Nashville Recap: Bad Grandma


Speed Trap Town
Season 5 Episode 20
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Jake Giles Netter/CMT

Fresh on the heels of learning about Juliette’s saintly dead father who was very very important to her (but in that way where she never mentioned him), we now learn about Gunnar’s mean, chain-smoking, Livia Soprano–esque grandmother who raised him. Also, I didn’t remember that Gunnar was an orphan, but I’m going to give Nashville the benefit of the doubt and assume that it has come up before — perhaps during the whole “Gunnar’s brother has a gun” saga? — and I just forgot about it. Suffice it to say, it hasn’t been a huge part of his Nashville journey. Until now, bitches!

Look, I don’t mind episodes that slow down and give us a chance for deeper character development — honest, I don’t. I just hate this character growth by random dead family members shtick that Nashville has got going lately. Although I guess it’s nice that Gunnar gets his own Very Special Episode for a change.

So, yeah, Gunnar is on the road with Avery and he goes off to his hometown of Aurora, Texas, the saddest, sleepiest, most football-obsessed Texas town we’ve seen on TV since Friday Night Lights. He visits his grandma at a nursing home and she doesn’t even say hi. At first, I thought she had dementia, but nope. She’s just a mean old lady. Also, her name is Jill Scott, but I’m going to assume that it’s a coincidence and no one at Nashville has anything against the R&B singer.

At a gas station, Gunnar bumps into his old crush Kelly (Kaley Ronayne), who kind of liked him way back when but thought he was Too Sad to Date, or something. She’s really pretty and a very important character (for one episode only!), so Gunnar decides to stay longer in Aurora and hang out with her. They go to the old Aurora middle school, which is now abandoned. Kelly runs to the bathroom, as one does in an abandoned building, leaving Gunnar alone in an empty gym with this hilariously fake-looking graffiti on the walls that reads, “Don’t Mess With Texas” and, curiously, “Alien Invasion.” Then, standing alone in the gym, he has a flashback to the day he got pulled out of class when his parents died (kudos to the casting director for finding Sam Palladio’s preteen doppelgänger). I’m not sure why we needed this flashback since we already knew that Gunnar’s parents died and that his mean ol’ granny raised him, but so be it. They filmed the scene so we must watch it. Anyway, more on Gunnar’s Adventures in Aurora in a bit. Let’s check in on everyone else.

Maddie gets awakened by an adorably exuberant Daphne and Deacon, who tell her the good news that she has received an AMA nomination in the pop/rock category alongside Katy Perry and — you guessed it — Juliette Barnes. What’s funny about this is that celebrities always claim they were asleep when some big nomination comes in, but I never believe them. It’s like, girl, you know you didn’t get a wink of sleep last night and you were wide awake and glued to the livestream of the nominations. But hey, it’s a TV show, so I guess I’ll allow it. (Also, teenagers do love to sleep.)

As for Juliette, she can’t enjoy her nomination at all, because of her lingering guilt. “I stole her song,” she tells Glenn. “You know it. I know it. Let’s just call a spade a spade.” (Um, Nashville writers? Don’t use that expression.) She tries to make nice with Maddie by tweeting, “congrats @maddiejaymesmusic on your first nomination! So well deserved,” but of course it backfires.

“Thanks, @juliettebarnes,” Maddie writes back. “I wrote it myself.” Oh. Snap. It looks like Maddie isn’t forgiving and forgetting quite that quickly. (Another tiny moment of Nashville’s ongoing internet impairment: Neither Juliette nor Maddie are verified, lol.)

Elsewhere, Jessie Caine has written a new song that she plays for Deacon via Skype. By the way, I finally figured out who Kaitlin Doubleday looks like. For the longest time, I thought it was Kelly Ripa, which isn’t bad, but today I realized it’s a young Faith Ford of Murphy Brown fame. Google her and tell me what a genius I am.

Anyway, Deacon wants to get Jessie in the studio to record her song, but she keeps rejecting him. Finally, she has a eureka moment where she realizes she’s been transferring a lot of her anger about her ex-husband onto Deacon. Her ex is the one trying to control her; Deacon is just trying to help.

Deacon admits that his whole life has been a series of “me falling down and other people coming along and picking me up,” which is why he’s been so eager to help her. “I think I probably got a little swept up on being on the other side of that equation.” Personally, I feel like Deacon picks more people up than Uber, but good for him for being so humble. Jessie agrees to accept his guidance.

Scarlett’s story line involves her being afraid to be alone in her house and subsequently taking a self-defense class. At first, she’s tentative, but then she goes all HAM on her trainer, and later we see her happily dancing and singing as she cooks alone in the kitchen, so I guess she’s cured. Also, she and Gunnar continue their mamba of miscommunication. First, he calls her and she rushes him off the phone, promising to call back later. Then, when she calls him back, he says, “I thought we were trying to give each other space.” My dude, you called her first. Can those two ever be on the same page?

So Gunnar drops in on his childhood home and has some more memories — playing guitar with his brother in their room and grandma telling them to knock off that “racket”; his brother climbing out the window and running away from home — and later he kisses the pretty town girl but they don’t have sex, which is a good thing, because she’s married to some old football player turned mediocre appliance salesman. Then he goes back to his grandma’s room at the home and plays a song for her called “I’m Gonna Find Home,” which softens her heart and makes her cry and they tearfully embrace. Just kidding, she sits there, stony-faced and surly as ever. Not gonna lie, I think I like Gunnar’s grandma.

Nashville Recap: Bad Grandma