This show has been on a break for ages, so just to recap: Rayna dumped Luke on their wedding day, Deacon found out he has either cirrhosis or cancer (or both), Layla OD’d and was found floating in Oliver Hudson’s pool, Gunnar is suddenly not suddenly a father, and Avery and Juliette got married because everyone knows they’re made for each other and any other narrative is an unrepentant farce.
Even though Rayna drove away with a look of relief on her face, angst is more interesting to open an episode. So now she’s doing this:
And I get it — it’s her The Graduate moment, the one after the heady rush of freedom where reality sets in and she realizes she has to tell OTHER people and deal with the media and start sorting out which of them is allowed to pretend to patronize what Nashville grocery stores so that there aren’t any awkward collisions. It’s a lot, y’all. One head of hair, no matter now magnificent, is not enough to help.
Luke is handling this super well.
No, really. There is no better way to cope than RUNNING OVER THE WEDDING CAKE. On the one hand, this type of melodrama made me like him in a way I never did before; on the other, it’s a flagrant disregard for the dessert arts, and six whole tiers of feelings that demanded to be eaten. Reckless behavior. The cake, which appears to be barfing flowers to make up for having NO other details on it at all, thuds on his windshield and slides away.
“If this’n were a dang-ol’ Ford Truck, that bastard would’ve exploded all over Nashville.”
We’ve come to the portion of events where Juliette’s participation needs to be pretty light, because of Hayden’s pregnancy, so this week these two merely romp adorably through a storyline in which Avery moves his stuff into her house, and she hates his mustard leather chair (because it’s not monochromatic enough for her tastes, I guess? Does she KNOW how easily spit-up will wipe off that thing?). They squabble over it until he comes home and finds that she’s placed it in the nursery with a loving note attached. Everything is fine. No word on what she did with his wagon wheel coffee table.
Nice try, show. You make TV Gunnar and Real Gunnar (seriously, how common a name is Gunnar, that they would find a child actor NAMED Gunnar to play Gunnar’s son?) sing a sensitive duet about feelings and unicorns and G-rated motivational bon-mots, just so we’ll be super heartbroken when they’re ripped apart. It’s not going to work. It’s not. STOP IT. I don’t care about… shoot, it might have worked. A little. I REGRET NOTHING but deny almost everything.
Oliver Hudson successfully convinces Teddy to make the cops look the other way about all the drinking and drugging and whoring that was happening at his party, which they can do if Layla survives. Granted, Teddy frames it to the police as wanting to keep his Music In Schools initiative safe from scandal, but he does not seem to feel the least compunction about getting his hands dirty over it, and what’s more, shows only THE most marginal twitch of human concern about the potentially dead girl floating in his pimp’s pool.
Who, by the way, is NOT dead; just real pissed. She tells a weepy Will that she saw him having ladysex, and so she swallowed a bunch of pills, because Failure and Are You Even Gay and OMG I Can’t Even Kill Myself Properly. Will figures out that the pills belonged to Oliver, and so he basically forces Oliver to play every card in his hand or else Will has no problem telling everyone where Layla got the drugs. Oliver then successfully gets the reality show canceled so that Layla and Will can get a divorce — threatening the producers enough that they won’t release the footage of Will’s outing; it’s blackmail upon blackmail up in here — and then goes and sits in Layla’s hospital room while she is curled up sleeping. Guilt? Worry? Actual feelings? Maybe, or there’s a hot nurse on the night shift whom he’d like to hire for a quick rotation in the on-call room.
You need to know that it’s the morning of Rayna’s wedding, and Tandy is already in her wine cardigan. I think Tandy and I would be great friends.
Rayna takes all the hugs she can get before dropping the wedding bomb — which freaks out Daphne because she likes Luke and wanted to be sisters with Sage The Child We Never Really Saw, and freaks out Maddie because she assumes it means Rayna and Deacon will get married immediately and is disappointed when Rayna tells her to slow her roll. She takes an extremely pubescent stomp out of the room, leaving her mother in tears. It’s very big of Rayna not to say, “You guys, HE RUINED CHRISTMAS kind of, remember? And didn’t he always smell like the floor of a bar?”
This is Deacon’s face when Luke bursts into his house to yell at him, and Deacon realizes it’s because Ruke is no more. A ruclear bomb has exploded and left no survivors.
That, of course, leads to a SUPER manly fistfight. When Deacon punches Luke, actual testosterone flies out of his mouth.
Just kidding. It’s actually beet juice. LACED WITH MAN. And shame. Mostly shame.
Sadie is still sporting the black eye delivered to her by the fist of her ex-boyfriend. She goes to buy a gun, and when the woman asks for some ID, she dramatically rips off her sunglasses and says, “MY NAME IS JANE SMITH,” and the clerk nods slowly and sells her a great murdering pistol. “Just push him in front of a bus,” growls Mr. Bates.
Laura Benanti is a total pro, so she’s very affecting in the scene later where her boyfriend skulks back with a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels and a lot of apologies — thin ones, slimmer than an envelope — and she cowers in the corner brandishing her gun, afraid he will smash through the window. She should catch Luke on the rebound. Luke will pulverize that man like a Chevy to baked goods.
So, I guess Gunnar’s custody trial is still happening, even though he knows and we know and they know that he’s actually Gunnar Jr.’s uncle. At one point the Awful Grandfather even says, “Why are we doing this? HE’S NOT THE FATHER.” And then for some reason everyone is surprised to find out that Gunnar hasn’t told Mini-Gunnar yet, as if none of them has spoken to the child and he’s been waiting for the verdict in a soundproof cage.
So of course, before Gunnardee testifies, Gunnardum gulps and delivers the blow, and Petite Gunnar freaks out and won’t speak to him and tells the court he wants to live with his grandparents. Who are, in case you forgot, TERRIBLE PEOPLE and react to Wee Gunnar’s hysterics by dragging him out of there and spitting that Gunnar needs to stay away from him and never speak to him again. Let’s recap: You asked him to take away the only father this kid has ever known, and he does it, and then you greet the ensuing mood storm by antagonizing Gunnar for doing what you asked him to do (and very gently, I might add)? And not at ALL soothing the child? In fact possibly traumatizing him even more by yanking him away by the arm? COME ON. No wonder their daughter turned out to be a soulless flake. They are both assbags.
And the worst part is, Gunnar’s hair is CLEARLY incurably depressed and nobody even sympathized with him about it.
Luke, bastion of maturity, has moved from running over the cake to shooting the Champagne bottles (which are all on Rayna’s tab). If he’d had expensive tantrums like this the whole way, I might be sad to see the back of him.
Rayna shows up to ask Luke if they can all please handle this like adults. TWO HOURS AFTER SHE DUMPED HIM. I understand that time is of the essence, but chances are slim that it helped for him to see your face, Rayna. Much less the angel-making hair he will never touch again except when he finds stray pieces of it all over his throw rugs, and his pillows, and towels, and that one brush you borrowed that time. No, Luke doesn’t want to go quietly. So Rayna decides to give a statement to the press gathered outside her house, claiming it was a mutual breakup that involved no third parties — classy: I’d have been tempted to say, “Y’all, he is dismissive of our kids sometimes and was a jealous prick at the CMAs, and trust me, he washes his clothes in beer” — and that she hopes their longtime friendship will survive their shorter-lived romance.
Luke’s response is to throw a party. No, really. He tweets that the first 500 fans to show up to his house for his “wedding” will get to come in for a free concert, to drink the booze and eat the food, so that he’ll look super nonchalant about Rayna taking a cheese grater to his feelings.
His kids think this is like way lame, so they drop by Teddy’s, where Maddie and Daphne are staying. Daphne is so delighted to see Sage, the sister she never had except for the one she totally does have, and Cole points out to Maddie that the advantage of the cancelled wedding is that they can make out without it being creepy. Remember when Cole showed up and he was an edgy kid with backward hats and attitude? Now he’s all wool coats and colorful wool scarves. He’s basically Dan Humphrey. Although I guess he could ALSO be Chuck Bass.
Hot Young Doctor at the cancer center tells Deacon that he has a gigantic tumor on his liver. And if that tumor gets much larger — say, the size of Dr. Kindergarten’s favorite bouncy ball — Deacon will lose his spot on the transplant list because he’ll be considered Beyond Help. He’d go into greater detail, but it’s almost nap time.
Scarlett does ask if she can give Deacon a chunk of her liver, and Dr. Fetus pulls out his binky long enough to note that you can only donate organs if you have the same blood type. Scarlett is a no-go. Later, she gulps and places a call to her terrible horrible no good very bad mother, which is clearly to go organ-shopping.
Because, in a scene that I EGREGIOUSLY forgot to screen cap, Rayna shows up at Deacon’s house and tells him that she loves him. That she’s always loved him. But she also needs some time, essentially because yesterday she was sleeping with another person and she ought to take a second to decompress before she and Deacon unwrap each other’s special gifts one more time. Deacon opens his mouth to tell Rayna that time is the one thing he doesn’t have, but can’t do it, and instead tells her to take as long as he needs. And while I understand that it’s emotionally sensible for Rayna not to dive right into Deacon’s bed, she knows that’s where she is ending up ANYWAY, so JUST CLIMB IN AND TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS. Sheesh.
(Then she goes home and mopes on the bed, egregiously, because she’s FREE and she’s in love with a guy who loves her back and DON’T WASTE A SECOND, YOU STUBBORN KIDS, but: I really took this grab because of her decor. Didn’t that wall behind Rayna once house two SUPER creepy portraits of her daughters? Did the set designers come to their senses? Do we think, during the commercials, Luke turned to Rayna and told her that having sex in front of those things was extremely traumatic?)
Scarlett tells Deacon to be honest with Rayna, but he snaps that he doesn’t want her to return to him out of pity, and he REALLY doesn’t want her to have to take care of him now after all those years nursing him then. Then he slams the door, because for real, Rayna cannot be with a man who doesn’t love a hissyfit. This is when Scarlett decides to bring in her mother, but: Does anyone want to place any bets on MADDIE being the only appropriate liver donor? Lay down your cash now.