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Nashville Recap: Label Conscious

NASHVILLE - "Never No More"

“Edgehill has appointed a new chief, Jeff Fordham. He’s powerful, sexy, and on a mission to place the label back on top” —from the ABC press release for last night’s episode.

Well, I guess the sexy part will reveal itself gradually. A few other things about Jeff Fordham: He’s played by Oliver Hudson, Kate’s big brother. (Hi, Goldie!) He has the obligatory Nashville look that we’ll call “Teen idol way past his expiration date”: floppy brown hair, square jaw, boyish features. And he’s apparently replacing Powers Boothe (who’s been demoted from series regular — oops) as this season’s baddie. I suppose he’s an improvement over the twitchy guy who played the record chief last season, who seemed like someone they had just pulled in off the street — but he came on a tad strong, don’t ya think?

I’m not buying that Jeff would insult his cash cow Juliette within moments of meeting her and try to sabotage Rayna’s adorable little two-person label right out of the gate. I did love when he turned to Scarlett and said, in a bitchy sort of way, “Nice dress.” And my favorite scene of the episode was when he mocked Rayna’s single lawyer with his entire roomful of lawyers, one of whom gave Rayna an awkward little wave. He’s like Nashville’s new Mean Girl. (Prediction: At some point this season, he’s going to try to change Scarlett from country bumpkin in a house dress to sexy siren in a bustier. You just watch.)

So Rayna sure did snap back from last week’s pesky little coma, huh? As far as I can tell, the only ill effects she displays are a slightly stiff gait, comfier clothes, and a little less makeup. Feed a cold, starve a fever, and dress down a coma. But man, she’s all kinds of sassy this week. She was breaking up with people left and right. She broke up with Teddy, even though they’re not technically together anymore. She broke up with Deacon, while standing next to a bunch of teddy bears and Mylar balloons, which really only added to the humiliation. She broke up with Avery and they’ve never even had a scene together! (Heh.) And by the end of the episode, it seems like maybe she’s ready to break up with Edgehill records, too. Damn girl, that’s more breakups than even Taylor Swift had last week! (I know ... too easy.)

I was a little surprised that Deacon came crawling back to Rayna so fast, to be honest. I thought his anger was righteous. But that’s what he does — he’s Deacon. Man, he’s a mess. I kinda hope he gets his ish together soon, because this Deacon on the Edge stuff is getting a little tiresome. This week his hand is in pretty bad shape — and he refuses to take painkillers (for sobriety purposes) or go through physical therapy. Instead he just wears a cast, plans to have a “fire sale” of his guitar museum, and lashes out at Scarlett, who lashes right back.

Typical exchange:
Scarlett: You’re a damn fool!
Deacon: I’m a one-handed fool!

Man, Scarlett was all about giving Uncle Deacon some tough love this week, and I must say that headstrong Scarlett — with her tremulous little pout, wide eyes, and bossy baby talk — may be my least favorite Scarlett of all. (I hate to make fun of Scarlett, because it feels like making fun of Bambi or Elmo or Honey Boo-Boo … but damn, she just sets. Me. Off.)

Is it possible I was just irritable last night? 'Cause Juliette’s story line also irked. I’ll never say no to an unexpected Conan O’Brien cameo, but what happened to her patented poker face when he brought up Rayna? She looked positively constipated. Then — *small voice* — I thought we were going to be over the whole “I had a crappy childhood in the trailer park” story once Jolene died last season. But no, they bring it right back, as Juliette leads a CMT camera crew around her old hometown, running into an old neighbor who seems to be having some sort of convulsion (Is anyone going to call a medic for this poor woman? I kept thinking) and hands Juliette the only thing tackier than a Mylar-balloon-based shrine: a quilt made up entirely of Juliette Barnes baby head shots. Not creepy at all.

So Juliette did her Juliette thing: She’s fake crying; she’s real crying. She’s genuinely moved; she’s just pretending to be moved. Rinse and repeat. At least Avery was there to ... well, I’m not exactly sure what he was there to do.

Random riffs:

• Gunnar sang a purdy song that had all of us scratching our heads and saying “what the hell does a Spanish rose and ‘adios, old friend’ have to do with Scarlett?” Then Will explained to Zoey (she’s Scarlett’s bestest friend, you know, and Scarlett tells her everything! Always has, always will!) that the song is actually about Gunnar’s brother. (Nice fake-out, show.)

• Will’s ex BF is now doing PR for Jeff Fordham, which seems a little convenient, but then again, the show is kind of permanently insulated from such criticism because — say it with me — it’s a soap opera. Anyway, he just wants Will to know he won’t be hitting on him anymore because he’s in PR now: Heterosexual country stars are a lot more bankable than gay ones. Just ask [name of closeted country music star redacted by our legal department].

• Ha, I do love the fact that Juliette’s new competition is a girl who came in second on American Hit Maker and who pops onstage at the Edgehill party to sing a Juliette Barnes “classic.” Buuuuurn.

• I really missed Peggy this episode.

Next week looks better, huh? First, the delicious Liam is back (praise Dolly!) and, uh-oh, has Rayna lost her voice? So let me get this straight: Deacon has messed up his hand. And Rayna has possibly screwed up her voice. I shudder to think what kind of injuries these two would have if Nashville were set in the porn industry.

Photo: Mark Levine/ABC