Last night’s Nashville put me in the uncomfortable position of actually feeling sorry for secondary and tertiary (and, uh, quaternary?) characters I don’t usually give a damn about.
Let’s start with Pam and the awkward luggage-carousel from hell. There’s Pam. There’s Deacon. The tour has barely ended and there’s already so much space between them, literally and metaphorically. But luckily, luggage carousels move really slowly! (Ugh.) Finally, Deacon moseys over to her, faking a cold. Just kidding: He actually does seem to have a cold. And if anyone can explain the reason for that cold, plot-advancement-wise — other than us getting to see Deacon curled up with a binkie on the couch and spreading his (admittedly adorable) germs by coughing INTO HIS HAND — please let me know. (Maybe to keep him away from all the Rayna/Luke drama this week? Just thinking out loud here ...)
“What are you going to do with your time, then?” Pam says. On the outside, she’s the Cool Girl, casual as you please. Inside, she’s dying a little: Pick me! Pick me! Let me love you, Deacon!
“I thought I’d just take it easy,” Deacon says.
Oh, God. I can’t look.
Later, she shows up at his place and they hang out a bit, and he’s all “Rayna this” and “Rayna that.” And finally, she gets it.
“The road’s not real life or real love. Take care of yourself,” she says, showing herself the door. Were those her parting words? If so, a Cool Girl ’til the bitter end.
Then there’s Layla. First, she and Will settle into an uneasy but genuine truce — despite their sham of a marriage, they do care about each other — then she debuts her angry, new, Will-bashing song at the Sutler Saloon, and nobody believes she actually wrote it because it’s, like, really good. (“Dude, seriously, did she write this?” Gunnar asks Will.) But then Will can’t take it anymore — it would basically be the equivalent of Alanis debuting “You Oughta Know” right in front of Dave Coulier — so he leaves. But he waits for her after the show, and she’s all, “Thanks for sucking so hard and helping me write better songs.” And he’s all, “You’re welcome?” And it’s actually kind of sweet. Then they attend their new reality-show premiere together and the producers have gone full-on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica on them, with Will as the hunky, tolerant hubby and Layla as the hilarious, airheaded ditz. Evil producer lady admits it’s all through the magic of editing but, to be totally honest, not being able to use a can opener is pretty ditzy.
Then there’s Zoey. It seems that Kiley is a lot more about gettin’ some than being a Mother of the Year candidate, and she’s been dropping Micah off more and more with Gunnar, turning Zoey into a glorified babysitter. (Did anyone else have a mini heart-attack when Will casually referred to Micah as Gunnar’s son? I thought they were going to keep that a secret from the kid! Apparently not.) So Zoey finally gets her hot date-night with Gunnar, but Will is there too, which doesn’t seem particularly hot (or even very date-y) to me. Then Kiley decides that Gunnar and Zoey are doing such a great job of raising Micah, she’s going to let them do it for a while.
Poor Zoey. (And poor us. Zoey-the-reluctant-co-parent plotline is now officially a thing.)
Finally, there’s Luke. Talk about a role reversal. At first, Rayna was the one all about family and keeping her priorities in order, and Luke seemed like the shallow, career-first guy. Now he’s at home making customized bacon for every single family member — including Sage! who exists! — and Rayna’s onstage at Dancing With the Stars, the gig she stole right out from under him. (By the way, how funny would it have been if Derek Hough had been onstage during that segment? Rayna could’ve done a double take and said, “Wait! Isn’t that? ... Nah.” A missed opportunity for comedy gold, I tell ya.)
To make matters worse, after the show, she makes arrangements to be shadowed by a reporter from Rolling Stone even though it was supposed to be her first weekend home with the family in two months. (Every time Rayna introduced the reporter as “Bret from Rolling Stone,” I thought of “Jake from State Farm” — but maybe that’s just me.)
Also? Whatever Jann Wenner paid for this product placement, it wasn’t enough. “In-depth stories. That’s what we’re known for. Not those one-off puff pieces based off a conversation here or a phone call there,” Bret from Rolling Stone tells Rayna. Sold!
Anyway, Luke is, understandably, not happy with this arrangement. He just wants to taste lemon cake and hold hands with his fiancée and play miniature golf with the fam, not hang out with Bret from Rolling Stone all weekend! And then, to add insult to injury, Luke, Rayna, and Bret walk in on Maddie and Colton “just making out,” as Maddie shrugs and puts it. (No big whoop. Just a little make-out sesh between two future siblings. Parents just don’t understand!) I will say this for Maddie and Colton: Their hormones have the worst timing. First a cop walks in on them, now a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine! What’s next? A priest? Get a room with a lock, you little pervs. So Rayna has to do damage control, which somehow involves spilling her guts to Bret from Rolling Stone about Deacon to keep the kiddies out of the story. (No, it made no sense to me, either.)
“Let me ask you,” Bret says. “If Deacon didn’t relapse last fall, would you two be together now?” (These are the kinds of non-puff-piecey, in-depth questions you only get from Rolling Stone ™!) Rayna pauses for an eternity and looks away, and even though we don’t get to hear her answer, that pause pretty much says it all.
Okay, other things!
Everything about the Terry/Scarlett story line is horrible, including the fact that he bought her a harmonica and that he wears a porkpie hat that he doffs from time to time and that his entire family died in a “head-on collision” and he blames himself, but I will allow this: They sing well together. Yes, that part can stay.
The highlight of the show, for me, at least, was the unstoppable adorableness between Avery and Juliette. First Avery wanted Juliette to do Lamaze, but then he found out that it required lots of touching, so he bailed. Then Juliette asked her assistant Emily to be her Lamaze partner (saddest Lamaze partner ever) and Emily pleaded with Avery, and by the end — perhaps inspired by the soulful love song he overheard her singing into her laptop — he surprised Juliette by showing up at her Lamaze class, and she looked so happy and proud, it was disgustingly cute.
“Get closer,” the teacher instructed. And Avery did, wrapping his arms around Juliette’s belly, just in time to feel the little bugger kick.
“What was that?” he asked.
“That was a kick. Second time today,” Juliette said.
“Sorry I missed the first. It won’t happen again,” Avery replied.
So just call me Max “Puddle of Goo” Weiss going forward.
Next week: the CMAs! Even though sweeps week seems like an arbitrary concept rooted in archaic network viewing practices, I’m sure glad it exists!