NASHVILLE 4X02 Debriefing: Mourning in the morning

Courtesy ABC

Sometimes this show is so on the nose, isn’t it?

As is often the case on Nashville, no one can have nice things for long on this show, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Deacon and Scarlett wait for news on Bev’s condition, Gunnar is still pouting about his ex, Juliette is nearing meltdown status, and Rayna deals with more label woes.

The episode opens with Maddie and Daphne in mourning for their favorite band, Boulevard, which they’ve just learned has broken up due to creative differences with its lead singer, Marcus Keen (Riley Smith). The girls’ only choice to express their grief is through music, natch, and they decide to cover one of his songs for their school talent show, which is conveniently the following night. While listening to her progeny beautifully cover yet another hit, Rayna gets an idea: signing Keen to Highway 65 would be the perfect coup for the label, which is suffering yet another setback when star Wade Cole (Josh Coxx) reneges on his pledge to join them, scared off by Juliette’s recent mutiny.

Bucky’s more than a little concerned, because it turns out the terms Keen’s legal team wants a label to agree to are way more than an upstart like Highway 65 can chew; besides, he feels like they’re already not giving their full attention to the artists they currently have, namely Layla, who is running around Nashville like a lost little girl since no one — not even manager Jeff — can give her the time of day. (Where have we seen this before, I wonder?) Rayna counters that the only way the label is going to make enough money to support acts like Layla and The Exes is if they bring in revenue from a big star to legitimize their status. Basically, she’s living by the “you’ve got to spend money to make money” ethos. So she jumps on a plane to “accidentally” run into Keen on the way to New York, and over the five-hour flight, lays on the charm to convince him to go country with Highway 65.

Meanwhile her current artists are seemingly swimming without a life raft. Scarlett and Gunnar can’t stand to be in the same room together, as per usual, which is a little difficult when you’re supposed to be shooting your album’s key art. Gunnar is still smarting over the aborted kiss, and even more over the fact that she’s bringing her new boyfriend along to band meetings. (He gave her a ride. It happens.) Besides, she’s not upset like he is over the photographer’s insistence on portraying them romantically when they’re not a couple; Scarlett couldn’t care less, because she knows it’s all for marketing and will help sales. It doesn’t affect them personally. (Did Gunnar just fall off the turnip truck? Even Scarlett is more business-savvy than he is!)

When Scarlett decides she wants to scale back their tour schedule, Gunnar obviously thinks it’s about him. (Because it’s always about him.) He goes to see Caleb, to let him know for the umpteenth time that there’s nothing between him and Scarlett, and the doctor shouldn’t feel threatened with Scarlett on the road. Caleb rightfully puts Gunnar in his place, and states that he’s not at all threatened by him; that Scarlett’s choice probably has more to do with wanting to be home with her mother (more on that soon!) and him than unresolved feelings for her ex. I cheer, because finally someone tells Gunnar he isn’t the sun around which the world revolves! Except Caleb then takes it one step too far into cartoon villain territory: they both know the music business is fickle, and the chances of the tour succeeding are slim, so it’s better that Scarlett get it out of her system before coming home for good to him. Basically, he’s expecting her to fail, and thinks her music career is a flight of fancy. UGH CALEB. I was rooting for you despite your blandness, but we’re done, man. I begrudgingly have to give Gunnar props, because his parting statement is, “I might not be the man for Scarlett, but neither are you.” Ain’t that the truth.

Layla is similarly disgruntled. Jeff is spending all his free time herding Juliette, who is spiraling out of control. Layla is still fuming over Juliette’s jab last week, and seems to be taking it to heart. It doesn’t help that when she approaches her label heads for a meeting, Rayna jets off for an “emergency.” While she and Bucky did secure Layla a gig at the Bluebird, when her big night arrives, Rayna is still MIA, and Bucky doesn’t even stay for the show, taking off to deal with Keen. Who is there, though? Glenn Goodman! (I was worried they’d written Ed Amatrudo out for good when Juliette dumped him last year.) He’s impressed with Layla’s set, and gentlemanly gives her his business card to offer his services should she ever decide to leave Jeff. She’s obviously flattered, and given how Glenn fostered Juliette’s career from her start as young girl in an Alabama trailer park to a bonafide superstar, it seems like he might actually be a good fit for someone as needy fragile as Layla. But we know she’s got an ironclad contract with Jeff, so I wonder what will come of this encounter.

Her former husband, Will, is also frustrated at the lack of movement in his career. He’s still laying low after coming out, and itching to get back on track. His boss, Luke, is torn. Personally, he’s got no problem with Will’s sexuality, and he believes in his music; he even thinks country fans are more open-minded than his publicist believes and will accept him. Professionally, though, his publicist calls BS, and reiterates that his demographic is not ready to buy into a gay cowboy act, which would be disastrous for their bottom line. Ultimately, Luke picks business over pleasure, and turfs Will. He’s real sad about it, y’all, but this is a glimpse into his ruthless side we only got hints at last year during #Ruke, which was set aside for the jilted lover schtick. He even “graciously” offers to record some of Will’s songs on his next album, he likes them so much, but Will is rightly insulted, and walks out. How long before he spreads his artistic wings over at Highway 65, who he turned down last year? The label is turning into the Island of Misfit Toys.

Speaking of misfits, Juliette’s losing control over her life. When she appears on Live with Kelly and Michael, she breaks down over a picture of Avery and Cadence; the audience awwws, but we all know it’s more than just hormones. Avery, watching at home, isn’t so sure. Jeff may be opportunistic, but he’s got enough of a shred of humanity to realize that Juliette turning her back on her family is bad for her emotional state, which is ultimately bad for his business. So he acts as mediator: he plants the seed in Juliette’s mind that Avery loves her enough to take her back once she gets home to Nashville, and visits Avery to tell him Juliette’s just scared to come home after how she left them. Juliette arrives to an empty house, which she promptly decides to fill with a party, so of course Avery comes home with the baby in the middle of the shindig. Juliette immediately kicks everyone out, then pleads with Avery to hear her out. Avery begins to act all indignant, but finally stops long enough for Juliette to tearfully admit that she’s terrified about being a wife and mother, and doesn’t know how to do either of those things. Avery softens at this, and confesses he doesn’t know what he’s doing either, but that he takes it one day at a time, and so can she. She lets down her guard and even reaches for the baby she’s missed for months; she might start healing, but considering how deep her depression is, we know it won’t be that easy.

Juliette’s used to putting a smiling face on things, and the next night she and her family attend her album launch party — because a concert is always a great place to bring an infant. Predictably, Cadence wails the entire time Juliette performs, and it can’t help but be distracting. She offers to go change the baby’s diaper, but she’s overwhelmed by the task. Avery reassures her she’s just rusty after being gone so long and he takes over, telling her she can worry about that later, but she’s got people to schmooze right now. It’s sweet of him to be so understanding, but it only reinforces to her that she’s failed yet again. Moreover, she’s worried over the prospect of Avery and Cadence coming on tour with her, and it’s becoming a perfect storm of self-destruction for Ms. Barnes. Sure enough, Avery returns home to an empty house yet again, Juliette having left her phone behind deliberately and taken off on her next tour leg without warning. Meanwhile, the star is back on her private jet and using an unlisted number nobody has access to — including her family. Ouch.

Deacon begins the episode distraught as well, since Bev is slow to full awaken from her coma. He’s spending every night by her side, besting even Scarlett’s Florence Nightingale tendencies, still reeling over the guilt of the transplant. Bev does finally wake up, but from the outset, the show is painfully obvious in telegraphing her inevitable demise. The Claybournes all share a few happy family moments — which never happen so you know they’re temporary — and Deacon is genuinely happy for one of the only times thus far on this series. (Again: Deacon can’t have nice things. Remember that.) Bev even acknowledges her poor treatment of Scarlett growing up and apologizes for being so awful she inspired “Black Roses,” which is always the kiss of death in fiction. (Oops, spoiler alert.) There’s a heartfelt hug between the two, like Christmas morning came early, and she also declares that she’s happy for her daughter and doctor boy. So let’s recap: she makes amends, she absolves everyone of guilt, and she makes sure her family is settled. Yep, that’s textbook deathbed checklist. Sure enough, just as Scarlett arranges her mom’s bouquet like a Disney princess, Bev crashes (again), and the episode ends with doctors frantically trying to resuscitate her. Since we’ve already seen this happen once before, it has to stick this time, right? Sorry, Bev. You sure sang pretty.

One thing’s for sure, the dark clouds are moving in to Nashville next week!

Other odds and ends:

  • Daphne and Maddie freaking out over Boulevard’s breakup might be the most realistic story these two have ever been given.
  • On the same note: how devastating was little Daphne locked in her bathroom stall, overhearing her school’s Mean Girls trashing her and her family? Poor kid. Like I said last week, I think she’s primed for a major meltdown, and I’m so happy Maisy Stella is finally getting a story of her own.
  • Juliette’s half-hearted “cheeeeers!” on the plane was hilarious and heartbreaking at once.
  • I’m not much of a baby person, but Cadence is pretty adorable when she’s trying to charm her mama.
  • I know Wade didn’t want to be seen in public with pariah Will, but I’m curious about his interaction prior to the photographer snub. Was he just being friendly to Will (as Luke believed country fans could be), or was there something more there?

Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

One Response to NASHVILLE 4X02 Debriefing: Mourning in the morning

  1. […] I predicted last week, things are not looking up for Bev. The prognosis is Deacon and Scarlett’s worst-case scenario: […]

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