Nashville Recap: Testy, Testy

Will Chase as Luke, Keean Johnson as Colt. Photo: Mark Levine/ABC
Episode Title
Three’s a Crowd
Editor’s Rating

Man, was everyone PMSing on Nashville last night, or what? Pretty much every character was short-tempered, snappish, and prone to wild mood swings. Try some yoga, people! Let’s break it all down, shall we?

Deacon: Who is this guy? First he decides that he hates Markus, which, okay, sure, is a pretty reasonable stance to take. Then he changes his mind when Markus sucks up to him and asks if he can record one of his songs, and he’s suddenly all, “I stand corrected. Markus is a man of exquisite judgment and taste.” Then Markus does something any artist has the right to do — and honestly the kind of thing Deacon might do himself — when he tweaks Deacon’s lyrics a little bit so that the song feels more true to him. At which point Deacon puts Rayna totally on the spot and asks her to choose between her boyfriend and her label’s most important artist. When she sides with Markus (or at least suggests they try it both ways), Deacon storms out. And that’s not even the worst part.

At home, Deacon goes all psycho-possessive-boyfriend on Rayna and not only insists that Markus wants to sleep with her but that she encourages him. His actual line: “No guy just texts with some woman that he doesn’t want to sleep with — more to the point, someone that he thinks he might have a pretty good shot at sleeping with.” First of all, horrible sentence structure, Deacon! Second of all, based on Deacon’s logic, my boss, my gay best friend, my handyman, and my Uber driver all want to sleep with me. And finally, no, Deacon, no!

Luckily, Rayna more than holds her own in this little exchange — her “I beg your pardon?” is a model of cutting someone down with a single phrase — but I’m not even sure the Nashville writers realize what a red flag Deacon’s behavior is. Especially since all of this leads to Rayna visiting Markus in his apartment and telling him that “Deacon is my guy.” Markus plays innocent, but the slightly smug look on his face after she leaves suggests otherwise. (That, uh, and the fact that he kisses her in next week’s preview.) Later, Deacon and Rayna have an extremely adorable moment on the couch — the kind of moment that would usually make my heart swell (“He can have the song, I have the real prize,” Deacon says) — but it was all kind of ruined for me thanks to Deacon being horrible. Just me?

Maddie: I understand teen angst is real, y’all, but they are getting dangerously close to making Maddie a totally insufferable character. Nobody is that mean to Daphne on my watch! (I realize that I don’t have a “watch” other than yelling at my TV a lot and then futilely rambling about it here, but indulge me on this.) Especially since all Daphne wants to do is be like her big sister. She looks absolutely crushed when Maddie tells her that her outfit belongs on a Kidz Bop album cover (in Maddie’s defense, it is one seriously fugly outfit), and then even more crushed when Maddie makes fun of her attempts to look more grown-up by trying on makeup. (“Do you have any idea how stupid you look right now?”) Just when I thought Maddie had crossed over irredeemably to the dark side, she apologizes to Daphne and says, “I love the music that we play together.” Aww. The look on Daphne’s face is so relieved and adorable when Maddie is nice to her, it just reinforced my belief that Daphne needs only good things in her life. Does anyone remember that her father is in prison? (For that matter, does anyone even remember Teddy even exists? I feel like he should come up in conversation more.)

Colt: Speaking of teen angst ... Man, the scenes between Colt and Luke this week were intense. I actually just rewatched the scene where Colt shoves Luke and Luke raises his fist to him and Colt says, “Go ahead! You can’t hurt me any more than you already have!” and it made me cry ... again. Beautiful acting by Will Chase and Keean Johnson there. Once again, Luke is trying to be a good father, but his need to advance his brand keeps getting in the way. (I’m starting to think that Gabriella is actually history’s greatest monster. Forget the fact that Luke’s son is on the verge of a nervous breakdown — he has a Forbes cover to shoot.) By the end, Luke does the right thing and puts the Luke Wheeler Experience on hold (permanently, I hope) to devote more time to his son. But it’s too late. Colt has decided to move in with his … grandfather? Where is the mother in all of this? In prison with Teddy?

Caleb: So Scarlett takes some time off from the tour and makes a spontaneous trip back to Nashville to see Caleb, and he is so not into it. In fact, when he comes home from work and she has filled the room with candles, he makes the exact same face I make every time I pass a Yankee Candle store. Not good. They try to make a go of a romantic evening, but everything feels super strained and awkward. Eventually, Caleb explains that he is stressed and tired and yells, “I’m dealing with people who have cancer. I’m not driving around, singing for 100 people a night and getting a few free beers out of it.” To which Scarlett replies, “Is that what you think I do?” So that’s going well.

Avery: Even the normally saintlike Avery got in on the testy act this week. Then again, who can blame him? He’s been doing these commercial jingles just to pay the bills (gifting us with this classic line, delivered by his director: “Great job. That flamenco lick you played really screams tacos”), and just when he finally gets a gig to play his own music, he has to cancel at the last second to do yet another commercial. So when Will comes to him with his problem — namely that he discovered that Wade Cole is a member of one of those antigay, pseudo–family values groups called the Hearth and Family Foundation — Avery snaps. “Forgive me if I’m not being sensitive enough to your high-class problem,” he says. Then he dispenses the style of advice formerly known as Deacon Man Wisdom: “What we want to do and what we need to do don’t always line up.” So Will decides to let Wade record his song.

Pretty much the only person who isn’t testy (or subjected to testiness) this week is Gunnar. First, he gets to arm-wrestle, throw Nerf footballs, and clown around on that “shenanigans on the bus” opening montage. Then he experiences intense writer’s block and doodles a picture of a skull  (at least I think it was a skull … it might’ve been a self-portrait). Then he gets to go to a museum and touch a statue’s boob (I’m as baffled as you are). Then he sings a super-fun song to Erin, making Scarlett secretly jealous. So, all in all, a fun night was had by him. (It’s just so Gunnar that he would be blissfully clueless to all the angst around him.)

Anyway, next week — between Juliette calling Emily from the rehab clinic and Deacon buying a ring for Rayna and Markus stealing what is obviously an unbidden kiss from Rayna and Deacon freaking out — looks like we’re going to have another absolute shitshow on our hands. We all better start doing yoga now to prepare.