Nashville Recap: For He's a Jolly Good Fellow

CHARLES ESTEN, HAYDEN PANETTIEREDeacon is another year older, but it’s Juliette who comes across as much wiser in this week’s Nashville. When things don’t go exactly her way, the drama queen (surprisingly) takes it in stride and even shows evidence of growing as a human. It’s a Deacon-birthday miracle! Meanwhile, Music City turns out for Deke’s surprise party, Rayna hides from paparazzi and Gunnar gets some supremely bad news.

Let’s review the big developments in “Dear Brother.”

RELATED | Exclusive: Nashville Casts a Person of Interest as Deacon’s Enlightening Love Interest

TENNESEE-MZ | Teddy has moved out of the house, and Rayna swings by his office to inform him that — thanks to Maddie — she knows about his canoodling with Peggy. As she later tells Tandy, they filed for divorce in a different county to try to delay the media’s finding out, but the magazine rack at the grocery store proves the folly of that belief: It’s filled with tabloid rags casting adulterous aspersions on both Rayna and Teddy. (Side note: Does that supermarket exist in some weird pocket in the space-time continuum where it’s constantly 1998? In this day and age, I can’t imagine the story wouldn’t break online first and that someone wouldn’t have alerted Rayna or her camp.) The paparazzi stalk RayRay, casual acquaintances make catty comments about her fidelity and not even the girls’ ballet class is safe from the press’ hounding ways. (Side note: Anyone else notice the cold shoulder Maddie gave her mom after rehearsal? Some kind of blame-assignation is brewing there, methinks – though little Daphne’s delivery of the “Teenagers!” comment made me laugh out loud).

Rayna holes up in her house and writes music, hoping that everything will just blow over. But a visit from Lamar boosts her spirits and her self-confidence (I know – a first for everything, eh?); he tells her she should fight back, because she’s done nothing wrong. “You may use your mother’s maiden name, but you’re still a Wyatt,” he reassures her, advising her to hold her head high. (Very nice work from Connie Britton and Powers Boothe in this scene.) Bolstered, she writes a new song and decides to debut it at the surprise birthday bash Juliette’s planned for Deacon.

THAT NOBODY CAN DENY | Even though Deacon’s preferred method of celebrating his birthday involves watching Old Yeller on VHS at home, Juliette decides that he needs a big blowout at the Bluebird. She enlists Scarlett’s help to lure him there (the scene where Ju rolls up in the SUV, along with Emily’s “Don’t be afraid,” was pretty great) and gives Deke’s niece and Gunnar the opening slot on the bill, albeit in her typical, self-aggrandizing way: “You can say you opened up for Juliette Barnes.”

On the big day, Scarlett greets Deacon with a cupcake; he thinks it’s pretty cool when she shows him how to turn it into a sandwich. (Deke, if you liked that, I’ve got a Buzzfeed post that’s gonna blow your mind.) He says he’ll come see her and Gunnar play at the café’s open-mic that evening – of course, when he gets there, the place is packed with a ton of his pals wearing masks of his face. Nice touch, Ju. A bunch of famous folk (Vince Gill and Pam Tillis among them) are there, and when Scarlett and Gunnar perform “I Will Fall,” the room takes notice. Rayna, you’d better jump on signing those kids before one of your contemporaries does.

Despite his hatred for social gatherings, Juliette’s enthusiasm and his friends’ goodwill seem to help Deacon settle into the evening. So by the time Rayna shows up with Watty – in such a better mood that she even sasses one of the photographers on her way into the venue – he’s just happy to see her. If you’ve DVR’d the episode, re-watch their hug hello; I’m continually wowed at Britton and Charles Esten’s ability to pack so much history and feeling into such commonplace gestures. She performs a new song, “Stronger Than Me,” that is not exactly a party anthem but which speaks to their complicated history; to paraphrase (and clean up) a term from Wedding Crashers, they eye-shag the socks off each other the entire time she’s on stage. Afterward, she apologizes for his finding out about the divorce from the press. “I wanna do right by you,” she says, holding his hand for a moment before she leaves.

LATER, WAGON | Jolene’s home from rehab and working with an addiction counselor, but aside from footing the bill, Juliette doesn’t want to have much of a role in her mom’s continuing journey. Still, things seem to be slightly better between the Barnes women; the party is actually Jolene’s idea, and Juliette brings her to the celebration. But when champagne is passed around for a toast, it’s all over.

Emily alerts Juliette to her mom’s inebriated state, and the young singer decides to bring her home herself, forfeiting a turn to sing for Deacon. What’s more, she doesn’t even unload on her poor, slipped-up mom who tearfully apologizes for ruining not only that evening but Juliette’s ninth birthday, too. By the time the counselor arrives, Jolene’s asleep, but Juliette agrees to chat. She tells him what he already knows: Juliette’s ninth birthday party went kaput when her mom spent the budget on drugs and then nearly torched the house after falling asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand. “I put it out, but the truth is, I wanted her to die,” she says softly. “You really think you can help us?” The counselor responds, “I do.”

OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? | Early in the episode, Gunnar and Scarlett discover Jason’s gun. Gunnar runs off to confront his brother, who insists he needs the weapon to protect himself from his enemies. Gunny flings the sidearm into the river and swears he’s done with his sibling. Cut to much later, when two cops show up at Deacon’s party and ask Gunnar to come with them to ID a body: It’s Jason, who was beaten to death and found in an alley. Gunnar sobs. I want to feel bad for him, but much like Juliette’s ex-hubby, Jason was around for such a short time that I barely feel like I knew him – and what I did know, I didn’t love — so it’s hard to feel much of anything about his absence. Gunnar, of course, is feeling a lot… of Scarlett, that is. When he comes home after being gone all night, his news impels her to kiss him, then straddle him, then grief-sex him with abandon. At least you died for a good cause, Jase.

POLITICS, A PUTZ AND A POOCH | Teddy’s people are telling him to stay away from Peggy because it just doesn’t look good, so he does the exact opposite and holds a press conference to announce she’s joining his office as a financial consultant. I’ll go with Rayna on this one: “Unbelievable.” Heady with power, Teddy turns down Lamar’s suggestions for mayoral appointments and instead invites Coleman – who’s still solidly “Team Rayna,” ha! – to be his deputy mayor. Though I am shouting “Flee, Coleman, flee!” at the TV, he agrees.

Avery gets an expensive guitar, gets nonsense advice from Watty, gets shut out of Deacon’s party, gets a shock at seeing Scarlett and Gunnar perform from outside and eventually gets some sense – or so his returning of  the pricey instrument would seem to imply.

The day after his bash, Deacon comes home to find Emily sitting on his front steps with a big box: his gift from Juliette. Inspired by his description of Old Yeller as a tale of devotion between a boy and his dog, she’s gotten him a Young Yeller of his own. Emily hustles the canine into its new owner’s arms and takes off and… I’m sorry, but Deacon is holding a puppy and I am dying of the cuteness. Can’t function. Good thing the recap’s done, eh?

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of Rayna’s new song? Do you think Deacon will keep his pup? And can anything good come from Teddy crossing his soon-to-be-former father-in-law? Sound off in the comments!