A good chunk of this week’s Nashville – the Season 2 premiere – takes place in the past. It’s a softly-lit time filled with bad hair, questionable fashion and tears, and it provides a sad counterpoint for even sadder events in the present: namely, Rayna’s coma and Deacon’s guilt.
Elsewhere, Juliette once more proves herself an opportunist extraordinaire, and Will’s not gay. No, seriously! So straight! Nothing to see here!
THE CRASH, REVISITED | We pick up at the tail end of Rayna and Deacon’s cargument, which results in the massive crash that leaves both of ‘em bloodied and upside down in a ditch. Deacon is awake, with his hand wedged at a bad angle, and he drags it out (ouch) and somehow maneuvers an unconscious Rayna out of the car and onto the grass, where they collapse. We immediately flashback to him showing her around the dreamhouse he’s purchased for them; it’s right after Deacon’s been released from rehab and right before Rayna’s first CMA Award nomination; she’s a bit more aw-shucks than the polished performer we’ve come to know. They’re in love, and it’s cute. (Her hair, less so… but the late ’90s were a confusing time for many of us.)
Back in the present, Rayna’s hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU while Tandy and the girls look on. She’s been in a medically induced coma for two weeks, and the doctors aren’t sure what they’ll find when they wake her up. Teddy and Lamar take turns by Ray-Ray’s bedside; the topic of Rayna’s mother’s death in a vehicle accident comes up a few times (and will be important later).
As the flashbacks continue, we see Deacon propose to Rayna circa the time of Maddie’s conception. She happily accepts, and they (and their Reality Bites hair) make love on the floor. But the next morning, she finds him drunk and passed out on the couch – and she demands to know whether he was plastered when he asked her. “When I asked you what?” he asks muzzily, which earns him a ring thrown angrily in his direction. Months later, when a preggers Rayna and Tandy swing by the house, they peer through one of the million windows to see Deke imbibing all of the alcohol in the place simultaneously. Tandy stops her sister from going inside. “You cannot help,” she starts, leading me to finish, “someone who would choose to wear that vest over that tank top?” But she means, “someone who doesn’t want to be helped.” Oh yeah. That, too. Speaking of the soused devil, what’s he up to?
DEACON IS THE NEW BLACK | Deacon, in orange prison scrubs and with his arm in a sling, stands before a judge and wants to take responsibility for the accident. He tries to plead guilty, but His Honor notes that if Rayna dies, the charges Deke is facing will change to involuntary manslaughter – he’s going to want some sort of legal representation.
At home, Scarlett hustles unsuccessfully to get her uncle’s $1 million bail together. Juliette is less than supportive; after her ordeal with Jolene, she knows that addicts are very likely to hurt the ones who love them, and she wants no part of that enable-a-thon. And when Deacon finally allows Scarlett to visit, he’s nasty to her. “What’s new, girl?” he says, mocking; I know it’s not meant to be funny, but Chip Esten’s beauty-parlor delivery made me laugh out loud. Undeterred, Scarlett tells him “You’ve been like a father to me,” which throws the self-declared drunk into a rage. “I’m nobody’s damn father!” he shouts at her before banning her from future visits.
I SEE YOUR TRUE COLORS SHINING THROUGH | Juliette is ticked off that the accident has sent Rayna’s album sales through the stratosphere; Ms. Barnes’ new album is about to drop, and she’s worried that she’ll be overshadowed by “a saint in a coma.” She orders recently returned manager Glenn (aw, hi Glenn!) to have Edgehill push back the release date, but he explains that the label has been bought by a conglomerate that could care less about her silly little album-release date. In other news, her assistant Emily is gone on family business, and there’s a hot new candidate to fill the position. But he comes up lacking in his um, interview (if that’s what you can call him rooting around under the covers until a bored Juliette commands him to leave – an exchange that made me laugh). Ever the multitasker, she’s used the time to come up with an album-saving idea: She’s going to profit off Rayna’s tragedy.
So Ju stages a giant launch concert on the steps of Nashville’s Parthenon and spends a lot of time talking about how broken up she is over the fate that has befallen her “idol,” “mentor and friend.” She even does one of Rayna’s old songs, “This Love Ain’t Big Enough.” At the end, she invites all of the fans over to the hospital to hold vigil for the reigning Queen of Comatose Country Music – a move that causes Avery – now, it seems, a permanent member of Ju’s band — to give her the side eye.
Juliette plays up the caring pal act at the hospital but is prepared to scoot out the back door… until Maddie sees her and runs into her arms. Mads tearfully tells Juliette everything, including her true parentage, and I’m impressed by how mature and supportive Juliette is in the moment – even given the Deacon bombshell. Our bratty little girl’s growing up, y’all! After shedding some real tears for both her own mother and her tourmate, Juliette lets Scarlett know she’ll pay Deacon’s bail. (The gesture turns out to be moot later, but it’s kind, nonetheless.)
LAST CALL | An update on Scarlett and Gunnar and the marriage proposal: She said no. They broke up. She moved out. Will moved in, and the guys throw a house party that apparently starts at 2 pm. (Ain’t no party like a Nashville party ’cause a Nashville party don’t… get going until Days of Our Lives ends? Seriously – we see people show up for the rager, then we cut to Teddy having his “I don’t want this kid” meeting with Peggy on what looks like their lunch break, then we cut back to the party.)
A guy Will knows is at the bash, which doesn’t make the closeted crooner very happy. Alone in the laundry room, Will gets angry and grabs the dude by the shirtfront; it’s all very Ennis-and-Jack-”wrestling”-in-the-tent, so I can’t blame the guy when he goes in for a smooch. But Will pushes him away at the last minute and loudly decries to everyone in the immediate area that the fella made a pass at him. Then Will grabs a female partygoer and is all, “I’m going to go straight upstairs straightaway and do straight–like things to this lady here.”
Meanwhile, Gunnar has facial hair, and I don’t hate it. But he hates the fact that he can’t get Scarlett out of his system, so he torches her couch in the yard; the fire department has to show up when it gets wildly out of control. He then swings by Scarlett’s last shift at The Bluebird, and they do a very pretty duet of “Why Can’t I Say Goodnight?” while Avery watches. (Great exchange – AVERY: Can’t take no for an answer, huh? GUNNAR: Guess that makes two of us.)
We also meet Scarlett’s childhood friend Zoey, who’s recently moved to Nashville, is taking Scar’s job at the café and who, from the looks of it, has her voluminous locks styled by the same Disney-animated woodland animals that cheerily coif Scarlett’s tresses each morning. Later, we see Scarlett at Deacon’s, surveying the damage he did the last time she was there; she’s planning to move in.
BYE-BYE, BABY | Peggy miscarries, but she leads Teddy to believe their child is still alive inside her. (Didn’t know where else to fit that in, but it’s important, no?)
WAKEY WAKEY! | The doctors eventually bring Rayna out of her coma (please tell me that snippet of the cargument isn’t all we’re going to get), and she recognizes her family and soon is on the road to recovery. Deacon’s lawyer comes to his cell with good news: He’s being released because Rayna woke up and confirmed that he wasn’t driving; of course we knew Deacon was going to be leveled with relief, joy and guilt at hearing that, but it was pretty awesome to watch, anyway.
At the hospital, Rayna and her dad look out over the city and agree that the past is better left in the rearview mirror. But not so fast, Lamar, because Tandy’s just gotten word that you might’ve been involved in your wife’s fatal “accident.” Goodness gracious, Nashville, I’ve missed you so!
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!