Nashville Recap: Slap Happy


You Can’t Lose Me
Season 5 Episode 19
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Mark Levine/CMT

I have long dreamed of a juicy catfight on Nashville, but tonight’s slap just didn’t get the job done. For starters, it happens in the midst of one of the saddest episodes of the season, which says a lot considering that this is the season that Rayna died. Also, there isn’t some fabulous, Krystle Carrington–Alexis Colby (ask your mother) rivalry here. Maddie and Juliette are friends! If anything, Juliette has acted in loco parentis to Maddie. What’s more, the slap is a whole lot less fun when the slapper feels rightfully betrayed and the slapee is filled with guilt and self-loathing. Camp just ain’t what it used to be, people.

Let’s get to the sad stuff first, shall we? Scarlett loses the baby and somehow it’s not because she was mugged and roughly knocked to the ground the day before. Huh? In the wake of Rayna’s death that wasn’t related to her crazed stalker, Nashville now has this weird habit of what I’ll call existential misdirections. Scarlett’s boys — Deacon and Gunnar, that is — are being totally supportive and amazing (raise your hand if you positively swooned when Deacon scooped Scarlett up and carried her to the car), but she wants to be left alone with her grief. She keeps pushing Gunnar away, in particular, which is hard on him because he feels guilty for not protecting her more during the mugging. Hey, Gunnar, don’t despair. Mathletes don’t kill people, mathletes with guns do.

Gunnar does something super-stupid and decides to go all Charles Bronson (ask your father) on the mugger himself. First he waits at the Quikie-Mart, hoping the kid might show. He doesn’t. Then he drives around the neighborhood — just a creepy guy driving slowly in a car, nothing to see here — and actually finds him. (This is the second most unrealistic part of the episode. The first is Deacon still having an answering machine in 2017.)

“Where’s your gun now?” Gunnar growls, slamming the kid against a wall. (Sidebar: How did Gunnar know the kid wasn’t still packing?) Anyway, Gunnar starts wailing on the kid, who cries and says, “Please don’t hurt me” and then we have one of those dramatic scenes we’ve all seen thousands of times on TV where, in the midst of a rage frenzy, the hero freezes, fist poised, and realizes this is not who he wants to be. He lets Skippy go and the little scamp runs off, hopefully rewarding Gunnar’s restraint by one day fulfilling his destiny and winning the Fields Medal.

Meanwhile, Scarlett receives an unexpected visitor: Jessie Caine. (Deacon had let news of Scarlett’s miscarriage slip out to her earlier.) Jessie just meant to drop off a “sorry you miscarried” gift basket at Scarlett’s door (does Edible Arrangements make those?), but Scarlett noticed her, which is actually my worst nightmare when I’m trying to be stealthy. At first, it’s kind of awkward and borderline confrontational between the two of them — in fairness, I’d freak out too if some rando left a gift on my porch — but then Jessie mentions that she had two miscarriages and Scarlett softens. She invites her in and the two have a major bonding session over miscarriages, self-care, and cervixes with dunce caps (you had to be there). My conclusion: Jessie Caine is the kind of intense friend you can only have really deep conversations with. I go out of my way to avoid people like that.

Deacon shows up and he’s not happy with Jessie at all, until she tells him about her miscarriages and then he feels like a jerk. But now she’s kind of pissed at him for being pissed. The show is definitely setting up a push-pull, two-steps-forward, one-step-back dynamic between these two, which is laying the groundwork for an eventual romance. I am so torn. On the one hand, if you’ve got a sexy guy like Charles Esten in the chamber, you fire him, so to speak. On the other hand, STILL TOO SOON!! (Speaking of Deacon, am I the only one who thinks he is turning into the best dad ever — warm, funny, strict but not too strict — and that it’s so sad Rayna isn’t around to see it? All the tears.)

Anyway, after her intense convo with Jessie, Scarlett is feeling well enough to go visit Gunnar, who hasn’t been answering his phone. She realizes that he’s hurting too — about the miscarriage, the mugging, the fact that she has been pushing him away. “You’re everything to me,” Gunnar confesses.

But Scarlett can’t deal with that pressure. “A lot of the time it feels like I am the only thing that keeps you happy,” she says, adding, “I can’t carry that weight anymore. I can barely carry myself.”

So, they break up … kind of. (Were they still actually dating? It’s a mystery.) The real question is: Where does this leave our wonderfully harmonizing couple? We’ve done the whole breakup/makeup thing between them over and over again. Part of me wants Scarlett and Gunnar to be end game, of course, but another part of me is like, enough already! Gunnar has been patient, supportive, emotionally available — he’s willing to raise another man’s child with her! — and he looks super-duper hot this season. If Scarlett doesn’t want him now, she never will.

Okay, back to Juliette and Maddie. As I mentioned, their throwdown isn’t nearly as much fun as it should’ve been, but it does have its moments. It starts with Maddie inviting Juliette to join her onstage at the Wild Horse Saloon for a duet version of — you guessed it — “Water Rising,” which has become a big hit for Juliette. Maddie keeps trying to sidle up to Juliette and be playful onstage, but Juliette is having none of it. Later, Maddie shows up to Juliette’s record-release party where “Water Rising” songwriter Travis is also in attendance, despite Juliette’s best efforts to keep him away. Juliette then tries to gaslight Maddie into thinking she’s sick (telling her that she’s “flushed” and that her forehead is hot) just to make sure that Travis and Maddie don’t meet, but her efforts backfire. As she’s leaving to go home to get some rest for her “illness” — we’re getting into a possible Munchausen by proxy situation here — Maddie bumps into Travis. They begin to chat and he says he still wants to write something for her, even if she did reject “Water Rising.” Ruh-ro. Cut to Maddie throwing a drink in Juliette’s face. (Fun trivia: The drink is called a Watermelon Rising.)

The episode ends at the benefit concert for the women’s health clinic that Scarlett organized. Scarlett gets onstage and talks about the necessity of taking women’s health issues out of the shadows (preach!), and tells the crowd about her miscarriage. Then she sings a sad song — you know it’s sad because it has a cello in it — that is just lovely but sounds more like a Broadway ballad than a country tune.

It’s montage time! Let’s see who shows up!

First, Juliette on the couch flipping through a country-music magazine and seeing that Maddie Jaymes is listed as No. 5 on “Country’s Next Gen.” That’s gotta burn.

Next, Gunnar on the road to meet Avery in Texas (because Avery invited Gunnar to get a change of scenery after the breakup), with tears in his eyes but a tiny defiant smile on his lips, as if to say, “I’ve got this.”

And finally … a box. But not just any box. A box filled with memories of Scarlett’s lost baby, whose name would have been Amelia Rose. So, the saddest box ever, basically.

Man, the catfight episodes on Dynasty were so much more fun.

Nashville Recap: Slap Happy