NASHVILLE 4X09 (belated) Debriefing: Fellas, I think we’ver got ourselves a song

Courtesy ABC

Howdy, y’all!

First up: apologies for the radio silence for the past few months. Apparently real life thinks it takes precedence over Music CIty’s latest scandals. That just ain’t right!

Since last we met here, our favorite songbirds have gone through quite the storm. Jeff kicked the bucket, Juliette hit rock bottom and went to rehab, Avery filed for divorce, Rayna is producing for bad boy Markus Keen while Deacon steams, Scarlett and Gunnar are still continuing their (never-ending) cycle, Will wrestles with being a country music outcast, Luke is dealing with his son’s disdain for him in the wake of the coverup, and Maddie is acting like she’s the first teenager to lose her virginity, while Daphne thinks she’s the only one left behind. Oh my! We’ve got a lot to catch up on.

Let’s start with Markus and Rayna and Deacon and Egos. To sum up so far: Rayna’s got her hands full with Highway 65’s newest artist, because he basically has the maturity of a teenager, with the purse strings of a mogul — a dangerous combination. This is a guy who is used to always getting his way, and even though he sought Rayna’s help as a producer (despite her legitimate concerns that she’s never produced before), he really doesn’t want to hear any input other than “yes.” Now, that extends to Deacon, too. Markus is nothing if not persistent, and appears to have thrown himself wholeheartedly into his country music education, which includes learning Deacon’s entire catalogue by osmosis. There’s an unproduced track in there he’s dying to cover, and with a little arm-twisting, Nashville’s most soulful sad sack relents, because nothing screams “I’m totally not jealous” by hovering over your girlfriend and her client at work.

To Markus’ credit, he seems genuinely jazzed about working with Deacon, though the same can’t be said about the latter. Despite his over-caffeinated persona and frustrating self-centeredness, one thing I do appreciate about Keen’s character so far is that he does seem to love music for music’s sake. Perhaps eye-rollingly so at times, but there’s no denying it is quite the creative risk for the world’s biggest rock star to dive head-first into the Nashville scene. However, that is where the trouble starts in this week’s episode: he decides on the fly to change a line in Deacon’s song in the studio, because it suits his rhythm better. Deacon flies off the handle over the issue, because if there’s one thing we know about Deacon these days, it’s that if things don’t go according to plan, he has a hard time handling life’s curveballs. (I guess that’s what happens when your sister dies giving you her liver.) The trouble doesn’t end there, though. He accuses Markus of being attracted to Rayna, and Rayna of leading him on, and storms out — because, Deacon Clayborne, ladies and gentlemen.

Rayna is confused, as she doesn’t see the problem, but really, this shouldn’t surprise her at all, since this happens every time she comes within about 50 yards of another man. So she sets the record straight with her new protegé. She loves working with him, but she is strictly off-limits, because she’s spoken for. Markus plays it totally chill, and assures her his interest is strictly professional (never mind the texts and shoulders to lean on and his two glasses of scotch waiting for her in his hotel room), but when she leaves, he slumps against the door like a lovesick teenager. J’accuse, Markus.

Meanwhile, Deacon realizes he’s been a jerk, and admits to Rayna he was just jealous of Markus. He claims it’s because he’s just not used to Rayna being his that he doesn’t know any other way to act other than like a caveman. It might sound sweet at first glance, but really, it insults his partner’s character. Rayna might not have a great track record when it comes to relationships, but to all of our knowledge, she’s never cheated on her men. Well, unless it was with Deacon. Accusing her of having feelings for Markus only reinforces a lack of trust between them, and judging by the (assuredly misleading) promos for next week, that might be a line in the sand for their relationship.

What frustrates me more, though, is how this all so very lather-rinse-repeat for these two. We know Deacon always flies off the handle. We know Rayna always reacts wide-eyed and innocently unaware of her actions, or of those around her. I’m somewhat relieved they at least communicated what was wrong between them at the end of the episode, but one has to wonder how long it will take before these two learn to trust each other for real. I understand that Deacon is still reeling from Beverly’s death, and his own brush with the grim reaper, because Deacon is generally not allowed to have nice things. But as a viewer, it’s getting tiresome to see him constantly tortured, without any significant payoff before the next hurdle.

Speaking of repetitious, it seems going on tour hasn’t done anything to help Scarlett and Caleb’s romance, or Gunnar’s conflicted feelings for his former girlfriend. As I mentioned earlier this season, I’m quite ticked that the show has turned Caleb into the bad guy in this whole affair, constantly negating the importance of Scarlett’s work just because he has a medical degree. He’s right that Scarlett might not be physically saving lives with her music, but her career is just as meaningful to her as his is to him, and this constant flip-flopping support is definitely painting him in a bad light, if not beginning to seem emotionally manipulative. I’d hoped we’d finally turned a page after his well-intentioned attempt to write her a song a few weeks ago, but instead, all we see is him lashing out at her when he’s stressed.

What concerns me more, though, is how Scarlett takes his reproaches without much a fight. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have been surprised, becaue she was generally meek, but Miss O’Connor has found her backbone in the last year, especially towards Deacon (and even Gunnar), and I don’t like that she gives in to Caleb’s condescension. If this were a more serious show, I might start to wonder if this was leading up to an abuse storyline, but I doubt country’s biggest soap opera would go there. What I’m more convinced of is that this will lead Scarlett right back into Gunnar’s arms, because he’s the only one who Really Understands Her (TM), naturally.

Of course, complicating those matters is Gunnar attempting to move on with roadie Erin. Admittedly, I rolled my eyes at his obviously-misplaced stalking pursuit a few weeks ago, but now that he’s dropped his sketchy behavior, I kind of like that she’s gotten him to lighten up, and brings out a different side of his music. She’s obviously nothing but a plot device, and is very one-dimsensional as temporary love interests tend to be on this show (see: Luke’s publicist), but if nothing else, we got a fun song out of it.
Avery’s singing, too, but unfortunately for him, they’re of the jingle variety. Ever since he gave Juliette the boot, he’s been determined to provide for Cadence completely on his own, without a penny of support from his soon-to-be-ex. I appreciate where Avery is coming from, but it’s also reminding me of his season 1 self a little, and not in a good way. While he’s decidedly less of a jerk, he’s still stubborn about accepting help from others. Furthermore, for some reason, I find it hard to believe that he’s really so hard up on cash; it was a stretch enough for me to believe he would still be living in Gunnar’s Home For Wayward Lovesick Country Singers, it’s another to see him struggling to pay the bills and hitting up ad agencies for work. I commend him for doing whatever it takes to provide for his daughter, but I would have thought a musician who’s produced for some of the biggest names in the business in recent years might have a bigger nest egg for the short-to-medium term. (I mean, hell, Gunnar sold, like, one song, and bought that beautiful house.) Maybe it’s all going to his legal fees?

Juliette is still AWOL in rehab, though again, no one seems to be allowed to talk about it. Colt is also not allowed to talk about what he saw Juliette doing the night Jeff died, and he’s taking it out on his father in particular. Luke is increasingly conflicted about what his son is going through, and his attempts to connect with Colt seem to finally break through, until real life interferes by way of a photoshoot for his “brand”. (Is this seriously a thing people do? Man, celebrities.) Colt feels like a pawn and storms off, and when Luke tries to reason with him, they get into an argument, which ends with Luke raising a fist to his son. Thankfully he doesn’t follow through, but it scares the daylights out of him, along with proving to Colt that his dad is indeed fallible. I have to give Will Chase a lot of credit here, because Luke’s face as he realizes what he almost did to his son displayed his sheer terror.

Elsewhere, Maddie is increasingly awful, because she’s a hormonal teenager. Or perhaps I should say she’s a woman now, because having sex with Colt a few episodes ago has made her even more obnoxious about being grown-up. Up until now, I’ve actually felt like Maddie’s behavior has been pretty realistic, but maybe I just seem to know a disproportionately high amount of annoying teens? In any case, though, she crossed a major line last week when she told Daphne the only reason why Rayna signed them both to Highway 65 was to keep the reigns on her, and takes that one step further by viciously mocking her sibling when Daphne borrows her clothes and imitates her big sister’s dance moves. Again, it makes Maddie a terrible person, but that viciousness between the sisters feels entirely normal to me. It might not be pleasant to watch, but their reactions are some of the more normal ones the show has had amidst all the drama lately.

More importantly, though, is that Daphne continues to break my heart every week, ever since she broke down during her visit with Teddy in prison earlier this year. In each episode so far this season, Maisy Stella has done a fantastic job of conveying Daphne’s feelings of loss and isolation. It’s bothered me ever since Deacon was revealed as Maddie’s father that the writers have shoehorned Daphne into the family unit, in the sense that they had him replace Teddy as her father figure without much thought of how she would react to not sharing this bond that her other family members have thanks to biology. This season, though, Daphne has been the odd woman out, and while it’s painful to witness, it’s completely believable.  It’s about time she’s allowed to say how she feels, not unlike Colt, and it has to be bizarre for her to lose her father, but not be able to share that with her sister, because she still has her “backup” dad. Add in Maddie becoming hell on wheels and lording her “maturity” over her baby sister every chance she gets, and it’s no wonder Daphne is turning into a sullen, angry mess. It’s one of the plots I think Nashville has done particularly well, and all I want to do is give that poor kid a hug week after week.

Last but not least, Will is wrestling with his own demons of sorts. He’s made what might be the quickest ascension of the ranks in Nasvhille’s songwriting scene, and Wade Cole wants to collaborate with him to pen his next hit. Will is confused, because while he’s flattered that one of the industry’s biggest stars wants to work with him, he remembers the singer rebuffing him at Juliette’s album launch months ago, and he’s surprised Wade wants to write with him given his apparent feelings over homosexuality. Wade reassures him that he doesn’t care what “lifestyle” Will chooses to follow, as long as the music’s good. Will, however, can’t shake his conscience, and after a little googling, he finds out that Wade and his wife support “family values” — aka Proposition 8 and every other bigoted cause. He thinks he should bow out, but Avery, who’s fuming over having to give up his solo gig at a primo venue in order to pay the bills with the jingle stint, spells it out for him. “What we want to do, and what we gotta do, don’t always line up.” So Will swallows his beliefs in order to work with the superstar, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of his moral dilemma.

The first half of season 4 is coming to a close, with next week sure to leave our jaws dropping, for better or for worse. (Pun intended, of course.) After all the tumult in the past few weeks, what do you think is in store next week?

Other odds and ends:
– How long before Juliette and Avery’s divorce hits the media? It’s presumably been a few weeks since Avery filed, and despite his attempts to keep it quiet, you’d think something would have leaked by now.
– Maddie finally redeemed herself in her last converstion with Daphne. I’ve missed seeing the sisters sing together, and hopefully they’ll mend fences sooner rather than later.
– Stick with the Conrad Terror: I keep waiting for a pregnancy scare for young Maddie, because this is a nighttime soap, after all, and that’s par for the course for sexually active teens.
– Still with the other Conrad: “I want to be older, too, but I’m not.” Talk about a three-hankie alert! The Stellas might be the best thing to come out of this show, when all is said and done.
– Am I the only one who gets a closeted vibe from Wade Cole? I thought his coldness towards Will at the party months ago had something to do with it, and I got the same vibe here too.
– How soon before Will turfs his publicist, personally and professionally? You’d think intruding on his personal time with his son would be a dealbreaker.
– Markus might be a brat, but I appreciate his character for this line only, to Deacon: “Take a compliment, man!” VOUCH.
– Along the same lines: are Rayna and Markus giving any of you Rayna-and-Liam vibes of yesteryear? Everything old is new again!

Nels
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 4X09 (belated) Debriefing: Fellas, I think we’ver got ourselves a song

  1. […] Rayna’s “thou shalt not pursue your boss” commandment last week, Markus and Rayna seem to be pretending nothing happened, to save everyone the awkwardness. […]

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