Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 17

Nashville Recap: It Gets Bitter

Need to catch up? Check out our previous Nashville recap here. 

Underneath the rhinestones and cowboy hats and (in Scarlett’s case) layers upon layers of consignment-shop knitwear, we’re all just scared kids.

That’s the takeaway of this week’s Nashville, in which Scarlett plunges herself headfirst into the plight of the modern bullied teen. Spoiler alert: It hurts.

Also painful? Deacon’s life, which has started to normalize after Rayna’s abrupt death but which still makes him cry on the regular. Unfortunately for Deke, rugged man tears might as well be calorie-free rosé, so eagerly do Music City’s unattached females of a certain age lap them up. “You’re out of some novel or something,” Alyssa notes, and now all I can picture is a denim-clad Deacon standing on the cover of a Harlequin paperback, one boot up on the fender of a car or something, staring into the middle distance. Thing is, I can’t settle on a title. Cowboy, Take Me Away? The Claybourne Chronicles Book 1: Denim and Desire? I’m sure you all have far better ideas than I do, so feel free to shout ’em out in the comments.

Where were we? Oh yes: Read on for the highlights of “Ghost in This House.”

APOLOGY TOUR | Scarlett meets with Alyssa for a little image-rehab strategy session in light of her damaging interview with that witchy reporter, whose name is Mackenzie Rhodes. Scar mentions doing a benefit for one of her favorite causes, a women’s health clinic that provides free services, and Alyssa is on board. But she also thinks they can also do something a little more immediate to win back fans who are irked that Scarlett is carrying Damien’s kid.

So The Exes throw a secret concert for a small group of their fans. Afterward, Scarlett runs into Nadine, a teen she remembers from another event. “I signed your cast,” Scar says. But the girl is mad at her. “You’re a cheater, and you ruined everything,” Nadine says, really upset that Scarlett and Gunnar aren’t going to have a daughter they name Rayna and there’s something about a dog? and it quickly becomes clear that Nadine lives in her head a little too much. It ends badly.

This propels Scar into Mackenzie’s office, where she outright blames the reporter for outing her as a flawed, non-perfect person to her fans, which has therefore ruined their lives. Um, what? Look, I don’t like this Mackenzie person any more than you do, Scarlett, but I have to say, I agree with her when she’s like, “Stuff happens.” (OK, maybe you didn’t need the bitchy eyeroll to go with it, Mac.)

DOUBLING DOWN | Scarlett is so bothered by everything that’s going on, she finds Nadine via social media and meets with her so they can smooth things out. The teen sadly admits that if pretty, talented people like Scarlett and Gunnar can’t have perfect lives, what hope is there for kids like her? Later, when Gunnar tells Scarlett to take a step back, she responds, “I don’t think you know what it’s like, bein’ a girl.” On the contrary, honey: Those mood swings? That devotion to hair product? I defy you to name one Nashville dude who is more of a woman than Gunnar. He mumbles something about how boys get bullied, too, but Scarlett is already in the throes of forming her Big Idea.

She invites a bunch of her former fans — and Mackenzie — to a sit-down where they can talk about their feelings. It turns into a group therapy session in which the kids (and Scarlett and Gunnar) open up about how terribly other people have treated them and how it made them feel ashamed. And of course Mackenzie has a sad backstory about how other kids made her life hell when she spent a year in a body brace at age 14. She apologizes to Scarlett, then spins on her heel and leaves. (Side note: Anyone else think it was a little weird that she made that confession in front of all of those emotionally raw kids and then just ghosted?)

Nashville Recap Season 5 EPisode 17MEET ZACH’S EX | Will shoots his Budweiser commercial in New York, and it’s a success. But along the way, he runs into Jakob Fine — remember him? the fashion designer who wanted to, um, know to which side Will dresses, if you get my drift? — who insinuates that Zach isn’t quite the loyal puppy dog he pretends to be. And when Will finds a secret phone in his boyfriend’s bag, just as a cute guy named Jeff happens to be calling, he’s ticked off.

“Jeff is a guy who loves me!” Zach cries when pressed, explaining that they used to be together and that Jeff is “fragile,” which is why the zillionaire hasn’t fully pulled the plug and told him to stop calling. “The person I love is you,” Zach says to Will, and goes as far as calling Jeff and breaking up with him — on speaker! —  while Will listens, which leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. “That was horrible,” Will says when it’s all over. “One day, you’re gonna do that to me.” Ouch. And, maybe, true.

TAG! YOUR TURN | Avery is no longer working with Hallie, and Juliette innocently asks if the change was because of her offering her thoughts on the matter. “You didn’t voice your opinion, you went insane,” he corrects her, adding, “I made that decision because things can only go one way with you: your way.” And later, when he’s had some time to think, he informs her that he’s going on a seven-week tour with his band because she’s completely healed and everything is fine and DADDY NEEDS NICE THINGS, TOO. She cries, then does that Juliette 180 she always does where she pretends that she’s 100 percent fine and never needed Avery in the first place.

Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 17CROSSED SIGNALS | A simpering, distant acquaintance of Deacon’s accosts him with faux sympathy — and more than a little romantic interest — when he and the girls go out to dinner at Biscuit Love. (Side note: Would Biscuit Love be a good name for our Deacon-quin romance? Discuss.) Maddie and Daphne tease him that the interloper is “another woman interested in Dad,” but he laughs it off.

Later, at Zach’s insistence, Deacon meets with Jessie Caine — remember her? From the songwriters’ circle at The Bluebird a few weeks back? — to see if she might make a good Highway 65 artist. Deke is uninterested at first, but as they share their stories, the time just flies by. In a nutshell: Jessie stayed married too long to her bully of an ex-husband, who was awful to their son and who eventually married Jessie’s former assistant and best friend.

And then Deacon is talking about Rayna, and crying a little about Rayna, and the matter-of-fact way that both characters handle his unexpected tears (“It still happens sometimes”) is one of the more realistic touches I’ve seen on this show. Nicely done. Anyway, the meeting ends abruptly when he realizes he’s got to pick up one of the girls, so Jessie says she’ll send him her music, and he leaves.

There is zero hubba-hubba going on between them — as it should be! Rayna’s been dead for five minutes! — but when Alyssa asks Deacon to meet her later, she puts it into his head that Ms. Caine’s got a crush on him. It’s understandable, she adds: “You’re out of some novel or something: a handsome widower still married to his grief.” True, but I’m too busy being astounded by how H65’s super-savvy wunderkind hasn’t done even the cursory research that would tell her that Deacon is a recovering alcoholic. She orders him a martini, and he’s gracious about it, but if you’re trying to prove how you’ve got a handle on things, mama, this is not the way to go.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH | With Alyssa’s words in mind, and after Jessie calls to invite him to her show at Mercy Lounge, Deacon phones Jessie to make absolutely clear that he’s not looking for anything… and she’s insulted that he thought that her interest in him was anything other than professional. “I’m not looking for a relationship, at all, with anyone,” she huffs.

Perhaps because he feels badly, or maybe just to hear Jessie’s new stuff, Deacon winds up at Mercy Lounge for her set. She’s in the middle of a sad (and rather good) tune that talks about how she’s “still learning to lose you,” and it strikes a chord in Deacon, who gets a little teary again and leaves.

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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31 Comments
  1. steven says:

    Whatever happened to Bridgit Mendler’s character? Wasn’t she supposed to have a recurring role? She was just in one episode.

  2. steven says:

    Zack’s ex-boyfriend looked like James Van der Beek, mostly because of the crying.

  3. Sandra says:

    How do I get a copy of the song Baby, I’m Still Learning How To Lose You?

  4. Jules says:

    Still Learnin’ to Lose You is the best romance novel title. Except maybe The Cowboy’s Last Lady. Or Thw Cowboy Lost His Lady. You really do need “Cowboy” in there to go full-on romance novel.

  5. The Beach says:

    That final song (by Cassie) was worth tuning into the entire episode for. It was really beautiful and I’m so glad they let it play all the way through instead of just playing a part of a song as they usually do.

    • april-ann says:

      I agree. I was out until the last bit of the show (caught in traffic) and, not having taped it, wondered whether I’d bother tuning in just for the last 10 minutes. I’m really glad I did just for that beautiful song.

  6. Amy says:

    So how did y’all feel about them hinting at a Jessie/Deac thing? The lady truly doth protest too much, and if Deac is to move on at any point, I think he certainly would have to be the one to decide that rather than be coaxed…who better than one who insists she “isn’t interested?”. My only concern is the co-dependant nature of those two together…both too injured at this point…but who knows, on the other hand, can they both, unwittingly help each other through this phase to come out the other side? I thought their “talking” scene was good, natural, and “a sign” of a relationship to come because how many great relationships begin by “talking all night”, and also by swearing one of them “isn’t looking to get involved!!”
    Chemistry seemed good. I’m sure TPTB have figured all that out, if she was brought on to be a possible new love interest. Any thoughts from anyone else?

    • april-ann says:

      Hinting? HINTING?? All I saw of this episode was the last 10 minutes or so and I am convinced they’re hitting us over the head with a Jessie/Deac thing.

    • ellajasper says:

      Way too soon. Remember how Rayna was the love of his life? Why is it he can’t just miss her and be a good Dad for awhile? Give the love scenes to Avery and Juliette.

      • april-ann says:

        Because it’s already been a while that he just misses her and is being a good dad. And there’s only so much of that viewers will take.

        • Paula Stiles says:

          This viewer is fine with his being single for a season or two. We already had Deacon in a romance for four and a half seasons (decades in show time). He doesn’t really need to hop right into another romance. It’s annoying enough, already, hearing everyone and their brother whining about how he’s not moving on fast enough.

      • Carla says:

        Exactly what I was thinking. I understand he would probably move on eventually, but let him grieve, be a single dad longer before jumping into another relationship

    • Zazie K. Sortun says:

      I just don’t like the idea of him moving on already. Isn’t Rayna the love of his life? Does he have to have a woman always? I feel like that is the only reason she has been brought onto the show. I’d find it much more interesting if they could just be friends, and both find their own way without having to get involved on a romantic level.

  7. Boiler says:

    Great episode. The last song has instantly become one of my Nashville favorites.

  8. izzie b says:

    I loved Will’s Budweiser commercial – hilarious! He’s a better actor playing Will than he is playing Will playing being an actor in a commercial though.

    Too soon for Deacon to move on, although it does look like they are setting the Jessie relationship up for the future.

    Why is Juliette still crazy? Why did they have her start acting so unstable again? Seriously, she could move into the successful female country music star role that Connie Britton so disappointingly vacated. (remember Rayna kicking ass in the boardroom in episode 1 or when she wanted to get Maddie out of that contract?).

    Here’s what I’m hoping: That Deacon will kick Zach and the silly girl with glasses out of Hwy 65 and really take over the business and run it the way Rayna originally intended to (but never quite did).

  9. Danielle says:

    Sadly, I’m done with this show.

  10. Loving Nashville!
    All the characters are evolving well.
    Cannot wait for the next show!

  11. Nancy M says:

    OMG excellent. And I want to buy that song BABY I’M JUST LEARNING HOW TO LOSE YOU.

    WHERE CAN I BUY IT? I did not find it on ITunes.

    This is the best show. I am so glad it was picked up by CMT

  12. ellajasper says:

    When are they going to learn? We want music. I don’t care about Zach’s crying boyfriend. I don’t care about Scarlett’s therapy group. And I really don’t like that Deacon seems interested in Jessie, a little soon, don’t you think? And now where is JJ going for seven weeks? I hope they aren’t on a real time schedule. He and Hayden are crucial to the show.

  13. Carla says:

    I want Bucky to get hired again

  14. abz says:

    What has happened to this show? I’m really not a fan of these new writers. That fan girl and the group therapy session made me want to roll my eyes so far back into my head. The show feels so preachy and they don’t seem to grasp how to deal with some of these characters. Last week they made Juliet go all psycho and her character keeps regressing and moving one step forward and the three steps back.
    Will and Zack have barely been together for two seconds and already this unnecessary drama. I’m glad Will got some focus this episode after they once again excluded him from another episode last week, but man they barely give the relationship any screen time and right away there’s some boring drama. Will’s character deserves so much better than the way the show has treated him over the years. I did like his commercial. Only interesting thing from this episode.
    I just feel like this show keeps going down hill. You can really see Connie Britton’s departure having an effect. Too much focus on the Stella sisters and pointless characters like the homeless girl.. I don’t care about Jessie or Rachel Bilson’s character. I have mixed feelings about Zach. I want Will to have a good relationship but I feel like the writers have done a poor job with Zach’s character development.
    I just hope the show gets better.

    • Zazie K. says:

      I feel like the show keeps getting more soap opera-y and less about the music, which is why it was so good in the first place. Can’t one of the couples just stay together? And one more thing, I really miss Connie Britton. She wasn’t a great singer, but I loved her and the Deacon character’s relationship.

  15. Juliette says:

    1) Deacon is catnip! And the cat’s meow! And just, all other kinds of deliciousness (thank you to the editors for leaving in that lovely shot of him shrugging out of his jacket at the diner. Meow.)
    2) I loved the Budweiser commercial – heavy handed, sure but a heck of a lot of fun too!
    3) Shame Circle without an actual mental health professional there to assist in what promised to be a major trigger session for vulnerable kids? Yet another smooth move by Scarlett. She’s just all kinds of well thought out plans, isn’t she?
    4) Deacon. Mmmm.
    5) Loved that the girls didn’t get too freaked out about women hitting on Deacon and it was played out with minimal drama.
    7a) Juliet is a fine person to talk about self promotion. Remember when the show started and she was playing a Taylor Swift like superstar with mega deals across multiple platforms? Let’s see her start hustling for her own Smart Water or Huggies tie-in deal.
    7b) Avery is going to be gone for 7 freaking weeks. Military spouses are used to being apart for months and months at a time. Let’s not go too deep into pretending this is unbearable – plus, she’s not on tour and is a freaking multi-millionaire. Get your own dang bus and meet up with Avery a couple of weekends on the tour and enjoy seeing the countryside without being on a killer schedule of your own.
    8) I enjoyed 87% of this episode and 100% of Deacon..

  16. Paula Stiles says:

    Scarlett’s storyline this ep was ill-conceived in all kinds of ways. For a start, why was the crazy, whiny fan the only one who was fat–sorry, remotely ordinary-looking? Also, that social media “expert” telling Scarlett that fans were sad and lonely is so 90s. Experts like her are often fans-gone-pro.

    The portrayal of the reporter was an eye-roller, too (I’m rather surprised Scarlett didn’t belt out, “Hey! So, you’re a liar on top of a whore? Good to know!”). That’s a tricky job and you’re just one angry phone or email from a top celeb away from getting fired (even–no, especially–if your boss egged you on). Mackenzie was not the one with the power in that interaction. Also, Kenzie, hon? Nobody cares about your sad story from before you were a bottle blonde.