Okay, new rule, Nashville: You don’t get to show us a scene where Deacon and Maddie are sitting with their guitars about to jam, and then not show the jam session. I’m serious here. I will create a petition and take it all the way to the White House if I must. Never. Again.
So Deacon is super sad (understandably), but at least he’s not drinking, because real talk: If Nashville were going to having him fall off the wagon every time his life went to hell, they’d have to set up an IV drip. But he is moping around quite a bit, prompting Scarlett to “helpfully” suggests a shave and a shower. Nooo! Look, I’m fine with the shower part — in my fantasies, Deacon always smells delicious. But Scarlett, honey, never ever tell the Scruffed One to shave. (Luckily, “shaving” for Deacon means changing the setting on his razor from “mopey sex god” to “slightly less-mopey sex god.” So we’re good.)
Deacon finally gets a taste of what it’s like to really parent a teenager when he takes Maddie to the World of Suck furniture store. He wants to buy her a dresser for his house, but all she wants to do is roll her eyes and sigh heavily and talk about the suck. (Somewhere, Teddy and Rayna are saying, “Welcome to our world.”) She’s mad at Deacon because she thinks he didn’t try hard enough to win back her mother, and he’s all, “I proposed to her! Is that not hard enough for you?,” which may not be the most responsible thing for him to have said, parenting-wise, but certainly wins the argument.
“I wish it had been you,” Maddie says to him later.
“Me too,” he says. [Long, dramatic pause] “Me too.” (Repeated lines of dialogue in soap operas give me life.)
Of course, everyone wishes Rayna had picked Deacon over Luke, but I’m still not 100 percent sure why. I actually feel like the show is trolling us on this front. Every time Luke gives us some potentially villainous behavior — a perfect “J’accuse!” moment — they pull back, as if to say, Not so fast, hater.
Case in point: Luke tells Rayna that she’s rich enough to just “sit home all day being Mrs. Luke Wheeler” — how dare he? But then he adds: “Just joshin’ ... I know it’s not what you want to do, but isn’t it nice to know that you can?” Oh.
Later, he tells Rayna that he never even tasted his own barbecue sauce, just slapped his face on the label for profit. So that seems all kinds of money-grubbing and shady, right? (I mean, if I ever found out that Paul Newman had never tasted his salad dressing, it would be devastating, like everything I thought I knew about salad dressing was a total lie). But then Luke immediately follows that up by saying that if Rayna just wants to hide away in a cabin in Montana for the rest of their lives, he’d be cool with that. Hmm.
Finally, he literally forces Deacon to go on tour with him, which is clearly a poor financial decision at best and a pissing contest at worst. But he also says, “I’m done with your reckless behavior ruining any chance you ever had at a career,” which is actually kind of … caring? Then, to add to my confusion, he gives Deacon a cocky, “Wheels up, son” (everybody ... drink!), and the camera pans to that menacing silhouette of him doffing his cowboy hat, which is the absolute worst.
Bottom line: I have a serious case of Luke Wheeler whiplash.
Anyway, one of the ongoing themes of the show is Rayna trying to be true to herself as an artist while also navigating this new reality-TV, social-media, TMZ world. So the show starts with a reporter grilling her about Luke’s proposal — in particular: What did he whisper to her on that stage? She refuses to disclose anything. But by the end of the show, with her album floundering and in danger of not even going gold, she’s telling a crowd of screaming Good Morning America fans (and Luke Bryan!) all the juicy details. (The “juicy” details in this case are that Luke’s stage whisper was him complaining about his trick knee: Ah, middle-aged country superstars in love.)
Despite the fact that his album has supplanted Rayna’s at the top of the charts, Will Lexington is not in a happy place. He can’t even celebrate his success because Layla is practically catatonic with depression. (No shot she’s going to win the role of Patsy Cline when she can’t even pretend to be happy for her husband for ten seconds.) Just when I was about to feel really sorry for Layla — she’s basically a prisoner in her own marriage — she turns the tables on Will and starts blackmailing him into boosting her career. (The show is famous for its somewhat extreme character turnarounds — remember when Avery was a jerk? — but Layla going from a near zombie to a conniving dragon-lady within the course of one episode may be the fastest transformation yet.)
Things happens to Jeff Fordham that I guess we’re supposed to care about. (More like Jeff Boredom, am I right?). The most noteworthy is that he apparently sold Edgehill to Mario Van Peebles when we all weren’t looking. Now Van Peebles — who also skillfully directed the episode — has put him on notice: Sign some female artists, or he will fold Edgehill like a cheap tent. (“Do you have a problem with women, Jeff?” he asks. Oh, where to begin.) But here’s a question for all you music industry smarties: Wouldn’t the owner of Edgehill be celebrating the fact that they currently have the No. 1 album? It seemed strange to transition from Will getting the good news to Jeff being dressed down by Mario Van Peebles. But hey, what do I know?
Anyway, gotta admit, Jeff was funny when he gave Juliette grief at the Patsy Cline audition: “Takes a particular brand of amateur to come to the audition all dressed for the part.” (Zing!) And “I see you’ve packed on a few pounds to look exactly like Patsy.” (Double zing!) (Especially when, at that moment, at least, we all thought he was Juliette’s weight gain’s daddy.)
Yes, the big surprise at the end of the episode wasn’t twins or aliens but the fact that Juliette is eight weeks pregnant, not four, which means ... it’s Avery’s baby!!! Group hug, everybody!
And even though Avery is currently doing his best Deacon impression, drowning his sorrows in alcohol and kissing that random girl who was wearing a half-shirt at the Bluebird, we know this is good news, because he and Juliette are still in love. (People who aren’t in love don’t scream at each other like that.)
So now Juliette’s going to keep the baby, which might pose a wee bit of a problem when she inevitably gets cast as Patsy Cline. There’s only so much “Patsy Cline weight gain” a girl can get away with.
- Poor Tandy. They never found an interesting story line for her, and now she’s “moving to San Francisco”. Oof. (Of course the joke will be on me next week when the show starts with a file shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, a chyron that reads “San Francisco,” and a whole B plot centering around Tandy’s fun new life working at that nonprofit.)
- No chance that Rayna and Luke’s portmanteau would be “Ruke.” That’s way too ugly a word. It would probably be Layna, but if we had to keep track of “Rayna,” “Layna,” and “Layla,” that would be a bit much. So “Ruke” it is.
- Still slightly in awe of that move where Rayna removed one five-inch Louboutin heel while standing on the other. (Teach me your ways, Rayna!)
- I’ve remained silent on Scarlett’s necklace long enough. It looks like the inside of a dog’s squeaky toy hanging from a rope. It must be stopped.
- The Scarlett/Gunnar song was super purty, but they cut it off way too soon. (See above note re: White House petition.)
- I leave you with this important question: What on earth does “You are walking into hell with dynamite drawers on” mean? Because I want to say that all the time, but I also want to make sure I’m using it correctly.