“Black-ish will returns with new episodes next season!”
That was the first thing I heard when I flipped the channel to Nashville last night, and I’m not gonna lie, it felt like an affront. It felt personal. (I half expected the announcer to cheerily add, “…Unlike Nashville!”)
Because yes, as you’ve all undoubtedly heard, ABC has consciously uncoupled with Nashville. We are a lame duck. We are a dead show walking.
The funny thing is, Nashville had been working my last nerve lately. So many ridiculous plots. So little music. So many filler characters. So many unnecessary roadblocks to keep our favorite couples apart. So. Much. Maddie.
And yet, it was always the potential of Nashville that kept me watching. (Well, that and the paycheck from Vulture … but I digress.) It was the flashes of greatness. The wonderful cast. The moments when the show actually showed us how great it could be — like a peacock giving us a glimpse of its magnificent feathers. (I know, wrong network.) And now it’s got one episode left. I’m going to miss the hell out of it. Unless, like, Hulu picks it up or something.
Let’s recap, shall we?
So Deacon and Rayna go to a couples’ therapist who is clearly an Obama impersonator in his free time. Good choice!
“Thanks for giving us the whole day,” Deacon says to him.
“I do it occasionally, when the situation requires,” Fauxbama says. (Oh, honey, you have no idea.)
They meet with him together, kind of squirming on the couch, and they meet with him separately, each pouring their hearts out about their dysfunctional relationship.
“Who is she to you?” Fauxbama asks Deacon, when they are alone.
“She’s everything,” Deacon replies, raising his eyebrow in an extremely cute way that words cannot sufficiently describe.
Back at home, they both mope around some more and Deacon does that annoying thing he does where he threatens to martyr himself and leave Rayna for her own good.
“I’m done. I’m done being the screw-up in your life,” he says. “I think I just need to relieve you and me of that guilt.”
“Don’t do that,” Rayna replies. “Don’t just go and decide that after today.” (Hello, only adult in this relationship!) Then she asks him if he wants to leave.
“Is that what you want?” he retorts.
“Is that what you want?”
“You think about it, babe,” he says, like this was all her idea. (Ugh. We have all dated this man before.)
Okay, we’ll revisit our favorite super-sad super-couple in a sec, but first — Luke Wheeler on The View, everybody!
I love that they let all The View ladies have their snippet of dialogue, but they had Whoopi Goldberg do most of the heavy lifting, because she is an Oscar winner, you know. (I mean, Raven-Symoné did her thing and I’m sure Joy Behar did some summer stock back in ’81 or something, but it’s not quite the same.)
The upshot of The View’s nosy, probe-y, View-y questions: Why isn’t Will Lexingon fighting his own battles? Luke mumbles something about Will having experienced a loss, but the ladies of The View are having none of it. Will was dodging questions about his sexuality before his mama went off to the Grand Ole Opry in the sky, they note. Damn, you gotta wake up pretty early in the morning to get something past those crafty ladies of The View.
Moving along. Juliette has an extremely blurry scene with Noah West on her airplane. (I think it was just natural daylight distorting the picture? But it was so blurry I briefly thought it was a dream sequence.) Juliette says she’ll see him at the Oscars where they’ll “pick up where they left off,” but Noah has other ideas. He shows up, unannounced at her house, and almost immediately launches into an infomercial for spaghetti squash.
“Control your nutrition!” Noah enthuses. “Supercharge your body.” (It’s extremely bizarre — it feels like product placement, without the product.)
“Neat,” Juliette replies, in a hilariously diffident, Rizzo-from-Grease kind of way.
Avery comes over to drop off Cadence and he’s adorably — and unfairly, in light of his thing with Layla — jealous.
“That was fast,” he says, when he sees Noah in the kitchen. (Also, he really wants to taste Noah’s spaghetti squash doesn’t he? It’s his pride that gets in the way.)
Later, Cadence is teething and colicky and Juliette calls Avery who keeps glancing at his phone, while he’s on stage (is this Nashville’s version of texting while driving?), but Noah saves the day by bringing in a wooden spoon for Cadence to gnaw on, just like the original settlers did. This gets Cadence to sleep so Juliette and Noah can settle in to watch that cinematic masterpiece Tommy Boy, which — dealbreaker alert! — Noah doesn’t like (“It’s a complete mess. The plot is all over the place.”) Juliette shoots him a look that basically says, “We are so done,” but at least is smart enough to have sex with him with him before dumping his pretty ass. Girl is no fool. Bye, Noah!
As usual, every last thing about Will Lexington: Gay Cowboy plotline seems overwrought and a bit too on-the-nose, like some dated PSA on the dangers of homophobia they show you in high school. In today’s installment: Colt gets beat up at boot camp for defending his father and lands in the hospital, with an elaborately bandaged concussion (guess he didn’t cut his hair, after all) and some broken bones. Luke’s father, of course, blames Luke for what happened, but Colt wakes up and says, “I’m proud of you, dad.” Suck it, mean old Grandpa Wheeler! Since Luke is at the hospital, Will does a radio show in his place and looks hella uncomfortable when the DJ asks him what his influence has been on the gay community. (“I can’t speak for anyone else. All I know is that I’m real proud of this album.”)
When Will gets home, there’s some dude leaning against his car, waiting for him in the dark. Of course, we all think he’s going to jump Will, but instead he says, “You’re wrong you know. You are speaking for other people. I had a real hard time coming to terms with who I am. I was so ashamed. ... But hearing you stand up and speak your truth, it gave me the confidence to know that I could do it, too.” Oh, bless the earnestness of this scene. (Right about now, tenth graders forced to watch this in social studies class are nodding sagely.) Anyway, as a result of this encounter, Will decides he’s going to take on Cynthia Davis, face-to-face. Raise your hand if you think Will is going to triumphantly vanquish her on live TV? Okay, you can all put your hands down now.
Over in Scarlett and Gunnar land, things are still … not good. Gunnar goes off with Autumn to meet Elton John, and Scarlett goes off to shoot her headphones commercial. On the bright side, Scarlett has reached the “jaunty pageboy cap” stage of her bob. At the photoshoot, there’s a really cute mock-up of Scarlett representing Joy, except the photographer (that’s Brooke Smith a.k.a. “the girl in the ditch” from The Silence of the Lambs, just in case that was driving you nuts) seems to think she’s making some sort of edgy Sundance contender instead of a commercial for cheap headphones. She encourages Scarlett to listen to the music and really feel things and, frankly, she’s a better therapist than Fauxbama. Within minutes, Scarlett is having flashbacks to all the good times with Gunnar and she’s crying and she (finally!) admits that she’s in love with him. (It’s awesome that Scarlett has this breakthrough and all, but that is going to be one shitty headphone ad.)
Meanwhile, Gunnar gets to perform onstage with Elton John and it’s the cutest thing ever because Gunnar is supposed to be giddy, but it’s clear that Sam Palladio is also totally fan-boying. They sound awesome together, but riddle me this: Is “Blue Wonderful” a pun that I’m just not getting? After, Autumn Chase hits on him for the zillionth time and, in his post-Elton John glow, Gunnar finally succumbs. Naturally.
The final scene has Deacon and Rayna in bed together but a million miles apart — both awake, but not facing each other. Finally, Rayna reaches out and touches his arm and he takes her hand, and thank the Lord there’s a little bit of hope for these two because the clock is seriously ticking.
My biggest fear of course is that next week is going to end on a series of cliffhangers — I mean, they just found out they were cancelled a few days ago, there couldn’t possibly be time for reshoots, right? — and we’re all going to be left dangling in some sort of permanent Nashville purgatory where Avery is still with Layla, Scarlett finds out about Autumn, Maddie is still emancipated, and Deacon and Rayna are barely speaking. Deep breaths, my friends. We’ll get through this together.