'Nashville' recap: New pairings, old wounds

Sarah D. Bunting
Yahoo! TV
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Nashville Recap: A Total Score and a Minor Snore

How's that Girl Scout song go again? "Make new friends, but keep the old / One is silver, and the other's…Avery"?

Just kidding -- but everyone's trying a fresh approach in "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)." Not everyone's psyched about it, mind you; Juliette, forced to do a zoo promotion to repair her image, complains the whole time about the possibility of baby animals pooping on her, and about the event's sponsor, a rookie QB named Sean Butler (Tilky Jones of Take 5). When a photo of Juliette's hairstyle getting mauled by a capybara (…we don't actually know what that animal was; tell us in the comments) goes viral, her PR flack is like, hey, how about you two go out to dinner? Juliette is like, hey, how about he's boring and no thanks.

[ Related: Hayden Panettiere talks Juliette's darkness and her own musical mentors]

But Juliette winds up having a great time, teasing Butler about his pass incompletions and "choirboy" habits, having a little sing-along with him and being not-so-secretly pleased that he knows her music. (Sean: "I have a sister, come on.") As they're leaving a club, a paparazzo gets in Juliette's space, and Sean shoves him -- and Juliette, wanting to protect him, pays the pap to go away. Aw. Later, Sean comes over and asks if she wants to stay home with him some night. "Are you asking me out?" "I'm asking ya in." Aw! Cute actor, good chemistry, we approve.

Do you speak jerk?

We also approve, to our surprise, of Rayna's insistence on going "off list" to find a new producer. Her manager's not on board with her choice, a golden-touch rock god named Liam McGuinnis -- and when we see the actor who plays Liam, we're not either, as it's Michiel Huisman, who played a super-grating "I do what I must for my aaaaart, maaaaan" musician/junkie on "Treme." He's not off to a great start here, blowing Rayna off with, "You're moms and SUVs; that's a language I just don't speak." Undeterred, she goes back, and wins him over with a reference to his live show in Belfast.

"So you came to me to find your voice again," Liam condescends, but Rayna's not that lost: "My voice now, yeah." The search involves several shots of whiskey and a recording session that goes really well, although Rayna scarcely remembers it (and has to take some hungover teasing from Teddy the next day).

The label rep balks, but Rayna stands firm: "He's my guy, this is my sound." She's happy to find another label if this one won't work with her. That threat gets her her way…for now.

Teddy also gets his way by allowing his existing partnership to do what it does best: be scary corrupt. Teddy's still down at the polls, so Lamar wants to arrange a traffic stop for Coleman on the way to a clean-campaign event. Just to give Teddy more time to talk, because Coleman is a little late! That's it, Lamar sweaaaars! Teddy is reluctant, until Lamar goes Mr. Freeze and growls, "You said you'd do whatever it took." Tell that to Teddy's stylist, please, because the current coif is dreadful.

So Coleman gets pulled over by an overzealous trooper, who finds the Oxycontin Deacon gave him last week in the glove box, so Coleman gets put in bracelets, has to give a presser and take a blood test to prove it's not his Oxy, and so on. But he may get his revenge via the set of photos that a P.I. drops off with him of Teddy and Peggy looking cozy. "Is this as bad as it looks?" "I know an affair when I see one," Magnum Jr. says. (It's more like a crush; Peggy volunteers for Teddy's campaign, which makes Teddy nervous.) Mrs. Coleman wants him to go on and leak the photos, saying he doesn't owe "these people" anything. Coleman: "It feels wrong."

The ends justifying the meanness

And speaking of things that feel wrong, the Avery/Scarlett storyline could have gone somewhere interesting if it hadn't rushed itself. While he's trying to hook on with a promoter, Avery attracts the notice of a manager/cougar named Marilyn Rhodes (Rya Kihlstedt, overplaying somewhat), who tells him to call her…late. If you know what she means. (She means sex.) Deacon warns Marilyn off in an attempt to protect Scarlett; he'll call the promoter himself and put in a good word, he tells Avery, who's thrilled: "I always thought you didn't like me very much." Deacon, hilariously monotone: "I don't know why you'd think that."

Marilyn gets to the promoter first and makes it so Avery has to come see her at her house. Meanwhile, Gunnar has informed Scarlett that he overheard Deacon interfering, so Scarlett confronts Deacon, also about the fact that he doesn't like Avery. Deacon rolls his eyes -- "What am I supposed to do, hand him a balloon every time I see him?" -- and gives it to Scarlett straight: Marilyn only signs young hot dudes, and only "after a certain closeness has been established." "She can't sleep with everybody she signs," Scarlett pouts. Deacon sighs, "She does."

Avery resists, sort of -- he accepts smooches, but when Marilyn goes for his fly, he says he can't. But he might as well have; when he gets home, he finds Scarlett already packing a twee vintage suitcase and seething. "Did you sleep with that woman?" Avery's all, whaaaaat, no no no, what do you mean, I'm offended! Scarlett starts yelling about how he went over there intending to sleep with Marilyn and this isn't about him doing the right thing, which makes no sense -- and shows up the next morning at Deacon's, suitcase in hand, puffy from crying. It's not that Scarlett and Avery shouldn't break up, and it's not that we wanted the show to drag it out, but this isn't the issue we'd been set up to think would drive them apart, and the hair-trigger, "looking for an excuse to dump him" reaction from Scarlett is out of character.

But a fun ep overall, and a welcome break from some of the emotional intensity of previous weeks (Rayna and Deacon have no scenes together). And in two weeks, Rayna and Juliette have to duet together, so it's about to get snarky up in here.

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"Nashville" airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC.