I’ve finally reached the acceptance stage of my relationship with these final episodes of Nashville. This is what Nashville is now. With six precious episodes left, the show will be giving more air time to What’s Her Name, What’s His Name, and That Guy than our regular cast. And I’m — deep, cleansing breaths — okay with that.
First up: What’s Her Name! (Okay, Alannah). So Avery and Gunnar have patched up their differences — for now, at least — which provides us with a classic Gunnar Scott–as–Joey Tribbiani moment:
Avery says that he wants to move on from Juliette, but “every time the doorbell rings …”
“What?” says Gunnar, leaning forward expectantly. There’s an impossibly long pause until something resembling comprehension passes over his face. “You think it’s Juliette,” he says, getting it.
Never change, Gunnar.
Along those lines, Gunnar still thinks he has a chance with Alannah. He heads to her apartment, fancy wine in tow, and acts a little desperate.
“I’ve been thinking about you a lot,” he says. When there’s an awkward silence, he sheepishly imitates Alannah’s voice saying, “I’ve been thinking about you, too, Gunnar.” But she hasn’t. She might as well have an “I’d Rather Be Thinking About Avery” T-shirt on. Gunnar tries to kiss her and she squirms away. Finally, she gives the old “it’s not you, it’s me” spiel and says that they want two different things.
“So you’re not ready to be with anybody, or is it just me?” he asks.
“I’m just pretty shut down right now,” she replies, which is definitely not an answer.
“I get it,” Gunnar says dejectedly. Later, he tells Avery that the breakup was a mutual decision, but he says it in such a performatively nonchalant way that it’s obvious he’s faking it. Avery misses the signs.
So then Alannah shows up Avery’s place and weaves some convoluted metaphor about a once-in-a-lifetime train leaving the station (somebody tell this girl about Amtrak!), and Avery picks up what she’s dropping and kisses her. Cut to the two of them showing up for that night’s Last Highways gig being all kissy and flirty and giddy. At one point, Avery actually spins her, which is so not a thing he would do. For starters, he’s not the spinning type. And also, he knows Gunnar could be nearby.
Sure enough, Gunnar witnesses the whole tableaux and spends the first part of the gig rage drumming, until he finally tosses his sticks and storms off the stage.
Avery feels terrible but Alannah doesn’t.
“Every guy who likes a girl thinks she owes him something,” she says pointedly. “If you don’t like them back, they get mad at you, they text you. Sometimes they yell at you, sometimes they stalk you.”
She’s totally playing the #MeToo card here and I’m NOT buying it. I mean, yes, what she’s saying is an actual bad thing that happens to women all the time, but it doesn’t apply here at all. She literally slept with Gunnar, then soured on him, then raced to be with his best friend and bandmate, and then lied about it. Gunnar has a reason to be pissed — and it has nothing to do with his sense of male entitlement. (This is less of a #MeToo moment and more of a #MeMeMe situation, frankly.)
Anyway, enough about What’s Her Name. Onto What’s His Name! (It’s Sean.) Because they’ve apparently run out of plotlines, Scarlett is still trying to get Sean to play gigs, even going so far as to sign him up for an open mic at a coffee shop … again. He says no and then caves … again.
So he gets onstage and it’s a lot more crowded than Scarlett anticipated and, for a second, it seems like he’s going to panic and bolt … again. But this time he performs his song “Bring Me an Angel” and it’s quite good. The kid who plays Sean — Jake Etheridge — is very talented. The crowd is impressed. Afterward, still on a high from his performance, Sean leans in to kiss to Scarlett, which, like, of course. She pulls away and tells him it’s not like that and I have some questions: Didn’t Scarlett see this coming? All she does is hang out with him and encourage him and tell him how talented he is. Of course, the guy was going to get confused. And for that matter: Where are his wife and child? I didn’t hallucinate that, did I? Sean has a wife. And child. But we only see him at the ranch and hanging out with Scarlett.
The next day, Scarlett tries to talk to Sean about what happened, and, instead, we get a harrowing scene where he describes watching his friend’s jaw get blown off in Iraq. If you’re having massive déjà vu (again), it’s because we already heard this story last season. This was the extended remix, if you will. (I’m sure it’ll play well on Etheridge’s audition reel.) The only other notable thing to happen between Sean and Scarlett is that he finally calls her out on her whole cheerleading-from-the-sidelines routine.
“Why aren’t you singing anymore?” he demands.
“I never wanted it. Not like you,” she replies.
“I think you do.”
Sean showing a little backbone. I like it.
Finally we get to That Guy — a.k.a. Brad — who is all over this episode. He’s my favorite rando, probably because he’s played with such delicious malevolence by Jeffrey Nordling. (Yes, he’s basically just Jeff Fordham, v. 2.0, but what is Nashville without a record executive–cum–villain?)
First, he’s the instrument of Jessie and Deacon’s breakup. Remember how last week, Jessie was full of pluck and gumption, determined to fight for custody and not be bullied by Brad? This week, not so much, especially since the lawyer says that Jake will have to testify. So she and Deacon decide to break up. They briefly toy with the idea of having a clandestine affair, but then decide that living a lie will be too tough on their families. So they tearfully part ways — for now.
Brad, of course, is also worming his way into Daphne’s life. She shows at the Nashville’s Next Country Star and immediately makes friends with a grinning, sweet-tempered chubby guy — the Sam to her Jon Snow, if you will. Right now, new guy has nothing to do besides smile a lot and smartly skulk away from the buffet table when Brad shows up, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him in future episodes. (Educated guess: Brad will be cruel to him; Daphne will stand up for him.) Brad’s whole deal is that he wants to milk the death of Rayna — and the fact that Daphne is her daughter — for ratings gold. He tells Daphne that if she were a true artist, she’d write about her feelings about her mom. He actually gives her some decent advice — to dig deep, going beyond saying, “I miss her” to asking herself what it really feels like to miss her — but of course, it’s all in the service of lining his pockets. He doesn’t care about Daphne as a person at all.
I should mention that Daphne has a mentor on the show who seems to be onto Brad’s shenanigans — and she almost qualifies as Rando No. 4, since she both got her own song and exchanged semi-meaningful eye contact with Deacon. In case you’re keeping score at home: Randos who sang solo songs this episode: 2. Regular cast members: 1. But I’m totally okay with this fact. I … accept it.