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Nashville Recap: Under the Influence

NASHVILLE - "I Saw the Light" - Rayna takes her children and sister with her on tour in NYC, but Rayna doesn't like the influence Juliette is having on her daughters. Meanwhile Dante gives Juliette some career guidance that helps her see him in a whole new way; Deacon's feelings for Stacey force him to reconsider his life on the road; a hunky new neighbor, Will (Chris Carmack), befriends Gunnar and Scarlett; Gunnar is thrown by Scarlett's hiding information from him; Lamar threatens Peggy; and Avery jeopardizes his own future, on "Nashville," WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Katherine Bomboy-Thornton)
CONNIE BRITTON, ED AMATRUDO

Oh, Nashville, you tease! First you give us the cliffhanger of Lamar clutching his arm, dropping the phone, and being all dead, only to reveal that he’s just fine. (Okay, maybe not fine, what with the two heart attacks and the bypass surgery and all — but something tells me his assortment of sneers and villainous eyebrow-raises will be back in the game in no time.) Then you give us this cockamamie “temptation” sneak preview — making it seem like this episode is going to be one big lusty romp, positively bursting with forbidden sex and passion.

Yeah, not so much.

Okay, Juliette is still getting it on with the Most Interesting Man Alive — who despite seeming like a mild-mannered and well-intentioned sober coach is obviously a major sleazebag. (Hooray!) But just as I suspected, that kiss between Dante and Jolene in the preview was just Jolene being desperate and groping and sad. (Poor Jolene, “desperate and groping and sad” pretty much sums up her entire character arc.) Deacon is still fooling himself into thinking he’s in love with the pretty veterinarian lady — as we all shake our heads and pat him on the head. (He’s so cute when he’s pretending not to be totally hung up on Rayna.)

I don’t even know what the sneak preview was driving at when it implied that Scarlett might have the hots for new neighbor Will — yeah, Will pulled Scarlett onstage for that corny (and somewhat self-serving) duet — but it seems that Gunnar is the one more under his spell. Gunnar — a.k.a. the Nashville cast member Most Likely to Be Dressed in a Perilously Low-Slung Towel or Pair of Skimpy Boxer-Briefs — is kind of a hot mess in this episode, huh? He seems positively giddy about Scarlett’s success, a far cry from last week’s infernal moping, but his energy feels a bit ... manic. Scarlett is worried about him — he’s been having nightmares about his brother and isn’t writing any music. Mostly, he seems to be drinking a lot. And what to make of that weird stunt Will pulls with him, playing chicken with the train tracks? Are we supposed to applaud Will’s theory about how you can’t get over a death until you’ve spit in death’s eye (or somethin’) and feel that this reckless move was a positive force in Gunnar’s life? I suppose it did get him writing music again (in a waiting room at Edgehill records with a wide-open door, as one does). Anyway, I’m not convinced.

There were bad influences all over last night’s show — the secretly ambitious Dante being chief among them. I do like the twist that he’s not exactly the good guy he seems to be. It was totally shady when he fired poor Avery — but luckily, Deacon was quick to rehire him. (Who else thought Avery was going to be asked to open up for Juliette in Rayna’s absence? I guess Operation Humble Avery is not yet complete.) Of course, Deacon sees right through Dante, because Deacon’s soulfulness is a kind of all-purpose superpower. Deacon had the line of the night — and basically voiced all of our internal monologues — when he found out that Dante was the one pulling all of the behind-the-scenes strings. “Why don’t we see what your cable guy thinks?” he snapped to Juliette. Later, onstage, Deacon totally ignores Juliette as she sidles up to him — he just stands there, playing guitar stiffly, not making eye contact. (I think I love Nashville most of all when personal drama is played out onstage. Way to be professional there, Deac.)

Meanwhile, there were several big secrets revealed on last night’s show (but not the Big Secret, about Maddie’s real father, at least not yet). We found out (or confirmed, I guess) that Watty White had an affair with Rayna’s mother — and that maybe she was even about to run off with him the night she died in that car crash? So it makes perfect sense that Watty would show up to the hospital after Lamar had a heart attack — because yeah, seeing his dead wife’s ex-lover turned orchestrator of his daughter’s music career won’t be taxing on Lamar’s heart at all. Then Lamar’s creepy, lurchy assistant implores Rayna’s sister Tandy to get back to work, and that’s how she discovers that Peggy was the one who leaked news of the divorce to the tabloids. She immediately tells Teddy, so now Teddy’s got a second relationship that no one cares about that might be in peril.

Let’s get to the relationship everyone does care about, shall we? Deacon thinks that Juliette should’ve canceled the show, because “that’s what you do when there’s a family emergency.” “Rayna is not my family,” Juliette spits. “And let me tell you something, she ain’t yours either.” “Yes she is,” Deacon says. And then he calls up the veterinarian lady and breaks up with her on the spot. (Not really ... but it’s just a matter of time, right?) All is right in the world, though, when Deacon shows up at Rayna’s side at the hospital and wakes her up by gently stroking her arm and hugging her. (I so had a dream like that once.) “I heard something in your voice on that message,” he says. “Sounded like you needed ... me.” And that little hesitation before saying “me” (as opposed to “someone” or “a friend”) — well, it melted my little Rayna-and-Deacon-shipping heart. (By the way, has the Internet given them a proper portmanteau yet? Reacon sounds like a home-security company, and Dayna sounds like a chick. Help me out here, commenters!)

Next week! Deacon gets short-term memory loss! No, wait — that’s just a promo for ABC’s shameless 50 First Dates rip-off, Remember Sunday. No promo generally means no episode next week. On the bright side, all these hiatuses are preparing us to live without the show when it gets canceled. I kid, I kid. I have faith, Nashville Nation! Our show will be back! (Just, er, not next week.)

Photo: Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/© 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.