Recap’s going to be a little late this time, but it’s coming! In the meantime, please share your thoughts on the Season 2 finale of Nashville, “On The Other Hand”!
Welcome back to ‘Nashville,’ where Rayna, Tandy, and Manager Bucky are powwowing about the possibility of debuting at #1, and Rayna wants a debut week of 200k (which seems ambitious in this market?). Edgehill is spending big to make Will Lexington happen, and Rayna longs for the days when she would open with a million (really? Because Shania never did.). Deacon and Maddie are bantering about outlaw country legends as they walk in, and when Rayna asks them to choose between Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, they both choose Loretta to her approval. Maddie says she has a present for Rayna and Deacon and when she runs off to go get it, Deacon tells Rayna he is getting one of his old guitars fixed up to give to Maddie. He teases Rayna about how much better Maddie is at playing than Rayna ever was, and Rayna retorts that she never had to be good because she had him. Maddie’s present is framed pictures of Deacon, Rayna, Maddie, and Daphne performing at last week’s Fort Campbell benefit. Maddie half seriously suggests her mom should sign them all to Highway 65 so they can all perform together, and Rayna good naturedly tells Maddie that will wait until she finishes school. Maddie turns to Deacon for support but he is #TeamRayna, and she storms off, bumping into Luke as he makes his way in.
Luke has a beer in hand and takes a sip right in front of Deacon, and we are clearly supposed to note his insensitivity and make sure our antennae are all #TeamRayna&Deacon. He apologizes to Deacon for not being able to play his benefit because he will be in New York with Rayna, but promises to send over signed guitars and stuff. Deacon thanks him and tells Rayna he’ll buy her album as he leaves. After he does, Luke notices the framed picture and remarks about what a good looking family that is. Rayna silences him by saying it would be if they weren’t so great. And kisses. We know this isn’t going to last.
Avery is strumming on his guitar and Juliette’s place when Juliette walks in, beaming. He stops playing, because he is actually working on a (no longer a) surprise song for Juliette. Juliette is flattered and happy, and covering her guilt better than she did last episode. She tells Avery she loves him, when Avery’s phone rings. Turns out Jeff Fordham has been blowing up his phone with messages about wanting to talk to Avery about his future. But Avery has no intention of “getting into bed with that guy.” Word choice. It’s everything.
Will is a stressed out, temperamental mess over his album release, and Layla is at her wits end trying to reason with him. He thinks going up against Rayna is karma’s way of paying him back for backing out of his agreement with Rayna. The reality show producers are knocking on the door, and Layla reminds him the show will help. Will puts on his happy face when he and Layla open the door, but he looks pretty strung out. So I have a question…is this reality show in real time or close, because if not, how is it going to help Will’s album debut?
Deacon has returned home, and he’s not so sure about Scarlett’s plan to go back to Ole Miss for school, but Scarlett says poetry is how she’s always kept her feet on the ground. No conversation about whether they’ll miss each other (or, for that matter, about her mother Beverly), but thanks to the level of prominence Clare Bowen had in the Nashville On The Record concert special, we all know Scarlett isn’t going to wind up leaving, right? Scarlett notices the framed picture of Deacon with Rayna and the girls, and says it’s hard not to wonder what might have been. Deacon needs more coffee.
Gunnar has taken Zoe to his new place, and they banter about furnishings. Zoe tells him about Scarlett returning to Mississippi. Gunnar seems affected by the news, so I guess our triangle will be reforming by the end of the episode, especially with Zoe headed out on tour with Juliette.
Juliette calls Jeff and desperately tries to convince him that she told Avery and that Avery understood and forgave her. Jeff knows she’s lying and further twists the knife by telling her guys like Avery don’t understand. He demands Juliette extricate herself from her Highway 65 contract. Avery shows up thinking Juliette is yelling at a food delivery service, and Juliette hangs up on Jeff. Turns out Jeff is at Will and Layla’s, with a scheduled “surprise” visit to let them know Will is going to promote his new album in New York! Jeff is very excited! Well, on camera, but in reality, he can’t be done with this nonsense soon enough. Will and Layla are excited.
Turns out part of the Jeff Fordham New York promo package is Good Morning America, because as Manager Bucky tells Rayna when he visits him (and Luke, who is preparing breakfast), Jeff Fordham got Rayna bumped from GMA in favor of Will. How? Probably by offering them Luke Wheeler. Luke knew nothing of this (he really didn’t). Rayna is ready to go to war with Jeff Fordham. So she enlists an off-camera Teddy to book her LP Field for her album launch, and she’s going to bundle an album download with every ticket sold in the 70k stadium. They’re going to set up a livestream and work viral marketing. Meanwhile Juliette arrives to demand release from her contract with Highway 65, claiming the label is not big enough to handle an act of her stature. She’s as offensive and insulting as ever, but Rayna doesn’t take the bait, telling Juliette about the LP Field show and how she will be a part of it, and how if her album launch doesn’t succeed, there will be no Highway 65 for either of them. Good scene here between the 2 ladies!
We’re at Deacon’s benefit for the Heart Fellowship Sobriety Center that supported his recovery, where Avery finally notices how squirrelly Gunnar & Zoe are behaving after he asks them where Juliette is. Luke and Rayna arrive hand in hand, and Rayna goes over to greet Scarlett, who tells her that she is leaving to go back to school. Rayna is supportive, and they are interrupted by Jeff Fordham, who needles Rayna about the 200k downloads he’s guaranteed for Will Lexington (OK, this is ridiculous. No newbie country act without a built up talent show fanbase is going to get anywhere near those numbers, and no record label would try). He also shows his hand about poaching Juliette.
Meanwhile, it’s movie night at Teddy’s where he and Daphne are hanging out, but Maddie’s back to sulking. Daphne is over her attitude, but asks Teddy if she could start music lessons of some kind, which is rough for Teddy.
Deacon speaks at his benefit about how recovery from substance abuse is a daily battle and a lifelong one, with shoutouts to family like Scarlett and Maddie for helping him see the world in a new light. Rayna’s rapt attention on Deacon during his speech doesn’t escape Luke’s notice, and therefore doesn’t escape ours. Deacon introduces Avery, Gunnar, and Zoe to perform a song Avery dedicates to an absent Juliette, called “One Light Shining.”
To DOWNLOAD “One Light Shining,” cowritten by Ross Copperman, Blair Daly, and Troy Verges and performed by Jonathan Jackson, click HERE.
As Avery performs, Juliette does turn up, except she’s completely wasted. While Rayna watches, Deacon scolds Juliette and prevents her from making a spectacle of herself at the benefit by working with security to get her sent home. Rayna shows up at Juliette’s demanding to know why Juliette is so desperate to get herself kicked off Highway 65, and a drunk Juliette finally fesses up to Rayna about her dalliance with Jeff. That leads to a great scene where Rayna holds Juliette’s hair back while she throws up, and tells Juliette that she’s going to have to tell Avery herself, because that’s what big girls do. Rayna also refuses to give up on Juliette as a Highway 65 act, and tells her they are going to perform together at LP Field and kill it. Their conversation is a reminder of the core of what makes Nashville work as a show, beyond the music – it’s the friendships. Not the romantic relationships, which are too subject to convenient revelations and inconsistent characterizations.
Over at Teddy’s, Maddie grunts her way past him as she goes for coffee, as Teddy chuckles and asks her what’s going on. She bristles at the thought of him making fun of her, but she is pouring about as much sugar in the coffee as she can, and that would crack anybody up. When she complains to Teddy about Rayna and Deacon postponing her music dreams, he reasonably agrees with them, and says he understands why it’s difficult to wait, only to be interrupted by Maddie insulting him about his lack of interest in music and how that means he’ll never understand.
Meanwhile Will recaps his day in New York for the cameras as he heads back to his hotel room, and he is all dimpled smiles and charm until he closes his hotel room door on his reality show. Once he does, he’s pensive. Back in Nashville, Layla gushes to the cameras about her husband’s talent and wit, and the producer suggests she call Will. She does, but when Will picks up the phone, it’s to answer a call from his new personal trainer, not the call from his wife. Layla is hurt that her call goes to voicemail, but tries to cover when the producer asks her if everything’s OK.
Back after the benefit, Avery asks Gunnar and Zoe if they ever saw Juliette, and they say they didn’t. They’re still acting strangely, and this time, he demands to know why. Off-camera, they tell him, and we don’t get to see him react (or ask how long they knew this, why they didn’t tell him before, and so on – the show didn’t take this issue anywhere near seriously enough IMO). A teary-eyed Juliette is waiting for Avery when he returns to her place. He wants her to tell him it’s not true. She doesn’t ask who told him (did she assume it was Fordham?), and admits it is, but insists it was a mistake that meant nothing. She knows there is no explanation/excuse for what she did, but tells Avery she loves him and he loves her. A devastated Avery questions whether Juliette has a clue what love is other than a stadium full of 50k fans screaming for their queen (her). He says he loves her, that she has no idea how much, but he’s going to have to get over that after what happened.
Back at Rayna’s, Tandy has found out that the big superstore Sam Boone’s has been stocked with 200k gift cards with Will Lexington’s album download. Tandy went to business school with Sam Boone’s son, and Rayna has enough connections to reach the family. There’s just that leetle issue of Rayna turning down opportunities with them because the chain had chosen not to stock Juliette’s albums. Tandy says there’s no room for ethics in business, prompting Rayna to greet Tandy as their father. Tandy accepts the criticism and asks Rayna if she’s going to make the call or not.
The producers play Will back footage of Layla’s confession that she feels neglected and wonders whether Will is tired of her. Will expresses genuine sorrow for hurting her, and points the finger at the pressure he feels with his debut album release coming up. He feels as if everything is riding on it.
Scarlett and Zoe are hanging out, and Zoe talks about their role reversals (with Zoe headed out on a big tour and Scarlett headed back to Mississippi – this reads as passive-aggressive but it’s apparenty not meant to be). Scarlett regrets not being happier for Zoe and Gunnar. That gives Zoe the opening to give Scarlett a flash drive with the song Gunnar wrote for her before asking/suggesting that Scarlett go to see Gunnar before leaving town.
Rayna voluntarily pops by Deacon’s to pick up the guitar he is giving Maddie, and gazes at that framed picture of her with Deacon and the girls. Deacon asks how her album launch is going, and Rayna confides about her little crisis of conscience over making the call to Boone’s. Deacon says it’s a different music business than the one they made it in, and there will be no ill judgment from him if she does what she has to do. Rayna feels better, which I guess is permission for the audience to feel better. Meh.
Sure enough, when we’re back at Will’s and they are gushing to the cameras over his Boone’s e-card prototype, they are interrupted by a call from Jeff Fordham about Boone’s pulling the promotion. Will escapes the cameras to their bedroom to finish the conversation.
When we’re back at LP Field, Rayna and Tandy are smiling triumphantly about 250k e-cards featuring Rayna being promoted by Boone’s Superstores. Juliette arrives, and she fills Rayna in on Avery’s reaction. Rayna tells her that she doesn’t have to perform with Rayna if she doesn’t want to, but Juliette says she wants to have Rayna’s back like Rayna had hers. It also turns out that Rayna’s invited Jeff Fordham, and his arrival prompts a pretty amusing set of putdowns from Juliette and Rayna. Juliette doesn’t seem to mind Rayna’s deal with Boone’s (in this case, it wasn’t Rayna taking over shelf space intended for Juliette though), and she does get a little bit of enjoyment over Rayna’s outmaneuvering of Jeff.
Meanwhile Teddy and Daphne are admiring the scene, and Maddie’s sulking is only alleviated by Deacon’s arrival, which wipes the smile off Teddy’s face.
Luke greets Rayna in her dressing room, and there’s banter and kissing. He tells Rayna he has a surprise for her, but doesn’t reveal it (did Rayna not watch the promos for this episode????). After he leaves to let Rayna get ready, Rayna says a prayer of thanks for her daughters, for “that wonderful man,” and for her many blessings. Then she heads out onto stage to perform “This Time,” high-fiving a line-up of supporters that include a smiling Teddy, her smiling daughters, a smiling Deacon, and more.
On the other end of the spectrum, Will is a mess, and accidentally interrupts a romantic night between Gunnar and Zoe because he needs to talk to the only person in town he has talked to before. And once again, we see that the strength of this show is its friendships. Gunnar reminds Will of his talent, of other record labels in town, and he tells Will that he needs to be able to be himself not only with Gunnar but everyone else. Will seems to agree.
Back at LP Field, Rayna performs “He Ain’t Gonna Change” with Juliette, and the audience and the show don’t seem to care about Juliette’s recent dustups with the country music public. Meanwhile, Avery is drunk on his couch when Scarlett knocks. Ruh roh. The show’s not going to go there, is it? Scarlett demands to know what is going on, and when Avery tells her Juliette is not a good person, Scarlett reminds him there are some things Avery would also undo if he could. He’s drunk and not necessarily hearing it, but at least the show isn’t hooking them up.
At Rayna’s show, it’s now time for the show closer, “Ball & Chain,” and Luke and Rayna have their fun with it while Deacon squirms and Maddie’s face reflects our knowledge as the audience that the writers are eventually going to reunite Rayna with Deacon. Connie Britton and Will Chase are completely believable in every aspect of their characters except as performers. Their faces are fine but their bodies are as stiff as boards on stage. Not that the crowd seems to mind! Everyone, including Teddy, Daphne, and Maddie (!!!!) cheers their performance. Luke is full of high-octane compliments for Rayna, and then, with Rayna wondering what on earth he’s going on about, Luke gets down on one knee to ask Rayna to be his ball and chain. Rayna is shocked, and Will starts joking about how he can’t stay down there forever when she appears to accept his proposal (I say appears because the show doesn’t let us hear her say yes, though we see her nod and accept the ring). Maddie is upset, Daphne seems unsure, Teddy is no longer smiling, but has a strong fatherly moment when he looks over with concern at Maddie. Deacon seems to have tears in his eyes as he also looks over at Maddie.
People editor Jess Cagle tells Luke and Rayna that they must give People an exclusive on their wedding, and Luke says they’ll let the mag know when Rayna sets a date. Luke apologizes that he has to go drop off his kids at the airport and other than a convenient plot development that will give a hovering Deacon the chance to express his feelings, it’s a reminder that we really haven’t seen a whole lot of Luke and Rayna’s kids together other than the Colton/internet debacle and also a reminder that maybe Luke could have prepared the kids a little better for this moment. A missed opportunity for the show to tackle the difficulties of a blended family, but then again, we know this show isn’t committed to this particular blended family.
Meanwhile Avery goes to see Juliette. He says he’s not back, but his problem is, he believes Juliette when she says she loves him. They are both crying during a conversation that shows what happens when this show does get a relationship right, as Juliette speaks honestly about how she grew up, how she came to understand love, and how her conviction that love will go south leads her to self-destruct the minute she thinks something will go wrong in love. She tells Avery she knows she doesn’t deserve him, but asks him to please not leave her alone again.
Scarlett goes to the Bluebird to see Gunnar, having listened to the song he wrote for her. It’s back to the “scene of the crime,” as he puts it. Gunnar tries to apologize for everything that followed from the moment he pulled her up on stage, and Scarlett tells him nothing that happened is his fault, he just believed in her and loved her for a little while, like she loved him. He asks if he can play the song for her, and when Scarlett smiles, he starts playing the lovely “It Ain’t Yours To Throw Away,” with Scarlett eventually joining him for harmonies.
To DOWNLOAD “It Ain’t Yours To Throw Away,” cowritten by Lee Brice, Jon Stone, and Pam Tillis and performed by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen, click HERE.
Scarlett cries as he performs, and when Gunnar finishes his song, he tells Scarlett that he doesn’t think she should go. Meanwhile Avery seems to take a step back from Juliette after she has asked him not to leave her alone again, but I don’ tthink we’re supposed to be sure what he’s doing. An openly crying Will takes Layla into their bedroom to confess that he’s gay, mistakenly thinking he’s avoiding the cameras when he does so. She is shocked and doesn’t seem to be returning his embrace, but hey, did I mention the camera embedded in their wall clock? And finally, Deacon goes to see Rayna as the last two episodes (and not many this season before them, to be honest) have hinted he would – he confesses his feelings and promises that he is now finally ready to be the husband he was meant to be to Rayna. One thing that rings false to me in Deacon’s proposal is that he never cites Maddie as the reason for the change. But he does say that it’s supposed to be Rayna, Maddie, Daphne, and him (good that he includes Daphne, I guess it would’ve been awkward to mention Teddy, too?), and he leaves Rayna with the ring he gave her when he proposed the first time, telling her she doesn’t have to answer him right away. He kisses her, and though Rayna doesn’t totally want to, she does kind of kiss him back. And there we leave things for the season.
So where does Nashville go next? Will Chase (Luke) has been made a series regular for Season 3, as has Oliver Hudson (Jeff Fordham). So we definitely have our villain in Edgehill Republic’s Jeff Fordham, and it doesn’t appear that the show intends to dispose of Luke Wheeler for the timebeing, much to the chagrin of the Rayna and Deacon shippers. I’m not crazy about the sudden turnabout that saw Deacon proposing to Rayna – it didn’t feel true to their history as characters, and Deacon as the show normally presents him knows better than to claim he’s all reformed and ready and expect to be believed. And he didn’t seem to consider the feelings of Rayna’s 2 girls any more than Luke when he proposed (Luke, at least, was already in a relationship with Rayna and well-acquainted with Maddie and Daphne). Whomever ends up with whom (and I think the show has made it clear that Rayna and Deacon are part of their endgame), I hope the family aspects of the show are treated with more care and realism next season. Speaking of family, whither Teddy and Tandy? He lost his major adversary with Lamar’s demise, and the show has been weeding out political storylines. Will the show develop an identity for him other than “Mayor/Dad who is being left behind by his musically inclined daughters?” As for Tandy, she barely had a storyline this season after Lamar’s passing, but I think the show’s writers like to have strong woman on the show and in Tandy they have a strong businesswoman. Here’s hoping she gets to have some fun next season, perhaps going toe-to-toe with Jeff Fordham?
Now about the younger generation – those scenes with Juliette and Rayna were probably the best part of the season finale, so here’s hoping we get another season of them clashing but cooperating as label act and label head. Juliette and Avery have developed into the most emotionally credible relationship on the show and their relationship is clearly a storyline the show writers are committed to pursuing. Juliette alluded to needing help, so is she going to connect with professionals to deal with the aspects of her history that make her self-destruct in relationships? There is also her desire to rebuild her country career, a storyline that really never played out in a realistic way. EDIT: OMG, US Weekly claims Hayden Panettiere is expecting her 1st child! We did have that vomiting scene with Juliette in the season finale…the show wouldn’t be setting up a Juliette pregnancy story with a “who’s the daddy?” storyline, would it? Because…UGH.
Avery has his own variety of music prospects, while Gunnar is living large over his current royalties. It would be interesting to see Gunnar suddenly struggling to land cuts because of a shift at radio or something like that. Meanwhile his moment with Scarlett, plus Zoe’s impending absence (the fact that she and Gunnar told Avery doesn’t seem to affected her employment status with Juliette) seems to ensure that Gunnar will be conflicted romantically next season. Gunnar still has performance ambitions and Scarlett is over hers for the timebeing, so that could be interesting, too.
With his confession now on tape, it seems inevitable that Will will be outed publicly – will he struggle, get dropped by Edgehill and wind up on Highway 65? How did his debut album wind up selling, anyway? Will the show make a serious attempt at exploring the idea of an openly gay male country act? Will Layla leverage what is probably some genuine hurt and the publicity that comes from Will’s inevitable outing into some momentum for her career, perhaps getting a second push from Jeff Fordham (perhaps as Jem from Jem & The Holograms)? Oh, and Brent????? Where are youuuuuuuu?????? This show has a penchant to just drop character (or actual characters) to make way for desired plot developments, and his disappearance to make way for the Will and Layla reality show was one of them.
Last but most definitely not least, Ms. Rayna James. Romantic entanglements aside, she will still be running a fledgling label next season, and however much her album may have sold, she will still want to prove that she can launch another act, and do so trying to uphold the ideals of protecting artists and their integrity. In the season finale, she compromised those ideals a little and got away with it, but with Jeff Fordham still in town, there’s more wins and losses to be tallied. And Jeff Fordham still has Luke Wheeler enriching his label’s coffers, which could make for some conflict at home should Rayna stay involved with him.
So, lots to look forward to next season, when I hope you’ll all join us back in Nashville!