At the outset, this week’s Nashville seems like a happy affair. Scarlett is set to make her Grand Ole Opry debut, Rayna is ready to announce her new label and Gunnar is building buzz about his new song. Even Juliette – who’s seriously not thrilled to pay off Dante for a blackmail sex tape – is ready to hand over the cash and watch the problem fade away in time for the CMAs.
Nothing terrible happens… until lots of terrible things happen. Quickly. In ways that will only lead to even more terrible things happening. Did I mention the dead bodies? Because there are two of them. It’s unfortunate that Deacon gave away his dog named Sue: I could really use a puppy hug right about now. Let’s review the cascading dominoes of sadness that get tipped over in “A Picture From Life’s Other Side.”
YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES | That tape Dante called Juliette about last week is, indeed, some digital footage of them making the beast with two backs. He wants $2 million in exchange for the SD card containing the homemade dirty movie; otherwise, he’ll sell it to the highest bidder. Though Juliette’s security guy advises her to contact the police, she adamantly refuses and authorizes him to make the trade. (Side note: I can’t think of one single person who’s had a sex tape made public and whose career has suffered because of it. Pamela Anderson? Tommy Lee? Kim Kardashian? Paris Hilton? All did just fine in the wakes of their scandals – hell, Kardashian parlayed her oops moment into an “entertainment” career so successfully, she should thank it — alongside God and Whoever Invented Photoshop — in her nightly prayers.)
In the meantime, Juliette takes her mind off things by having Avery over to do a little songwriting. He thinks the tune she’s working on sounds like a love song, but she bitterly informs him, “It’s hard to write about things you don’t believe in.” When he counters that he’s definitely been in love, she cracks back, “And how’d that go for ya?” (Actually, things are looking up on that front, but we’ll get to that in a few.) There’s definitely an attraction between the roadie and the star, even if it’s just a brief flirtation on Juliette’s part; though she’s not 10 sheets to the wind like she was at the Edgehill party, she still tells him she thinks he’s cute, and I don’t think there are many crew members on her tour whose songwriting advice she would accept like she does his. But based on what transpires later in the episode, I think trolling for hotties is going to be the last thing on her agenda for a while.
HIGH FLYING, ABHORRED | Dante fails to meet for the exchange, and when he calls Ju’s cell, we learn why: He now wants $10 million for the card. He’s rubbing his nose, his greasy hair is all askew – dude’s totally using again. Juliette decides to go public with the information instead of giving him what he wants, and Emily sets up an appearance on The View. Jolene is against the plan, but her daughter doesn’t care… so Mama Barnes puts her own misguided-but-well-meaning plan into action.
Jolene visits her dealer to procure drugs and a gun, then calls Dante’s latest disposable cell and sets up a meeting. She tells him Ju’s not going to pay the $10 million but she can still get him the $2 million, and she’s doing it because she loves him. He shows up, high, and she, also high, shoots him in the chest. As he’s laying in a pool of blood and Aveda for Men, Jolene calls Juliette. Mama Barnes tosses the SD card into the garbage disposal like last night’s pizza crusts and boozily waxes proud of her offspring, and Juju knows something’s wrong. So Juliette calls off the View spot – Ms. Walters will not be amused – and rushes with Emily and a bodyguard to Jolene’s apartment.
There, they find Dante and Jolene, both dead; she looks like she may have aspirated on her own vomit. Sad. And gross. Juliette grabs her mom’s head, and I want to make a joke about how Hayden Panettiere thrashes poor Sylvia Jefferies’ noggin around like Raggedy Ann at a rave, but Ju’s anguished screams make me stifle it. At home later, Juliette watches news coverage of the murder-suicide and cries, alone. Is it weird that I kind of want Deacon to be here, comforting and helping her the way she comforted and helped him when he was in a dark place? (Non-sexually, of course. Only Rayna gets to strum Deke’s E-chord, if you know what I mean.)
DADDY DRAMA | Rayna doesn’t want to go public with her and Deacon’s relationship until she can explain it to Maddie and Daphne. He’s on board with that plan, and comes over for a dinner that features the absolute cutest duet of “Ho Hey” between Chip Esten and Lennon Stella; the way they interact is incredibly sweet without being sappy. Teddy picks that exact moment to swing by and drop off Maddie’s soccer gear, and when he sees Mads having a good time with her bio daddy, he demands to talk to Rayna in private. He claims she was having an emotional affair with Deacon “the entire time we were married;” she whisper-shouts back that she and Teddy loved each other – Daphne is proof of that – but things went wrong.
Mr. Mayor refuses to back down: He serves Rayna with a restraining order that keeps 100 ft. of distance between Deacon and the girls. Lamar pulls some strings to get the private hearing scheduled quickly – and the judge rescinds the restraining order – but they’re going to have to hash out everything else in full court in a few weeks. When things have cooled a bit, Rayna visits Teddy’s office to reaffirm her promise not to say a word about their older daughter’s true parentage. “You will always be Maddie’s father,” she assures him. Little does she know, their older child is at that very moment doing some snooping in her mom’s closet… where she finds a box full of birth certificates and the like. “I don’t think that dad is my real father,” the preteen cries on the phone to her friend. In my opinion, this is simultaneously the worst (for the characters) and best (for the story) way for this reveal to happen. Stuff’s about to get real complicated.
LOVE STINKS | The late-night recording sessions and lack of sleep are starting to catch up to Gunnar, who looks like he’s taking a page from the Robert Pattinson Guide to Personal Hygiene: Why Shower When You Can Sparkle? Still, he promises Scarlett he’ll be in attendance when she sings at the Grand Ole Opry the next night. His next 24 hours goes something like this: radio interview where he pretends to be a tough guy, bar gig where he pretends to be a tough guy, bar fight where he proves he is indeed not a tough guy (though he has Will, who’s there pleading Scarlett’s case, as back-up), holding pen at the county lock-up.
All of these events conspire to keep the Rebel Without a Comb from being there for his lady when she needs him most, but don’t worry Gunnar: Avery is happy to smile at her from the audience and send her in-jokey gifts (a whisk, from when he made her sing in their living room) to put her at ease. And Scarlett does, indeed, kill it up there when she belts out “Lookin’ for a Place to Shine” with Deacon and the band backing her up. (Side note: Though I’ve sometimes wondered about how she handles her personal life, Scarlett’s progression over the season from shy head-ducker to radiant country chanteuse has been consistent and really lovely.) She’s a hit. Rayna announces her new label — Highway 65 Records, which is also probably going to sign Will after his very ballsy ambush audition – and the night is a success.
Meanwhile, Will and Gunny wind up alone in the most pristine holding area I’ve ever seen at a municipal facility. Seriously, with those white walls, it looks like the construct area of the Matrix where Morpheus shows Neo what’s what. Gunnar thanks Will for having his back and apologizes for freaking when Will… drunkenly indicated he wouldn’t mind having Gunnar’s back. We get a little backstory about how Will’s father caught him with “a friend” and threw him out of the house, though when Gunnar pushes him to define himself, Will can’t. (Nice work there, Chris Carmack.) So these two very lost boys spend the night in jail until Scarlett bails them out the next day. Gunnar tries to apologize, but she isn’t having it. “I’ve tried to fix it, and I can’t,” she tells him, sad that he feels the need to pretend in order to be successful. “I fell in love with you, not your brother.” Then she walks away, leaving Gunnar alone with his thoughts (and his very sweaty head).
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Tandy will try her power play again from a different angle? How do you think everyone will react to what Maddie’s learned? And can someone whip up some pink macaroni for Juliette ASAP? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots