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Nashville Recap: What’s Your Damage?

NASHVILLE - "I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now"

Remember last season how we all joked that Nashville, perhaps assuming they’d get the ax from ABC, had crammed four seasons’ worth of plots into their first year? It was hella fun — a lesser show would’ve milked Maddie’s paternity mystery, for example, until at least season three — but now we are seeing the fallout from that rush to denouement: Awkwardly rammed-in plot threads and characters that were meant to have been there the whole time. So of course, I’m talking about Zoey (played by Chaley Rose — which I suppose is marginally better than being named Geralda Rivera), the best friend Scarlett loves and confides in so much that she didn’t mention her once in season one. And I’m also talking about Deacon’s daddy.

I don’t actually recall Deacon mentioning a drunk, abusive daddy, do you? Suddenly it’s his major damage — and, in fact, the main thing that Coleman thinks Deacon must face head-on at his AA meetings. (Speaking of Coleman: As awkward as Zoey’s insertion into the cast is, Coleman’s apparent deletion is more so. “We’re moving,” he tells Deacon, out of the blue. Of course, people move all the time in real life, but on TV there’s usually a little bit more setup.)

So yeah, looks like dealing with his daddy issues is going to be Deacon’s “deal” this season — or at least one of them. (The guy has more deals than a Vegas blackjack table. That joke just killed with the coveted “45-to-85-year-old member of the Friars Club” demographic.) And it’s one of many reasons why he’s reluctant to be a father to Maddie. He basically goes to Teddy and tells him not to worry — he won’t be making any kind of paternal claim on his daughter. He also tries to give Teddy props for raising Maddie.

“A lesser man might’ve done things differently,” Deacon says, in that growly Batman voice he’s been sporting since he’s become unhinged.

“A lesser man did,” Teddy replies. (Oh snap! Ohnohedidnt! Meow! Etc.)

So good daddy Teddy is also struggling with doing the right thing — for the wrong woman. Sigh. I guess instead of getting my feminist dander up every time Peggy enters the room, I should just embrace her as a pure villain. Not only does she have a made-up baby, she has made-up morning sickness. (On the other hand, she almost won me over simply by saying that she was feeling “nauseated” instead of “nauseous.” It’s the little things.) Her baby also has a made-up gender (it’s a boy!) and a made-up name (Theodore! so subtle!). When faking a pregnancy, Peggy is nothing if not thorough. At first, Teddy tries to tell her he wants nothing to do with his unborn/nonexistent child. But he just can’t stay away. Unlike Deacon, he knows he’s a good father.

While we’re on the subject of things that were awkwardly reinserted into the drama: Welcome back, Liam! Not that I’m complaining. Rayna wants to continue working with him as a producer, but Bucky wonders if Liam might still be ticked about how she ditched him right before St. Lucia. She agrees he might have a point.

“How many times does a guy like that get stood up at the airport?” she muses.

“Once,” Bucky says, a dreamy look in his eyes. (Man crush?)

(An aside: Can anyone please explain to me why, right before Rayna poured some sweet tea for Scarlett, the following exchange took place? Rayna: “Bucky, I know you don’t want any.” Bucky: “No, I’m good, thanks.” I mean, one-hour shows get edited within an inch of their lives — this is how we end up with those deleted scenes on the DVD extras — so how on earth did that bit of meaningless dialogue survive the final cut? Did they think we would all be at home, screaming at our TVs: “That is so rude that Rayna didn’t offer Bucky any sweet tea! I am so over this show!”)

I’m so glad that sexy, sexy Liam, with his little hipster hats and insouciant scarves and bedroom eyes, is back. I love his chemistry with Rayna. Look, I know that Deacon and Rayna are end game. I get that. It’s built into the DNA of the show, but — [small voice] — am I the only one who thinks that she and Liam are kind of great together? [Pauses as half his readers close their browsers and walk away in disgust.]

Rayna’s big deal this episode is the fact that she seems to have lost her voice. Just like last year, when Gunnar didn’t tell anyone that he was singing his dead brother’s song, I don’t quite get why Rayna can’t just tell Edgehill her vocal cords were temporarily damaged in the crash. Even if she is worried that her voice won’t return, at least this buys her some time. But major kudos to commenter Mockingbird for figuring out that this whole “Rayna’s lost her voice” plot is quite possibly a very convenient way to get Connie Britton to, well, stop singing. We all know that Connie Britton is an amazing actress, with charm for days, and hair fashioned from the manes of unicorns — but, let’s face it, she is the weak link as a singer on the show. A little vocal contusion and — voilà! — problem solved.

Rayna’s vocal problem is exacerbated because she’s supposed to sing at the big Edgehill shareholder’s showcase. She artfully sidesteps this by having Scarlett sing instead, thus invoking the wrath of Jeff Fordham. (By the way, they did give Scarlett the makeover I predicted, but it wasn’t quite as trashtastic as I hoped. I think it was from Hot Topic’s “Slutty Bumpkin” line.) Juliette would’ve sung at the showcase herself, but she had a previous commitment to perform at the anniversary party of the wealthy Charles Wentworth of Maryland.

Please allow me to take you on the very special journey of self-discovery I went on as Juliette went to visit the Wentworths. The minute I saw Charles Wentworth, all smarmy and good-looking and tan, with that posh British accent of his, I thought: He is so going to make a pass at Juliette. But then, he hopped onstage to strum a little tune for his wife and, later — after suddenly sensitive Avery had stormed off in a huff — Juliette spied them lovingly canoodling together, and I literally wrote in my notes: “I need to be less cynical! Charles Wentworth actually loves his wife.” Well, we all know how this O. Henry–esque tale ends: The ink had not even dried on my life-changing self-rebuke when ol’ Charlie boy made a pass at Juliette (and, needless to say, she caught it). Thanks to Nashville, my cynical indoctrination is now complete.

Oh, well. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, y’all.

Photo: Mark Levine/ABC