In this week’s episode of Nashville, Deacon finally takes the action he’s wanted to
for the past decade since the pilot. But then Teddy unknowingly does him one better (worse?), effectively yanking hard on the already fraying fabric of the Jaymes-Conrad union. (We should be upset, but that rag didn’t look great on either of them.)
Elsewhere, Juliette has a rare burst of maturity and Gunnar platonically — yeah, OK — moves in with Scarlett. Let’s take a look at what went on in “I’ve Been Down That Road Before.”
GROWING PAINS | The Red Lips White Lies tour arrives for its sold-out Chicago dates, which double as Deacon’s first shows as Juliette’s bandleader. He’s stymied by the large number of musicians, dancers, stylists and general hangers-on trailing after the young blonde. “Takes a lot of people to make a good show,” she quips. “Really? Johnny Cash only needed three,” he replies, giving her Something to Think About. (The works-on-two-levels-observation is a tool used repeatedly throughout the hour, so settle in.) Though I find it hard to imagine that a seasoned performer like him would be surprised by a huge production set-up, Deacon does have a point: Rayna alone is enough to fill her set that evening, while Juliette’s – which opens with the boppy new tune “I’m a Girl” — is a choreography-stuffed spectacle. But isn’t there room for both sunny silliness and songs of substance in a performer’s career? In the dressing room later, Juliette angrily scrubs at her arm. “Why do we keep putting all these sparkles on if we can’t get them off after every show?” she grouses. (Side note: If you substitute “I” for “we” and “drunken Saturday night” for “show,” Juliette’s rant is a spot-on impression of me in college, circa the late-’90s-Xtina-and-Britney-are-doing-it-so-why-can’t-I glitter craze.)
Ju’s starting to think that she’d like to perform songs that go a little deeper than “Boys and Buses,” but Glenn warns that her fans may not take kindly to such a shift. “Am I never supposed to change? Ever?” she wonders. The subject comes up again when Juliette and Deacon are writing in her room – she loves their new jam, a pretty, meditative ballad called “Consider Me,” but laments that her label will hate it for being off-brand. Deacon obliquely evokes Master Yoda (Disney/Star Wars synergy!) when he says, “There’s thinkin’ about doin’ something, and then there’s just doin’ it.” So she surprises everyone that night by kicking off her set by performing “Consider Me” in jeans and a button-down shirt with Deacon (and eventually the rest of the band) as back-up. Glenn is apoplectic; Rayna’s confused. Calm down, everyone; have none of them ever attended a concert before? Artists often try out new stuff on tour. The people who want to listen stay in their seats; those who don’t just use the time to buy overpriced tee shirts and refill their beers. Everybody wins!
Despite a critic’s hateful tweets during the song, a YouTube video of the moment is a hit, so Juliette wants to retool her album to include the grittier cuts. Glenn blames Deacon and calls him a hypocrite for the “do or do not” shtick: “All I’ve ever seen you do is think,” he goads. Though Glenn comes across as putting his paycheck ahead of Juliette’s best interests, I can’t be mad at him, because his needling of our ruminating guitarist leads to…
LONG TIME COMIN’ | … Deacon squeezing his way into Rayna’s elevator and kissing her silly. (Watch the moment here.) When she starts to verbally process what’s going on, he wants none of it. “Rayna,” he says, with Charles Esten managing to convey a lifetime of longing and frustration and love and enough already! into her name alone, “I’m done talkin’.” That seems to appease her, and she gives as good as she gets until the door opens on his floor and he exits without another word, Nick Miller-style. That was yee-hawt, y’all.
As we all fan ourselves off, a brief review of what got those two to this point: Deacon’s treatment of Rayna on tour ranges from merely polite chit-chat to passive-aggressive ignoring. Meanwhile, she’s dealing with Teddy, who’s pissed that his wife’s true love is back in her daily life, and Marshall at the record company, who has agreed to give her her own label if she’ll help him find a few up-and-comers. On the latter tip, she meets with Watty, who tells her to snap up Scarlett and Gunnar before someone else does. (Took ya long enough to get back to that plot point, which started in the pilot, Nashville.)
Back in Tennessee, Teddy and Peggy run into each other on the street. He learns she’s left her husband and is living on her own and – oh, would you look at that? They’re in bed. The Mayor Elect is so consumed with guilt that he flies to Chicago and arrives at Rayna’s penthouse door just as she’s expecting Deacon, whom she’s summoned via text. Deacon sees Teddy (but not vice-versa) and wisely backs away. Once inside her room, Teddy says he’s tired of waiting for his wife to fall in love with him. “I want a divorce,” he proclaims.
TWO’S COMPANY | Scarlett’s broke and late with the rent, and when her share of a bar gig only brings in $24, it looks like it’s eviction time. Gunnar, meanwhile, suddenly has obnoxious idiot roommates who keep him up late and engage in adolescent pranks like giving him a Sharpie tattoo of a turtle on his rib. (Side note: A turtle? Are his roommies My Little Pony and Hello Kitty?) All of this, of course, leads to Scarlett proposing he move in with her, acknowledging that there’ll be “rules” like, “Don’t walk around the kitchen nekkid and I wont play the banjo in the shower.” Hey, there’s your new song title, kids! Gunnar agrees to the living arrangement.
Meanwhile, Avery, who’s mad that Scarlett doesn’t think he’s a big deal, grudgingly refunds her the rent money she lent him months earlier and is surprised to find Gunny at the house. Avery says he still wants to be Scarlett’s friend; I’ll refer you to her raised eyebrow for the likelihood of that happening. “Just remember who had her first,” Avery sneers at Gunnar, then gets in one punch before Gunnar goes to town on the “alt-country” hopeful and his stupid soul patch. Later, Gunnar hints at his juvenile-delinquent past as Scarlett patches him up; she seems unfazed. At the same time, Avery packs his bags and leaves Marilyn’s place.
Now it’s your turn. Who wants to bet that Juliette’s next (bubblegum-free) album is going to be on Rayna’s new label? Is Rayna and Teddy’s marriage actually done? And let’s hear your thoughts on the kiss! Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots