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Nashville Recap: Murder They Wrote

NASHVILLE - "Tomorrow Never Comes"

The Nashville promo people are totally on my list right now. I just feel so used, you know? Because telling us that someone was going to die was no mere grab for ratings, it was actually a highly orchestrated ploy to put us all through hell. For starters, if you’re anything like me, you spent the entire episode trying to figure out who was going to die. I couldn’t relax for one second. Last year, when Jolene and Skippy the Sober Companion had their little murder-suicide deal, it was shocking, but not completely out of the left field. After all, that was a pretty combustible situation.

But this season, the stakes don’t quite seem high enough to warrant murder. Scarlett is currently very angry at both Gunnar and Zoey, but she’s more of a pouter than a fighter. Teddy hates Deacon, but in a wield-his-power-to-get-Deacon-off-the-festival-lineup kind of way, not a leave-Deacon-in-a-pool-of-his-own-blood way. Olivia hates Juliette (I guess), but she’d apparently rather do her than do her in. Then who?

I swear, I studied every askance glance, every minor confrontation, every angry curl of Juliette’s lip, trying to figure out where this was all going. I noted the fact that Peggy and Teddy seemed unusually happy. “Let’s look forward, not back,” Peggy said, giving Teddy a hug. “I love you,” Teddy replied. STRONG CANDIDATES TO DIE, I scribbled in my notes. (People articulating their happiness and optimism is second only to the ominous cough in the “who’s going to die this episode?” sweepstakes.)

And then, those bastards, they had Will — fresh off an immediately regretted sexual encounter with Brent — preparing to hurl himself in front of a train. And I thought, noooooooo! They can’t kill Will, it makes no sense! He has one of the juiciest story lines on the show! They’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential blackmail, secret encounters, shirtless sex scenes, and PR nightmares his character might inspire! (And, um, it would also be a tragic loss of life, obviously …) And there I was, just about to rattle off a very angry letter to the producers of Nashville when, well, Teddy got randomly shot at in the parking lot. (Yikes! Did Lamar put a hit on him?)

And then, before I could even begin to worry about Maddie and Daphne losing their daddy, Teddy wrestled the gun away, and he was okay, and Rayna was okay and — ruh-roh — Peggy was apparently not okay.

So.

The whole “somebody dies!” promo was wielded in a very calculated way. It was a misdirection. They wanted us to think that Will killed himself (remember, we never actually saw him jump in front of the train) when it’s now fairly obvious that Peggy is the somebody who is dead.

Of course, Peggy’s presumed death is far less angry-letter-inducing, but still somewhat mystifying in its own way. Where does this story line go from here? Surely, they won’t have Rayna reconciling with Teddy, because it already requires a spreadsheet to follow all of her boyfriends (although does anyone else think Luke might be out of the picture, now that — to paraphrase Christian Bale — he and Rayna are done professionally?). Or are they going to have Teddy go the Deacon route, get all broody and angsty and lone-wolfish? Not really necessary, because we already have the best darn Deacon we can possibly have.

Why then? Assuming we’re right and Peggy is dunzo, what’s the point? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. (Not one of my strengths, I admit.) Besides, I don’t really want to obsess over dead Peggy right now, because lots of other good things happened in this episode, too.

For starters, Avery and Juliette are on, you guys! Well, not on as in “getting it on” (yet), but on as in Juliette showed up at Avery’s doorstep with no makeup on (so you know it was about to get real) and poured her heart out to him. But of course, Scarlett had to be there, ruining everything, as she does.

I love the way the show has handled Aviette (sorry) for many reasons.  For one, we never explicitly confirmed that Avery and Juliette were developing romantic feelings for each other — it was just there, lingering in the air, this unsaid and totally obvious thing between them. After Avery helped Juliette get through her song in front of the hostile crowd — the word homewrecker emblazoned on a sheet was a particularly nice touch (do they sell those at Bed Bath & Beyond?) — they bonded, and there was this easy intimacy between them, this genuine and tender connection.

Also, a lot of shows might choose to have Juliette come to Avery’s door, see Scarlett, and turn on her heels, but in this case, she was halfway through her declaration of love before she spotted her rival. No turning back now: Avery knows she loves him (and deep down he knows he loves her back). Even Scarlett possibly knows she loves him — why else would Juliette show up on Avery’s doorstep looking so emotional? (Then again, Scarlett is a bit slow on the uptake. She might think Juliette had a broken guitar string or something.)

Random riffs:

  • So now all of a sudden Gunnar and Zoey are not just hooking up, they’re in loooove? And that somehow justifies their lying to Scarlett? “If she was really my friend, she’d be happy for me,” Zoey sniffs. (Ha-ha, keep that line in your back pocket, ladies, for the next time you’re eyeing your best friend’s man.)
  • Loved the return of Deacon’s Man Wisdom™ when discussing Scarlett with Gunnar:
    “We’ll talk about that later … as in never.”
    “Free advice: Don’t crap where you live.” (That was this episode’s corollary to that time Rayna complained that audiences used to yell, “Show us your boobs!” at her shows. Sometimes the FCC gets in the way of a perfectly good idiom.)
  • How come no one seems to notice what a freakin’ awesome musician Gunnar is? I’m starting to develop a complex about it. I mean, there he is, up onstage, writing his own music, singing like an angel, looking like some alt-country member of One Direction, and … nothing. I mean, Rayna is actively looking for new artists to sign to her label and yet she looks right through him. (She’s like that person who can’t find her glasses when they’re right on top of her head.) Meanwhile, Deacon has his second solo gig and he’s got some record company honcho slobbering all over him.
  • Very happy that Rayna and Tandy managed to scrape together the $20 million to buy out her contract at Edgehill (I sometimes manage to scrape together 20 bucks for pizza delivery, so we’ve got that in common). But did we have to see Jeff Fordham’s butt crack to make that a reality?
  • Speaking of Jeff, he seems to be onto Layla’s two-faced ways. Mwah-ha-ha. Excellent.
  • And there you have it. Our mid-season finale. Two lives hang in the balance (but not really) and the Nashville promo people are high fiving each other in the writing room. But I refuse to be a pawn in their little game again! (Unless they make a really cool promo where Deacon and Rayna are trapped in an elevator together and have to slowly remove layers of clothing because it’s super hot or something. Then I might forgive them.)
Photo: Mark Levine/ABC