Nashville Recap: Put a Ring on It

Jessy Schram as Cash Gray and Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne. Photo: Mark Levine/ABC
Episode Title
We’ve Got Nothing But Love to Prove
Editor’s Rating

I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, but I think we may have killed three randos with one stone on last night’s winter finale.

First, Erin peaced out on Gunnar with an impossibly casual “I’ll see you when I see you!” (“That was romantic,” quipped Scarlett. Apparently, the shorter her hair, the more sarcastic she becomes.)

Then Dr. Dull and Scarlett broke up.

And then — cue the angels singing — Gabriella hopped right off the Luke Wheeler Experience.

Christmas has, indeed, come early.

Anyway, I can only hope this house-cleaning means that Nashville has learned its lesson and won’t continue to populate the show with undeveloped filler characters only there to provide artificial roadblocks and/or advance the plot. Also, I believe in unicorns.

A lot to get to, so let’s dig right in.

First of all, you were right, you little geniuses. You all predicted that Wade Cole was closeted, and damn if he isn’t offering to “throw a couple of steaks on the grill” one minute and sliding his hand up Will’s thigh the next. After Will rejects his advances — or, to put it more accurately, recoils in horror — Wade extols the virtues of staying the closet.

“You could’ve had it all if you’d just played it right,” he tells Will.

“Turns out I’d rather be me than you,” Will says.

If I could’ve carried Will away on my shoulders while triumphantly chanting his name at that moment, I would have. Our little gay cowboy has come so far.

Meanwhile, over at the Luke Wheeler Experience nerve center, things are not going too well. Luke is depressed over the fact that Colt hasn’t been returning his calls — and his day’s about to take a turn for the worse. When his assistant tells him the Feds are here, I think, Finally, they’re going to make an inquiry into Jeff’s death! But not so fast. Turns out Luke’s money manager has been embezzling from him. (Said business manager’s name? Meyer Hoffman. Had I been in the Nashville writer’s room, I might’ve whispered, “Can the most Jewish name that’s been uttered in the history of Nashville maybe not be the embezzler?” But I digress.) Long story short: Luke owes $40 million in back taxes. Luckily, the Feds are willing to waive the charges since Luke was a victim of a crime. Just kidding. They’re like, “We’ll take a check.” So now Luke has to scramble to liquidate his assets (because who doesn’t have $40 million in assets lying around?). He tries to keep it quiet, but it leaks to the press, which is very, very bad for the brand. The public will think, Luke Wheeler is too dumb or too rich to notice that $40 million is missing, Gabriella says. And when Luke chides her for letting this all happen — including letting him put the brand before his son — she snaps, “Don’t you dare blame me. It was my job to protect the brand. It’s your job to protect your son.” Ouch. Then she adds, “If anyone has the right to be angry, it’s me. I’m the one who bet on the wrong horse.” Double ouch. Anyway, I think she’s gone for good. Bye, Felicia!

Totally broken, Luke tries to reach out to Colt, who’s still staying with his grandpa.

“The brand is really dead?” Colt asks. Luke assures him it is.

“And Gabriella?”

“She’s gone, too, son.”

“Wow, I guess you really lost it all then, didn’t you?” And Colt closes the door in his face. (Jeez, what exactly are they putting in the zit cream in Nashville? Their teenagers are absolute horrors.)

Let’s move on to Scarlett. She’s back from tour, and things are going relatively well between her and Dr. Dull — in a boring sort of way — when he breaks the “good” news: He got an offer heading a department at a hospital in Seattle. (Raise your hand if your first thought was: Seattle Grace?) Scarlett is happy for him, but understandably wants no part of moving to Seattle, not exactly a hotbed of country music. He says if she won’t join him, he’ll turn down the offer. At the opening of the Beverly that night, Scarlett runs the whole thing past Gunnar, and he says that if Caleb truly makes her happy, she should move to Seattle, and they’ll figure out a way to make the music thing work. In that moment, Scarlett realizes that Caleb doesn’t truly make her happy, that love means sacrifice — the kind of sacrifice Gunnar is willing to make for her — so she breaks up with Caleb. He gets angry and defensive, saying that Scarlett never took him seriously as a partner because he’s not a musician: “I’m not one of you! I’m too normal.” He’s (hilariously) wearing a suit and tie in that scene — because he’s so normal, you see. All of this leads to an awesome reunion of the Triple Exes at the Beverly. Not singing together — just standing around a table getting drunk. But, hey, I’ll take what I can get.

And man, can Avery use that drink. That morning, Emily had shown up after having been MIA for a day. She confesses that she had spent the previous day with Juliette at the rehab center where Juliette’s being treated for postpartum, depression and Avery does not take it well — in fact, he fires her on the spot. Honestly, I sort of understand his reluctance to believe that Juliette is reformed — fool me once, etc., etc. — but he shouldn’t take it out on poor Emily, who has been nothing short of a saint. Also, it’s never a good idea to fire Nashville’s only babysitter (apparently). Later, Avery gets visited by Juliette’s therapist (is that even appropriate?), who implores him to let Juliette see Cadence. When he refuses, she says, “I hope you feel comfortable telling Cadence that when her mother tried to repair the relationship, it was her father who said no.” Damn, using those psychologist mind tricks on him! So Avery goes upstairs and gets misty looking at some old pictures of Juliette and Cadence. By the end of the episode, Avery apologizes to Emily and reluctantly agrees to let her take Cadence for a supervised visit with Juliette. Then he leaves Emily behind to babysit Cadence and goes off to get drunk. Just a periodic reminder that Emily is a highly trained personal assistant to one of Nashville’s biggest stars. #FreeEmily.

I have this theory that some of you guys only scan the recap until you get to the Deacon and Rayna stuff. So welcome to the first paragraph, Dayna fans! Oh, where to begin? Can Rayna have a single client who isn’t a high-maintenance head case? All of a sudden, Markus is a delicate little bird, afraid to do his interview with Good Morning America, afraid that he’s going to be rejected as a country artist, and afraid that no one is going to come see him perform. Who is this guy? Rayna does lots of (figurative) hand-holding and gives him a bunch of pep talks until he finally goes onstage (the crowd is huge, of course) and kills it — apparently. I actually thought the song sucked. Also, while it was extremely cute to see Daphne on Deacon’s shoulders, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor chump standing behind them. Down in front, indeed. After the show, Markus is elated and coaxes Rayna to the roof for a Champagne toast — and an unwanted kiss. Bastard! What part of “Deacon is my guy” didn’t he understand? To her everlasting credit, Rayna later tells Deacon what happened, but he doesn’t take it well, especially since he has a shiny engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket. (Did you see the size of that thing? Are we sure he wasn’t the one who embezzled Luke’s $40 million?) As they’re fighting about Markus, Rayna gets a phone call: Markus is canceling his tour and moving to Los Angeles. Naturally, she needs to deal with this immediately.

“You’re going to talk to Markus in the middle of a fight about Markus?” Deacon says, incredulously. (Heh.)

Of course, she has to go and try to convince Markus to stay. I felt so bad for Rayna, having to prostrate herself in front of that unworthy little prick. Then she breathlessly runs to the Beverly, where she has missed Scarlett and Deacon’s (great) song and where Deacon has spent a lot of time backstage contemplating his ring, “Alas, poor Yorick”–style. She tells Deacon that her begging didn’t work — Markus left for L.A. His response to this? “Good!” Real nice.

Rayna storms off, understandably angry. Then, Deacon finds her and apologizes and explains the source of his jealousy: Music-making is an incredibly intimate thing — and it used to be their thing. That doesn’t fully justify his horrible behavior as of late, but it does at least explain it a bit. Then, teary-eyed, he gets down on one knee and proposes to her. And she says yes! A little voice in my head was saying, No way can you agree to marry that man right after he was so irrationally jealous, and so indifferent to Highway 65 and everything you’ve worked for. But a far bigger voice in my head was thinking more along the lines of, Squee! Deacon proposed! In tears! And she said yes! La la la, there are no problems in the universe! I can’t heeear you!!

See you in three months, Nashies.