This week RAYNA DOES SOMETHING HUGELY QUESTIONABLE. I can’t believe it. Do I dare to trust it will have actual emotional fallout?
Also, we got a new song this week, and… I thought the whole point of Rayna’s new album was a fresh sound and creative direction, but apparently not, because this “bonus single” she churned out for Dancing With The Stars sounds like old-school droning honky-tonk. Remember in the pilot, when the show implied that Scarlett and Gunnar singing the Civil Wars song (well, in THEIR world, Scarlett wrote it) was going to be Rayna’s career solution? I wish that had actually HAPPENED.
However, this part of her performance will not disappoint:
Tendrils of joy, right there. This is what I sometimes will THINK I have achieved with my hair, when I’m not actually in front of a mirror. And then I accidentally pass by one and it’s just full-on tears of a clown.
For the completists, here is what Rayna wore on Dancing With The Stars, which is lovely on her and very sexy and ballroom-appropriate, but not doing much to hip up her image. There are times on this show that she wore slinky pants where I thought a frock was more appropriate, and frankly, here, I’d have gone with some leather pants and a better song. NO YOUNG PERSON is going to want to listen to this thing. It’s no one’s jam. It’s not even anyone’s jelly. It’s not even anyone’s fortnight-old compote that’s been left on the counter. It’s mid-tempo and swingy and called “Lies of the Lonely,” all about the things people tell themselves to get through another night alone, or somesuch. You might not expect that song to be Jaunty. You certainly wouldn’t expect someone to sing it looking like this:
This person is so stoked to tell you all about sad feelings. So not only is there a massive cognitive disconnect with Rayna’s current personal life and this song she hurriedly birthed, but the performance is a confusing mismatch as well, and it only lends to the “Ugh, this is totally my grandma’s music” vibe that I would assume is counter to the task of keeping her a successful recording artist.
Still not feeling the performance. However, her cleavage is picking up the slack. It is picking up EVERYTHING. It might even pick up your local network TV channels. It is certainly picking up this man:
Luke has just arrived back in Nashville from some mythical European leg of his tour that seems completely farcical to me. It’s November, and we know this, because they say later that this is their original wedding weekend. And he’s watching Rayna live on Dancing With The Stars — there are dancers and Julianne Hough is clapping and everything — IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. FOR A SHOW THAT AIRS IN PRIME-TIME. What magical country is this? Has Los Angeles relocated to Paris? He ALSO digs this grave deeper when his manager starts explaining that Luke and his johnson are heroes for keeping up this long-distance relationship, and Luke says Rayna is taking a red-eye home to Nashville from LA after the show (which she could only do if she flies private or has a layover, I believe, which… no), and that rules out “Luke’s limo driver has a DVD of last night’s show cued up in the car.” Did somebody accidentally ADD two hours to Nashville time instead of subtract them? Oh, show. Hermione Granger is an extremely busy witch and she is NOT sparing a minute to give her time-turner to Luke freaking Wheeler.
It will not surprise you that Juliette’s and Avery’s attempts at joining forces are very fraught and tense.
And Deacon, now that he’s back, gives poor Road Pam this face at baggage claim — yes, there’s some symbolism — when she asks what he’s up to and stuff. He doesn’t even meet her eyes. And when he gets a cold and she brings him some soup, it ends in him dumping her and her effectively explaining to HIM that it’s because “what works on the road doesn’t work at home.” And that’s a wrap on Road Pam, everyone. Even thought I was under the impression that this was just a break in the tour… maybe Road Pam will come back, but I hope not, because he just effectively told her that she was a warm place to put his instrument while he thought about Rayna. Road Pam needs some self-respect. Maybe Deacon will catch Road Pam road-pamming Luke Wheeler at a later date, which would mean he is evil and she has a thing about chasing Rayna Jaymes’ lovers. HOLA LOVERS.
In the months that have passed since the last episode, Kylie is working and visiting her boyfriend in Tulsa, and often leaves Micah with Gunnar and Zoey — who now does things like laundry and callin’ her boys to the dinner table. Micah is shining on Gunnar in the most obvious way, talking about how there’s NO WAY Mr. Tulsa is as cool as Gunnar, and calling Gunnar “Dad.” If the show expects me to give even a modicum of one damn about this relationship, then I’m not sure why we missed the fallout of Kylie sitting down this kid and saying, “Hey, so your father? Yeah, it’s this guy, he was here all along,” and then Gunnar and Micah struggling to relate as parents and not just as buddies. I might accept that this is a boring option, as there is almost no hope of me caring that much about Micah anyway and certainly not about Kylie, but it’s not like what they’re showing us is any better. Nashville obviously is not Parenthood, and nor should it be, but that show is a master class of milking interpersonal relationships and history and what lingering effects things have on a person. And you can do that sort of stuff while also maintaining the spirit of what Nashville is, assuming anyone at Nashville has quite pinned down that essence yet, which… I wouldn’t be blabbing about this if I felt anyone had.
We do at least get Will coming home to his buddy and discussing whether Zoey is really cool with all this sudden domestication — GOOD QUESTION; might’ve been nice if we hadn’t time-jumped — and how Will and Layla are doing. Will shares that the reality show, Love & Country, is premiering soon and he’s pretty sure all the footage is super boring so it’ll fail and they can get a quiet, quick divorce, and that chapter will be definitively closed. We know the opposite will happen because Will says this at the beginning of an episode, and no storyline about a closeted homosexual cowboy ends easily in minute eleven with a firm nod and a beer.
Zoey is, in fact, so sad about getting no nibbles from ANYONE after Juliette’s tour, and having to ferry Micah around town because Kylie needs to have sex in Oklahoma. Gunnar promises her a date night, in the hopes that her shirt situation will be a slippery slope down Flashdance Street to some bra removal and extremely saucy welding.
I am not sure when Scarlett became a Tiny Denim Shorts person, but if any of her little fringes fall off, she can just clip a lock of hair and replace it.
Rayna is upset because this is her ONE weekend with her family, and also to do grudging wedding planning for this only partially blessed event, and of course Rolling Stone wants to do a cover that involves a journalist joining her at home. The show is self-aware enough to make it that the actual cover subject dropped out and they’re rushing to replace that person, because unless Rayna is doing some serious change-of-life stuff or willing to pose nude on the cover, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of crossover except in the sense that Rolling Stone is ostensibly about music and songs periodically come out of her mouth. Rayna tries to tell Bucky that she can’t do it, she won’t, it’s not possible, and Bucky is like, “Get over it. This is Rolling Stone and your only chance to make people care about you.” (This MAY be a paraphrase.)
So Luke and his family — including the sudden appearance of his daughter, who was notably absent in a way that suggested they were saving her for later, but I guess not — are convening at Rayna’s house with her children, even though she’s not there. How does Teddy feel about that? Evidently nobody cares, because he gets this week off. I guess he can talk all about it off-camera to his expensive escort.
Luke is not thrilled that Rayna is splitting her attention that weekend, ostensibly because it’s Family Time, but mosty because they haven’t seen each other in eons and it’s clearly impossible to have sex at night if she’s spent all day talking to a reporter. Seriously, guy, if you’re allegedly doing family time during the day, you weren’t going to get naked until late ANYWAY and the reporter probably won’t be there for that part unless it’s a REALLY strange piece. Relax. But, Rayna also says something only half-true like, “I did EVERYTHING I COULD to move this,” when in fact she just said a bunch of stuff to Bucky and then frowned and shrugged a bit. To be fair, she did convey SOME of the urgency to him, but I’d have liked it a lot more if she had said, “Listen. I’m washing up as we speak. This is the last strand of relevance to which I can cling. LET ME CLING.”
These two are burying the hatchet, and happily, not in either of their soft tissue.
Juliette is annoyed that Rayna hasn’t gotten back to her about any of her new material, and when Emily calls about it, she finds out Rayna is at Highway 65 doing an interview. Juliette does not care for Rayna forgetting that she has other artists on her label — TRUE — and so she decides to take off whatever she’s wearing that she bought from an online auction of Center Stage costumes and don her very most hideous maternity suit.
I genuinely think Juliette Barnes would rather DIE than wear that, even if she WAS trying to be professional. She looks like a flight attendant, and that’s actually an insult to flight attendants. Juliette would probably be taking a page from Scarlett and wearing peasant tops and dresses with cowboy boots. Or really ANY kind of maxi dress. Still, it’s fun listening to her laying into Rayna. The net effect: Rayna points out that all Juliette’s angst would make better song material than the dreck she handed to Rayna — sound advice, considering Rayna’s “bonus single” is a flaming bag of dung — and Juliette realizes the reporter will probably write her as a hormonal psychopath. If he does that, she has fab material for a letter to the editor, about shabby treatment of pregnant women. BRING IT ON, ROLLING STONE.
In case you’re wondering, Rayna finally finished her office It looks… fine? And also like she doesn’t plan to spend a ton of time there. Glass walls only LOOK cool. After a while, it probably gets wearing that everyone can see you at all times.
Homeless Bob thanks Scarlett for her kindness, and for encouraging him to get a job. This leads to a songwriting session in which he is of course magically talented, and tells her that he quit music because The Business Killed His Family. Apparently he picked a Thanksgiving gig out of town over his family, so they drove out to surprise him, and were killed in a car crash. Music MURDERED HIS CHILDREN. (This reminds me of when that crusty old rageaholic T.C. on Passions said that jazz turned Eve into a DRUNKEN HOOR, and that if their daughter Whitney ever dared sing jazz O THE DEMON JAZZ he would revoke his claim on her soon-to-be disgusting and tawdry lifestyle SINGING JAZZ.) So rather than going all “Tears in Heaven” about it, Homeless Bob gave up his calling and is now a kindly man in a bib delivering a paper nobody has really heard of before. But, he’s trying. And he seems nice enough, and Mykelti Williamson can sing, but Angel-Clown Saves Soul of Gentle Vagrant Who Had Given Up seriously feels like ground ABC Family would retread rather than ABC proper.
Layla performs her new song at an open-mic night, and it’s emo and sad and quite good. Did we discuss yet — I think we did — that Aubrey Peeples is going to be Jem in the new Jem and the Holograms movie? Yeah. This will be excellent practice for all of Jem’s vein-bursting slow jams about how much she hates her boyfriend. Will and Zoey and Gunnar can’t believe this isn’t awful, and Layla seems really touched by the fact that Will is impressed, even if he does also seem to miss that it’s largely about him.
Poor Juliette cries a lot now. She’s pregnant, and the baby is kicking, and Avery hates her and she’s scared and alone. She does ask Emily to be her Lamaze coach, though, because Avery is a pill and it’s probably better to ask her than Glenn. He might blow his toupee if he had to stand in the delivery room.
Apparently, Kylie — who does NOTHING on this show except cry — just found out that her Tulsa dream man doesn’t want to date a single mom. BECAUSE SHE WAS JUST ABOUT TO MOVE UP THERE AND HADN’T TOLD HIM ABOUT MICAH. It is a miracle that she has been able to clothe and feed this child, due to her clearly diminished common sense. She says NOBODY wants to date a single mom. Ergo, Single Moms of the World: Nashville does not believe in you. Which is weird, because Connie Britton is one.
These two capably put on a brave face when attending the premiere of their new reality show, at a event that seems WAY bigger than a show on Some Network That Apparently Isn’t Into Homosexuals and Thus Is Sitting On Its Best Footage would warrant.
And it quickly turns sour. The show is a huge hit because all Will does is wander around shirtless, and then they’ll show Layla doing something incredibly stupid, like not knowing how to use a can opener. Here’s the thing: no. Jessica Simpson had never lived a day truly alone in her LIFE. This kid’s parents aren’t in her life and she has no personal assistants and her husband doesn’t come home. SHE CAN USE A CAN OPENER.
She stomps off in a tizzy, but their producer catches up to them and tells them to keep the charade going because they have a hit on their hands — and each of them has a contract. I ask you: Who is managing either of these people? Why does Edgehill’s hot new and recent-number-one recording artist have NOBODY around him, ever?
Avery decided to get a crib for his child, so he brings it by Juliette’s — which is absurd because almost every single baby place has to order them and have them delivered, which is why everyone freaks out about whether it will be three weeks or twelve weeks, and when do you order it without the risk of your newborn having to bunk in a drawer for a day or two — and catches her singing a soulful new tune. Then Emily is a total dumbass because she, who wants these two together, chirps, “I guess you didn’t tell Avery you wanted the co-sleeper.” Emily, first of all, YOU WILL NEED A CRIB. AT SOME POINT. BABIES NEED CRIBS. And second, don’t be a jerk. Third, instead of talking, get out of there and let the lovebirds have their moment. You’re stepping all over their growth, dude. Because obviously, Avery feeling out of the loop leads to him stomping off in another snit.
Luke is very cross with Rayna because instead of focusing on their wedding planning, she’s chatting to the reporter. They have a huge fight about it that the reporter interrupts, and at some point, the reporter gets understandably frustrated because Rayna CANNOT HELP but to speak in pat, rosy sound bites that are as dull as Juliette’s pregnancy suit and half as inviting. So you can imagine how THRILLED he was, after a tense and unsatisfying day, to follow Luke and Rayna down the hall and stumble onto Maddie making out with Cole on the couch. Also, if the stereo is on in a dark room and you think, “Hmm, maybe one of my children left it on randomly even though he or she killed the lights,” why don’t you usher the reporter into your kitchen for a nightcap before you investigate? Or out the front door? Don’t walk into the basement if it’s dark and there might be a serial murderer somewhere, and don’t blithely invite everyone into a darkened yet musical room when you have teenagers in your house.
Maddie is irritated and doesn’t understand WHY Rayna expects her to stop liking Cole just because their parents are getting married. Rayna is like, “Too bad.” It’s true, Maddie. Wait until this relationship’s inevitable crash. Step-sex is not the wisest end game. Although maybe this is Maddie’s and Cole’s way of saying they think Rayna and Luke are as meant-to-be as Cher and those guys who sang the Free Credit Report commercials.
Emily attempts to make up for her gaffe by telling Avery that Juliette has asked HER to be the birth coach, and how dumb it is to let pride cut him out of this experience — especially because Juliette is lonely and scared, too. Avery has been the recipient of so many pep talks already this season and they either don’t work, or stick until the end of the episode and then next week it’s like they never happened. The Avery Barkley Apartment Pep Talk Scene is now a staple of this hour of television, and I will be glad to see the back of it someday.
Scarlett makes Homeless Bob a deal: He sings the bluesy song they wrote at The Bluebird, and she’ll sing it with him and overcome her fear of being looked at in public. Everybody wins. Because although I can’t remember the song at this moment, their voices sounded nice together. It’s a shame that SINGING MUSIC is going to turn them both into junkie whores, if Passions is to be believed, AND IT IS. It also taught me that Sheds are for Secrets, and penises can be reattached backward.
Rayna apparently told the Rolling Stone reporter that he could hang out at Highway 65 and write. What’s wrong with his hotel room? Did it not have a desk? I recently needed to find a hotel room with a desk, though, and it was surprising to me how many of them didn’t specify. Maybe this guy doesn’t have Desk Anxiety Syndrome and thus it didn’t occur to him to make sure. Joke’s on you, fool. Rayna is lucky that Highway 65 has no important files to speak of, though, and that she doesn’t keep a drawer full of her own Letters of Truth, because letting a journalist sit ALONE AND UNTENDED in your corporate space seems pretty ballsy at best, and absurd at worst.
Anyway, here is where she gets dirty on us: She’s offered up NOTHING of interest to this dude except the fact that merging the families of Country Music’s Reigning Monarchs is messy and hormonal, so naturally, this is what he’s going to include. Until Rayna makes a deal for something better. She promises the story… of Deacon Claybourne. (Deacon himself, mind, already in this hour refused to speak to this reporter about Rayna because he’s Good People.) To her credit, Rayna looks grossed out with herself the second she begins fielding questions about it, and the show doesn’t make clear just how far she goes — like, whether she confesses that he proposed, etc. But she certainly didn’t call Deacon before, during, or after, to tell him that this was the price of protecting their daughter, and maybe if she had, they could’ve done it together and then imagine how ENRAGED Luke Wheeler would be if Rayna and Deacon were somehow on the cover of Rolling Stone TOGETHER, AND if it turned Deacon into a big draw on the rest of this tour (which I think… still is ongoing?).
But, frankly, Rayna making a big ol’ gross mistake for an understandable reason is EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting this show to do with her. Get her dirty and make her clean it up, or even make her try and FAIL to clean it up. So thank you, Nashville. Even if I am ENRAGED at you on Deacon’s behalf because I love Deacon. Although, I do think if Rayna had just given him better quotes in general he might not have needed any of this in the first place. Or, she could’ve given him the Rayna and Juliette story. But Rayna went nuclear before Jack Bauer could get to her and whisper-shout at her to reconsider.
She skulks back to Luke, vomiting up the bits of her soul that she just tore into shreds, and he tries to console her. The two of them discuss that it’s their would-be wedding day, and as they slow-dance, they repeat sad vows to each other. I wonder if this will be the ONLY time they do it. WE’LL SEE. It’s not like Deacon is going to want anything to do with her for a while. Maybe Road Pam stands a brief chance.
Avery, of course, comes to Juliette’s home Lamaze session and snuggles up to be the coach. The baby kicks, and everyone is united in squeeeeee.
And then this useless dipshit calls Gunnar and says she just simply CANNOT pass up this chance at true love with a man she’s met about five times, who wasn’t into her womb fruit. Her life was HARD, yo, so she’s going to just let Gunnar keep Micah and buzz off to Tulsa. So do we think she’s going to marry up with this guy and then decide they want Micah back, and come and claim him? How will Gunnar’s hair remain uplifted in the face of that kind of grief? We’re going to have to go all Interstellar here and defy physics.