Nashville Recap: Shame of Thrones


Ghost in this House
Season 5 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Mark Levine

Have you ever wondered what celebrities think of us — the lowly, sweaty, schlubby, common fan? Well, we got a little glimpse in this episode, via a pep talk that Rachel Bilson’s Alyssa Greene gives Scarlett after the whole Baby Daddy drama. And I quote: “People are lonely. They think their lives are worthless. So they project all of their wishes and dreams on other people they think have everything.”

I’ve never felt so seen.

Despite Alyssa’s less than flattering view, Scarlett feels compelled to reach out to one fan in particular. Her name is Nadine and she’s an emo, overweight teenage girl who carries around a lot of shame. She also shows up at Scarlett’s private concert just to yell at Scarlett about how she’s a “cheater who ruined everything” — so rude. Honestly, Scarlett is a saint for continuing to be nice to this girl.

Much like Nashville’s brief foray into #BlackLivesMatter politics, the whole shame plot is well-intentioned but a bit muddled. Scarlett accuses journalist Mackenzie Rhodes of somehow contributing to Nadine’s shame by casting her behavior in a negative light. “Your article made it seem like I had something to be ashamed of,” Scarlett says. “Girls have enough shame heaped on them without you making it much worse.” That’s a rather self-serving argument from Scarlett — basically, writing negative articles about me is bad for all girls — but hey, whatever works.

So Scarlett reaches out to Nadine through Facebook. Instead of being over the moon that a famous person she used to worship wants to connect, Nadine continues to judge Scarlett for being with any man not named Gunnar. At which point, Scarlett is all, “I’ve had just about enough of you, you little ingrate!” Actually, she does the opposite, setting up some sort of Teen Shame Summit, where an assortment of nose-ringed teens — including Nadine — can sit around and talk about the roots of their low self-esteem. How she found these teens, God only knows. (Did she put up flyers? “Are you a teen who experiences shame? Do you also have a nose ring? Country star Scarlett O’Connor wants to help!”) Then she sneakily invites Mackenzie Rhodes to join in.

At the summit, they all sit around sharing their feelings about being belittled in high school, including Gunnar, bless his heart, who was apparently tossed into the lake because he couldn’t swim. Then — surprise, surprise! — Mackenzie shows up and starts talking about her shame. As a teen, she spent a year in a body brace and was nicknamed “the Bride of Frankenstein” by her peers. “When people treat you that way long enough, you tend to believe it,” she says, looking meaningfully at Scarlett. It’s a breakthrough! What any of this stuff has to do with Nashville, I have no clue, but I think Mackenzie is cured, y’all.

Another big chunk of the episode has to do with Deacon and the fact that he’s basically catnip for all women over the age of 33. (Pretty sure I could fill several stadiums with women under 33 who also consider him catnip, but I digress.) First, Deacon takes the girls to a real restaurant called Biscuit Love, where they are approached by a Real Housewives of Nashville type named Diane Harrison, who is overly excited to console Deacon in his moment of grief (later, she brings him a chicken pot pie). And then there’s the recently divorced Jessie Caine. Remember her? Turns out, Zach wants to sign her and her new soul-baring songs to Highway 65, but Deacon isn’t so sure. Zach arranges for Jessie and Deacon to get together for a coffee and their meeting ends up being epic.

The episode does this montage thing where it keeps dropping in on snippets of their conversation. At one point, Jessie is talking about cheating on her ex-husband. At another point, Deacon is in tears over Rayna. Later, we see that the restaurant has cleared out around them as they continue to bare their souls. I half-expected a shot where they were both curled up in a fetal position smearing mud on their faces.

Anyway, after their bonding session, Deacon is excited to hear Jessie’s new music. But then Alyssa, whose life motto is apparently Always Be Meddling, suggests to Deacon that Jessie has a crush on him. This freaks Deacon out and he calls Jessie and they have the world’s most awkward conversation where he says he’s not ready to be in a relationship and she’s like, “The hell? I don’t want a relationship!” and then he hangs up due to the overwhelming horribleness. Nonetheless, that night, Deacon shows up at Jessie’s gig and she sings a song called “Baby, I’m Still Learning How to Lose You” and he gets very emotional and leaves. I’m hoping to God he left because the song made him think of Rayna and not because he’s developing feelings for Jessie because, just to be 100 percent clear, that would NOT BE OKAY.

Avery and Juliette are in this episode, too, albeit briefly. Avery tells Juliette he has stopped working with Hallie. She tries to play all innocent, “Why? Because of me?” and he’s not having it. She knows damn well it’s because of her. Then he tells her that he’s going on the road with Edward Sharpe, after all. She breaks down crying and begs him to stay, but he explains that he needs to do something for himself, that he’s been taking care of everyone else’s needs for too long. This is both empirically true and kind of a dick move. He’s a dad. He can’t just decide to take off for seven weeks without consulting with the mother of his child. Men!

Can we talk about Will’s Budweiser commercial for a second? Because I kind of loved it, but I also kind of didn’t get it? So Will is dressed like Johnny Cash — which is hilariously off-brand for the wholesome cowboy — and his car breaks down in this backwoods town, where he ends up doing cool, cute things like befriending a dog and helping a little old lady across the street. Then he ambles into some scary bar, where a lot of degenerate biker types scowl at him. Then one of the degenerates slides a Budweiser his way and … Will drinks it and they all love him? Is there some subtle, “Hey, gay men like Budweiser, too!” thing happening here? Or did the mean biker types already like him because of his cool black get-up? The mind reels. Regardless, this was the most intense product placement I’ve ever seen in a scripted show.

It turns out the designer of Will’s updated Man in Black outfit is none other than Jakob Fine, who insinuates that Zach is not all he seems to be. (Sidenote: I love the actor who plays Jakob Fine — his name is Murray Bartlett — and want him to provide a bitchy Greek chorus on the entire show, Gossip Girl–style. Make it happen, Zwick!) Will gets suspicious that Zach might have a sidepiece (or that he is the sidepiece) and discovers that Zach, indeed, has a second phone where he receives calls from a mysterious man named Jeff. Will confronts Zach, who goes into “I can explain” mode. (His lame excuse: He and Jeff used to date, and Jeff is very emotionally fragile and Zach doesn’t want to hurt him. Which totally explains the secret phone.) Later, after a screening of Will’s Budweiser commercial, Zach makes this grand gesture, calling Jeff in front of Will and demanding that his ex stop contacting him. Jeff cries and Zach basically ends up seeming like even more of a jerk and Will doesn’t know how to respond. One thing’s for sure: No one will be sliding a Budweiser Zach’s way any time soon.

Nashville Recap: Shame of Thrones