The Night Before (Life Goes On)
Charles Esten as Deacon.
Eighth-grade terrors are on the loose in this week’s Nashville. It starts with the party Daphne attends where teens are drinking red wine and having a “make-out orgy,” as they do. Daphne is there with the adorable Flynn, who wants to try his first kiss with her, but she totally freaks out and says she feels sick and runs outside. (Relatable.) My first thought during this party scene was, “These kids are just ONE year older than Daphne!” But I guess when you’re in that 12-to-14 age group, one year can mean the difference between being a latchkey kid and attending a key party.
Once outside, Flynn and Daphne play on the swing set — because they’re so innocent, see? — and Flynn talks about birds. Honestly, Flynn is a keeper.
If drinking red wine and making out seems like Eighth Graders Gone Wild, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This somewhat pedestrian episode ends with a scene so bananas, I still can’t believe it actually happened.
To set the scene: Gunnar and Scarlett just came from their ill-fated, millennial-targeted furniture commercial when they stopped to buy some milk. The minute Scarlett said she needed milk, I knew something was going to go awry. You don’t have your heroes randomly stop at a Quickie Mart without incident. And oh, man, this incident is a doozie.
Gunnar is upset because he feels like Scarlett doesn’t really want to raise the little spawn of Damien together (he’s not wrong) and while they’re arguing in the parking lot about it, they are approached by a very intimidating gang of young hooligans. Just kidding: These are literally the least intimidating kids you’ve ever seen. They look like mathletes. They ask Gunnar to buy them beer and he brushes them off, until the “gang leader” brandishes an actual gun. I shit you not. Suddenly, the teen terrorists aren’t interested in beer; they want Gunnar’s wallet, which he wisely hands over. But when they ask for Scarlett’s wallet, she gets flustered and drops her bag of groceries and the milk spills on the little prep-school Pablo Escobar’s shoes and he goes into a rage spiral and knocks her to the ground — hard. Then he tells Gunnar to get on his knees and he puts the gun up against Gunnar’s forehead, execution style, and, I’m sorry, IS THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENING? I actually thought they might end the show with Gunnar about to be gunned down by this pimply-faced gangster, but the kid finally PISTOL WHIPS him across the face and runs. Totally normal.
Okay, let’s collect ourselves and get to the rest of the episode, shall we? Deacon goes to a charity event and brings an authentic, concert-worn jacket of Rayna’s to be auctioned off, which triggers feelings for both him and the girls. (At first, Maddie and Daphne don’t want Deacon to auction off any of Rayna’s clothing, but then they see it’s that ugly-ass jacket and they’re like, “Go for it.”)
Jessie Caine is performing at the gala, too, along with Lady Antebellum, improbably enough. (Though we never see them.) Jessie’s sleazy ex-husband, Brad, approaches the table and, hey, it’s Laura Dern’s sleazy husband from Big Little Lies! (The actor’s name is Jeffrey Nordling and I hope he doesn’t start getting a complex.) Anyway, Brad is a total tool, manhandling Jessie and getting all faux-jokey, alpha-male competitive with Deacon, until he finally oozes back to his table. Then they auction off Rayna’s jacket, which goes for $50,000 (!!!) and Deacon gets upset and needs a man moment outside, but he’s interrupted by Jessie. He thinks she’s come to comfort him, but she’s just fuming over the fact that Brad has custody of her kid. Apparently, she’s been accused of being an unfit mother with a dangerous temper, but only by people who are on Brad’s payroll. Hmm. Then again, the fact that she just kicked a bunch of trash cans over doesn’t completely make her case that she isn’t prone to sudden rages.
“It’s times like this I wish I still smoked — or had a gun,” Jessie says. (Still not making her case.) Jessie and Deacon bond for a bit over their mutual misery, and then Deacon gets called onto the stage. “Sing well,” Jessie says. (Is “break a leg” not what performers actually say to each other? Has my whole life been a lie?)
When Deacon gets up onstage and dedicates a song to Rayna with the chorus, “I’ll Always Miss Dreaming My Dreams With You,” everyone in the audience cries and I’m not sure if it’s because the song is sad or because it’s too low for Deacon’s register.
Now let’s talk about the most annoying portion of the episode: Avery on the road with Dierks Bentley. (What happened to Edward Sharpe we may never know.) So here’s the deal: We see Avery out with his bandmates after the gig and he’s having a helluva time. He’s drinking, he’s flirting with the (sooo thirsty) bartender, he’s playing darts. Juliette calls and she’s all Debbie Downer because she had a bad day pushing herself too hard on the dance floor, so Avery promises to call her later, when he isn’t in the middle of a crowded bar. Then the pushy bartender asks Avery about the lady “raining on [his] parade.” Avery scrunches up his face: “Rain isn’t exactly the word I’d use, it’s more like hurricane.” He goes on to tell her that he’s the calm in the middle of Juliette’s storm, always following her around and picking up the pieces. (Have I mentioned how much I hate Avery’s Captain Save-a-Ho complex?) Then the bartender volunteers to fix the broken TV in Avery’s room — and although there actually is a broken TV in Avery’s room, I’m pretty sure that isn’t what she’s talking about.
Cut to Avery’s room. Someone is there with him but we don’t see who it is. Juliette calls and Avery takes the call in the bathroom. Juliette — who misses nothing — says, “Why are you whispering? Who’s in your room?” and we get the big reveal that it’s Yuri, the incompetent maintenance guy, not the horny bartender girl after all.
Then Avery flops on the bed and announces that he misses Juliette and Cadence and wants to come home. Wait … what? A few hours earlier, he was loving life with his boys and complaining to the bartender about the ol’ ball and chain. I’m all for unexpected reveals, but not when ALL the evidence points to the opposite conclusion. Anyway, Juliette convinces Avery to stay on tour because she doesn’t want him to resent her, which is not a thing you’re supposed to say out loud, I think.
It’s clear that this is a mere placeholder for next week’s episode, which looks insane: Maddie slapping Juliette, Scarlett (possibly) losing the baby, and Gunnar seeking vengeance against the baby-faced assailant! Until then, keep this in mind, millennials: “Life is complicated, but assembling your furniture doesn’t have to be!”