Previously on Nashville: Deacon and Rayna annoyingly dated people who were not each other, Scarlett got on drugs and was actually less irritating than before, Zoey searched for a personality through her hair, Avery and Juliette finally got it on and immediately became an old married couple, everyone struggled to be an authentic artist, and everybody else died.
After the long hiatus, I appreciate that the show gave us five minutes of easy-breezy Rayna before turning her into dark Rayna for the rest of the hour. Thanks, show, we needed that.
So first blissfully oblivious Rayna goes to visit Scarlett and Liam in the studio and, although Teddy keeps calling and calling and calling, she doesn’t pick up, because who answers urgent phone calls from the father of your children when you have a record label to run? She and Liam have some flirty banter and she basically implies: Make a good record and I’ll sleep with you again. (Or maybe I just read it that way. I tend to put an imaginary “in bed” at the end of all their conversations.)
Then she’s off to be the HBIC at some sort of Highway 65 command center she set up at her house, where lots of employees we didn’t know she had rush around holding laptops.
And then Teddy shows up and breaks the news about Lamar and, oh well, so much for the Rayna we all know and love. From that point on, she turns into Rayna on the Edge, not to be confused with Deacon on the Edge (or Juliette on the Edge, or Will on the Edge, or Scarlett on the Edge — they must have a lot of edges in Nashville). Even her hair seems to lose a bit of its luster. (Just kidding. Her hair will never lose its luster.)
Look, I sort of don’t mind Rayna’s stone-cold reaction to her daddy’s death — especially since it led to the epic diva glass throwing scene at the end — but where is this all leading: Alcohol? Drugs? Contemplated suicide at the train tracks? Been there, done that, Nashville. More likely, this will be a one-episode aberration, à la Zoey’s hair and Scarlett’s drug problem. (That’s going to have to come back into play, right? The drugs that is, not the hair … )
As for Scarlett, just when I thought she couldn’t irk me any more, she actually rebuffs a Liam McGuinnis pass (in the rain, no less — they totally could’ve had their The Notebook moment). Later, she comes to her senses and they hook up, but this comes after she literally presses her sad little face against a window at the Bluebird, watching Zoey, Gunnar, and Avery onstage. (“This girl I used to be really good friends with, my ex, and, uh, also my other ex” she later describes it.) Poor Scarlett.
Avery and Juliette are being all kinds of adorable even though I’m not really down with his slicked-back Johnny Cash hair. Also, first he’s a fan of European art films and now he reads the New York Times? I half-expect him to sport a beret in the next episode. (A fun pool might be: What highbrow thing will Avery do next? I’ll take, “Walk around with a copy of Artforum conspicuously jutting out of his back pocket while drinking kale juice,” if it’s not already taken.)
Juliette is forced to do a very annoying thing this episode, unfair to any character: She has to be the voice of exposition. So, when Avery tells her that Ken Inman had nice things to say about her, she replies: “Ken Inman, the New York Times music critic?” And he snarks: “Is there another one that would be relevant to this conversation?” (So basically, the show puts words in Juliette’s mouth that no human would actually utter and then has Avery mock her for it. Not nice, show.) Later, Glenn shows up with some news: Howie V wants to meet her. “Like 12 Grammys and 17 VMAs super producer Howie V?” Juliette says. [Headdesk.]
And thank God for Vulture commenter “LvV,” who pointed out that Howie V (pretty sure not the V that she Lvs) is none other than Michael Chernus, who plays Piper’s off-the-grid brother on Orange Is the New Black, because that would’ve driven me slowly insane, until I turned into Max on the Edge, screaming “Who are YOU? Reveal THYSELF!” over and over again at the TV screen.
Glenn and Juliette go to L.A. to meet with this Howie V guy and he’s all about bigger is better and getting Juliette on the cover of Rolling Stone and having her move to L.A. and abandon her country roots for pop songs with giant string sections behind them (those are the worst). Then he makes Juliette do a photo shoot dressed as some sort of Tim Burton goth creation with a hellish tattoo mask — and then he asks Glenn to get coffee! Nobody puts Glenn in the corner! So Glenn, being the menschy father figure that he is, decides to bow out for the sake of Juliette’s career. (Glenn, the good father, is meant to be contrasted with Lamar, the bad father — I see what you did there, show.) Juliette is momentarily stunned and actually agrees to it, but later comes to her senses. She belongs in Nashville, with Glenn (and Avery). It’s actually nice to see her in a good place, for a change. And how cute were she and Avery grinning at each other when he was onstage at the Bluebird?
Speaking of which, if there’s one thing Nashville consistently does right, it’s the music. Seriously, how is it even possible that there hasn’t been a single awful song in the show’s entire run? Loved the new Zoey-Gunnar-Avery trio (possible band name: the Scarlett Exes). Loved Deacon’s song. Even loved the string-tastic version of Juliette and Avery’s song (just don’t make a habit out of it). And just in general, love the amount of music we’ve been getting lately. We asked for more music, and they heard our pleas.
That being said, I have a new theory about the show: They stage fake breakup scenes between Deacon and Megan, just to mess with our heads.
Today’s installment: Deacon climbing into bed, waking Megan up, and saying, “We need to talk.” We need to talk — i.e., the universal code for a breakup conversation. This is how I imagined the conversation going:
Deacon: “Rayna is hurting and she needs me and I just realized I can’t be a good boyfriend to you when all I want to do is help Rayna and have constant sex with her.”
Megan: “Why? WHY?”
And this is how the conversation actually went:
Deacon: “I’m going to Lamar’s funeral, you okay with that?”
(Damn you, Nashville writers’ room!)
On the bright side, Teddy and Megan do seem to be developing feelings for each other. But the way the show’s going, just when they’re about to kiss, they’ll discover that they’re long lost siblings or something. That would be so Nashville.