Nashville Recap: Everything Is Awful

Photo: Mark Levine/ABC
Episode Title
The Slender Threads That Bind Us Here
Editor’s Rating

This episode started with Aunt Bev’s funeral, and for a brief moment I thought I was having a psychic break. First there’s Luke’s son Colt, who hasn’t been on the show in ages and whom I’d semi-forgotten about and who has no reason to be at Aunt Bev’s funeral that I can think of other than giving “moral support” to Maddie, so good for him, I guess? Then there’s this disembodied angelic voice singing a hymn, and it’s ... Zoey (!), who I know was written off the show last year due to extreme boringness. Then Rayna is wearing a hat and it is a truly spectacular hat, but it is a villain’s hat — oversize, black, and cocked at a jaunty angle like something Alexis Carrington (or at least Cookie Lyon) would wear. Then Scarlett is wearing a nice funeral dress, but she’s also wearing that hillbilly rope necklace of hers, and no right-minded person would wear such a ratty thing to her own mother’s funeral. Okay, that last thing was actually totally in character.

So. I’m obviously just procrastinating here to avoid the real story — the fact that Deacon is the absolute worst in this episode. Ugh, never before have I uttered the phrase, “Shut up, Deacon Claybourne!” — but I did, multiple times, last night. It’s like, I know you’re upset about your sister dying, dude, and I know you think Scarlett shouldn’t have pulled the plug, but this behavior is not cool

Deacon, at his best, is a great lover, father, uncle, musician, flannel-shirt-wearer, and friend. But at this point, when is Deacon ever at his best? Dude is constantly on the edge. Last night was the second time we’ve seen him go totally medieval on some room. The first time, I seem to recall he was flinging record albums all over the place. This time, he knocked over furniture and punched a mirror — all as Maddie watched from the corner, aghast (and undoubtedly thinking, “At least Teddy never went into violent rage spirals).

I guess there are two silver linings here: One is that Deacon is still on the wagon, although there was a bit of a fake-out since his AA sponsor is a bartender (that is so Deacon). Also, Charles Esten is the best TV crier this side of Claire Danes.

To continue with our Bizarro Episode theme, was that Jeff Fordham actually being nice last night? He was all cuddly and bedheady and doting with Layla, first buying her a pair of truly spectacular cowboy boots, then accompanying her to her big debut at the Grand Ole Opry, then comforting her when Markus Keen stole her thunder, then kissing her in public.

From the wings of the stage, Rayna, not realizing that Jeff Fordham had undergone the patented Episode 4.4 personality transplant, did manage to rattle off the night’s best line:

“Glad to see you finally done right by my client,” Jeff said to her.

“Shut up, Jeff,” she replied. It was actually quite cathartic.

And what to make of Markus Keen? We can officially label him an asshole now, right? (Which means, look for a complete personality transformation in season eight!) The first time he disrupted Layla’s moment in the sun — right after she got offstage, when she was still basking in the glow of Rayna’s approval — it might’ve been construed as accidental. But the second time, when he jumped onstage at the Opry, then suggested that he and Rayna do a duet, as Layla skulked off, shamed as a musical third wheel — that was no accident. And man, oh man, it’s a good thing Deacon was too downward-spiraly to see Markus rubbing up against Rayna like a tomcat. Cause he would’ve been pissed. (“What’s good, Markus?”)

If the Deacon plotline was just all misery and rage and horror, at least we have the Juliette/Avery plotline for some ... misery and rage and horror. (Hey, Nashville: Pretty sure the point of escapist TV is not that you want to escape from it.) Juliette is now popping pills like she’s, well, Scarlett in season two. She still hasn’t spoken to Avery, but she did take time out of her busy day to call up Emily and accuse her of being a “gold-digging, backstabbing whore.” (She has good time-management skills like that.) Anyway, Baby Cadence gets an ear infection and is taken to the hospital with a high fever, so Avery manages to get Juliette’s phone number and calls her. Of course, her new BFF/hanger-on/waste of space answers the phone and tells Avery that Juliette is sleeping (read: passed out). He demands that she wake her up because a daughter being in the hospital is the kind of thing you wake someone up for. So Waste of Space goes to Juliette’s room and tries to rouse her.

“Is about work?” Juliette mumbles, covering her head with a pillow. “If it’s not about work, I don’t care.”

At which point, Waste of Space gets back on the phone and tells Avery that she told Juliette about Cadence and that Juliette doesn’t care.

I ask you, could anybody actually be that dumb? (Don’t answer that.)

Oh, I forgot to mention the third damning bit of evidence against Markus Keen. At the Opry, he was chatting up Avery about the possibility of Avery producing his album, when Avery got the phone call about Cadence being in the hospital.

“I gotta go. My kid’s really sick,” Avery said.

“Man, we just started talking!” Markus replied.

I ask you, could anyone be that much of an asshole? (Ibid.)

Anyway, I guess the Scarlett stuff was the “lighter fare” of the evening. (Ironic, since she’s the one whose mother just died and whose beloved uncle/father figure isn’t speaking to her.) Caleb tries to comfort her by discussing the “five stages of grief” and she pulls away. “You talk doctor. I don’t talk doctor,” she says. (Because yeah, Scarlett, the Five Stages of Grief is seriously some hifalutin doctor talk.) Despondent, Caleb attempts to write Scarlett a song to express his feelings, except he has no feelings … or songwriting talent, or possibly a pen and paper — so he goes to Gunnar. Of course, Gunnar, being too nice for his own damn good, helps Caleb write a beautiful song — and it’s one of those Cyrano-type things, where Gunnar gets to pour out his feelings for Scarlett through Caleb’s song. Naturally, Scarlett loves it. Later, Gunnar sings the song alone in his room, and Zoey shows up and I thought, Oh good God, no! The boring love triangle is starting again! but instead she says, “You were never really over Scarlett, were you?” and he just gives her those Gunnar puppy-dog eyes, which are basically saying yes.

Finally, Rayna tries to get through to Deacon again.

“I know you’re in a world of hurt and a world of pain,” she says.

“I’m not hurt,” he replies. “I’m angry. My sister was a fighter. She never gave up ... Scarlett gave up.”

So I guess this isn’t going away any time soon. Yay?

I leave you with a few questions:

  • Is Deacon ever going to see the error of his ways and forgive Scarlett?
  • Are Caleb and Zoey ever going to date? Because they would totally make a great couple.
  • Why does the press keep calling Avery “Juliette’s Baby Daddy” when he’s her freaking husband?
  • Why did Bev’s obituary photo look like a bad outtake from a glamour shot session?
  • Did anyone laugh out loud when I referenced a season eight? (Sigh.)
  • And is “world of hurt” an expression anyone has used outside a TV show ever?

I’ll take your responses off the air.