This time of year, our thoughts are supposed to be filled with visions of dancing sugarplums, angels earning their wings and all the Whos down in Whoville circling trees in song.
The thing is, knowing that a member of Nashville‘s ensemble is going to bite it next week means it’s much easier to picture the Grim Reaper – rather than Frosty the Snowman – running amok in Music City.
Is he cheering in the bar where Will attempts some ill-conceived crowd surfing? Is he lingering around the corner when Teddy and Deacon nearly come to blows again? Is he in the gleam of Rayna’s eye when she barely restrains herself from strangling an overly familiar Peggy? Is he sharing a cell with a fading Lamar? Only next week’s fall finale will tell. Until then, let’s review what happened in “I’m Tired of Pretending.”
EXECUTIVE DECISIONS | At the beginning of the episode, Layla runs over the allotted time for her set, ticking off Juliette in the process. As Ju fumes in her dressing room, Charlie shows up and re-professes his love. “I think you like games,” she tells his pretty, pretty face, “and I’m not a toy.”
But later, he calls her and tells her to turn on Extra! She flips to the entertainment news show just in time to hear that “Charlivia” is no more: The Wentworths are divorcing. (Charlie, no one should have to have major news about his or her life delivered by Mario Lopez.) “Now do you believe me?” the Brit asks, but Ju still looks wary.
Meanwhile, Ms. Barnes decides to circumvent Glenn (and, once more, his wisdom) by confronting Layla about her set overage the evening before. “I think it’s better to have a boy between two girls,” Ju purrs, and for a fleeting moment, my dirty old recapper fantasy lives again. But no, Juliette means that she’s flipping Layla and Will’s sets, meaning that the reality show runner-up will play to an even smaller crowd in the near future.
NICE TRY | After Will drinks too much and pretends he’s Cowboy Ugly-era Piper Perabo, he takes a header into a bar crowd that’s uninterested in holding up his lanky frame. In real life, the leap he takes into the hard floor would cost him some nose cartilage and at least a tooth or two; here, he barely has a scratch on him when a doc clears him for performing the next morning.
Brent swings by to announce that since Will can’t seem to keep himself out of shenanigans, the label has decided he’ll now have a “constant companion.” Guess who it is? In the spirit of the season, sing along with me, Roger, Mark, Mimi, Collins and the rest of the gang: Brent Brent Brent Brent Brennnnnnnt! Don’t look so peeved, Will; at least a tiny part of you is psyched about this development.
Will apologizes to Layla for his drunken tomfoolery, which caused them to miss an early morning press opportunity, and she maneuvers herself into a duet with him to close his set that night – thus thwarting Juliette’s set-flip. But THEN, JuJu turns the thwarter into the thwartee by swooping in right as Will announces that he’s bringing a guest to the stage. “You’re sittin’ this one out,” she chirps as she glides by the brunette and sidles up to Will, waving to the crowd. (Side note: I can only assume that with the high pony and the skintight red leather, Juliette is paying homage to “Oops!… I Did It Again”-era Britney, no?)
RETRIBUTION | Later on, after a boozy (and too brief) conversation with Will, Juliette decides to give Charlie the heave-ho. “Love is wanting to help somebody be the best version of themselves,” she says sadly, counseling him to reunite with Olivia. As he leaves her Nashville pad, they both note how lucky they were no one caught wind of their relationship. However…
At Will’s place, where Layla is crashing, he rebuffs her aggressive attempt to disrobe him and hightails it to the shower instead. Still smarting from her duet ouster, Layla dials a tabloid (It sounded like TMZ, right? Does she have Harvey Levin on speed dial?) and is all too happy to spill the real reason behind Charlivia’s split. “Two words: Juliette Barnes.”
DADDY DRAMA REVISITED | Maddie gets both Teddy and Rayna to agree that she can take guitar lessons from Deacon, which leads us to the sweetest, best scene from the entire episode. (Despite the hilarity of Connie Britton’s reaction to it, we’re going to shove aside Peggy’s ridiculous cheek-kissing and aren’t-we-all-friends-now faux cheer when Rayna shows up at Two Old Hippies. Cool?) Maddie takes the stage at a kids’ open-mic session and surprises Deacon by inviting him up to sing his tune, “A Life That’s Good,” with her. He’s blindsided by the request but acquiesces, chiming in on the harmonies as his daughter absolutely nails the number. Man, I love that song. It’s a quiet moment – Teddy, Rayna and Deacon all gazing upon their performing daughter with love and pride – and the show handles it well.
Too bad Teddy and Deacon have to wreck it by nearly having a repeat of their season-ending dust-up on the corner outside the venue. Maddie sees her two dads fighting and storms off; Rayna later calls a summit of the pops and demands that they straighten up and fly right or risk losing their daughter forever. Teddy interprets that nugget of wisdom as, “I should cancel Deacon’s set at the city’s music festival.” Teddy, you deserve all the pig’s blood that oozes its way into your life.
LAMAR’S LAMENT | Speaking of dads and daughters, Ms. Jaymes winds up testifying at the hearing that determines whether or not Lamar will be released on house arrest. (Request: Denied.) Tandy’s absence is noted by both Rayna and Lamar, who makes some comments during the episode that might indicate he’s the one who’ll go to the Grand Ole Opry in the sky next week.
ODD GIRL OUT | And that brings us to Scarlett’s newest reason to feel bad about herself: She feels like an outsider when Zoey and Avery drive to visit her and Gunnar on tour. She’s so sad that even though she gets some alone time in bed with Avery, all she can ask is, “You wanna watch some TV?” The look on his face says, “I did not drive five hours one-way just to soak up SVU reruns all night.” But he agrees, nevertheless.
Meanwhile, Gunnar and Zoey decide they’re “a thing,” but for it to be legit, they have to tell Scarlett. (I’d be more on board with their plan if it weren’t derailed completely by their inability to keep their hands off each other long enough to see it through. Focus, kids!) By the time Zoey gets around to hanging out with her bestie – and reassuring her that she won’t feel like an outsider forever – it’d be inappropriate to slip in, “Oh, and I’m banging the tall drink of sweet tea you used to call boo.” So she doesn’t – and of course, Scarlett catches the pair of them making out in the hallway right before Zoey and Avery head back to Nashville. Ouch.
Now it’s your turn. Were you disappointed that lawyer lady Megan clearly doesn’t understand what hallowed ground Deacon’s bed is? Do you actually want to see Zoey and Gunnar and/or Scarlett and Avery succeed as couples? And who has your vote for coffin fodder next week? Sound off in the comments!