The show starts, as many of my dreams do, with Deacon in a meadow.
Turns out it’s his dream, too. First, he’s in that meadow. Then storm clouds roll in. Then he’s six feet under. Then he’s being covered with dirt.
(I love that, as TV critic Emily Nussbaum pointed out on Twitter, when Nashville attempts to go “arty” with dream sequences, they’re the least Freudian dream sequences ever. In Deacon’s dreams, death = death.)
He wakes with a start, with Rayna beside him in bed. “You okay?” she murmurs, stroking his face. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
Later, he has another 100 percent literal dream that involves him on the operating table getting CPR — yep, the scene from the “next week on Nashville” that had us all stressing, those cheeky bastards.
He’s having nightmares, of course, because his liver-transplant surgery is a day away. Aunt Bev is less nervous because she seems to relish her role as last-minute savior. She’s strutting around the house like a conquering hero, singing songs with Maddie and Daphne (not worthy!) and threatening to stick around for a while after the surgery. Rayna, sporting the most glorious side ponytail in the history of side ponytails, keeps a smile frozen on her face and shoots Deacon an anxious look. (Something tells me that Bev sticking around isn’t going to be an issue, but more on that in a bit.)
Some of you guys speculated in the comments section last week that Will’s dad thought he’d become hetero-by-way-of-Nashville, and you were right!
“I wouldn’t mind meeting the lady in your life. There must be one … or two,” he says.
“I don’t have much time for dating these days,” Will demurs.
In fact, the denial is so strong with dear old Dad that when Will shows him the tabloid photos with Kevin — insisting that they were just a couple of guys, writing songs, shirtless — Dad fell for it. Or at least chose to.
Will begs Kevin to lie for him at the press conference, and dutifully, Kevin does, although he storms off in an angry huff when he gets off the dais — as all not-in-love-at-all, strictly professional songwriters do. Seeing how upset Kevin is, Will just can’t take it anymore.
“The truth is I’m gay, and I’m not ashamed of it,” he tells the press.
Then he doffs his cowboy hat in that cool, southern-gent way of his and says, “Thanks, y’all.” Actual mic drop.
After, he goes to Kevin’s house and tells him he loves him, and they sit together on the porch holding hands, and it’s the sweetest thing.
It’s nice that there’s some good news on this show because man, the Juliette PPD arc keeps getting darker and darker. First of all, let me just say that Jonathan Jackson and Hayden Panettiere are straight killing it in these scenes. She’s bringing this really unsettling manic energy, and he’s bringing the heartbreak of helplessly watching his wife completely reject their newborn daughter. (There was at least some tiny bit of comic relief, when Avery seeks professional advice: “Irritability. Moodiness. Lashing out,” the psychiatrist tells him, ticking off the symptoms of PPD. “That describes my wife before all this,” he replies.)
I’m sure if there were hidden cameras set up in all our rooms during that scene, the one where Juliette throws the snow globe at Avery, we’d all look the exact same way: Hand over open mouth — shocked and appalled. Man, that was rough. (And what is it with Babies in Peril as a season-finale motif? This is not fun for anyone, showrunners! Yeah, I’m looking at you, too, Jane the Virgin.) I totally thought that the hurled snow globe was going to be the rock-bottom turning point for Juliette on her road to recovery. But nope. She’s just getting started. She fires Glenn (oh no!) and turns to the one man she knows will help her career and ignore her “breakdown”: Jeff Fordham. In a move that surprises no one, he agrees. He takes her to Luke Wheeler, who’s still handling the fallout from the Will tabloid rumors, and suggests that Luke sign Juliette to Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records (I still can’t believe that name).
“I don’t think I can steal you away from Rayna,” Luke says.
“You can’t steal something that’s already gone,” Juliette replies.
So he signs her.
The Jeff/Layla stuff is solid gold this episode. First she’s giving a radio phone interview, where Jeff actually puts her phone on mute as he feeds her answers to the questions.
It goes like this:
“We’re live with Layla Grant, winner of the Twitter war with Jade St. John,” the DJ says. (It’s always so adorable when Nashville tries to “get” social media.) “You’ve got almost 2 million followers. How do you handle all this internet chatter?”
Jeff mutes the phone. “I’m just trying to keep it real, Dan,” he dictates. Then he unmutes, so she can reply.
“I’m just trying to keep it real, Dan!” Layla echoes.
Deep in his Svengali mode, Jeff is also instructing Layla to keep off the internet, lest she read the stories circulating about her “girth.” The man must be stopped. Anyway, while Jeff is off with Juliette, Layla finally decides to open Pandora’s Box, i.e., the mysterious interwebs. There she discovers that not only are they not saying she’s fat, they’re calling her “slim”! Also, she didn’t really win that Twitter war with Jade St. John after all. Most people think she was a backstabber. Also, cats! So many cats!
Then the best thing ever happens: She finds a page of photos of Jade St. John’s party, and that is some comprehensive, thorough, scorched-earth photography. Because she sees herself passed out on a bench, and Jeff holding a certain bedazzled phone — hers — tweeting! It’s the smoking tweet, people!
Jeff gets home and she goes all Britney-in-2007 on him, smashing his car window with his putting iron. He pleads with her, tells her he needs her (he’s become a textbook abusive boyfriend at this point), and she gives in. Just as they’re arguing, a patrol cop rolls by.
“There a problem here, miss?” the officer asks. (Dude, take a look around you: smashed window, golf club, arguing lovers. It’s not okay.)
“We’re fine,” Layla says.
And the cop rolls away. Huh. Maybe his shift was ending.
Anyway … this was the most stuff-packed episode ever, so excuse me if I’m giving short shrift to some of your faves.
For all you Micah fans out there — stop laughing — the little mop-top showed up, albeit quite briefly, on Kiley’s phone (to a true Micah fan, even a fleeting Micah appearance on a tiny screen is better than no Micah appearance at all). Kiley’s going to go visit him in Austin, and Gunnar’s going, too, but first he needs to stop by the hospital for an emergency songwriting session with Scarlett. (Did I mention that Scarlett was moving in with her hunkologist? Yeah. So that’s happening.)
No, I haven’t forgotten about Teddy — I know you guys were worried. He decides not to narc out Tandy and possibly ruin Rayna’s label after all, so the feds come in to arrest him. Hold that thought.
There’s a beautiful scene between Rayna and Deacon right before his surgery, where he proposes and suggests they get a justice of the peace on the spot. And she says, “No, babe, I’m not going to marry you in some cold hospital room.” But they exchange vows anyway, just the two of them, in unison, and it’s very intimate and emotional and them.
Final montage of scenes:
Avery taking the baby and leaving Juliette. (All the tears.)
Gunnar and Scarlett singing a (gorgeous, duh) song and coming this close to kissing. (Actually, they just might kiss yet. Theirs was a kiss-hanger.)
Confusing scenes of an OR. A flatline!
Then, Scarlett’s hunkologist comes into the waiting room. Everyone wakes up, turns away from the TV — just as Teddy’s perp walk is showing up on the screen! — and Caleb says, “Rayna, can I talk to you privately?”
“I have some bad news ...”
Theories, people? Look, no shot Deacon is dead, right? So does this mean Bev bought it? I’m cool with that, as long as Deacon got her liver first. But what does this mean for Deacon, for Scarlett, for all those Bev fans out there?
Also, I just had the most hilarious/horrifying thought: This was the most cliff-hanger-iffic episode ever. Imagine if the show had gotten canceled! Will Lexington would’ve been the only character with even a modicum of closure. We all would’ve been rocking back and forth in a fetal position. Cause of catatonic state: Nashville cliff-hangers. Anyway, let’s shake that thought off. The show was renewed! Closure is for chumps who don’t get another season.