This week’s episode of “Nashville” started out with love all around - Scarlett O’Connor and Avery Barkley, reunited; Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton; and Juliette Barnes and Charles Wentworth. But as much as fans watch ‘Nashville’ for the soapy love scenes, one of the strengths of “Nashville” is its humorous odd-couple pairings. This episode, that honor was bestowed on Avery and Deacon Claybourne, as Deacon asks Avery to play guitar for his singing debut. When Avery reminds Deacon he could ask any great guitarist in town to help out, Deacon replies, “There’s a good chance I am going to look like an idiot and I’d rather not to do it in front of people I love and respect, no offense.”
The grouping is only more awkward because Avery is currently spending nights with Deacon’s niece - and current roommate - Scarlett. When they head to the off-the-beaten-path club for Deacon’s open mic show, they find a comedy club instead. “It’s a sign,” Deacon says.
This episode also continued to drag the audience through the boring plotline of Teddy Conrad, who because of his political ambitions had to marry Peggy Kenter, the woman he believes is pregnant with his love child (though she’s not). The only remotely entertaining aspect of this is Maddie Conrad’s journey navigating her feelings about Teddy and Deacon, the former being the father who raised her and the latter her biological one. She overcomes her resentment of Teddy’s new marriage to join her sister, Daphne Conrad, and serenade the wedding guests with this week’s only song.
Rayna Jaymes, the show’s heart, seems to be wandering aimlessly between men to find her own. This week’s episode builds on her budding romance with fellow country legend Luke Wheeler, when he takes her to his ranch for some good ol’ shooting and a tumble in the sheets.
“You surprise me, this whole place surprises me, me being here surprises me,” Rayna says, grateful for the distraction from ex-Teddy’s wedding.
But when reality hits and she returns to the real world to comfort Maddie, she realizes she must revive something with Deacon. The depth of their relationship is one of the show’s most genuine and sensational achievements. Not many people reunite with alcoholic lovers who almost kill them in a car accident, but everyone can identify with an ex-someone that is forever intertwined in your adult life or the person you can count on when you most need them.
“We’ve got a daughter together. She’s asking for you,” Rayna says, as Deacon stands in the comedy club parking lot. He’s forced to scrap his plans for an anonymous debut and heads over to the reliable and venerable Bluebird Cafe, to perform in front of Rayna, Maddie and friends.
Scene-stealer Juliette continues to be one of the most entertaining aspects of “Nashville.” This week she tries to spare the newcomer Layla Grant from feeling like she has to get friendly with powerful men in town to get air play. “Anybody treats you like a whore on my tour you come tell me,” Juliette says to Layla. After Layla reminds Juliette she’s her own woman, Juliette says to herself, “I guess nice just ain’t my color.”
And for those who endured the otherwise ho-hum episode, there were two twists at the end worth seeing: Gunnar shows up on tour with Scarlett, reigniting a love triangle the show had pretty effectively killed.
But the major twist came as Olivia Wentworth, wife of Charles, who witnessed Juliette’s pairing with her husband last episode, shows up at Juliette’s hotel room. It’s clear she’s worked up about something, but there’s no way audiences could guess what.
“Yes - I know you’re sleeping with my husband - but what I don’t understand is why you’re not sleeping with me,” she says, kissing Juliette.