‘Nashville’ Season 3 Episode 21, Recap & Discussion Post!

Welcome back to Nashville! We pick up on Juliette’s private jet, where P.A. Emily and Manager Glenn have dozed off, while Avery and Juliette are cuddling on a couch as they peruse gushy reviews of Juliette’s latest concert. Juliette has ambitions for 10 additional major market shows, but Avery teases that maybe they could get in some sleep before she goes off to reconquer the world. Juliette good-naturedly agrees, and as she muses about how good this all feels, the smile on her face fades when she hears Baby Cadence coo. Avery asks Juliette if she’s happy, and Juliette says she’s starting to feel like her old self again. Hmm. Avery is right to be concerned, but for now, he’s fine joining Juliette in the mile high club.

Over at Highway 65, Rayna is calling Beverly, who has not responded to the million dollar check Rayna left her in 3 days. She is leaving voicemail as Bucky walks in saying “They’re here.” Rayna asks for a minute. Who is “they”? Why, it’s Manager Noel, Scarlett and Gunnar. They just got an offer from Big Machine, their 4th for a deal. Rayna’s Highway 65 deal is likely to make it 5, but Noel is a little concerned about the 2 not making eye contact with each other. But Rayna and Bucky walk in, and after compliments (including to Noel, who is/was also Sadie’s manager), she offers them the same deal she gave Scarlett – no 360 deal, which is “unheard of” for new acts. Bucky is eager to talk about where the Exes see themselves going.

Now we’re in an office that appears to belong to U.S. Attorney Dash, friend to Teddy. Dash is listing Teddy’s crimes as Teddy glumly listens along, suggesting they would total 3-10 years in jail, minimum. Teddy doesn’t want to go to jail, obviously! Dash promises he won’t have to, if he cooperates now. Teddy has a new assignment, it turns out. Dash was pursuing a case against State Senator Richard Stern for his dealings with Wyatt Industries, but the case died with Lamar Wyatt. Dash wants Teddy to pick up where Lamar left off, but wearing a wire that could result in the implication of Stern. Teddy questions how he can pull this off, and Dash snarkily and sternly reminds him how “resourceful” he was in embezzling $500k from the city of Nashville.

Will and Kevin are unloading from Kevin’s car outside Will’s house after a nice vacation together. Will is telling Kevin about all the events Luke has him doing over the next couple days, and Kevin jokes that the sound they now hear is that “of a vacation dying.” Will laughs, and they agree that they had a wonderful time together, though they’re back in the real world now, which means bro hugs instead of romantic kisses. Kevin doesn’t seem to mind, for now.

Layla is glumly watching Extra TV coverage of Jade St. John’s European tour, which mentions Meghan Trainor has taken over as her opener since “reality show star Layla Grant” was abruptly dropped from the tour. Layla blames herself instead of Jeff, and Jeff is only too happy to play along. He even has a new plan – Twitter got her into this mess, and he thinks Twitter is going to get her out of it.

Juliette and Avery emerge from their time together (*AHEM*) and P.A. Emily and Manager Glenn feign ignorance. In fact P.A. Emily has changed Baby Cadence’s diaper, and Avery thanks her before taking Baby Cadence to feed her. Manager Glenn reads a message indicating Rayna wants to meet with Juliette about her “rogue concert” strategy. Juliette’s reply, “Bitch gets 5 minutes.” OK then! As Juliette puts on her headphones without so much as a look at Baby Cadence, Manager Glenn asks Avery if it seems like Juliette’s fuse is shorter than usual. Avery covers by saying she’s just tired, but we can tell neither is convinced.

Scarlett, Gunnar and Manager Noel emerge from the meeting with Highway 65 with Gunnar saying this was the best meeting yet and Noel excited about the terms, especially the lack of 360 deal and full creative control for the band. Scarlett is hesitant for reasons that go unexplained. Gunnar wants to accept it immediately, but Noel just wants them to talk to each other. He’s also curious why Scarlett mentioned this was her old deal. But Scarlett wants to keep looking to make sure, Gunnar argues with her, and it ends with them walking off in different directions while Noel is just confused.

Will is performing “I’m On It,” cowritten by Matt Jenkins, Matt Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen, at a Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records promo event at the Silver Horse Saloon. The song’s a catchy midtempo song about how a guy believes he will haunt his ex’s dreams – kind of like Kelly Clarkson’s “Never Again,” except peppy instead of angry.

To DOWNLOAD “I’m On It,” cowritten by Matt Jenkins, Matt Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen and performed by Chris Carmack, click HERE!

As Luke takes the stage to thank Will and joke that if he’s not careful, he’ll be opening for Will soon, we see an older middle-aged man in a cowboy hat making his way through the crowd. As Will comes offstage, he sees the man, and the smile fades from his face. “Dad?” Will asks. “Hello son,” replies Darth Dad.

Deacon is driving and wrapping up a chat with Maddie and Daphne, who are in California visiting with Aunt Tandy, apparently. As he switches from phone to radio, he hears a broadcast where the male and female DJ are talking about his cancer, news of which has apparently leaked, and morbidly talking about how he could be playing his last show at the Bluebird that night. They glibly offer their prayers as Deacon pulls over.

Back at Highway 65, the phones are now ringing off the hook, and Rayna isn’t sure why. Manager Bucky comes in to tell her it’s because news of Deacon’s cancer leaked. He guesses somebody at the hospital is responsible, and hands Rayna a priority mail envelope that arrived from Naches, Mississippi. Is it a court summons? Did Beverly file a lawsuit against Rayna? No, Rayna tears open the envelope to find a shredded version of the check she handed Beverly. Well. Didn’t see that coming.

Rayna is devastated and out of it, just in time for Juliette to march in with Manager Glenn. Juliette is all sass and vinegar when Rayna wants to talk about her rogue concerts. Juliette reminds Rayna that she paid for those shows herself, but Manager Bucky says the label’s been hit with fines from every city. Juliette hilariously says that’s not true because they haven’t been fined by Chicago yet, and tells them to tell her how much they’ve been fined, and she’ll cover that too. The important thing, according to Juliette, is that she’s back, that she didn’t just retire because she had a baby. Rayna says taking care of herself is not retiring, but Juliette is having none of it. She tells Rayna she’s been generating all her own publicity with no help from the label. Rayna’s only response is a realization that she’s not up for this conversation right now, and she excuses herself. As Manager Bucky tries to make excuses for Rayna, Juliette sneers about her lack of professionalism, reminding him that Rayna’s not the only 1 with a lot going on personally. Manager Bucky says it’s all pointless without an album, so Juliette tells him to tell Rayna she’ll have a completed album to them in 2 days.

Back at the Silver Horse Saloon, Will wants to know what his father is doing there. Darth Cowboy Dad claims to have been in town on business when he noticed Will was playing. Before Will can finish what appears to be an unfriendly dismissal, Luke interrupts to ask who Will is talking to. Will introduces his father, and a friendly invitation to the big radio event the label’s throwing tonight plus handshakes ensue. After Luke leaves, Will tells Darth Cowboy Dad he should leave, but DCD (whose name is Bill) says he’s come a long way and would like for Will to at least hear him out.

Deacon is repairing a guitar at home when Scarlett walks in. Turns out he’s had to turn off his cell phone and disconnect their land line since the news leak. Scarlett wants to know if he plans on cancelling his Bluebird set tonight, but Deacon plans to be there. He’ll have to face the music at some point, he reasons. Scarlett asks if he wants to talk about it, and he says he’d rather talk about their label search. Scarlett says their meeting with Highway 65 went great, as expected, but it’s hard to be in a band when you’re not getting along with your bandmate. Deacon reminds her that she doesn’t have to marry him, just sing with him.

Over at Gunnar’s, Kylie excitedly runs down the stairs to inform Gunnar that Micah finally spoke to her, and she is going to visit him at her parents (who are also really mad at her, and rightfully so). She’s thrilled, and she and Gunnar share a celebratory and then awkward hug. They’re interrupted by a phone call from Noel, who scolds Gunnar about how this is hte 3rd incarnation of the same band in 6 months, and that he needs to know if they’re going to get it together as a band or if he’s going to have to move on. Finally, somebody calling them out on their flakiness.

Meanwhile, Jeff has tweeted something out on Layla’s behalf. Layla is convinced people will hate her for it, so I guess she’s talking trash? Jeff is convinced this will increase her follower count, but Layla feels bad bad-mouthing a friend. But Jade’s not a friend, Jeff reminds her – she’s a “diva” who fired Layla for “no cause.”

Teddy has invited Albert the Henchmen over again, and his hair no longer resembles Dash’s. Whew! Good for me. Albert snarks that if Teddy keeps inviting him over, he’ll think they’re more than acquaintances. Teddy wants an introduction to State Senator Richard Stern, off the books, hence the use of Albert. He promises to give Albert a cut of any business generated from the new partnership. Albert thinks they may become friends after all.

Rayna arrives home, where the phone is ringing. She wanly calls out for Deacon, but he’s not there.

Will and Darth Dad are catching up, with Will reminding Cowboy Bill that he abandoned his son on the road with nothing at the age of 17. Cowboy Bill cops to that and says he’s felt bad about it every day since. So bad that he didn’t bother seeking out his son until now? OK. Will asks how his mother is. Cowboy Bill says she’s fine, that she’s been praying for Will to find his way. Oh. Cowboy Bill is under the mistaken impression that Will is straight, based on the whole marriage to Layla and whatnot. Oy. Will sees all this, and says he has to go get ready. Cowboy Bill extends his hand for a handshake and Will reciprocates. But after turning around to leave, Will can’t help but invite his dad to the show that night. Just to show him, I guess.

When Deacon arrives at Casa James, he finds Rayna weeping as she listens to their “old” duet on vinyl “Rivers Between Us,” cowritten in real life by Eric Kaz and J.D. Souther.

To DOWNLOAD “The Rivers Between Us,” cowritten by Eric Kaz and erstwhile Watty White player J.D. Souther and performed by Connie Britton and Charles Esten, click HERE!

Deacon tries to remind her to stay positive, but Rayna tearily admits she’s failing and confesses to Deacon that she didn’t go to New York, but to Naches. The heartbreak is palpable as Rayna cries about how she keeps trying to fix this, to make up for all the years they’ve lost, how every time she’s looked into the future he’s been there, and she just doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. Deacon and Rayna cry together and take solace the only way they can, in each other’s arms.

Avery is cuddling with Baby Cadence as Juliette fusses over his lost headphones. He asks her if she’d heard about Deacon’s terminal cancer. Of course she had, and she insists it’s not terminal. Avery wonders why she didn’t tell him, but Juliette unconvincingly claims she did before returning to her search for her headphones. Avery can’t believe she’s being so casual about this, and Juliette deflects by claiming Rayna demanded a completed album in 2 days. That gets Avery on her side. He had wanted to go to support Deacon at the Bluebird that night. Juliette says she can’t, but suggests he go represent them while she works and takes care of the baby. She’s sure she wants that and covers with wide eyes as Avery heads out. This is clearly not going to end well.

Scarlett and Dr. Caleb arrive at the Bluebird and are seated at a table with Gunnar and Kylie. Gunnar introduces Dr. Caleb as Scarlett’s “friend,” Scarlett retaliates with rudeness to Kylie’s friendly overtures, and Gunnar doubles down by forcefully interrupting Dr. Caleb to hear what Scarlett had to say.

Cowboy Dad Bill and Will arrive at the Wheelin’ Dealin’ party, where Will explains how they have to wine & dine radio programmers so they’ll play music from the label. Cowboy Dad Bill laughs that he’s in the wrong business. Luke greets them both and touts Will as the future of country music. Just in time, Kevin walks up, and Will freezes with awkwardness when he introduces Kevin to his father as a “co-worker.” Luke is having none of it, and praises them for writing a whole hit album together. Cowboy Dad Bill doesn’t pick up on the weirdness.

Layla is recording “I Found A Way,” written in real life by Adam and Shannon Wright when Bucky calls. A grinning Jeff picks up what is apparently Layla’s phone to chat. Bucky is concerned about “Layla’s” incendiary tweets about Jade St. John, and how they’ve made the front page of the Huffington Post. Jeff pretends to agree that Layla needs to back off, but his devilish grin makes it clear he is loving the publicity. Layla sees him on her phone and exits the recording booth to see what he’s up to. She is nowhere near skeptical enough when Jeff claims Bucky is thrilled with all the attention she’s getting for her tweets. Meh. Why do we have to act like Layla’s suddenly not a savvy gal who sees through Jeff/gets Jeff and who deferred Harvard?

Back at the Bluebird, both Gunnar and Scarlett head to the bar, and a momentary attempt to get along quickly degenerates into self-righteous and reciprocal judgment and sniping. Meanwhile, Dr. Caleb and Kylie wonder out loud what the story is with them. Scarlett takes a call from Deacon, who backs out of that night’s Bluebird show. He’s not ready to “face the music” just yet and wants Scarlett and Gunnar to cover. Scarlett grabs Gunnar as a bemused Dr. Caleb looks on, and she unintentionally ignores Avery while doing so. Gunnar also unintentionally ignores Avery while being dragged off. Why couldn’t we have a Triple Ex song to break the awkwardness?

Over at the Wheelin’ Dealin’ event, Luke, Cowboy Bill, Will, and Kevin are sitting around drinking beer and bantering about skeet shooting. Will and Kevin head off to get refills, and Kevin immediately starts questioning Will, not for the “co-worker” introduction but over the sudden re-appearance of Will’s father. Will says he caught him off-guard and did apologize. But when Kevin asks if Cowboy Bill has changed his mind, if Will is just going to forget all the things Cowboy Bill said, Will says he doesn’t want to discuss this now. Well, Kevin is smart and right to pick up on what’s really going on here, but at the same time, you’d think he could be more understanding of Will needing to work through issues with his father.

Back at the Bluebird, Scarlett makes apologies for Deacon, and she and Gunnar launch into a sultry and rootsy “Something’s Gotta Give,” cowritten by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Sarah Siskind. Their heat as performers is evident as Avery and Manager Noel look on approvingly (Avery comments “they’re a trainwreck offstage but they make great music when it counts”) and as the realization that Scarlett and Gunnar have unresolved feelings for each other settles on Caleb and Kylie.

To DOWNLOAD “Something’s Gotta Give,” cowritten by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Sarah Siskind and performed by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio, click HERE!

Rayna rejoins Deacon, who is going through their old records. He says he bailed on the Bluebird show – he’s having trouble with how everybody’s talking about him like he’s already a ghost. He wishes so much he had a Hail Mary pass in him, but he doesn’t, and neither does Rayna. Rayna is understanding and calm now. She reminds him that he’s still here, and they’ve got a show to do. So off they go.

Teddy is being fitted with a wire, and he’s surprisingly grumpy for a guy who is totally going to get away with a series of stupid, serious crimes. He wants to get all this over with, but Dash reminds him this is just 1st contact, that he may not get to the point of information gathering today. Teddy asks Dash if he has any advice. Dash tells him the mic tape isn’t too strong, so he should try not to sweat. Reassuring!

Juliette is completely absorbed by her recording of “Mississippi Flood,” cowritten in real life by Tofer Brown, Jamie Floyd, and Lucie Silvas, when Emily runs up. Juliette’s headphones were drown out Baby Cadence’s tears, but Juliette brushes it off by claiming you’re supposed to let babies cry it out. Juliette called Emily over because she’s leaving to go to the studio. Emily is silent in her disapproval.

To DOWNLOAD “Mississippi Flood,” cowritten by Tofer Brown, Jamie Floyd, and Lucie Silvas and performed by Hayden Panettiere, click HERE!

Avery exits the Bluebird to take a call from P.A. Emily, who tells him she doesn’t think Baby Cadence had been fed or changed in hours, and that Juliette just left. Emily thinks something is wrong with Juliette.

Deacon and Rayna arrive at the Bluebird, and Scarlett is only too happen to introduce them before she and Gunnar head off stage. Deacon takes the mic to talk about how music has always been there for all of them through hard times. He and Rayna “wrote” the tune they are about to perform a long time ago, and thought it would be appropriate for tonight. The ballad “Surrender” is a 2 star-crossed lovers who can’t and won’t quit each other, and is written in real life by Jaida Dreyer, Brian LoSchiavo, and Andrew Rollins

To DOWNLOAD “Surrender,” cowritten by Jaida Dreyer, Brian LoSchiavo, and Andrew Rollins and performed by Connie Britton and Charles Esten, click HERE!

Tellingly, Gunnar and Scarlett talk as they perform. They agree that they don’t want to fight. Scarlett is worried about blowing more of Rayna’s faith and money, which apparently was the only grounds for her hesitation about signing with Highway 65. Gunnar says the truth is, he doesn’t like Dr. Caleb, and she doesn’t like Kylie, but they are great together musically, so they should be OK if they try to focus on that. They shake on being business partners only. Yea, that’s going to work. But Scarlett agrees, and they head back out from the kitchen area in time for Deacon and Rayna to finish their song.

Nashville: On The Record is back! Check out the feature on “Surrender.” Fun fact that we learn is that co-writer Brian LoSchiavo has been a producer of the On The Record feature, but this time he’s in front of the camera. Also featured are Charles Esten, Senior VP Music for ABC Dawn Soler and Nashville music supervisor Frankie Pine:

Also check out an acoustic performance of “Surrender” by Jaida Dreyer, Brian LoSchiavo, and Andrew Rollins:

BONUS: Check out the songwriter demo for “Surrender,” cowritten by Jaida Dreyer, Brian LoSchiavo, and Andrew Rollins:

Back at the Wheelin’ Dealin’ radio party, Cowboy Bill tells Will how much he’s prayed for this moment with Will. Will says he has too. Cowboy Bill even feels like he can tell Will he loves him. Which would be touching if they had had a real conversation about who Will is and what Will’s been through and his father didn’t act like 1 friendly night is enough to erase all these years of prejudice and abandonment. But who can blame Will for being touched. What kid doesn’t want to believe in a parent’s love?

Teddy is totally sweating it at the bar where he awaits State Senator Richard Stern.

Jeff arrives at Layla’s apartment and Layla concedes things are looking up after “she” took shots at Jade over smoke, mirrors, and Autotune (which Jade doesn’t use). She has a new song recorded and nearly a million Twitter followers. Jeff is so flush with success that he hands Layla a contract to protect his interests. Of course he claims they both need protection. Layla calls him out a little, but barely reads the contract before signing it. Sex follows, and I’m just not liking the sudden lapses in Layla’s judgment.

P.A. Emily, Manager Glennm Avery and a stranger are all waiting for Juliette when she arrives back from the studio. Apparently Avery called her home saying it was an emergency, and she is now wondering why her doctor is there. Turns out this is an attempted intervention. They catalog her more callous than usual behavior, especially with respect to Baby Cadence, and during this time, Avery finds out from Manager Glenn that it was Juliette who promised Rayna a full album in 2 days, not Rayna who demanded it. That’s where considering the characters of the people involved would have made some sense. Juliette is immediately defensive, naturally. Her doctor suggests she’s suffering from post-partum depression, but Juliette immediately starts yelling about how she is killing herself trying to relaunch her career, a career that supports all of them, with no help from her label or any of them (which is not fair at all, of course). Avery says they just want to help her, but Juliette is in no mood for that – she grabs her keys and stomps out with plans to return to studio and prove them all wrong. Avery has the look of somebody who thought this would go some other way than it did.

Back at the Bluebird, Scarlett and Gunnar walk through a crowd of congratulators (including Noel) to approach Rayna, and they accept her deal (without telling Noel 1st, but he doesn’t seem to mind). Hugs ensue, and Dr. Caleb and Kylie are among those happy with the news. They awkwardly toast to “The Exes.”

Teddy has gotten himself together when State Senator Richard Stern arrives, and he’s now all smiles over drinks with his target. They banter about the benefits of cutting through red tape and bureaucracy, and the State Senator is all about opportunity, Lamar Wyatt-style. Teddy tells the State Senator he is looking forward to picking up where Lamar left off, when the State Senator notes he didn’t do a lot of work with Lamar directly, more with…wait for…Tandy. Teddy’s going to need another drink (and I guess this is how the storyline will be tied back into Rayna’s life?).

Scarlett and Dr. Caleb are on their way out of the Bluebird, and Scarlett is yammering about Deacon when Dr. Caleb interrupts her to say he watched her with Gunnar all night and has to ask if she still has feelings for him. Scarlett says all they were doing was fighting, and since Dr. Caleb is not a complete idiot (at least not for now), he says that’s the point – there seems to still be a lot of passion there. Scarlet says her feelings for Gunnar are annoyance, disappointment and sometimes, hate, which from the looks of it does nothing to reassure Dr. Caleb (and it shouldn’t). But she kisses him.

Meanwhile at Gunnar’s, Kylie asks Gunnar what the deal is with Scarlett, and he cops to short version of their romantic history. When Kylie doesn’t quite believe that alone would explain Scarlett’s behavior towards her, Gunnar admits Scarlett knows all, about Jason, about Kylie, everything. I’m still not sure whether we’re supposed to think of Kylie as genuine or as an emotional manipulator, but she talks about how her staying is making things worse for Scarlett and Gunnar and how she shouldn’t have told him about Jason and ruined his memories of his brother. Gunnar tells her it’s OK, and says Jason may be gone but she gave him back his memories of them. Gunnar seems to be angling for a hookup when he says they weren’t a lie, and for a moment, it seems like Kylie might give him what he wants. She kisses him. But then she pulls back and wishes Gunnar good night, walking upstairs without appearing to expect Gunnar to follow.

Will goes to see Kevin and says their time away was great and he doesn’t want his dad’s return to ruin that. Kevin doesn’t either. Will tells Kevin about how his father told him he loved him, something that he’d never said when he was growing up. Kevin frankly says that doesn’t mean anything, because his dad doesn’t know the real Will, he only knows the “straight” rising country star. Will wants to believe, but Kevin says it’s hard watching him re-engage with somebody who put him through everything Cowboy Bill did. Well, it’s true, but I think there was a warmer way to explain that to Will. Will says he’s going home tonight – he’s hurting and kind of resentful (of Kevin) but a part of him seems to realize Kevin is right.

Luke says his goodbyes to radio people before tiredly collapsing onto a couch. He may not be in the mood for anything else, but Manager Jimmy has some news for him. A tabloid snapped pictures of Will and Kevin on vacation, and plans on running a story next week about Will being gay. Luke doesn’t seem shocked, exactly, but he sighs grimly. It’ll be interesting seeing how Luke handles this. Maybe his instinct will be to not be supportive (if only for financial reasons) and Colt will talk him into changing his mind? Oh, and what will Will do?

Meanwhile at the Bluebird, Deacon and Rayna are laughing over old pictures of them hanging on 1 of the walls. They affectionately reminisce about saving each other over the years, and are kissing when…shocker, Beverly shows up! She announces to Deacon (in a conveniently public venue, even if it is mostly empty) that she wants to save him. Deacon goes to hug her, and as they embrace, you see Beverly catch Rayna’s eye. Beverly’s expression hardens into a creepy, angry stare at Rayna, so basically, she’s doing this to reclaim her brother from Rayna, I guess? And the ripped up check was just a grand empty gesture because she’s going to extract that and more in emotional capital, if not real capital? Well, this should be interesting! Rayna versus Beverly could make for an interesting Season 4, too (pending ABC renewal of course). But 1st, the Season 3 finale is next week, so be sure and join us for that, won’t you?

Also featured in this episode, “Your Love Keeps Me Alive,” cowritten by Sarah Siskind and Kate York.

Last week’s songs were not put on sale until Friday, so here are the rest of the links now. Next week, we’ll feature the terrific songwriter demo for “Mississippi Flood” (which can’t be found online) so be sure and check back for that!

To DOWNLOAD “Follow Your Heart,” cowritten by Jill Andrews and Claire Guerreso and performed by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio, click HERE!

To DOWNLOADNicole Gallyon and Chris Roberts and performed by Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, click HERE!

To DOWNLOAD “Trouble,” cowritten by Nicole Gallyon and Chris Roberts and performed by Charles Esten and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, click HERE!

Extra bonus: Chris Carmack’s is self-releasing his Pieces Of Me EP this spring, and 1 of the tracks, the self-penned, rootsy pop and contemplative “Being Alone,” is up on ITunes! You can also stream and buy the song here. The song would fit Will perfectly on Nashville, wouldn’t it?

About Deb B 432 Articles
Also known as Windmills, I cover country music news and live televised country events, in addition to recapping ABC's 'Nashville.' Additionally, I occasionally do long-form chart analysis that has been cited by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New Republic, NPR, and more.