Thanks, Nashville, for the longest four minutes and 33 seconds of my life. That’s how long it took before the show decided to confirm that one Deacon Claybourne — lover, singer, genetic-lottery winner — was, in fact, alive and well. Look, it’s not like any of us actually thought the man was dead, but after waiting an entire summer to confirm his above-ground status, this “one month later” crap was completely unacceptable.
So what did we see in those interminable four minutes and 33 seconds that was so important? Rayna reading a book (no, really); Juliette at the premiere of her Patsy Cline biopic (where there’s already — bwah! — Oscar talk); some rando manager guy talking to Juliette who isn’t Jeff Fordham (maybe Oliver Hudson was too busy doing double duty on Scream Queens to be in this episode?); Rayna checking on the girls; another scene at the premiere where Luke Wheeler aggressively hijacks Juliette’s live-TV interview; Rayna getting into bed — alone; Rayna talking on the phone to Bucky; the girls coming downstairs in their cute little school uniforms; and, finally, Rayna saying, “Let’s go see … Aunt Beverly”?
Turns out, Aunt Bev had an aneurysm while donating her liver (it seems she didn’t tell her doctors she was on supplements for menopause that thinned her blood, leaving her more susceptible to aneurysms — way to blame the victim, Nashville!), which means that Deacon is … entering the hospital room as we speak, extremely alive and wearing a sexy flannel! I need a moment ...
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss everyone’s hair. Honestly, new hair is always the best part of a season premiere, anyway.
Beverly, alas, has some sort of no-nonsense post-brain-op hair, what we Nashville fans call “the Tandy.” (Seriously, has no one in Nashville hair and makeup ever heard of a stylish bob?)
Gunnar’s hair has grown taller on top and thinner on the sides. If he raises a burger triumphantly in the air, he will look exactly like Bob’s Big Boy.
Avery, poor, dear Avery, has the patchiest beard since Jared from The Bachelorette and his hair has gotten long and stringy and emo. It’s actually kinda hot.
Scarlett is still shopping at the Broke-Ass Disney Princess Weave Shop, so I guess she basically looks the same.
And then there’s Will, who has a full beard, which, in my opinion, looks really good? Seriously, no sooner than I thought, Will Lexington in a beard … a gal could used to this! he shaved it.
We haven’t seen Teddy’s hair yet, 'cause Teddy’s hair is in prison. Oops.
Deacon and Rayna, thank God, have remained untouched. ('Cause you can’t mess with perfection.)
Anyway, the hair has changed, but everything else on the show remains more or less the same since last season.
Juliette’s career is soaring, what with her Oscar-caliber performance (stop laughing) and her new album coming out on Wheeling Dealing Records, but emotionally, she is a mess. On top of this new random Not Jeff Fordham guy, she has a new random best friend who says things like, “This party is off the hook!” and she’s been drinking and partying and wallowing in self-loathing. At one point, as a party rages on in her hotel room, Juliette goes into the bathroom, throws up, stares at her sorry, mascara-streaked face in the mirror, and calls … Rayna James.
Now, moments earlier, Rayna had triumphantly signed away the rights to Juliette’s contract, telling Bucky she was more than happy to wash that woman out of her hair. But now Juliette is crying and incoherent and asking for help on the phone and Rayna goes into Mama Bear mode. My favorite thing about Rayna flying all the way to California to check on Juliette is that Deacon treats it like some sort of self-indulgent treat she is giving herself. Like, after spending a month visiting Beverly and caring for Deacon and the girls and running her label (into the ground?), she deserves the break of … a last-minute plane trip to L.A. to check on a self-destructive frenemy? Maybe while the pope is in town he can officially canonize her.
So, after performing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” with guest star Steven Tyler onstage (he’s “over the moon” about Juliette’s new single, which is the least rock-and-roll thing anyone has said ever), Juliette goes back to her hotel room and commences her debauchery again. But luckily, once Rayna shows up, Juliette embraces her, sees the error of her ways, resolves to reconcile with Avery and baby Cadence, and thanks Rayna for being a great and loyal friend that she truly doesn’t deserve. Either that, or she does the exact opposite. Sigh. Yup, after denying that she even made the phone call (it was a “butt dial,” she insists), Juliette kicks Rayna out of her room, but not before landing one particularly hurtful barb: “Everyone knows your label is a joke,” she tells her.
“You break my heart, girl,” Rayna responds, and leaves.
For me, the best news about this whole Juliette fiasco is that Avery hasn’t given up on her. Sure, he’s the saddest little puppy on the planet, moping around Ohio with his patchy beard and his sleepy baby and his boring parents, but he still wants to honor his vows. He also still loves Juliette, if the way he stares longingly at her magazine covers is any indication. I was pretty sure they were going to start the season with Avery being furious at Juliette so I’m actually relieved by this turn of events — and happier still that he and baby Cadence have come back to Nashville to fight for her. Also, the Three Men and a Baby routine with Gunnar and Will should be comedy gold.
Speaking of Will, I’m digging the direction of his story, too. Will having a boyfriend and finally coming out seemed like his “happily ever after,” but, of course, the real hard part has just begun. After spending a month holed up in Kevin’s apartment, growing that Unabomber beard, he finally ventures out. First, he and Kevin go to a restaurant, where everyone stares at him, and then a (female) ex-lover calls him a liar and disgusting. Then Kevin takes Will to a gay bar, thinking Will will finally feel at home. But square, straight-laced country boy Will, in fact, is not comfortable on a dance floor as lights flash and electronic music pulsates — and that feels right to me. Will doesn’t know where he fits in (yet).
Meanwhile Scarlett has moved in with the hunkologist — who, honestly, isn’t even really that hunky and makes Avery’s parents seem like sparkling conversationalists. She’s trying to stay away from Gunnar because … he makes her crazy? Because theirs is a passion so intense it cannot be denied? Really? Is that your impression of Scarlett and Gunnar? I always thought of them as a couple of mild-mannered good kids who harmonize beautifully and make sense together and probably should never have broken up in the first place. I don’t exactly see them as torrid, Elizabeth Taylor–Richard Burton types. But … it’s a plotline, I guess.
After waiting all this time, I would’ve liked to have seen more Deacon this episode, but he does get to sing a nice bedside song to Beverly and then cry out of guilt, although he has no reason to feel guilty because it was her own damn fault for being menopausal! (Heh.) Also, there was a brief moment where Deacon hugged Maddie as Daphne, who had just stormed off in a “you’re not my father!” huff, watched them gloweringly from the stairwell that was promising. By the end of the episode, Aunt Bev has squeezed Deacon’s hand and briefly opened her eyes, so it looks like she’s going to live, everybody! Try to contain your excitement.