Scarlett O’Connor, you are a lovely girl. You’re talented. You’re smart. You have some heavy Nashville hitters pulling for you. You’ve shown you have more than a passing interest in a career in the music business. So please accept this advice in the spirit in which it is given: Toughen the heck up, buttercup – and stay that way.
Because your constant switching between flummoxed wallflower and sultry onstage vixen is mystifying. One night you’re swallowing tears as you’re bombarded with boos (and the occasional popcorn bucket), the next night you’re crawling around on stage and making come-get-me eyes at the stadium crowd… then calling your mom and musing that you’re not cut out for the biz.
Honey, I fully support any decision you make – whether it’s to follow in Uncle Deacon’s footsteps or spend the rest of your life at home, crocheting those beanies you seem to like so much – but please, pick a path and commit to it.
Maybe you can draw inspiration from your mentor Rayna, who this week gets exactly what she wants from smirky turtle Jeff. Or from Juliette, who makes a swift and sound decision concerning Olivia Wentworth’s proposition. Or even from Deacon, who sounds more sure of himself than we’ve heard in weeks. Hey, even Peggy makes up her mind and goes through with her plan, demented as it may be. While you’re mulling the options, Scar, everyone else is going to read on as we review the major developments in “Hanky Panky Woman.”
MS. JAYMES IF YOU’RE NASTY | Rayna is packing to join Luke’s tour in Tampa (and Tandy is teasing her about how much lingerie she’s packing) when the cops show up. “You’re not my driver,” Ray says, sounding as diva-like as I’ve ever heard her. No, Rayna, the nice men with the guns are there because Jeff has a court order commanding you to turn over the masters for your new album. Rather than go to jail, Rayna complies, but she doesn’t like it.
She also doesn’t enjoy when Jeff rattles Scarlett right before she goes onstage for what will go down in history as one of the absolute most terrible performances in recorded history. Scarlett’s onstage freakout is so epic – she freezes, she can’t hear the vocals, she actually utters “I’m lost. Where are we?” into the mic – it makes Ashlee Simpson’s Saturday Night Live lipsync/hoedown seem elegant in comparison. As a stadium full of people boo and throw things, and as Deacon watches from the front row, Scarlett runs off the stage, sobbing.
THE TOUGH GET GOING | Rayna saves the day by marching her protégé right back out in front of the hostile crowd, smoothing the situation and handing Scarlett a mulligan. The young artist gets through her set but lashes out at Gunnar (along on tour for some songwriting with Luke) and, to a milder degree, Deacon.
Deke decides that the road may not be the kindest place for his thin-skinned niece, and tells Rayna that she’s pushing Scarlett too hard. Ms. Jaymes begs to differ; she later recalls to Scarlett how touring helped her toughen up. “I had people yell ‘Show me your boobs!’ so much,” Rayna remembers, “you woulda thought it was a hit damn song.” (Ha!)
After a little poolside songwriting with Gunnar – a tune so good, it lures Rayna out of bed with her barechested hook-up Luke (I mean, you could go curling on that thing, it’s so smooth) – Scarlett is apparently a new woman. The next night, she passes on Rayna’s offer to introduce her to the crowd and then vamps her way through her entire set. At one point, she even playfully gyrates on the ground. But afterwards, in another swing back to shrinking violethood, the sniffy voicemail she leaves for her mom makes it clear she’s not sure she’s cut out for what’s ahead.
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THIS WEEK IN RAYNA’S MEN | When, you might ask, was the moment in this week’s outing that I finally decided that Luke Wheeler is a cheesetastic ball of cheese? Was it when he wouldn’t get off the elliptical trainer while Gunnar was trying out songs with him? Was it when he finally did dismount the piece of gym equipment but had zero beads of sweat on his shirt? Was it when, somewhere along the line, he OK’d “The Moon or Shine” as the name of his tour? (What the heck does that mean, anyway?) Was it when he patronized Deacon backstage just before the show? Nope – it was when the stage was filled with a huge illustration of him in a silly pose… and then the lights came up with him in that exact same tip-o-the-hat position. Blech.
But hey, the guy’s got Rayna in between the sheets and Gunnar’s new song, “Ball and Chain” – which Ray performs with Luke at his show that night – so what does he care what I think? And Rayna’s just happy to have something to offer Jeff: He can make boatloads of cash by releasing the new duet, so why doesn’t he just give her back her masters and quit showing people that terrible album art of her with wings of flame? Way to go, girl on fire! I’m still betting on you.
Meanwhile, I take great heart in what Deacon says to Scarlett while watching Rayna and Luke perform together: “I ain’t dead, and I ain’t done.” Might Deacon take up the life of a solo artist?
THREE-WAY? NO WAY | After Olivia makes it clear that she and Charlie are interested in some kinky business – “sometimes, he likes to watch,” Mrs. Wentworth purrs – Juliette is disgusted. She blows them off (“In case you haven’t noticed, there’s no one I can’t say ‘Screw you’ to,” she reminds Glen), then confides in Avery about the whole mess. “You’ve gotta stop giving these people all your power,” he counsels, and by “power,” I’m going to assume he means “front-row tickets with a tour of the orchestra pit.” (What? You try coming up with musical euphemisms for sex week in and week out. Girl gets around.)
So Juliette confronts the Wentworths at dinner (her “Oh, I have a private jet, too” was great) and tells them that she’s completely uninterested in their vapid selves. Thing is, Charlie’s bothered that she thinks he’s empty. So he later arrives at her door, professing his love. Just say no, Juju!
BLOODY AWFUL | Teddy wakes his new bride with a newspaper chronicling their wedding the night before and the news that the city “universally approves” of her as the new first lady. Go home, Nashville, you’re drunk. He also wants to go with her to her next OB-GYN appointment, so Peggy soberly turns to her husband and confesses that she’s no longer pregnant. Just kidding! That would be what a sane person would do. Instead, Pegs fakes some cramps and then uses pigs’ blood to stage a miscarriage. (Way gross, Peggy. I mean, was Teddy really going to demand proof? Most men would rather take a nail to the eyeball than even utter the word “tampon,” so I really don’t think he’d be all, “Show me what you’re talking about.”)
In bed later, she cries as she says she knows he only married her because she was pregnant. “Hey, don’t even go there, OK?” he says. Not exactly a denial, is it?
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots