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Nashville Recap: They’ll Take Manhattan

NASHVILLE - "I Saw the Light"

Not gonna lie: I literally pumped my fist and yelled, “Yes!” when Rayna told the girls they could go onstage and do the soundcheck. (Last week’s unplayed guitar that Rayna gave to Maddie, much like the proverbial un-shot gun over the mantle, was just one big tease.) And then damned if Maddie and Daphne (a.k.a. Lennon and Maisy) didn’t do the most charming, winsome version of the Lumineers’ overexposed “Ho Hey” I’ve ever heard. (Their next trick? Making me fall in love with the “Harlem Shake” all over again!) God, those two little talented cuties really do threaten to be the Thing That Ate the Show. I will now spend much of my Nashville viewing time drumming my fingers on the table, waiting for them to hop onstage again.

It was, however, awfully fun to see the girls in NYC with mom, even if Maddie’s attitude literally turned on a dime: She was sitting in the backseat of that limo, all morose and monosyllabic, and then she saw her mom on a giant Times Square billboard and was like, I want to be a star! Ha, Juliette also saw the billboard — she couldn’t miss it; it was looming right outside her hotel window — and it ruined her attempt at Zen calm. She’s staying in a hotel with Jolene and Dante, who seems to have morphed from drug counselor to life coach, yoga master, slick-suited business consultant, and Barnes family he-stud. Whatever. He can stay. He’s hot.

Really, though, all is right with the world when Deacon and Juliette and Rayna are sharing the same orbit, especially when Rayna is trying to contain her jealousy over Deacon’s new “girlfriend.” (And is there any actress who does fake Southern bonhomie through gritted teeth better than Connie Britton?) Jealousy, in fact, was the theme of last night’s show. Rayna is jealous of Stacy and Stacy is jealous of both Rayna and Juliette (“You had a history with both of the headliners. Are you trying to scare me away?”) — but mostly just Rayna, because she and Deacon share an eye sex that cannot be denied. (But by the end of the show, Deacon tells Stacy he’s leaving the tour. Huh.) Rayna is jealous of Juliette, because she feels that her girls’ unfortunate newfound desire for celebrity has more to do with their favorite teen idol than their famous middle-aged mama. (And of course, Juliette milks this for all it’s worth, telling the sisters to ignore their mother and not “take no for an answer.” Thanks for helping, Juliette!)

Gunnar is about to be jealous of Scarlett. It’s been a month since the events of last week’s episode, and the star-crossed twosome are all happy and cozy together — he’s even giving her a surprise gift of these hideous rubber gloves that look like something Minnie Pearl would wear to the do the dishes. (Scarlett pretends to think they’re ugly, but they actually fit her style to a tee.) Alas, their domestic bliss is short-lived: Gunnar finds out about Scarlett’s contract (nice job not telling him about that, Minnie) and it’s like déjà vu — musician boyfriend seething with resentment over her success. (In fairness, Gunnar is more upset about her lying to him than about the contract itself, or so he says.)

But if Avery drowned his sorrows by hopping into bed with that predatory producer lady on his way to becoming a cautionary tale, Gunnar has a different distraction: Their new cowboy neighbor (oh, hi, Chris Carmack from The OC!), with whom he starts a steamy bromance in the form of beer, campfires, and duets in the backyard. (Poor Gunnar. Does he ever get to sing alone? It’s like Gunnar Scott is ... the Harmonizer!) At one point, they actually send Scarlett to the kitchen to fetch them dinner while they continue their man-playing.

Meanwhile, Avery has officially hit rock bottom. Not only does he owe the studio money, he’s been blacklisted at virtually every club in town. “You gotta do something,” says Hailey, that girl from the record label. (And I write in my notes: male prostitution?) But no, Avery is busking on the streets, literally blowing on his hands for warmth — I’m surprised he didn’t have some sort of tattered blanket over his shoulders and a bottle of hooch at his side. Have you noticed that they’re giving Avery a lot more humility these days? I think they’re trying to up his Q rating.

He bumps into his old bandmate and it’s not quite as Schadenfreude-riffic as you might expect. More like, “Hey, you’ve hit rock bottom? Me too!” In fact, Avery’s pal even gives him a hookup for a roadie job in New York — on the Red Lips/White Lies tour perhaps? That’s good news for Avery (or at least Jonathan Jackson): Everyone becomes exponentially more interesting when they’re part of that tour.

Hopefully, that goes for Jolene, too. As I mentioned last week, she and Juliette have fallen into a kind of predictable pattern each episode: They fight, long-standing resentments come to the surface, and then they have a tender moment of reconciliation — in this case, Juliette dedicating that song to her from the stage. But if they’re both going to be bedding Dante, a.k.a. the Most Interesting Man Alive, that could get good. I loved when Juliette sent mom off to the crew AA meeting — first, I loved the fact that there was a crew AA meeting — so she and Dante could strategize over their next business meeting ... IN BED.

And now for the obligatory portion of the recap where I talk about Teddy, Lamar, and all that political stuff. Lamar is still trying to work any angle imaginable to get that stadium on his land. He first tries to get to the (mostly) incorruptible Coleman, who sends him packing, and then goes to Peggy, who’s not exactly a bedrock of morality. Turns out she was the one who leaked those divorce stories to the tabloids, something Teddy would be none too pleased to find out. The next thing you know, Peggy’s sweetly asking Teddy to reconsider the long-term benefits of partnering with Lamar. And then  ... Lamar dies. Well, okay, I’m pretty sure he’s not dead, but he has a heart attack of some sort, mid-sneer. So we’ll see where this goes.

Next week, and I quote: “Temptation is everywhere. Between neighbors ...” (Cut to scene of Scarlett and the cowboy). “Ex-lovers ... ” (Deacon and Rayna). “Even Mother and daughter” (WTF?!).  Umm, I don’t think the ABC promo people quite understand what the word temptation means. (But if Jolene and Juliette do get it on that would certainly be ... edgy.) Seriously, though, I hope that Dante actually does like Jolene, and that kiss in the preview wasn’t just her making a sloppy fool of herself.

And while I’m wishing for things, I also hope that Lamar is actually dead. Is that so wrong?

Photo: Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC