‘Nashville’ recap: ‘I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You’ (or can I)

Sarah D. Bunting
Fall TV

"I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)" is a country standard sung by, among many others, Patsy Cline, but last night's episode of "Nashville" brought to mind a lesser-known Cline track: "Tra Le La Le La Triangle." Every character is in at least one triangle, whether it's love, career, or past vs. present; some characters are in more than one triangle with the same person.

Rayna's getting triangulated the most; she's still refusing to open for Juliette, so her management team suggests she go on a smaller tour — with Deacon, the way the two of them started out. Watty White remembers "those love songs you two used to write," but of course that's the problem. Teddy, the hypotenuse of both a Rayna-Deacon and a Rayna-Lamar isosceles, is well aware of the dangers of such a tour, and doesn't like the idea, but Rayna reminds him that she's going along with his mayoral run even though she hates it. "It's important to me; can't that just be enough?" he asks, exasperated. "You'd think," she snips back.

Can't buy her love — yet

Meanwhile, Juliette hasn't given up trying to seduce Deacon onto her tour — literally. She buys him a $50,000 guitar; she takes him to a skinny-dipping spot on her land -- that Tammy Wynette used to own -- to "write songs." Okay, they do work on a song together, and they do have good artistic chemistry, but that puts Deacon at the center of a triangle of his own. Should he go on the road with Rayna, his great love, and sing the songs he still means? Or should he take the big money and help Juliette out of the triangle she's caught in, between big-money pop success with the tweens and the artistic cred she craves?

Watty White puts Scarlett into a love/work triangle when he tells her and Gunnar that, if they write three songs together, he'll cut the demo. It's a no-brainer for Gunnar, but boyfriend Avery's band is struggling (and for good reason, based on the generically yelly song shown), and she doesn't have the heart to act on a great opportunity she fell into when it's Avery who really wants it. When Avery finds out about the offer, he's bent out of shape, but more gracious than you'd expect: "Watty White discovered half this town… Congratulations, seriously." Nice bit of nuance for the character, which the writers then waste on Gunnar asking Scarlett if she really wants to be with someone who won't let her be who she is.

Deacon and Rayna argue: about the Juliette offer, why Rayna never comes to his Bluebird gigs, and how dare he imply that she's never been there for him — a reference, presumably, to his past substance-abuse problems, deftly brought out in exposition by a "vulnerability study" the mayoral campaign is conducting on Teddy and Rayna's pasts. (Teddy's last real-estate deal could prove problematic, especially since Teddy seems to think that throwing a bunch of paperwork into a fire while brooding over a glass of Scotch is actually going to hide any improprieties.) Questioned closely about the timeline of her final tour with Deacon, Rayna abruptly ends the discussion, and later shows up at the Bluebird to hear Deacon play. Juliette has also come, and when Deacon invites a "very special and talented friend" to join him on the mic, Juliette is leaning forward to rise from her seat when Deacon says Rayna's name. Burrrrrn.

And speaking of stoking the flames…

Rayna and Deacon sing a mournful, eighties-flavored song. The phrase "no one will ever love you like I do" is the bulk of the lyrics, and it's a little on the nose, but the way they sing it to each other, staring into one another's eyes, is a perfect snapshot of that gorgeous awkward love you can't bring yourself to put down. Juliette's eyes have filled, but though she's hurt, she's very faintly mouthing the words (great work by Hayden Panettiere here). Scarlett, mesmerized, murmurs to Gunnar on the spot, "Okay, let's do it."

Afterwards, Rayna and Deacon sit in his truck. "I wish we hadn't done that song," she says. He asks what they do now. She bolts out of his truck.

Odds and ends

Rayna is still friendly with Coleman Carlisle despite throwing his campaign over for her husband's, but when Cole goes to visit Lamar, it's clear that it's going to go down between the two men.

The snarking between Rayna and Juliette is very well done. The "Deacon told me about your little tour, should be fun" / "Yeah, it's for people who like real music" exchange is brisk, baby. See also: a woman at Teddy's fundraiser asking Rayna if her album is for sale at Starbucks. Ouch.

Hayden Panettiere is bringing really nice dimension to the Juliette role, but the hair is deplorable. It looked like a teased string mop this week. Pull it together, wig wrangler!

See all the threesomes for yourself; you can watch the full episode right here: