway, Deacon finds out about the meeting, tells Juliette, and she has a fabulous diva moment (“time for a reckoning!”) where she wakes up her entire crew, summons them to the hotel hallway, and accuses Glenn of disloyalty.

“You want me to say I’m fine with all this craziness?” Glenn says to her. Then Juliette grabs Glenn’s face, kisses him, and replies: “I want you to say, ‘Yes, ma’am.’” (It’s all very Michael and Fredo in The Godfather II, except I’m pretty confident Juliette isn’t setting up Glenn for a mob hit.)

And then Glenn quits.

Now, I’m not sure if this is the last we’ll be seeing of Ed Amatrudo, the actor who plays Glenn, but if so, he got a nice juicy part for his final episode and even got to show us his sleeping attire (a tank top), which yes, I’ve tried: You can’t unsee.

Speaking of sleeping attire, Gunnar’s using the oldest trick in the book: walking around the house in a towel to entice Scarlett. “Didn’t we have a rule against nikkedness around here?” Scarlett says. (Shoot. Me.) Then Watty White calls and tells them the good news: Rayna is thinking of signing them to her new label. Those crazy kids hug and Gunnar’s towel “accidentally” falls off. Oh, Gunnar, you minx. What could possibly derail their happiness? I dunno: Maybe Gunnar’s troubled, gun-toting, fugitive brother moving in?

(Things happen with Avery, too, involving competing labels and contracts and the disembodied voice of Wyclef Jean ... maybe somebody who cares can spell it out in the comments section.)

Back at Rayna’s house, the girls are making her a cake. And there’s this kind of forced, cutesy moment where Daphne writes on the cake but accidentally spells “WelcomeHome” all as one word, because that’s the kind of adorable spelling mistake kids make. (Not really.) Rayna is out having a good time with Liam — he tends to bring out the rock-star-on-a-bender side of our girl. They go back to his hotel room and start making out (if you’re keeping score at home: hotter than Deacon) and then she excuses herself to go to the bathroom, where she alternately puts on lip gloss and cries. (And who among us hasn’t done that?) I had mixed feelings about Rayna not going through with it with Liam. Why does Deacon get to go all man-ho with everything in a skirt but she doesn’t? On the other hand, she’s got kids and a still-husband, and a man she actually loves. So, to borrow a phrase: It’s complicated.

I did love the scene where Rayna was sitting on the toilet — all leather-clad legs that went on for days — trying to keep Liam out of the bathroom, and the subsequent scene where she and Liam are sitting side-by-side on the bathroom floor, experiencing some real intimacy for the first time. (Also, nice tub!)

Finally, she goes home to tell the girls about the divorce. And I found the moment unexpectedly touching, especially when the sisters clasped hands in anticipation of the bad news. (Scarlett’s pretty new song "Casino" added to the melancholy mood.) The only thing that could’ve made the moment more perfect? If the daughters had whipped out their guitars and broken into a heartbreaky song of their own. (Note to show: We want more of the singing Stella sisters! And we want them NOW!)

Juliette is also feelin’ kind of melancholy — poor little rich girl alone in her beautiful, minimalist home — so she does the unexpected: Calls her mama, who’s fresh out of rehab, and tells her to move in with her. (Here’s a better idea: Maybe Juliette’s mom and Gunnar’s brother can get a little condo together, way on the outskirts of town.)

In the final scene, Maddie, who had overheard her father talking to Peggy on the phone, tells Rayna that Teddy is still “with that woman.” Rayna seems stunned and hurt, prompting a million Nashville viewers to ask: Rayna cares?

Guess we’ll have to wait two weeks to find out. (You wanna know a great way for a show on the bubble to build momentum and fan loyalty? Constantly skip weeks between episodes! Oh no ... wait, it’s the opposite. Sigh.) (Also, is that a dead body in the preview?!?) (Refuses to get sucked in ... Refuses to get sucked in ... )

Photo: Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC