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Nashville Recap: That Little Narcissistic Person

NASHVILLE

Just for grins and giggles, I decided to jot down everything I know about a few of the Nashville characters. Zoey: pretty; wants to sing; doesn’t follow girl code; dates Gunnar. Megan: pretty; lawyer; has dead husband; dates Deacon; possible brain tumor, because she cheats on Deacon with Teddy. Layla: pretty; might be mean, might be nice (unclear); dates Will; bad gaydar. Luke: handsome; wears black hats; uses “wheels up” as unfortunate signature catchphrase; might be mean, might be nice (unclear); recognizes frightening art when he sees it; dates Rayna. 

Well,  I think you see my point here — I know next to nothing about these characters, save for Luke, but even the things I know about him are pretty superficial. They’re all mostly defined by being genetically blessed and being the significant other of one of our main characters. This has long been a flaw of Nashville: The secondary characters drift in and out of the show without ever seeming to have inner lives. (To say we hardly knew Deacon’s veterinarian lady would be an insult to people we hardly know.) This is a problem. Inner lives are, like, important.

I was particularly struck by this fact since last night’s show opened with Zoey singing a song at an audition. This is kind of the money position of the show: The last person to cold-open the episode with a solo song was none other than Juliette Barnes herself. And I found myself thinking: (1) Pretty song, (2) Pretty girl; (3) Who cares? (Don’t get me wrong: Zoey’s voice is beautiful. But the song, to me, at least, had all the impact of a greeting card from your dentist’s office.) Perhaps the essential “meh”-ness of Zoey’s song was exacerbated by the fact that, two scenes later, we heard two strummed bars of a duet between Maddie and Daphne and it was incredible. And then Teddy walked in and ruined everything. (His prescribed role this episode — and let’s face it, most episodes — was Official Ruiner of Everything.) Then he actually took Daphne’s guitar away from he. He’s a monster.

The funny thing about Teddy is that we’re supposed to believe that he and Megan are so hot for each other, they can barely stand to be in the same room together. They positively tremble with desire in each other’s presence. LOL. Poor Deacon cluelessly thinks he’s just been a neglectful boyfriend, although Megan is displaying all the telltale signs of a cheater: won’t eat the food he cooks her (out of guilt); can’t make eye contact with Teddy when he shows up for Maddie’s guitar lesson; has emotional “private” conversation with Teddy on the illuminated runway at the Highway 65 party. (Those two would make terrible spies.) Looks like Deacon’s about to get his heart broken. (Again.) At least he gets to go on tour with Luke and Will now. Hottest. Tour. Ever.

Of course, the centerpiece of last night’s show was Juliette’s new deal at Highway 65. Juliette is ready to announce to the world that Rayna has taken her under her wing. Rayna? Not so much. She wants to roll out the partnership gradually, on her own time line. (She’s basically like the popular guy in high school who hooks up with you on weekends, ignores you in the halls, and then says your relationship is more “special” because it’s private. Or, uh, so I’ve heard.) Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with Juliette, especially when she looks up at the big screen at the Highway 65 party and sees a sassy Scarlett O’Connor music video. (There’s been a bit of reversal of fortune between those two characters, in that Juliette is in a stable relationship and an emotionally good place but her career is in the tank, and Scarlett’s career is soaring and she’s a pill-popping basketcase.)

So Juliette does something that is just so her: She hops onstage at the party. “What is she doing?” asks Tandy to Rayna. “Nothing good,” Rayna replies, and then, under the guise of introducing Rayna, she also — oops — lets it slip that she’s the newest signee to Highway 65. The best thing about this little transgression is that it doesn’t backfire at all. Yes, Rayna does take Juliette into the coatroom for a stern talking to. (And I need a GIF of that look exchanged between Glenn and Juliette, like, yesterday.) She also later refers to Juliette as “that little narcissistic, self-destructive … person” — which, let’s face it, showed remarkable restraint on her part. But, for the most part, Juliette gets exactly what she wants — namely, a duet with Rayna at the Grand Ole Opry and Rayna’s official and public blessing. If this was the first of many battles between Rayna and Juliette at Highway 65 — and please, TV gods, let it be so — then Juliette, slyly, won. 

So Juliette’s doppelgänger Scarlett, as I mentioned before, is a hot mess. I have a new theory that you can judge Scarlett’s emotional state by the length of her hair. Right now, her hair is very, very long. Like, Cher circa 1973 long (she also apparently stole Cher’s headband). When she wears it in braids, she looks like Brunhilda. When she wears it up, she looks like this meme. And the pills? Well, after taking a two-episode hiatus, they’re back. (Awkward confession time: I think I actually like Scarlett better when she’s on speed. She seems fun!) Anyway, with Liam out of the picture, she needs a producer she can trust and feel safe with. Enter Avery Barkley. Ooh, the plot thickens.

Random riffs:

1. Did you notice that when she uploaded her video to YouTube, Maddie called herself “Maddie Claybourne”? My heart breaks for Teddy a wee bit right now.

2. Speaking of Maddie, the raccoon-eye look is not good for her and, worse still, she made her kid sister look like Baby Jane.

3. When did Tandy and Rayna make up? I thought they weren’t speaking to each other? It’s impossible to follow the emotional ups and downs of these two crazy sisters.

4. OMG, Deacon’s album — Deacon Claybourne: Alive at the Bluebird — is just so perfectly him: a silhouetted picture of his back, leaning against a guitar case. And then you flip the album over and it’s all, “Oh hai, just kidding. I’m hot. Here’s my face.”

5. I’m not sure who’s dumber: Will, for thinking that proposing to Layla is going to make all his problems go away, or Layla, for actually accepting the proposal. I’m going with: It’s a tie.

No show next week, folks. So you’ll have plenty of time to work on your Gunnar/Avery slash fan-fic. (Just me?)

Photo: Mark Levine/ABC