First of all, good job, America! Cadence isn’t exactly a name for the ages, but it sure beats naming the baby after the heroine of a mediocre teen-vampire series.
Second of all, I hated almost everything about the Juliette and Avery scenes this week. Let me count the ways:
1. I haven’t seen this many shots of an obviously fake baby since American Sniper.
2. Give me a break. Avery and Juliette are not a couple of crazy kids struggling to make ends meet with the arrival of their new infant. They’re rich. They’d have help — and right away. Nannies. Nurses. Designated burpers. Bottle warmers. Special assistants to the bottle warmers. You get the picture.
3. But … BUT if we’re going to suspend our disbelief and pretend that they’d really be going it on their own, what the hell, Avery? When we first see him, he emerges from the bedroom like some sort of pinch hitter off the bench, as Juliette struggles to keep Cadence from crying. “Here, let me try!” he says, heroically. From there, he employs his masterful “shushing” technique (brilliant!) and the baby quiets. Then he’s all, “Peace out. I have a Pitchfork interview.” Later he tells Juliette he’d really love to take another crack at this whole fatherin’ thing, but he’s got a party and gig to go to. “I like parties,” Juliette says. “Ha ha, good one, Mom!” he basically says. “Don’t stay up!”
4. So Avery is beyond useless this episode, but it needs to be said: Juliette’s constant temper tantrums are getting a bit tiresome. I feel like Juliette has essentially been one note — rage-y — since Hayden came back from maternity leave. Yes, Hayden can do comic rage like none other. But Juliette contains multitudes. Do not turn her into a caricature, show!
5. Along those lines, did anyone else think Juliette was going to try to kill baby Cadence when she hovered malevolently over her crib like that? Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Homeland.
6. So big deal, Juliette hired a nanny on her own. It’s not like Avery was around to help her hire one. However, abandoning her infant and husband to take her private jet to record a new end-credits song for the Patsy Cline biopic was probably a bit extreme. Somebody call child protective services on these people.
Anyway, I said I hated almost everything about their scenes. Here’s what I liked:
1. Avery’s assortment of sleep T-shirts and adorable bedhead.
2. “I’ll just sit here like a blob and be an unemployed milking machine.”
Okay, I guess I’ve buried the lede, because hey, it’s Christina Aguilera, everyone! She’s playing a pop star named Jade St. John (love) who is also Jeff’s ex-fiancée and, as such, spends most of her scenes ghettoized with him. (I was actually going to have a full-on, Juliette-style meltdown if Jade St. John and Juliette had no scenes together, but it appears that next week, they will have a dramatic diva-off.) With her pink Jessica Rabbit hair and bedazzled everything, Xtina looks amazing in this episode (and kills it on stage, natch). For some reason, Jade St. John really wants to meet Luke Wheeler. (In related news: Aguilera once dated Fred Durst.) She tells Jeff that if he can hook up a meet and greet, she’ll agree to let Layla open for her.
So Jeff goes to the studio and begs Luke to come to the show and he balks, because he thinks Jade is fluff. This scene is only noteworthy because Rayna comes in and asks Jeff if he’s working with Luke.
“I’m, uh, more interested in developing new talent,” Jeff mumbles.
“Well, it’s good to have a hobby,” Rayna replies. All the snaps.
Speaking of Rayna, she and Deacon are being disgustingly cute and domestic this episode. I particularly love their little full-body bump at the end when Maddie suggests Deacon move in. And Rayna actually says, “We’re family” to Deacon more times than Vin Diesel in a Fast and Furious movie. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Because Maddie is still being a teen terror and Deacon is still feeling guilty about bringing pain into everyone’s lives — and no one can just settle down and be happy for even a damn second. Rayna tries to soothe the savage teen by inviting her to the Jade St. John show, but Maddie claims she already has plans. It so happens that her “plans” involve sneaking out to the show with her secret boyfriend, Colt Wheeler. (“Turns out she’s dating Colt,” Rayna tells Deacon. “Wheeler?” he replies. No, the other Colt.) Remember when Colt was this little twerp with a backward baseball cap who loved Skrillex and “sick beats” and was obsessed with his social-media followers? Never forget. Anyway, he’s grown, like, six inches since then, no longer wears douchecaps, and actually seems like a cool kid. I approve (uh, except for the whole sneaking-around part). It seems that both Colt and his father have had the same patented Nashville personality transplant, because Luke has been doing a pretty good impression of a decent guy lately. When Maddie gets grounded and can’t come to the Jade St. John show, Luke volunteers to take him, even though he left all his “sparkles” at the dry cleaners. (Dad humor!)
Back at home, Deacon and Maddie finally have their heart-to-heart. He had just come back from a frustrating songwriting session with Juliette where he realized he couldn’t write any musical truths because he was lying to everyone about his illness. (As he puts it to Rayna, he has two sicknesses: The cancer and the lie that is eating away at him.)
“I guess there’s no reason to hide something you shouldn’t be ashamed of,” he tells Maddie.
She apologizes for being a little brat and Deacon says: “Thank you. But isn’t there somebody else you should apologize to?”
Then there’s an awkward cut to Layla onstage, and I briefly think: “What the hell does Maddie have to apologize to Layla for?” But of course he means Rayna. They call Rayna, who tells them to hurry up and join her at the Jade St. John show. There, Deacon finds Luke and tells him he has cancer. I apparently could watch an entire show called Deacon Tells His Former Enemies He Has Cancer because for the second time in two weeks, this was the most touching scene of the episode. “You beat this thing, brother. You got a lot to live for,” Luke tells him. Sniff.
• The whole Teddy thing finally has a point. Turns out, a blackmailing prostitute named Natasha is not the most trustworthy human being on the planet! She’s been wearing a wire and working with the feds in exchange for immunity. Mr. Mayor is in a whole heap of trouble.
• I just realized this episode that Layla has the biggest eyes this side of a Walter Keane painting. How had I not noticed this before? I think it’s because she pulled her hair back.
• Will finally kisses Kevin. It’s a sweet kiss, but not exactly a smoking-hot one, and I can’t decide if it’s because Will is being cautious or because the ABC censors are being cautious. Boo either way.
• Definitely cute that both Scarlett and Gunnar are obsessively watching “Longer” on YouTube. I also love the moment where the hunkologist says, “You’re good together,” and Scarlett quickly counters, “Musically” and he gives her a funny look and says, “Yeah, that’s what I meant.” Oops.
• If Avery has truly quit the Triple Exes (say it ain’t so!), they should change their name to the Exes, not the Double Exes, because that would be dumb.
• Just say no to Gunnar’s hat.