At this point it's safe to say that Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" has a more complete character arc in three minutes and 44 seconds than Nashville has had in, what is it now, eight episodes? Sheesh. Following a tense episode last week, last night's installment (and the last episode of 2012) held devastating developments for Rayna and Teddy, but love in the air for Gunnar, Scarlett, Sean and Juliette.
Picking up where we left off , backstage at the Ryman, Rayna and Juliette's duet at the Edgehill Republic anniversary concert was a resounding success, and loathsome Music Row dick pig Marshall Evans immediately decides to release the duo's "Wrong Song" as a live single. He also acquiesces to Rayna's request to hire Liam to produce her next record – which she twists the label head's arm into saying he's "so excited" about. So may he's not such a dick pig . . . or at least a somewhat redeemable dick pig. One thing that's clear about Marshall is that he's the kind of person nobody would hang out with unless they had to.
One-upping Unlikeable Marshall, Teddy awkwardly strolls into the dressing room and gets affable with all the shit-eating sincerity of a young Sen. John Edwards: "Don't let me stop the celebrating! That was fantastic! You were great out there tonight!" he tells Rayna.
Naturally, Teddy does stop the celebrating, taking Rayna home so the couple can have it out over those (marginally) damning photos Coleman took of him and Peggy not fucking. Per Lamar's suggestion (i.e., demand), Teddy comes clean about the encounter. And by "come clean," I mean "spins a yarn about his dirty business partner confiding her marital troubles," because lying is always a good way to repair broken trust in a relationship. Oh, Teddy.
Rayna believes her husband (for now). She confronts Coleman in his office and goes all WTF: "You're gonna drag my family through the mud? . . . You know good and well Teddy's not a cheater."
"I thought so, too," Coleman retorts as he shows her the pictures. (Sick burn.) "If that's not cheating, then what is?" he asks.
"None of your damn business!" she snaps as her decision walks out the door. (Sicker burn.)
Compounding Teddy's problems, Peggy is fuh-reeking. The fuck. Out. Showing up at her partner-in-crime's campaign headquarters in tears. Sure, this trumped-up scandal is hell for her, too. But at this point she should be happy she's not still facing time in a white-collar prison thanks to Lamar wiping her dirty, stupid paper trail clean.
In Lamar's war room, Rayna interrupts a poli-tricks strategy meeting to chew out Teddy and Lamar, as if Teddy has any actual power or spine and Lamar gives a shit. Anyway, the feud gets all the more fun when Lamar's aid consults his iPad and finds that the Teddy/Peggy pics have found their way to the gossip blog DMZ Celebrity News (clever name, don'cha think?).
To say the least, Peggy handles this development poorly – with pills, and not in the way Jolene handles things with pills. Peggy's suicide attempt prompts Rayna to reconsider her faith in Teddy's, well, faithfulness. With his back up against the wall (and because financial infidelity, though illegal, isn't as bad a crime as marital infidelity), Teddy finally, actually comes clean to Rayna about the $2 million he and Peggy embezzled. And it only took eight episodes!
"I trusted you," Rayna tells Teddy. "You still can," he replies. "I don't think so," Rayna retorts. (Sick burn.) Though a divorce won't bode well for the Conrad campaign, it will probably give Rayna good lyrical fodder for her new record, and a good enough justification for meeting Deacon for a park-bench heart-to-heart. Hopefully that PI wasn't tailing her.
In the end, Rayna holds an awkward press conference, where she performs a spoken-word adaptation of "Stand By Your Man." "I did it for our daughters," she whispers in Teddy's ear as they embrace for a photo op.
On the interpersonal flipside, save for an ignored incoming call from "Mom's Rehab" (shit, I'd almost forgotten Jolene existed), life is all roses (literally) and unconsummated puppy love on the Juliette Barnes/Sean Butler front. Marshall fills Juliette's hillside mansion with flowers and balloons (but to the singer's chagrin, still hasn't put her tour back on track). Smitten, Sean the football-star virgin already wants Juliette to meet his parents . . . at church. Sounds like a blast. To go the extra mile, Juliette goes so far as to sing for the congregation as her beau and his family gaze on with creepy Stepford stares. Frankly, these few short minutes of WASP porn were hard to watch.
Of course, the Butler family only opens arms to Juliette as a formality. After a family dinner, Sean's mother tells Juliette how it really is: "We've worked hard to build Sean's brand, and we won't see it tarnished just because he got tangled up in repairing yours . . . I've read about you. I've read about your mother. This family? Don't hold your breath, sweetie." Ouch!
But just when you think the needle has skipped off the record for Sean and Juliette, the singer has the has the last word – "Will you marry me?" Remember what I said last week about how she should get him drunk and drag him to the alter?
We also learn that Juliette was sexually abused as a kid – her first kiss was from one of Junkie Jolene's creepy junkie boyfriends.
Deacon gets an offer to go on the road with freshly dried-out international rock stars and old friends the Revel Kings. Don't Kings of Leon have a song called "Revelry"? Is that a reference? Anyway, after an episode of hemming and hawing, Deacon takes the band up on the offer and they toast soda bottles to "sex, no drugs and rock & roll."
Deacon isn't the only character with a hot offer on the table. Hailey knows a band that's looking for a lead singer and, based solely on her wholly passable "Ring of Fire" rendition from last week's episode, she thinks Stumble-Into-Opportunity Scarlett would be a perfect fit. Naturally, this presents ever-undetermined Scarlett with a crisis, instead of a painfully easy decision to make. More naive than we previously thought, Scarlett doesn't realize that, even in a Music City like Nashville, songwriters are sometimes also performers. Gunnar doesn't exactly grasp this concept, either. He reads Hailey the riot act when he catches wind of her suggestion to Scarlett. "If she's frontin' some band, it's not going to be real easy to write!" Yes it will be, Gunnar, yes it will be.
Nevertheless, Gunnar stumbles into a truer realization – that Hailey is trying to drive a wedge between the dashing guitar slinger and his secretly smitten songwriting partner: "You don't think I saw the way you looked at her the other night when you were so quick to come to her rescue . . . YOU were staking a claim!" In other words, Gunnar and Hailey are now through, officially.
Free from Hailey, Gunnar hightails it over to the Bluebird, where he confesses his love for Scarlett. They finally make out. And it only took eight episodes!
Meanwhile, Domino Wells (as played by Wyclef Jean) is taken by Avery's talent. We learn that Avery and his bandmates (or at least his bassist) have played together since high school. And if the show stays this predictable, they probably won't play together for much longer. Does anyone not see where this is going? "Recession-proof" Domino offers to fly Avery, and only Avery, to Atlanta on a private jet for a vocal session. "I'm really serious about working with you," Domino tells Avery. "Serious about working with you . . . just you." Sure, Avery looks horrified about backstabbing his loyal bandmates now, but we all know how this going to end.
Later, Scarlett (who has now apparently taken up playing banjo) gets a surprise visit from Avery. Champagne bottle in hand, Avery is really just there to brag about his big break with Domino, not show sincere contrition and woo Scarlett back. That champagne bottle? The couple had been saving it for when Avery made it. Sheepishly, he admits they should have opened it when Scarlett got her deal. OK, time out. Is this a bottle of bubbly or George W. Bush's Mission Accomplished banner? Neither of these fucks have made it yet! Scarlett still waits tables at the Bluebird, and Avery still has a soul patch.
We end where the show began. Rayna and Juliette's live single reaches Number 15 on the charts, and the co-headlining arena tour is back in the works. And it only took eight episodes!
It seems like Juliette Barnes is pretty popular. Would she really need tour support from her label to hit the road? If Lindsay Lohan can land an acting gig with Lifetime, surely some promoter out there will book Juliette, right?
Also, would a celebrity gossip blog really give two shits about a mayoral election in Tennessee? Probably not.