Nashville Recap: Happily Never After

Nashville Deacon Tells Rayna Cancer

Remember how Friends‘ Phoebe Buffay never saw the end of sad movies as a child, because her mother didn’t want to bum her out? Maybe Mama Buffay was onto something.

Think about it: Scrubbed of its final few minutes, this week’s Nashville is a happy affair. There’s singing, there are meaningful gazes, there’s good music and there are digs made at Jeff Fordham’s expense.

Throw in a singing candelabra, and it’s practically a Disney movie.

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But then there’s that last scene, with the confessing, and the slapping, and the crying, and the desperate hugging… and wouldn’t we all be much happier if the hour had closed on Deacon and Rayna taking their bows at the Grand Ole Opry?

Alas, series creator Callie Khouri — who wrote and directed the episode — likes it when we ache. So let’s all hold hands and review what happens in “That’s the Way Love Goes.”

A FAMILY AFFAIR | The hour centers on the 10th anniversary of Rayna’s Grand Ole Opry induction, a milestone marked with a celebratory concert. She asks her daughters to perform with her, which is very sweet. Maddie uses the opening to wonder why her mom hasn’t reunited romantically with Deacon. “I’m not sure what that looks like yet,” Rayna sadly tells her. (Psst: Maybe this’ll jog your memory, Ray?)

Rayna eventually calls Deacon and asks him to join them on stage at the Opry. “I just can’t imagine having that night without you being there,” she says, and it works: He and his guitar show up, just in time to stick in the craw of Luke, who’s there at Colt’s request. (Side note: Remember when Colt was an annoying little wannabe DJ? Thank goodness that phase passed quickly.)

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HERE COMES THE DOOM | The First Lady of Country Music gets a little choked up as she introduces her kids, who sing “Heart on Fire” with Deke backing them up. Then later, as Rayna’s saying some very nice things about Deacon, he surprises her on stage and they sing “The Rivers Between Us,” which is quite a beautiful duet. They’re looking meaningfully into each other’s eyes, and a cutaway shot tells us that the lone, soulful black woman in the audience is FEELING it. They even embrace after the tune is done, but Deacon beats it outta there without saying goodbye, which puts a weird postscript on the evening.

So Rayna tracks Deacon to their/his river house, and is pretty straightforward (especially for these two) with her needs. “Babe, please don’t leave me anymore,” she pleads. “Rayna, I’m sick,” he replies. “All those times you said my drinking was gonna kill me? You were right.” Rayna slaps him (!) then looks like she’s going to vomit from crying so hard so fast, then falls into his arms as he apologizes. Me? I’m still processing the fact that she called him “Babe.”

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‘TWO GUYS AND THEIR CRAZY-ASS EX-GIRLFRIEND’ | One person who’ll likely be happy to hear about Deacon’s confession is Scarlett, who’s so consumed with thoughts of his illness that she can’t talk about anything else during her first date with Hot Doctor Caleb. C’mon, Scar. Can’t you pull another conversation topic out of that giant cloud of hair settled on your noggin? Their evening together is a total dud, but she owns it and invites him to see her, Avery and Gunnar open for the opener for Rascal Flatts.

About that gig: Gunnar takes it way more seriously than either Avery or Scarlett do. To wit, he spends most of the episode trying to brainstorm a better name than SAG Band. Some contenders: Scar Gunnery, Liquid Sister, The Backroads, Fried Green Tomatoes, Whiskey Frogs, Highway Cheese and the Leather Guitars. (I could seriously get behind some Highway Cheese and the inevitable product tie-ins. Just my two cents.) When Caleb shows up and asks if the guys are Scarlett’s exes, he sparks an idea: The Triple XXXs are born!

The band is such a hit that Rascal Flatts wants them to tour six dates; anyone else shocked that I-had-PTSD-remember-the-time-I-hid-under-a-piano Scarlett is the first one to joyfully agree to the arrangement? Caleb seizes the moment and kisses her, and don’t think that Gunnar doesn’t notice.

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AROUND TOWN | Elsewhere, Will “proves” he’s not gay to an out gay songwriter by being a giant jerk to him. But they eventually get along. Question is: Will they eventually get along…? During an interview on Good Morning America, Sadie tells Robin Roberts that Pete abused her… With Jeff pulling the strings, Layla subverts Bucky’s Highway 65 rollout plan and releases her single on her own. It’s a ballsy move, but it pays off. Also: She and Jeff sleep together again, but she tells him not to meet her at an afterparty, because they shouldn’t be seen together… Juliette’s late-pregnancy insomnia keeps her in bed (read: off screen) for the entire episode… Oh, and Ol’ Leopard Panties shows up at the Opry to tell Teddy that she’s under law-enforcement surveillance, and after his visit the other night, there’s no way he’s not going down with her.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Adam Lenhardt says:

    Series creator Callie Khouri wrote and directed tonight’s episode, so you just knew it was going to be great — and it was!

  2. laurelnev says:

    That last scene was heartbreaking! Glad Sadie came out of the closet; now it’s Will’s turn. And just get rid of Jeff all together. Poor Layla deserves better!

  3. Tracy84 says:

    I just have to mention the scene with Gunnar and Avery coming up with band names. That was probably the funniest scene in Nashville history. Also it was Gunnar that told Avery that he was just naming things in the room. But seriously- Avery: Highway Gunnar: Cheese Avery: Cheese? Gunnar: I panicked. I still laugh thinking about it. That exchange really should have gotten a bigger mention in the above review.

    • BrittBrat says:

      I loved this whole episode, but that scene was really funny. I think Highway Cheese would have been an interesting name choice. I also liked the scene were Gunnar came over and Avery threw him out. I do think The Triple XXXs sounds a little porn-ish though.

    • Anna says:

      Seriously, the band names Gunnar came up with were comedic gold! Was he serious about half of the stuff he suggested? I also loved Avery interacting with Juliette; even though she wasn’t on screen it felt like she was there in spirit. This whole band-thing has made me like Scarlett again, which is nice. And I thought “The Exes” would’ve been cooler than “The Triple XXXs”, but whatever. I’m just glad they have a name, which means that there’ll be more of the band.

      • KS says:

        Agreed! I thought “The Exes” was a really cool name…and then they completely ruined it.

        • Lisa DellaRatta says:

          Your exactly right! I loved “The Exs”…But “The Triple Exs”?? Hmmmm, I don’t get it! Completely inappropriate and screams porn. “The Exs” sounds like a country band. I dislike this decision very much! But I am thrilled the old Scarlett is back…finally! I’m always rooting for her and Gunner to get back together but I must say that throwing in Deacons physician is a twist I wasn’t expecting at first. I’m just not sure I like another new character standing in their way. But I guess it makes for good television. Thank God Deacon finally told Rayna the truth because I was about to call her myself if that secret went on much longer! And you gotta love the whole outcome of the Teddy and Leopard panty girl situation because they both are going down soon! Just not sure that taking Teddy down right now is great for the plot line. It’s almost too much considering all of the other plots in the story. It’s actually kind of distracting right now. But it’s definitely not a deal breaker ;-)

  4. Riana says:

    Luke was tolerable if not likeable in this episode. The scenes with him and Colt were amazing.

  5. Jessica says:

    I’m a little concerned by the interest Luke is suddenly showing Bucky. After Rayna gave him a “promotion” then immediately undermined him last week, and now Luke is chatty Cathy with him this week…I can’t help but wonder if he will try to get Bucky to take over for smirky turtle at Wheelin Dealin Records.

    Also, thought Connie B knocked it out of the park with her reaction to Deacon telling her he’s sick. Fantastic.

    • izzieb says:

      I was wondering about Bucky and Luke also. I can’t imagine Bucky leaving Rayna, but if he wants to have a job where she’s not shooting him down all the time, that might be it. Deacon is the one that has the same musical visions as Rayna – he’s much better suited for the A & R job. What is A & R anyhow? Artist Recruitment?

    • Lisa DellaRatta says:

      Your right about the end scene with Rayna and Deacon! That’s the best acting she’s done since the beginning of the show. I feel that she’s lacked a certain genuine quality in the scenes she’s had to be emotional with her daughter’s or other characters. Actually cold at times. It was nice to see that she knocked that out of the park! Finally!

  6. Ananda says:

    I mean spot on all the way, the entire episode was on point, on beat, it was cute, funny, reunion moments, dramatic, Deacon singing with Rayna with dramatic exit, poor Luke even his son felt his pain, and that final heartbreaking/gorgeous scene ( yes I’m the weirdo that thinks heartbreaking scenes when done correctly are beautiful) of Deacon finally telling Ray about his cancer, and her reaction OMG, can I have a hug here too.
    spot on!!

  7. Saundramb says:

    Callie Khouri was on cue tonight…The scenes with Deacon and Rayna were all so touching, you could feel her love and her pain. I was glad Sadie made a turn around and stood up for herself she is presented as a strong woman and I felt she was being demeaned in the story line. Now just need to get Layla into a better story line…Jeff just isn’t for her.

  8. Cort says:

    Loved the show last night. Everything was just perfect. Even Luke was pretty interesting. And I got worries when Scarlett nearly ruined things with the hot doc. Rayna/Deacon moments were everything I wanted. Even that final moment…broke my heart but I’m glad it happened. She knows now. Thank goodness!!

  9. My love for this episode knows no bounds. We had music, fun, laughter and the scenes with Deacon and Rayna were just so great. This show suffers keeping these two apart, and not even just in the romance department. That final scene was so full of raw emotion…. all the good, the bad, the hope she felt earlier in the evening and now the devastating news he delivered to her just erupted in that slap. She didn’t even need to apologize, he immediately understood. As painful as their relationship is, for the characters and the fans, no one will beat the chemistry between Chip and Connie. Callie Khouri delivered us a GEM last night. I can’t wait to see where this storyline is heading!

    • Amy says:

      I loved everything about last night.
      My love for Charles Esten’s portrayal of Deacon knows no bounds. He is perfection…emotional, nuanced, vulnerable, funny, embodies the character through & through. LOVED every scene between he and Connie last night. Loved that we finally saw her true feelings for him, (which to me are usually more reserved and harder for me to feel) at the end. My one and only EVER complaint about Nashville (ok two)…are please more of these two, PRONTO! And PLEASE stop with these “loss of momentum” breaks in between episodes!
      I continue to LOVE this show, more and more.
      Loved (yes) Luke’s performance last night, and that we saw the layers that really always existed in his character. I always felt about his character before, they had to show the way Rayna & he and their lifestyle as “Ruke” just didn’t fit for her…so his character was more cliched ‘jerk.’ (Though he no doubt still is a hardcore player in the biz sense.) And he was always battling Deacon’s ghost, and what he subconsciously or consciously felt were Rayna’s true feelings, and that made him act out badly. I agree with poster who said, please let his son stay like this instead of reverting to any of the original “punkness”…the scenes between them were good.
      LOVED Gunnar trying to find the band names…”Beer Foam!” “The Foam!!”…”nah, too British 90’s band” (or something like that) LOL.
      I. Love. Nashville.
      Tks for the great recaps, as always, Kim!

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  11. Evelyn snell says:

    I just started watching Nashville when I purchased my Roku and can’t express how much I am impressed with the series Callie Khouri has created. I am so hooked on this show. I have watched every episode now and this last one was truly the greatest. I am so in love with Deacon as I am sure many women are. Can’t wait until next week!!!

  12. iakovos says:

    AWESOME EPISODE! Some shows do not need kneejerk plotting and cray-cray revelations. NASHVILLE can rightly be accused of being predictable and some story lines are disconnected (Sadie), but the corporate shakeup and the continued weeding out of Rayna’s family ties (Teddy)… AND THE ACTING!!! SINGING!!! They make up for that. Please ABC… Sign on for Season 4!!!

  13. Valerie says:

    did anybody hear what Rayan said to Deacon right before she was inrtoduced by Vince Gill!

  14. Kathy says:

    Please Hayden have your baby soon and get back to the show. I am so sick of Rayna, (never have liked her character) and Sadie needs to go.

    • izzieb says:

      The show is based on the character of Rayna – always has been from the very first episode.

    • froggybottom says:

      Please come back Hayden and exit Scarlett! I’m so not buying a wealthy hot doctor from NYC going for her Scarlett’s Ellie Mae Clampett routine and looks. And that ratty mop hair! Got scissors?

      • Ray says:

        Haha. Her hair has vastly improved since season one. No need for scissors though–Claire Bowen has always worn a massive amount of extensions.

      • Wow.. Funny how some people see others. I think Claire Bowen/Scarlett is ethereal and beautiful, and she sings like an angel. I Love Hayden Too.. But I watch for the love story that is Deacon and Rayna.. They are Magic!

  15. AnitaC24 says:

    Awesome episode — loved every moment. It got to heart of all the characters without changing the story. Hoping they plan to have Maddie be able to donate part of her liver to save Deacon. She would most likely be a perfect match!!

    • smartysenior says:

      I think Maddie is only about fourteen or so, I doubt they’d do such a serious surgery on her from her health standpoint or legally. I can’t see Deacon even allowing it, much less Teddie, and I’m pretty sure you have to be eighteen to consent. Either Deacon gets a match like most people or he is leaving the show. I’m hoping they’re not setting us up for his leaving but I’m getting worried.

  16. izzieb says:

    I was so surprised at that slap – was it from shock and the fact that he didn’t tell her before or was it because of the rough way he told her, including the comment about how she always said his drinking was going to kill him or whatever?

    Rayna shouldn’t be calling Deacon “Babe” so soon after she was calling Luke that. She even called Luke “Babe” when she dumped him.

    Luke does have emotions! I never really believed he cared before. Nice to see him and his son getting closer.

    Layla is a loose cannon, and Jeff is really not helping her cause. Well, he’s feeding her good ideas, but already she’s trying to reach beyond him. She continues to make bad choices, even so soon after she admitted that she does.

    And now they make us wait weeks until there’s another episode – I hate it!!

  17. Donna Ferriola says:

    Great episode and a real tear jerker. I love the Deacon and Rayna reunion because they are so good together. Now she is going to standby him and help with his illness and care. So sweet♡

  18. Care says:

    Kimberly, love your recap, as always! You are so hilarious and insightful. Just wondering. Isn’t the band’s name “the Triple Exes?” Otherwise it is too porny sounding.

  19. CactusRose says:

    I thought the same thing about Scarlett being so happy to go out on tour after her meltdown. You just don’t bounce back that fast from something like that. She’s always been my least favorite character anyway. She’s kind of annoying. But the rest of the show was awesome. It’s so true to life! I certainly hope Rayna and Deacon get back together. With maybe a little controversy first!

    • Christine says:

      The character of Scarlett is often annoying, but I love the way she sings. And I love her duets with Gunnar, and the band they’ve formed with Avery. Scarlett had several lucid and sane moments with the doctor in this episode, and she looked gorgeous when she was opening for Rascal Flatts.

      • Lisa G says:

        I love Scarlett with Gunnar. Did you see the look he gave her when she was kissing the doc? We’re back for triangle part 2.

  20. Amanda Freeman says:

    Why doesn’t the show seem to be on for the rest of the month? Is it cancelled?

    • MA says:

      I think it’s just a hiatus. They have a concert show on March 25 and then I think (but can’t swear) that the next new episode is April 1.

  21. tiffany gray says:

    Love this show! Wish it could go on forever.

  22. Paloma Mouse says:

    In the performance at th Opry, we really only got to hear Maddie (Stella) sing, they didn’t really give Daphne (Maisy) much of anything to do. They give her so little to do on the show, like thus else’s scene where she asked Teddy why they were staying with their mother inside of with him. I really didn’t understand the purpose of that scene except to give her some screen time and to see his phone getting called. We didn’t need to know his phone was going called; that didn’t really drive the plot further.

    I did like that this episode had a lot of music and a lot of people singing.

    • Ray says:

      Only disappointing part of the episode is that we didn’t hear “Heart On Fire” in its entirety. I downloaded it on iTunes and think its Nashville’s best original song to date; it brought tears to my eyes. Listen to the lyrics closely–its really exquisite.

  23. Gina says:

    I think Sadie is going to kill her ex-husband and his liver will be a match for Deacon.

  24. MC says:

    can’t believe we have to wait TWO WEEKS for another episode… and that’s just On The Record… so technically three weeks until a new episode:( This episode was amazing though, still in crying over everything, and I’m not over the fact that she called Deacon “babe.”

  25. Deborah says:

    I love this show!! Can it last forever? I have been waiting for Deacon and Rayna to get back together all year. Gina has a great idea. Sara kills ex and Deacon gets his liver!!

  26. Marilyn says:

    Absolutely love this show. Everything about it last night was perfect.

  27. meatwad says:

    i still find Teddy to be a useless character. And i know she is legal but the Jeff and Layla thing seems creepy bc she plays so young. Feels like he should be more of a father figure to her

  28. Honey says:

    I bet Maddie will be a match for Deacon. I want this show to come back.

  29. Honey says:

    I bet Maddie will be a match for Deacon. I want this show to come back. Great episode

  30. heartbreaking but glad he told her he has cancer. Love this show………..

  31. Vanessa says:

    The exes is a cute name and I love last night’s episode but they skip or don’t play some episodes in Atlanta which is not fair especially when you don’t have on demand!

  32. K S says:

    Where is the passion between Rayna and Deacon?? My granparents have more passion then #Deyna

  33. Amber says:

    Was this episode the season finale???

  34. Helen canfield says:

    Nashville is a great story. Full of true life happenings..sadNess and happiness

  35. acurat says:

    This show is far more dramatic this year, and the music is not bad either. The ratings have been ticking up so we might just yet get another year out of this show on ABC – they have not had any drama work late nights on Wednesday the last few years besides this one.

  36. Evelyn says:

    What is the name of the duet Luke sings on the April 1st episode?