Well, that was quite the roller coaster, huh?
First, Deacon’s getting a new liver. Hooray! Then he gets the mysterious cough of doom, so he can’t get the liver. Then — good news! — the cough is just a garden-variety sinus infection, so the liver transplant is back on. Then he is actually shown on the operating table breathing anesthesia, generally a solid sign that the operation is a go. Then — psych! — the liver is possibly tainted with cancer cells, so the transplant is back off. Not to point out the obvious, but this whole thing was a complete waste of everyone’s time.
So what exactly is Nashville’s endgame here? I have three theories (feel free to add yours in the comments):
1. There was some sort of “mix-up at the lab” and Deacon doesn’t have cancer after all. The elegance of this is that Deacon can go forth as a 100 percent healthy person, and the show doesn’t have to pretend that a liver transplant is some sort of immediate cure-all instead of a last-ditch desperate measure that would make Deacon highly prone to infection and give him an average lifespan of five years. (Hey, don’t blame the messenger! I’m just a girl with an internet connection who knows how to use it.)
2. The show has a season finale to contend with. You didn’t actually think they were going to blow their (liver) wad on episode 19?
3. Deacon will actually die. I mean, I don’t really think that. But I guess anything’s possible? And maybe he’ll come back as the world’s hottest GILF (Ghost I’d Like to … well, you get it), dispensing man-wisdom and flirting with Rayna from the great beyond.
All I’m saying is Deacon started this episode as a guy needing a liver transplant, and he ended this episode as a guy needing a liver transplant. Net gain, zero.
Anyway, one of the best things about this episode is that it gave little Daphne her time to shine. Finally! I mean, look, I have concerns. Grave, grave concerns. And I’ll get to those in a bit. But for now, can we all just rejoice in the fact that somebody finally noticed that she exists! That she is a wonderful singer? That Deacon isn’t her biological father, so maybe this whole “We’re finally a real family!” thing isn’t totally flying with her?
It starts out like a typical Daphne kind of episode. She and the fam V2.0 are supposed to perform at Teddy’s Note by Note benefit when they get the word about Deacon’s liver. So they’re all like, “Later, Daphs!” and whisk him off to the hospital, leaving her behind, Home Alone style. Can’t Daphne have any nice things? But then Teddy asks Luke for a favor, and Luke gets onstage and invites up a “real good buddy of mine, Miss Daphne Conrad!” and she hugs Teddy and says, “Thanks, Dad,” and then scrambles onstage and sings her little heart out. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. (And by “house,” I mean me alone, watching the show on my laptop.) Later in the episode, Daphne asks Teddy if she can move in with him. Oh, no, little Daphne, this won’t end well. Daddy’s going up the river — frankly, it’s amazing he survived this episode a free man. (Who else thought the feds were going to bust in on Teddy’s benefit and arrest him on the spot?) I see more turmoil for Daphne (that will mostly be ignored/severely diminished by her loved ones) ahead.
Both Juliette, who after three days on the road didn’t so much as wave hello to her infant daughter, and Jade St. John —who now has Elvira hair, a serious fake-and-bake, and has glommed onto Luke like some sort of sea barnacle — are at the benefit, too. Things start off poorly (read: wonderfully) between them when Jade St. John steals the paparazzi spotlight from Juliette, who was looking to this benefit as her big Nashville comeback. Then Jade St. John overhears Juliette being mean to Layla in the bathroom (because it’s a day of the week that ends with “-day”) and decides to take it upon herself to win the “command performance” auction on Layla’s behalf. (It’s a testament to my “just roll with it” approach to the show that I actually believed that such an auction would ever take place.) Anyway, it is spectacular, with Bucky bidding first for Juliette and finally tapping out at 125 grand, and then Juliette glaring at Avery, who meekly bids 225 grand, and then Jade St. John calmly announcing a game-over, “$500,000,” as everyone gapes at her. The expressions on people’s faces — Luke’s unmasked glee; Glenn’s “oh, shit” as he shrinks deeper and deeper into his chair; Juliette looking like she wants to stab somebody with a fork — all priceless. My only disappointment was how easy it was later for Juliette to reduce Jade St. John to tears, simply by suggesting that the pop diva is trying to buy her way into Nashville. I thought Jade St. John was made of tougher stuff than that, but it did set up her solo performance at the Bluebird — once again, arranged by Luke, who is basically the Make-a-Wish Foundation for underappreciated singers this episode.
So what do you guys think? Can Jade St. John/Xtina make it as a country singer? Obviously her voice is great, but to me, it’s so distinctly pop/R&B? It has that gravelly, melisma-heavy thing happening that doesn’t lend itself to the straightforward purity of country. But I dunno. Maybe I just need to stop putting Jade St. John in a box! Oh, and Luke and Jade St. John hooked up after the Bluebird, FYI.
• Will and Kevin looked all kinds of hot together, so I’m not exactly complaining, but why do shirtless dudes in bed on TV and movies always lie back in the exact same position, with one arm cocked under their head? Must accentuate their pecs or something. (Again: Not complaining.)
• There’s this moment when Gunnar drops Scarlett off at the hospital and her hunkologist is there to greet her, as Gunnar pouts from the car, and Scarlett is wearing this enormous schmatta and talking in that weird monotone baby voice of hers, and she, like, hasn’t brushed her hair since season two, and I thought, I can certainly see why these two men are fighting over her.
• Avery’s mama gave Avery good advice (basically, stop complaining about your wife and own up to your own role in this and try to fix the problem), but did anyone buy that for even an instant? Have the Nashville writers ever actually met a mother? She’d be much more like, “You’re a perfect angel and Juliette’s awful and you never should’ve married her and I told you so and this is the wrong brand of diaper.” But hey, Avery’s nearly perfect, so maybe it stands to reason that his mom is, too.
• Favorite exchange of the night:
Jeff (to Juliette at the gala): When are you going to have that baby? [Of course Jeff Fordham is a body-shamer! Of course he is.]
Layla: Just ignore him. You look amazing.
Juliette: I know.”
• I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the title of tonight’s episode is “The Storm Has Just Begun.” Really, Nashville? Because it kind of seems like it’s been storming this whole damn time. I do not have a good feeling about this. (Hold me.)