Last night was like some sort of bizarro episode of Nashville, a glimpse of what Nashville would be like without Juliette Barnes, It’s a Wonderful Life–style.
And I gotta tell you: Nashville would kind of suck.
Yes, Juliette is the show’s most dynamic, frustrating, fascinating character. But it doesn’t help that the show is filled with all of these randos now, characters who are suddenly central to the action, whom I guess we’re supposed to care about but whose names I haven’t even bothered to learn yet.
There’s what’s-her-name, Brand Management Expert. (It’s Gabriella.)
There’s what’s-her-name, roadie/Gunnar’s “girlfriend.” (She’s Erin.)
There’s what’s-his-name, Deacon’s sponsor turned business partner. (He’s Freddie.)
There’s that dude with the long hair and beard who’s on tour with Gunnar and Scarlett. (Uh, no clue.)
And then there’s Luke’s son. (Okay, I kid. I kid. I know his name is Colt. But didn’t I warn you about this? Didn’t I say the little brat was going to have some sort of emotional breakdown?)
So, yeah. The show starts with Maddie taking selfies, which I support. Teenagers on TV shows should be taking selfies all the time for accuracy purposes. She dyed her hair blonde, and it looks good and not really that different, but I guess that’s not the point? When Deacon knocks, she comes to the door with her hair elaborately wrapped in a towel and my first thought is: Why can a 16 year old do that towel-wrappy thing, but I can’t? But the point is she’s being sneaky. Remember when Maddie treated Teddy like dirt and Deacon like he was a World’s Greatest Dad mug in human form? Yeah, well those days are over. She’s snippy and petulant with Deacon, and later, she’s snippy and petulant with Rayna, and basically, Snippy & Petulant is her middle name. (Or a really terrible law firm.) And this was before she found out that Sony wanted to give her a record deal.
Can I say that I’m Team Maddie on that front? If Sony offered me a record deal when I was 16, I would sign the hell out of it. I’m pretty sure Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato would tell you that 16 is most definitely not too young for a record contract. (Okay, bad examples, but …Lorde! She’s fine, right?)
And then there’s poor Daphne. Every meme you’ve ever seen of a kid alone at a party or a kitten pressing its face against a screen door in the rain or a fawn taking its first tentative steps and toppling over is Daphne, saddest little tween on TV.
“They only wanted you?” she says to Maddie.
“We’re in different places right now,” Maddie replies. “I’m grown-up. I’m ready for things that you’re not.”
“Just say it: You don’t need me. Nobody needs me!” Daphne yells, storming off.
God, that is one sad tween.
From there, they cut to Deacon taking a sledgehammer to a wall at the Beverly, and I briefly thought it was Daphne, having some sort of rage incident in her bedroom. Thankfully, she’s not at the sledgehammer stage yet. Anyway, Deacon’s getting obsessive about the Beverly, and Freddie disapproves and calls him a “dry drunk” (yikes) and tells him he needs to go home and be with his family.
I’ll say this for the episode: They knew they had a dud on their hands so they overcompensated by giving us lots of Deacon and Rayna cuteness and even some Deacon and Rayna sex! (Remember when those two were sexy together? Good times.) This is a strategy I can get behind.
It’s Rayna and Deacon who go to Maddie and tell her, as a united front, that she can’t sign with Sony but she can sign to Highway 65 — with Daphne. This is basically like telling your teenage daughter that she can’t have a brand-new BMW convertible but she can have the family sedan, as long as she shares it with her sister and brings it home by 8 p.m. Daphne, naturally, is elated. Maddie? Not so much. As she (accurately) tells Daphne later: “She just signed us to keep me under her control.”
Elsewhere, there were a couple of the patented Nashville personality transplants:
Markus all of a sudden is this nice, caring guy who listens to Rayna’s problems and dispenses sage advice, not the cocky, uncaring jerk he was, oh, two weeks ago.
And Scarlett? Turns out her hair was holding her back. This week’s Scarlett is confident and sexy and self-actualized — doing an impromptu meet-and-greet with fans and absolutely owning it onstage. She even stopped wearing that godforsaken hemp necklace. (Granted, she switched it out for another questionable necklace choice — a southwestern-looking choker — but, hey, progress!). Even her clothing seemed less shmatte-like?
The highlight of the show — except perhaps for Deacon and Rayna sexy-time and that one Adele commercial for Target — was the Gunnar and Scarlett duet. First they did it electric, but Scarlett kept asking Erin to raise her levels, and then Erin, who, turns out, actually has no idea how to run a soundboard, blew a fuse and the power went out. It was Gunnar who thought on his feet and yanked the wire off his guitar, and we were treated to Scarlett and Gunnar: Unplugged. The crowd responded by holding up their lighters (okay, their cell phones). It was a cool moment, and I loved the song, a rare up-tempo number from the usually mopey duo.
Meanwhile, over at Chez Three Men and a Baby, there’s something sneaky going on in Will’s bedroom — and it’s not what you think it is. Will has been getting over his heartbreak by pouring his emotions into sad songs — a time-honored tradition. Of course, Will has never seen himself as much of a songwriter, so he’s naturally a little reticent to share his stuff with Avery, but Avery — who just spent the afternoon recording jingles for a car commercial, poor bastard — coaxes it out of him and loves it. In fact, he loves it so much that he performs at the Bluebird. (I honestly wish that Avery had encouraged Will to perform it himself — he really needs to get back onstage. But maybe it was just Jonathan Jackson’s turn to sing this week? I don’t know how these things work.) Anyway, the emotions of the song were too raw for Will to deal with so he bolted out of the Bluebird. But it went well enough that a talent scout wants Will to contact him. So we’ll see where this goes.
I don’t have much to say about the Luke Wheeler Experience this week, except that I still don’t care about his relationship with Gabriella or Colt’s nervous breakdown, and didn’t Luke used to have a daughter named Sage, or I am having some sort of psychic break?
Finally, when Rayna’s in the bathroom, she receives a sext from Markus. Or at least that’s how Deacon responds to it. In fact, the actual text was: “Great talk today. Hope I helped.” But by the look of concern and jealousy that washed over Deacon’s face, you’d think it read: “Great sex today. Hope I can help you orgasm again.” Oh, Deacon, on top of everything else, are you going to be a jealous boyfriend now, too?