It would seem that my cupid’s arrow is broken, or flaccid, or however one describes a faulty cupid’s arrow, because I’ve gotten all my romantic predictions wrong lately.
For starters, Alannah (oops, got the spelling of her name wrong, too) is not hooking up with Avery. She’s hooking up with Gunnar, which is, frankly, boring. Instead of hooking up with the sad, swarthy ranch guy, Scarlett is just helping him soothe his damaged soul. Daphne is barely talking to Jake. And Maddie and Jonah seem to be going strong, although I’m still holding out dim hope for young Twig. I’m 0-for-4, people.
Beyond that, this episode is a world of meh, huh? I want to say that it was a filler episode, but what was it filling in? What exactly are the plotlines we’re all dying to see at this point? Granted, the show loses a lot of energy when Juliette is MIA, but her story line hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire. Deacon and Jessie are now firmly established as a thing. Gunnar and Scarlett are finally, really done (according to Gunnar, at least). Will’s thinly conceived HGH story is a snooze. Where’s the beef, people?
That being said, I’m here to recap and recap I shall.
Let’s kick things off with Three Men and a Lady, as Will derisively dubs the new incarnation of the boy band. Turns out, Alannah is a hit and the boys are in danger of being relegated to “those other guys in No Doubt” status. (Which brings up something that has always bugged me: How famous are these guys supposed to be? I feel like the Exes were a pretty big deal? Also, Will Lexington was forging a semi-successful solo career — he was in a Budweiser ad, for Pete’s sake. So why is everyone acting like they’re a bunch of obscure backup musicians?) Will is particularly frustrated about this — stuffing clothing into his gym bag in an aggro sort of way — but that’s probably just the HGH talking. Both Avery and Gunnar agree that Alannah is good for the band, and Gunnar even talks to her about becoming an official member. She demurs, noting that she really wants to be a singer-songwriter.
“Why can’t you be both?” he says, and I briefly fear he’s going to recreate Avery’s tortured “peanut butter and chocolate” metaphor from a few episodes ago.
She invites him to her place to hear her music, and her warehouse loft apartment is a hilarious combination of tapestries, boarded-up windows, milk crates, and record stacks. (I’m pretty sure they just recycled the Homeless-by-Free People set from back when Daphne was hanging out with Homeless Rayanne Graff.) Gunnar likes her song and they flirt a lot and then he sheepishly leaves. He wanders outside, muttering to himself — he knows how stupid it would be to hook up with a bandmate again — and then, overwhelmed with desire, I guess, he has a change of a heart and knocks on her door.
Just once in a scene like this, I want to see things not work out the way our hero anticipated. How awesome would it have been if Alannah were like, “Whoa, buddy! Pump the brakes. You really read that ALL wrong.” Instead, she immediately commences disrobing him. Somehow, he still needs convincing, which is a little extra on his part, to be honest. Eventually, they hook up. In the morning, she says he looks freaked out, like he just eloped in Vegas.
The still-unnamed band has a gig that night and Jessie’s ex, Brad, oozes in. (I appreciate the fact that Jeffrey Nordling is committed to playing Brad like he travels in an actual pool of oil.) Of course, Brad immediately sets his sights on Alannah.
“A woman so talented shouldn’t surround herself with boys,” he says.
“What if these boys are my friends?” she replies.
“I’m the only friend you’ll ever need,” he says, which doesn’t sound like the first scene in a New York Times #MeToo exposé at all.
The only other notable thing to come out of all this is that Scarlett came to the gig, saw Gunnar sidling up to Alannah, and bolted. So maybe she cares about him more than she lets on?
But that’s not all Scarlett is up to this episode. She seems to have gotten herself involved with another quasi-homeless man who sings! As I guessed, Sean is a war vet with PTSD. A few things I didn’t guess: He has a wife and baby. And he sings like an angel. (Seriously, how did I not see this coming? Fool me once, etc. etc.)
Scarlett sees Sean wandering the streets one night, rather aimless and drunk, and then INVITES HIM BACK TO HER HOME. Why do people on Nashville keep doing this? There are shelters and professional services for this sort of thing. He doesn’t trash her place or raid her medicine cabinet or attack her, but he does get super emo when she mentions the video she unearthed of him and a friend singing at their high-school graduation. Turns out his friend’s name was Billy and he and Sean enlisted in the military together and Sean watched him die. Now, the mere mention of music takes Sean to a dark place. “This is when it gets real bad,” he says twitchily, meaning when he allows himself to think about Billy. Bearing in mind that Sean seems more like a wounded puppy dog than an angry drunk guy with PTSD, I still think Scarlett pushes her luck when she says to him, “Who does it help when you give up what you love?”
But good news, everyone! Scarlett found the key to Sean’s damaged heart and let the music back in, or something. The next day, Scarlett and Handsome Ranch Lady hear a sound in the distance. They move toward a large barn, where Sean is sitting alone on a wooden chair, with his guitar, singing plaintively. (He’s either filming a music video or just has a natural sense of mise-en-scène.) Scarlett cured him, y’all!
Finally, we have the whole Daphne/Jessie/Deacon situation. Deacon really wants Jessie and Daphne to get along, but Daphne is not having it. Now that Maddie is a fully actualized grown-up who bakes casseroles and hangs out in carpool lines and has a mature understanding of the ways of the world, Daphne has officially taken over the role of snotty teenager. Deacon and Jessie drag her to an outdoor art festival against her will and she rolls her eyes and skulks along the whole time.
Jessie makes a mention of how, at one point, she dreamed of being a National Geographic wildlife photographer, but “I guess life had other plans.”
“I wish my life had other plans,” Daphne says, which, to be fair, is some grade-A snark.
Deacon, needless to say, gets upset and keeps trying to talk to Daphne over the next few days, but she keeps ducking away. Maddie also tries to talk to her sister, taking her to lunch, which I really only bring up because Daphne has a giant stack of pancakes and Maddie has what appears to be an undressed salad. Team Daphne.
Finally, Deacon invites Jessie and Jake over for dinner. There’s lots of awkward silence and then Daphne gleefully describes her adventures dissecting a frog in graphic detail just to piss everyone off. She asks why Maddie doesn’t have to be at this contrived family dinner and then storms away from the table. Deacon starts to go after her, but Jessie stops him. “I don’t think this is about you,” she says, accurately. “It’s about me.”
What follows is a scene that made me cry, but I’m kind of angry it made me cry. Is this what watching This Is Us is like?
Jessie goes up to Daphne’s room. “Go away!” Daphne barks, thinking it’s Deacon.
“You think you could give me a minute?” Jessie responds. Daphne lets her in, and I gotta admit it’s a pretty effective sneak attack.
Jessie handles the whole thing really well, sharing personal vulnerabilities, talking about her own fears, and — here’s the key — making it clear that she knows she will never replace in Rayna in Daphne’s heart or Deacon’s. Tears are shed. (Theirs, not just mine.) Hands are held. (Just theirs.) And … we’ve done it! Another simple resolution to a complicated plotline!
I feel so used.