NASHVILLE 4X11 Debriefing: Wedding Bell Blues

Courtesy ABC

Rejoice, Nashville fans! The day you’ve been wishing for since this show premiered four years ago finally arrives: Deacon and Rayna are tying the knot, come hell or high water! Which may be more than a figure of speech, if their history is anything to go by.

You know when an episode begins with everyone talking about how perfect a day will be, that the actual event will be anything but. Sure enough, a month after their engagement, our happy couple may be all smiles, but the paparazzi getting ahold of their perfect outdoor wedding venue spoils their plans, and they have to scramble to find a new location off the beaten path less than 24 hours until go-time.

Of course, that pales in comparison to the personal drama they face, because it wouldn’t be Nashville unless everyone had a meltdown of some sort leading up to a momentous occasion. Daphne (Maisy Stella) continues to break all of our hearts, feeling more left out than ever as the reality of the wedding hits, and seeing herself as the fourth wheel in the Deacon-Rayna-Maddie trio. (I dare you not to want to hug her when she secretly goes through Rayna and Teddy’s wedding pictures as her sister is raving about her mom finally marrying her dad.) She lashes out at everyone — Maddie (Lennon Stella), Aunt Tandy (guest star Judith Hoag), Rayna (Connie Britton), and most of all, Deacon (Charles Esten).

Meanwhile, in a surprise twist, Maddie begins to turn on Nashville’s biggest sad sack too, after watching him take out a paparazzo who invades their personal space at the rehearsal dinner. It brings back memories of watching him destroy Beverly’s bedroom after she died, and she seems to finally realize that there’s a dark side to her dad that everyone got over about five years ago. As she is wont to do, Maddie unleashes her inner brat, and now wonders how her mom can marry such a loose cannon. Maddie, where have you been for the last four seasons?!

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Deacon, of course, blames himself for everything from Daphne’s mood swings, to Tandy’s disdain, to Maddie’s contempt. (Sidebar: the only thing that would have made his proclamation that he’s a monster acceptable is if he’d done it a la Buster Bluth.) Luckily, instead of throwing himself the biggest pity party of all time, he nips it in the bud with a little help from his sponsor, and ultimately gears up to be the man we know he can be, and marry his favorite glossy-haired lady.

Which is lucky, because Rayna has some words for her daughters to save the day. She astutely points out to Maddie that Deacon’s volatility isn’t unlike the 16 year old’s — though I’m not sure it’s much of a compliment to liken an adult man’s impulse control to a teenage girl’s — and to Daphne that she knows she feels left out lately. (I wonder why no one else has noticed this yet this season, but I suppose chasing after rock stars all year monopolizes one’s attention.)

However, in a touching moment, she points out to her that the real outsider to their clan is Deacon, because Rayna and the girls are the true family, one in which he has to assimilate. It may be a bandaid solution to the deeper problem of this gang’s serious lack of communication skills, but it seems to do the trick, at least temporarily, with the Conrad girls.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

So the moment we’ve all been waiting for, for better or for worse (see what I did there?),  is at last upon us. With Scarlet (Claire Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) serenading the betrothed, Deacon and Rayna finally walk down the aisle, and say their “I Dos”. (Mind you, the scene was so strangely directed that it felt decidedly like a dream sequence and I kept waiting for one of them to wake up in a coma, but fear not, readers, this appears to be legit.)

Though the vows are certainly cheesy, there’s no denying it’s payoff for the fans who have been cheering for these two from the beginning, and the subsequent reception is a heartwarming celebration not only of the characters, but of the entire cast coming together for a milestone episode. I may be cynical, but even I smiled at the couple’s first dance, and Deacon asking Daphne to dance while Maddie partnered up with her mom was absolutely beautiful. We know happiness can’t last for long on this show, but I’m glad these people got to hold onto it for a little while before the inevitable storm touches down again.

What I particularly enjoyed about this episode, beyond FINALLY making good on the wedding that was basically four years in the making, was that it served not only as a handy way to reconnect us with the show after such a long hiatus, but that it acted as a pretty compelling backdrop for the rest of the cast’s storylines going forward this season. (I guess packing them all in within the same room for 42 minutes will do that for you.) It isn’t always easy to bring them together believably, but country music’s most infamous power couple getting hitched is certainly a great reason to put everyone into the spotlight for a little while.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

It was obvious during the vow exchange that the series’ other troubled couples have their own stories brewing. Gunnar and Scarlet will inevitably rekindle their romance if their glances (and dancing!) are anything to go by, but I was very amused by Gunnar’s attempts at playing wing-man for his bandmate to disastrous results, because it’s about time we saw them have a little fun with each other.

On the other hand, Avery (Jonathan Jackson) is crumbling under the weight of keeping up appearances while Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) is in treatment, and I did feel for him when he had his panic attack. Though I’ve thought he’s been rather bullheaded this season — despite having good reason mostly — it is pretty understandable that living this latest lie is a bit of a prison of his own making. Something will inevitably come to a head when Juliette returns (spoiler alert!), but it remains to be seen whether there’s anything left in their relationship to salvage.

One thing that intrigued me was the Colt-Layla interaction and its ensuing fallout. When he confessed to her — and let’s remember, she’s a total stranger to him — that he saw what really happened with Jeff on the rooftop the night he died, I just about yelled at my TV about how dumb a move that was. Layla’s sprint to the restroom in her turmoil was predictable, but it then led to something we haven’t seen in quite some time on this show: Layla coming unhinged. I’ve long thought that Layla works best as the ambitious schemer she initially joined the show as, and not the emo perpetual victim they’ve painted her as in recent years.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

So now that she’s finally got the dirt on Juliette, I can’t wait to see the total chaos she will unleash as she sets out for revenge. Jeff may not be worth the effort, but it will at least give Aubrey Peeples something to do beyond act sad while everyone else around her gets the better storylines. Trapping Juliette’s husband into producing her new record when she knows his wife has a secret? The crap is about to hit the fan, and we should all bust out the popcorn.

Speaking of Colt (Keean Johnson), while I don’t miss him, I do think it’s interesting that the writers are now using his newly-found work ethic as a contrast to Maddie’s spoiled selfishness. It’s obvious the writing is on the wall on their young love, since Colt would rather clean machines at his grandfather’s farm than visit his girlfriend, but one does have to wonder if Maddie will grow at all from this — or instead see this as another person letting her down as is her custom.

And last but not least, Will (Chris Carmack) is let go from yet another job, this time his publisher, because he’s “difficult to work with” aka turns down advances from his male employers. While I feel for Will, I’m getting a little tired of the lather-rinse-repeat nature of his story so far this season. It seems from the preview at the end of the episode that he’s at least going to move forward with his solo career, but I hope he doesn’t decide to throw in the towel again after yet another setback, if only because it’s time for him to get a win already.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

This may be an unpopular opinion, but the first half of this episode had some of the elements I like the least of Nashville; four years on, we’ve had enough of Deacon sabotaging himself, and Rayna looking one wistfully as he does so, and it drives me crazy that these people never talk to each other this long into their relationships. Maddie’s outburst at Deacon in particular felt manufactured for conflict in this situation (even if it wasn’t completely out of the blue), and I’m anxious for them to forge new ground. However, the second half of the episode had some of the things I like the best of the show, and that’s the heart. When it comes down to it, I believe in these characters’ histories, and what they all mean to each other, whether it’s the Jaymes-Conrad-Claybournes, or the Triple Exes, or even Glenn (Ed Amatrudo) and Layla looking out for each other.

That, my friends, is why I’m glad it’s back, and why I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans these guys are about to get into in Music City.

What did y’all think about the nuptials? Did they hit the right note, or leave you sour?

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.

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