This episode was weirdly unsatisfying to me, I think because every story seemed so telegraphed by the time we actually got there — with the slight exception of Will’s, which has always been one of my favorites even when it’s repetitive. But I think the real problem I had with it was the lack of proper musical numbers. I don’t know where I would have PUT them, necessarily, but I do think this show runs the risk of letting Empire run rings around it when it comes to threading in buzzworthy songs. So when the music limps and the stories limp…
I mean, we spent a LOT of time having dreams with Deacon:
One minute he’ll be lying in repose, enjoying a sunny day, and the next he realizes he’s in a shallow grave being buried — or he’ll have an anxiety dream about surgery, etc. It makes sense that he’s nervous about the transplant surgery, but we get it. I am not sure I needed more than one of these in the episode. Cut one and let him sing with Maddie for what he might be worried is the last time, and let them both cry. Or, better, let Maddie write him a song about how much he means to her, and let them both cry. Whatever. If you’re going to pretend to kill Deacon, take hard aim at my heartstrings. REALLY GET AFTER IT.
Juliette comes home from another all-nighter at the studio and has this facial expression to offer her baby:
She still won’t engage, and since the PPD intervention, Avery has given up trying to coddle her and just flat-out wonders if she will ever refer to the baby by name, or even by the proper pronoun (I could swear she used an “it” in here someplace). Juliette gets as huffy as a hot-air balloon and snips that she carried the baby for nine months, and labored for four hours — which makes most mothers scream, “CRY ME A FRIGGING RIVER” — and so she’s pretty sure she knows the thing’s name KTHXBYE.
Avery is so busy trying to hide RoboBaby’s face that he’s practically breast-feeding it.
This is where we learn that Oliver Hudson is mentally abusing poor Layla. In order to keep her off the Internet — which is an absurd thing to attempt; the Internet will not be denied, sir — he has told her that Twitter is making fun of her for being chunky, which she obviously is not. He’s also taken away her phone and won’t let her onto his laptop, which she accepts with uncharacteristic zen. This feels like half an hour of the writers making her stupid so that at the midway point she can Discover Something.
Before she can, though, Luke Wheeler pops by to announce what HE has discovered.
He’s angry that Oliver didn’t warn him about Will being gay. Oliver shrugs with a grin and, in a way that makes me like him even though originally it totally wasn’t true, he tells Luke that Will’s sexual orientation wasn’t a problem for him, and gee, is it for Luke? The odd thing is, Luke has this whole irritated conversation about feeling duped RIGHT in front of Layla, who was MARRIED to Will while he was part of Luke’s tour, and it never once occurs to Luke to acknowledge her or draw her into the discussion. Poor Layla. Oh, but have you seen the preview for the new Jem and the Holograms movie, in which Layla stars as Jerrica Benton herself? It looks… I wanted it to be truly truly truly outrageous, like the cartoon, with high stakes and futuristic cheese, but instead it’s a heartfelt teen drama. And I actually like Aubrey Peeples on this show, but she is EXTREMELY ill-suited to voice-over work. But I did laugh at the tag, even though it’s a really REALLY easy joke. DISCUSS.
Scarlett is packing up her things after a night at Dr. Binky’s house, and he — in a tie I feel like SHE must have given him, because it looks like what I imagine her brain projects when she’s pensive — invites her to move in with him. He needs some full-time help with potty-training, and his mom hasn’t given him stove privileges yet.
Scarlett thinks about it for two seconds before agreeing, even though both of them know better than to make life choices in times of emotional strain. Although for Scarlett, every day is a time of emotional strain.
You WILL be pleased to know that Deacon’s surgical team includes grown-up MDs. Dr. Desitin also tells Deacon that this happened not a minute too soon, because his tumor has grown enough that he has been booted off the transplant list. It’s Bev, or bust.
We do get a snippet of a song with Deacon and Bev and the girls. I’m glad Dana Wheeler-Nicholson is a good singer — her voice blends well with them — but I find myself resenting that the precious few seconds the show spends on music in this hour are being devoted to a character I don’t care about in a chipper and happy-go-lucky scene with three other people who should be having Big Feelings with each other. How does Daphne feel given that Deacon is her lifelong uncle and effectively now her stepfather? Maddie has been an emotional pill for weeks, and now she’s giddy? Deacon is having nightmares; what does HE want to say to these people?
Bev, of course, wants to lord it over Rayna that she is the hero here. She also tells Rayna that she resents being offered the check, because it backed her into a corner: say no, and she’d be the harpy who doesn’t value her brother’s life; say yes and she’s the shrew who had to be paid to help. What Bev doesn’t realize is that this makes her both of those things, because she is only doing this to make herself look good. Rayna is very controlled and says with a tight smile that if Deacon lives through this she’ll throw Bev a victory parade herself. Rayna is smart. Be careful, and don’t poke the crazy.
Luke hands Will a folder with the photographs in it, and says — convincingly, so maybe he does mean it — that he doesn’t care what the truth is, as long as Will gives it to him right then, so they can strategize how to handle it and put out the right statements. Luke is all business, not rude, but not cuddly either. I suspect he will end up being cool and supportive eventually, and I’m glad of that, but I do hope the show doesn’t blow past the potential for conflict. I’m not saying they should make Luke anti-gay; just that Luke, in his capacity as Mr. Macho Beer-Swilling Country Star, could represent the swath of people who haven’t ever had to put their money where their mouths are on this because they haven’t (to their knowledge) ever met a homosexual person. Him realizing that sexuality genuinely doesn’t matter to him might be a nice arc. And then of course you fold in the business ramifications… but I’m getting ahead of myself:
Will takes a deep breath and then lies to Luke, because his father has just witnessed two men canoodling at a restaurant and made a disgusted remark about it to Will. So Will says he and Kevin are just friends, nothing is going on between them, it’s all a big misunderstanding — a fib that he later repeats to his father, who is relieved to hear that Will has cured himself and that he can continue to love him. Will then goes around to Kevin’s place and explains how he needs this to play out. Kevin both understands this, and dumps him, though not without offering his full support at the press conference and promising to make whatever statement Will wants. Will is sad, but it’s a bit insane that he’s so surprised to be dumped by someone who doesn’t want to live a lie, given that I believe this has happened to him three times now. Fool you once, shame on you, fool you twice, shame on them; fool you thrice, and maybe you just aren’t paying attention.
Juliette brings Rayna her album in a box. I have no knowledge of whether people in the music biz actually carry their albums around in tiny indestructible suitcases, but if so, that’s amazing to me, given that we live in such a digital world now. We e-mailed our book draft. We didn’t print it out and mail it. Anyway, Juliette is on edge, so she of course has ANOTHER hissyfit about whether Highway 65 is doing enough for her, giving her enough of a leash to have more guerrilla rooftop concerts, stroking her ego… It takes only about two seconds for her to fire Glenn and call Rayna a bitch before grabbing her album and hissing, “You don’t deserve this.”
It makes me sad that Ranya doesn’t let Juliette HAVE IT about Deacon being on his potential deathbed, but I do enjoy this flabbergasted expression as the whole thing unfolds. You can tell Rayna isn’t that plugged into things right now because her hair looks subpar. That feathered bit over her forehead is a problem. But look, her hair is allowed to have days of grief. Right now it’s probably upset because Deacon might not live to run his fingers through it again.
And Juliette goes straight to hell: She shows up at Oliver Hudson’s door, asking him to be her new manager, because she knows he doesn’t give a shit about how she’s doing personally and will focus only on the business. Which is all she herself wants to do. He, of course, takes her to Luke Wheeler, whose only reservation about signing her is that he’d be stealing her from Rayna. “You can’t steal something that’s already gone,” Juliette says, which is an awful explanation. I mean, the point is clearly that Juliette is leaving no matter what, so Luke might as well be the one to profit. But I found the dialogue to be an unsatisfactory justification for how Juliette might leap from one record company to the other without any contractual blowback. Luke should have thought about that. It felt kind of like, “We have no idea if this would fly or not so let’s just get through this and we’ll sort it out in the offseason.”
These two are having a hard time writing together under the new Don’t Be Friends or Discuss Our Personal Lives mandate, so they come together long enough to decide they need a break. Scarlett is moving in with Dr. Similac, and Gunnar might go to Austin with Kylie to see Micah, miring him on The Island of Misfit Guest Stars. Their new record company will be DELIGHTED by this unilateral decision to not work for a while, although frankly, the fact that Rayna won’t even notice feels a bit like them taking advantage.
Scarlett, though, gets an idea in the middle of the night and stays up furiously writing new song lyrics that she texts to Gunnar, who then gets going putting them to music while Kylie brings him a TV sandwich (read: two slices of bread that clearly have nothing between them). Kylie is CRUSHINGLY boring. She and Gunnar briefly discuss the kiss, long enough for him to say that even if there’s chemistry, he is in no place to act on it right now. And it’s all just such narcolepsy for me. Kylie doesn’t make even the SLIGHTEST interesting threat to Gunnar and Scarlett, and so I can’t invest it in any story potential here because it feels beyond implausible that she would stick around as any kind of long-term option. Zoey was better, and they shuffled her out of town. Poor Zoey. I hope they show her next year as one of Jade St. John’s backup singers and then just casually have Luke hang artwork of her wildly successful solo album in his hallway with no further mention.
Avery has sought help from a therapist on how to handle Juliette, and she came up fairly empty. (“Irritability Moodyness? Lashing out?” the therapist asks, to which he rather awesomely and non-judgmentally replies, “That describes my wife before all this.”) So he tries again at home, doing a strangely bad job of supporting RoboBaby’s next as he plonks her onto his shoulder. RoboBaby snacks on his neck while he fails to engage Juliette in a civil conversation, and it turns into him goading her about how she won’t touch the baby. “Fine. Give it to me,” she snaps. He won’t. She pushes him, angrily, and it escalates fast: “Give me the damn baby!” she screams, grabbing a snow globe from the wall and hurling it at Avery while he’s holding Cadence.
She is at least horrified, because in her world the baby is not made of plastic.
Deacon and Bev must be so thrilled that Scarlett used her time on their surgery day to plait her hair intricately, as if the hospital is Coachella.
In a panic, Deacon proposes to Rayna and wants a minister to marry them before the surgery. She accepts the proposal, but refuses to rush hastily into the wedding, because she says this isn’t how she intends to start their future together as — at long last — a married couple. They do their own vows, though, and seal it with a kiss:
Sniffle. When they finally have a wedding, and they write their own vows about how crazy it is that they were never wed until so many years after they fell in love, it is going to be a WEEPFEST.
So, Layla clues into the fact that Oliver Hudson is not being totally straight with her. And when she sneaks a peek at his laptop for proof, she finds a) a photo that a paparazzo took of Oliver using her phone outside Jade’s house while Layla snored away on a bench — thus outing HIM as the one who tweeted the picture — and b) the following news story:
Reader, I laughed. Because the show wants Layla to discover that the chubby chatter was all bogus, and apparently the only way anyone could think of was to pretend HuffPo – wait, sorry, “BLOG” — wrote a story with the terminally stupid headline “Layla Grant, Slender Songstress.” This is dumber than a box of Scarlett’s hair (a thing that probably exists, because you know Dr. Pedialyte has been combing her leavings out of his carpets for weeks).
Oh, hey, Teddy. Forgot about you for a second. He refuses to continue playing along with the government, because exposing Tandy means that Highway 65 will be at risk, so his friend hauls him off in handcuffs. Teddy begs for a chance to say goodbye to his girls, but no such clemency is granted. The moral: Friends don’t let friends use prostitutes.
Will watches Kevin give a very nice statement about how his own sexual orientation does not reflect upon his professional partner Will, and then Kevin leaves with a baleful look in Will’s direction. Will evidently does some nice soul-searching in the ensuing moments, because he abandons his own statement and tells the press that everything Kevin said was a lie. “I’m gay. And I’m not ashamed of it,” he says.
His jerknozzle of a father leaves in disgust, but Will is resolute, and HOORAY FOR THAT. We’d JUST reached the point where all the circular incidents of Will loving and then being left –and Will denying himself and making ill-advised, rash life choices — needed to stop so he could take a step forward. This story has all been very well paced across the three seasons. It IS time to start dealing with the fallout. So good job on that. I was worried we wouldn’t get there on Will’s own terms, and although I am not TOTALLY sure I buy the half-second it took him to decide to come clean, I am glad he was the one who stood up and said it.
The scene where he goes to Cute Kevin’s to tell him, and they sit on the porch holding hands, is lovely. Will looks a hundred pounds lighter and genuinely happy, and my only wish is that Cute Kevin were a slightly better actor. But whatever. Enjoy this, kids. It won’t last, because this is TV, but I’m glad to leave you in a happy place that will at LEAST last the summer.
To cement her new partnership with Luke, Juliette takes Will’s slot as his opener:
This doesn’t look it here, but it’s actually a denim dress — and what seem to be thick, shiny tights in a strange puce-inflected flesh tone that doesn’t match hers at all. It’s not only terrible, but REALLY not Juliette’s aesthetic. If she’s going to wear something ugly it should at least be full of sequins.
When she gets home, she presents Avery with a new snow globe, which she’s pretty sure will fix everything. Because in her mind right now, you don’t repair what’s broken. You just replace it and hope nobody wants to discuss why it busted in the first place.
But Avery is having a dramatic furniture moment. He calmly, and in the dimmest of lighting, explains to Juliette that he will be leaving and taking Cadence with him because she is a monster. And not even because of the way she’s rejected Cadence; he had been trying to support her through that, with the therapist’s advice to be as complimentary and warm as possible. But what inspired his abject horror is that she would so casually align herself with Oliver Hudson, the man she slept with when she destroyed their relationship the first time. Juliette tries to defend herself, explaining that she doesn’t want sex, she just wants a competent manager. But Avery won’t hear it. He is BEYOND skeeved, and walks out on her. The last thing we see of them in this episode is her agreeing to join Luke Wheeler’s tour while emptily turning the snow globe in her hands, and Avery driving away with Cadence while he sobs. What a gut-wrencher. It’s a good thing the show didn’t get cancelled or else I would have rioted. I’m glad they didn’t go with a pat ending, and I understand that they can’t be happy together forever on a TV show that needs conflict, but I hope this DOES yield a satisfying arc in the first part of season four and not one that actually puts my internal organs through a meat grinder.
This thing was so strange, though. An enraged Layla runs up to Oliver’s car and goes full Elin Nordegren on the windshield, at which point he gets out and cops to all his lies by whimpering that he was too afraid of losing her. And Layla… throws herself into his arms for a comforting hug. What? Didn’t we have this scene already when she met him in the bar and promised him that she wouldn’t ever leave him? And is it supposed to be touching that he nearly gave her an eating disorder, and seized unholy control of her public image, just because he has a tiny abandonment issue? It makes no sense that she’d accept that from him so easily. Again. BOO. Having said that, I still kind of LIKE evil gross Oliver Hudson now — he’s at least consistently entertaining — which is dysfunctional of me, at best.
Gunnar drops by the hospital to wish everyone well, and then pries Scarlett from the family grasp so he can sing her their new song before taking off for Austin. And of course, all of Nashville is a stage, so they sit outside the hospital and croon to each other — with ABSOLUTELY NO ONE passing by or anything — until they’re practically sitting on each other’s laps. At the end of the song, which is lovely and sad, they are both pie-eyed and moist of tear duct, and they lean in as if they are going to kiss.
As the girls wait for news, we see one of the patients in the operating rooms start to crash, as doctors frantically try to save a crashing heart. Dr. Snuffleupagus then summons Rayna away from the girls and says that Something Has Happened…
… while in the background, Teddy is on TV, his dirty laundry flapping in the breeze. So Will Lexington got the closest thing to a happy ending, and everyone else is miserable. Except for Gunnar and Scarlett, who are merely ABOUT to be miserable and lying to themselves about whatever they did or didn’t do out there.
My theory: If they were going to kill Deacon, they’d have done it already. Because that’s a big swerve that you want to keep as a surprise, and your chances of keeping that under wraps between shooting and the finale are WAY greater than your chance of doing so during a hiatus. Because Chip Esten would want to be on the circuit auditioning, potentially, or at the very least might want his availability known, or want to call Whose Line Is it Anyway? to see if he could return to the fold. Now, maybe they don’t know and are negotiating deals, or whatever, but I’m thinking if anyone dies it’s Beverly. My MAIN concern is that the problem is that the liver somehow is dead and we have to go through another seven episodes or so of Deacon probably dying, and/or them killing him at the midpoint of next season. Surely the show wouldn’t think it could pull THAT trick? It seems like too much treading water even for them.
Hooray for Will, though. And boo for not enough music. It is not often I invite a show to manipulate me as freely as possible, but seriously, Nashville, wring me out a little more. It’s okay. It hurts so good, and it would be very country.