‘Nashville’ recap: Keeping up, getting left behind

Sarah D. Bunting
Fall TV

"For the sake of appearances" — a cynical phrase, and it's driving everyone on "Nashville" this week, starting with Juliette, whose reunion with her shoplifting past takes exactly no time to hit the internet. Her team immediately upshifts into damage-control mode, and initially, she's having none of it, refusing to sit for an interview with "Good Morning America" and smirking "four million views, not bad" as she looks at YouTube. She's more embarrassed by/concerned with her mom, Jolene, who's getting on Juliette's nerves by crabbing that they're out of milk and wailing that Juliette already has plenty of nail polish.

Juliette isn't giving her an inch (not even when Jolene makes "pink macaroni," an adorably disgusting childhood favorite of Juliette's involving ketchup and cream cheese). Juliette repeatedly asks her manager to ship Jolene out of town, the better to maintain Juliette's image of herself, for herself, as a flippant hard-ass who doesn't need anybody. But the "GMA" spot doesn't go well when Juliette, acting against advice, opts for a "haters gonna hate" defense and claims she didn't do anything wrong, and it gets worse when Robin Roberts (pulling a series of brilliant confused faces) asks about Jolene and Juliette abruptly ends the interview. Tour sponsors start pulling out. The label wigs. So does Juliette, dumping out Jolene's backpack to find the stuff she's positive Jolene is going to sell to buy drugs, and finding nothing — except a worn picture of Jolene holding a newborn Juliette. A championship "ugly cry" follows; Hayden Panettiere is killing it.

A friend in need

Later, Juliette admits to her manager that shoplifting "made me feel like I could take care of myself, when nobody else would." When her manager suggests that she "call a friend, take your mind off things," she sighs that she doesn't have friends: "I have people who want to be seen with me. …Well, used to." Eating pink macaroni late at night, she calls Deacon, who asks what she's up to.

Deacon's up to plenty in "We Live In Two Different Worlds." He's advising Scarlett on how to deal with Avery's professional envy; Scarlett and Gunnar got a record deal, and Avery is still trying to be happy for her, but after a tense dinner with the label reps, most of which Scarlett spends fluffing Avery's music, he yells that he doesn't need her help. Deacon tells her he knows what it's like "to be the one always tryin' to catch up," but she can't keep pretending everything's the same — Avery's going to catch up or get left behind, "and that's it." (Gunnar's not wasting any time "catching up" on the perks of success, having a yogurt-related meet-cute with an assistant named Hailey and taking her to bed pronto.)

Deacon's also meeting with his AA sponsor, Coleman Carlisle, to commiserate about the Wyatt family having them both by the short hairs. He's valiantly pretending everything's normal between him and Rayna, agreeing to appear with her at a fundraiser for Teddy at Lamar's country club — but when he shows up late, Lamar immediately starts in on him, and Deacon can only pretend he's not furious for so long. He snaps that he's not the one Lamar's "been carrying for 20 years," and it's hard to tell if Deacon means Rayna or Teddy there, but it's Teddy who takes offense, and the two of them go toe-to-toe while Rayna shrieks for them to stop.

So that's what "dazzled" looks like

Neither of them seems to hear her, and she's struggling to keep up appearances herself, starting with the sex dreams she's having about Deacon. Then there's the fundraiser; Teddy's down 12 points, but hasn't told her what's going wrong on the campaign, allegedly because he doesn't want to burden her but really because he doesn't want to need her help. Rayna offers to sing for him anyway, though she'd rather do it anywhere but the country club — "an airport…hell…Connecticut" (hee!) — and he has to accept, even though an old flame of his, Peggy, is on the planning committee and it's highly uncomfortable when she and Rayna meet up at rehearsal. Later, Rayna sighs guiltily that almost everyone at the club would make a better politician's wife than she would. Teddy kisses her forehead and tells her he married her, because "You dazzle me. And you always have." Awwww.

…Yeah, not so fast. During Rayna's performance, Deacon shoots smug "I know your game, pal" looks at Teddy; Peggy shoots "you're a steak dinner and I ain't eaten in a week" looks at Teddy herself. Sure enough: "flame," yes; "old," doubtful. Peggy wants to come clean about "what we did" and get it over with; Teddy nixes that idea, then comes home and, like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, tells Rayna he can't deal with the Deacon situation anymore: "I'm your husband."

Rayna, sounding beaten, says she knows, and she's firing Deacon, but it's not because Teddy wants it — it's because Deacon has had it. He showed up when she needed him, as usual, and it bit him in the behind, as usual. They've both tried to act like Deacon doesn't still love Rayna, like she doesn't take advantage of that though she might not mean to, like she didn't make a choice, but for Deacon, it's time to get real about Rayna leaving him behind all those years ago.

Who's really getting left behind? Watch the full episode of "Nashville" right here, and decide for yourself: