Two Sides to Every Story
Photo: Mark Levine/ABC
Remember a few years back when the New York Times “discovered” Brooklyn and it was like they couldn’t use the word artisanal enough?
Last night’s Nashville was kind of like that, only way, way worse.
Let me set the scene for you: Layla and Will, looking to escape the oppression of their newfound reality-TV fame, decide to go to a faraway land where no one will recognize them: East Nashville, a.k.a. “the hipster side of town.” To dress like the indigenous people, they both don the native garb: beanies. As they walk, unencumbered by fame (hipsters are too busy drinking PBR and riding unicycles in ironic T-shirts to watch TV), they finally feel free, until a young woman comes rushing up to them: “Ohmygod, YOU!” she gushes to Layla. “Where did you buy that beanie! I dig it!” No, really. That actually happened. (You got the vague sense that somebody on the Nashville writing staff went to Google Translate and typed in English-to-hipster translation and this is what they came up with.)
But our favorite unhappily married couple isn’t done yet. Will orders a beer at a stand from a handsome bartender who turns out to be gay. “Knocks the socks off the hipsters,” the bartender says, sliding the beer Will’s way. “If they wore socks, heh-heh.” (For that line, the writers consulted with The Big Book of Hipster Humor).
Anyway, we’ll check back in with Layla and Will in the magical land of hipsters later.
Meanwhile, Rayna’s Rolling Stone cover story is out, and she is freaked. (You know it’s a TV show because somebody other than Bruce Springsteen or U2 is on the cover of Rolling Stone.) If you recall, she had traded the reporter’s silence on the whole Maddie and Cole awkward family hookup for the real scoop on her relationship with Deacon. She’s hoping to get to Deacon before he sees the story, but she’s too late and he is “about ten different kinds of pissed.” Rayna keeps calling him, but he won’t pick up the phone. All the tension is multiplied because Luke and Rayna are filming a big Christmas special (for charity!) in their home. These scenes are rather cannily filmed, as every time we appear to be witnessing a tender family moment — Rayna lighting the tree with the girls; Luke and Rayna sneaking a kiss under the mistletoe — they pull back to reveal that it is all just for the cameras. Luke, of course, is like a hog in dung, but Rayna is beginning to second-guess the intrusion.
“I don’t know how you’re living your life this way,” Deacon had said to her, all hurt and judge-y — and this was before he was ten different kinds of pissed.
Deacon comes back later to deliver Maddie’s Christmas present (he appears to have no gift for Daphne, which would sort of be like if Teddy only bought a gift for Daphne), and Rayna corners him and tries to explain the whole Rolling Stone fiasco. I actually thought Deacon was going to forgive her — after all, she was technically protecting Maddie. But to his everlasting credit, he’s basically like, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” — and storms out.
Luke’s all, “Just let him be.” And Rayna’s all, “I can’t sleep [or touch you or be in the same room with you or make eye contact with you or listen to your annoying voice or gaze upon your annoying face] until I make things right with Deacon.” And Luke is all, “Makes sense.”
(When Rayna leaves Luke at the altar and runs away with Deacon — because that’s totally where they’re going with this, right? — Luke can’t say he didn’t see it coming.)
Rayna finally tracks Deacon down: He’s putting up modest Christmas lights on his modest home — I’d watch A Very Deacon Christmas over that Luke and Rayna monstrosity any day — and she explains that “all the things that have always been important to me are still important to me — including you.” Then he admits that he’s the one with the problem because he isn’t letting go.
“Why aren’t you?” she asks.
“Why am I not letting go?” Deacon muses. “Because I love you. That’s it. It’s easy.”
“I’ve moved on,” Rayna says. “And so should you.”
Well, I’m convinced!
Elsewhere, Juliette is the most pregnant woman in the history of television, and perhaps the world. At the doctor’s office, she overhears a conversation Avery is having on the phone — he seems to be arranging some sort of date at an outdoor market — and it’s your classic soap-opera misunderstanding. Usually, the guy is meeting his sister. In this case, he’s meeting Sadie Stone because he might produce her next album.
(A serious question about Sadie Stone: Do we actually think this character has a point? Is her story line, such as it were, going anywhere? Or did the cast and crew of Nashville just really want to hang out with Laura Benanti? I mean, good for them and all, she seems hella cool. But I truly don’t get this character.)
Juliette decides to wear a disguise — I was hoping for a redux of the Beatnik Barbie outfit she sported on her famous day of busking (the show’s beanie budget would’ve gone through the roof!), but no such luck. Instead, she decides to follow Avery around in a hat, oversize glasses, face-scarf, and — inexplicably — motorized senior scooter. I couldn’t decide if she looked more like E.T. when he rode in Elliott’s bike basket or the Invisible Man. Either way, there’s a problem with her otherwise-solid, well-thought-out plan. She’s wandering around with Emily, her personal assistant, who’s not wearing a disguise. Look, Avery’s no Mensa, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to put two and two together. Except he … doesn’t. He sees Emily. Sees this massively pregnant, E.T.-like creature in her little motorized scooter, and is baffled. It’s only when Juliette’s chair backfires and crashes into a vendor’s stand and there’s a commotion and her disguise comes partially undone — that’s so Juliette! — that he wrinkles his brow and says, “Juliette?”
These two, they really deserve each other.
Do I really have to say anything about Terry and Scarlett? He sings a (halfway-decent) blues song onstage at the Winterfest and the crowd acts like he’s the second coming of Muddy Waters. He gets unnerved by the crowd’s enthusiasm, runs offstage, finds a pack of hobos, as one does, and starts drinking. When Scarlett catches up with him, he accuses her of projecting her own fear of performing onto him. (That does have the ring of truth). Luckily, she’s about to have a chance to prove him wrong. You see, “ZAG” was supposed to play the Winterfest, but Zoey and Gunnar finally broke up for good (I hope?) and now they’re missing a singer. They recruit Scarlett — becoming … SAG? (that sound you hear is the Screen Actor’s Guild calling their lawyers) — and sing an amazing song because Gunnar, Avery, and Scarlett singing together is a gift from the harmonizing gods.
(In an otherwise so-so episode, there was lots of great music on last night’s show. Keep up the good work, Nashville!)
Okay, back to the Hipster Paradise. Poor Will makes a drunken pass at cute bartender guy, who rebuffs him, explaining that being gay isn’t all about random hookups. But Will glumly explains that for him, it’s random hookups or nothing, and he mopes off.
Meanwhile, Jeff Fordham is on the prowl for new talent — in every sense of the phrase — and overhears an indie songstress at a hipster café. He’s transfixed until he parts the crowd to reveal that it’s … Layla! Suddenly, he sees her in a whole new light. (Either that, or this is some sort of fantasy Begin Again role-playing that the two of them cooked up in advance.) So they start talking and flirting. He confesses that he used to be something of a musician himself.
“Were you in a Dave Matthews cover band in college?” Layla asks. (I’m liking Layla more and more every episode.)
And then Jeff grabs a guitar and everyone at home is like, “Oh, Lord. Is he going to sing now, too?” — but he just strums a few chords and they cut to another scene. So we are at least spared that. We aren’t, however, spared the final scene of Jeff and Layla in bed together. My eyes! My eyes! Jeff Fordham is like a professional regrettable hookup.
As the show closes, Rayna and Luke are singing a great version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — which is the perfect song for them because it’s basically about a man trying to convince a woman to stay.