Nashville Recap: Slap-Happy

Connie Britton on Nashville. Photo: Mark Levine/ABC
Episode Title
That’s the Way Love Goes
Editor’s Rating

Do you think Maddie spends hours in her bedroom writing Rayna-and-Deacon fanfiction after everyone goes to sleep? Do you think she doodles “Deacon + Rayna 4Ever” surrounded by hearts all over her notebooks? Does she have a Tumblr dedicated to their love?

Because she is 'shipping her biological parents, hard.

“So what’s going on with you and Mom?” she asks Deacon.

“We just need a little time,” Deacon replies.

“But you still love her don’t you?”

“Til the day I die.”

Satisfied with this answer, she takes her case to her mother:

“Mom, you still love him, don’t you?”

“I’ll always love Deacon,” Rayna says breezily.

“No, I mean, like you loooove him.”

“Sweetheart, I know you want us to be together.”

Then she mutters under her breath, like it’s a wish too big to say out loud: “So bad.”

We are Maddie, and Maddie is us.

Good news for all of us, then — sort of. Last night was a strong episode for Team Dayna. There was a time, back in season one, where Luke and Rayna would’ve broken up, Rayna and Deacon would’ve gotten back together, we would’ve found out who Deacon’s liver match was, he would’ve had the life-saving surgery, and been in a car crash — all in one episode. Those days are over. The Nashville writers definitely had a, “oh, shit, we have 25 more episodes to fill” wake-up call, and now they take their sweet time going places. But hey, at least there was progress.

Rayna is celebrating her 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and she asks her girls if they want to join her onstage. After much squeeing, Maddie gets down to business: “What about Deacon?” she asks. (She. Is. Relentless.)

Rayna agrees that it wouldn’t be the same without him, so she calls and invites him. He hesitates, and says he’ll get back to her.

Meanwhile, Maddie invites Colt, who asks his dad if he wants to accompany him. Luke decides it’s time to mend fences (either that or he’s still in the obsessively-stalking-your-ex stage of the breakup) and agrees to go.

Of course, Deacon does show up (as if he could stay away), and just before Rayna hops onstage, he takes her hand. You’ll never guess whose laser eyes zero right in on that hand clasp? This is officially the best day of Maddie’s life.

So Rayna goes onstage to introduce her girls, and it’s some killer acting by Connie Britton because she gets all emotional about passing the torch, and it’s a beautiful scene, but I do have one question for you guys: Two weeks ago, Rayna acted like a Maddie record contract was a document from hell, forged in the blood of Satan. Now she’s onstage, all: “Meet the Conrad Sisters, Nashville!” Does anyone see any contradiction here? (Just me? Never mind, then.)

Just at this exact moment, Teddy’s soccer-mom prostitute decides it’s a wonderful time to tell him about the van down by the river filled with law-enforcement officers. (Teddy missing his daughters’ Grand Old Opry debut because his prostitute is telling him that they’re both screwed is the most Teddy thing that has ever happened.)

Maddie and Daphne do great, although the fact that Maddie has the spotlight on her most of the time while Daphne stands behind her, in her literal shadow, is a bit too on-the-nose, metaphor-wise.

Then Rayna comes back out, makes a speech, gets emotional talking about Deacon, and he joins her onstage and they sing a duet together, prompting my friend Susan to send me the following tweet: “OK, I have to say it. Why are Rayna & Deacon duets the worst songs on the show? Every. Time.” Do you all agree with this slander? Or am I going to have to have Susan “taken care of”? I personally give the song a 7 and all the Dayna eye-sexing a 10. I mean, the chemistry between them is so undeniable that Luke, watching from the wings, actually begins to cry, poor bastard. Luckily, Colt spots that his dad is in trouble and goes over to rescue him.

“Sorry, this must suck, huh?” Colt says.

“As a matter of fact, it does,” Luke replies.

(The show’s ongoing attempts to humanize Luke are almost working!)

However, my favorite part of the song isn’t the sweet, sweet Dayna chemistry or even Luke’s tears — it’s the arbitrary cuts to the audience. First, they cut to a woman with her eyes closed, having a near-religious experience. Then they move onto two other randos, a couple, who exchange a meaningful look that seems to say, Sometimes I forgot how much I love you. But after hearing this beautiful Deacon and Rayna song and being healed by their love, I will never take you for granted again. So nice to see extras happy like that.

After the song is over, Deacon can’t handle all the feels and he bolts. Let’s return to this later, shall we?

The other big-ish thing to happen is that Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts finally gets the interview we’ve all been clamoring to see … Paula Patton! Okay, Sadie Stone, too. She wasn’t planning on coming clean about her ex-husband’s abuse, but then she sees a news story about an abused wife who remained silent until it was too late, and she decides she needs to tell her story. It is profound and meaningful, but all I kept thinking as I watched it was, Memo to Will Lexington: This is what real bravery looks like.

Instead, he’s doing his internalized homophobia bit, working with an openly gay songwriter named Kevin Bicks (Kyle Dean Massey) and basically being a big fat jerkface. Do I even need to say that Kevin has artfully tousled brown hair, a chiseled jaw, a calculated bit of stubble, and looks like, yes, every single other man on Nashville? (Oh, dear Nashville casting directors: Only you can prevent Generic White-Boy Syndrome.) Anyway, by the end of their session, Will has warmed up to Kevin and they seem to be working well together, so we’ll see if this is somehow the path to Will finally coming out. Fingers, toes, and everything else crossed, needless to say.

The cutest plot last night had to do with SAG being hired to open for Rascal Flatts at the Bridgestone and realizing that they have no proper name.

The task of brainstorming said name falls mostly to Gunnar, because the alleged brains of the operation (Scarlett?) is on a date with her hunkologist. Here are some of his rejected names: ScarGunnery, Liquid Sister, Biscuits and Honey, and the Foam (which Gunnar aptly notes sounds like an ’80s band from England). Then Avery joins in for a wonderful meeting of the minds, and the two of them come up with: Boomtown Gulch, the Leather Guitars, the Whiskey Frogs, and Highway Cheese.

Then Scarlett comes backstage with Dr. Love and he says, “So you’re the exes,” and SAG exchange a look — perhaps not as meaningful as the look exchanged by the eternally changed couple in the audience at the Opry, but a look all the same — and I thought, We did it, you guys! They’re actually going to call themselves the Exes!

But my/our gloating is premature, because they go with the “Triple Exes” instead — which manages to be somehow more clever and less appealing than “the Exes” all at the same time. Hey, we tried.

A few random riffs before we get to the main event:

• Since when is Scarlett some sort of Mensa? First Gunnar describes her to Avery as “smarter than all of us put together” (what the ... ?), then, on her date with the hunkologist, she starts quoting from American Journal of Medicine and casually dropping words like anti-angiogenesis into the conversation. (Actually, if Scarlett has been some sort of Rain Man–like genius this whole time, it would explain a lot.)

• Did anyone else find the — ugh — passionate kiss between Layla and Jeff to be weird? The show treated it like we had all been dying for them to kiss for weeks and they finally they did it. However, my feelings toward a Jeff and Layla kiss are less, “I’ll simply die if I don’t see it!” and more, “Actually, I’m good.”

• I miss Glenn.

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Rayna goes to Deacon’s house, upset that he walked out on her — yet again.

“Please don’t leave me anymore,” she says.

“Rayna, I’m sick.”

“Don’t say that ... You can do this,” she says, thinking he’s referring to his alcoholism.

“I’m sick, Rayna. I got cancer.” And he comes clean about his diagnosis.

Her reaction is pure soap-opera awesomeness. First she slaps him, hard, across the face, and she then dissolves into his arms in tears. I know that there’s a little show called The Slap over on NBC, but this, my friends, was the true slap of the year.