I”m hoping that after last week, “Nashville” might lower the suds quotient and delve into some much needed character development. While Juliette showed promise of becoming more than a caricature, everyone else was busily backsliding like Juliette”s mom on a bender. Rayna seemed stuck in perpetually offended mode, while Teddy emerged as an all-too-predictable cad. The love triangle between Scarlett, Gunnar and Avery was enticing in a CW network show way, but when a relatively light B plot is the most compelling part of a show, that doesn’t bode well.
The good news is that the latest episode seems to have righted the ship. Rayna has, after one too many tortured, subtext-laden conversations with Deacon, finally decided to move on. Needing money, she tries to sell one of the couple’s songs for a commercial, only to find herself blocked by Deacon’s lawyer. When her manager suggests she just call Deacon to see if she can talk him into releasing the rights, she rolls her eyes like a snobby cheerleader. “That’s exactly what he wants,” she snarls.
But if she thinks Deacon just wants her attention, she’s wrong. He understands that she’s selling out to take care of her family, but, as he reminds her, music is all he has — that family that Rayna has with Teddy is the one he might have had with her, and at the moment he isn’t feeling soft and fuzzy enough to let her needs usurp his artistic integrity. It’s a sharp and painful break, but a necessary one. Rayna decides to write a song on her own — and when her manager informs her that it’s damn good work, her face lights up in a way we haven’t seen previously. As much as she may have cared for Deacon, their reliance on that relationship may have been more of a crutch than she realized.
As for Gunnar, Avery and Scarlett, tensions continue to brew. This time, unfortunately, Scarlett lets Avery mess up her songwriting gig. Though she’s overjoyed when he volunteers to play “back-up” guitar when she and Gunnar perform for some mucky-mucks, he overtakes the performance with a self-indulgent solo which kills the deal. Worse, he picks a fight with Gunnar after the show. Still, Scarlett takes it upon herself to inform Gunnar that she’s with Avery, and that the obvious chemistry between them holds no interest for her — until Gunnar replies that he’s with Hailey. Scarlett seems wounded by this disclosure, but does that inspire her to kick Avery’s jealous ass to the curb? Of course not. No, Avery will be around for a while — possibly until any spark Gunnar has with Scarlett is fully extinguished.
Juliette and Deacon’s paths cross again, but this time for very different purposes. When Juliette finds her mom passed out with a bunch of random, stinky-looking junkies in the house, she soon realizes nothing she says is getting through — but someone else might be able to deliver the message. Deacon manages to deliver Juliette’s mom to rehab, then shows exactly how evolved he is by rejecting Juliette’s attempt to thank him with a hot, let’s-keep-going kiss. “Sometimes friends can just say thanks,” he says, before lecturing her on getting some help and perhaps spending some time alone to deal with her issues. Juliette thinks he sounds like a shrink, but even she seems to understands she needs a friend, no matter how sanctimonious he may be.
Of course, Deacon has to call in that friend chip sooner than we expect, after he starts a fight with a heckler after one of his shows. Sadly, Rayna is the first to get his distress call from jail, but she doesn’t accept it, a sign of just how deep the fissure is in their relationship. It’s left to Juliette to bail him out, and perhaps it’s best for her to see that her mom’s knight in shining armor is just as screwed up as she is.
Though sometimes it’s easy to forget, Teddy is still running for the mayor’s office against Coleman. He gets handily beaten by his more experienced opponent in a debate, who manages to not only outshine him but make Teddy question himself. Teddy probably should be questioning himself, though, because Coleman is right. All he’s ever done is inherit money only to lose it.
When Lamar decides to check in with his puppet, who confesses that his mishandling of the Cumberland project simply “won’t go away.”
Lamar, smiling in a warmly avuncular but somehow sinister way, offers reassurance. “What”s done is done, but if you want my help you”re gonna have to tell me everything.” Well, almost everything. It turns out Teddy floated money, funds which Peggy pulled together for him out of the goodness of her heart and a wistful hope of winning Teddy’s love. Yeah, that doesn’t seem to be the whole story, but I guess Teddy is more of a politician than we thought, as he lies to Rayna’s dad pretty effectively about his affair. Lamar promises Teddy and later, Peggy, that he’ll take care of everything. Too bad Teddy and Peggy have to go out together, alone, and get photographed in an overly friendly, if not actually compromising, position.
Another tidbit is revealed, one that will likely pay off later — but it seems that Coleman was the one who got Deacon into his final rehab, which explains the bond Rayna has to Coleman and how reluctant she’s been to break it. I guess in Nashville (or at least “Nashville”) everyone really does know one another, and all paths will ultimately cross.
Do you think Deacon and Rayna are really over? Do you think Scarlett will dump Avery while she and Gunnar still have a shot? What did you think of Juliette’s attempt to get a clean slate?