'Nashville' Recap: Dante's Inferno - Rolling Stone
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‘Nashville’ Recap: Dante’s Inferno

Rayna and Deacon finally re-consummate, Dante is exposed as a huckster and a bromance blossoms

Sam Palladio as Gunnar Scott and Chris Carmack as Will Lexington on ABC's Nasvhille

Sam Palladio as Gunnar and Chris Carmack as Will on 'Nashville'

Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC

After a two-week hiatus, and with only four episodes to go before a “sizzling” season finale, Nashville headed into its homestretch last night with the moment viewers have been waiting for: Rayna and Deacon finally gave in to desire and boned like it was 1999, literally. (Maddie’s 14, right?) Like self-loathing after 3 a.m. Taco Bell, we all knew it was coming – the show’s writers have none too subtly teased RayRay and Deke’s relapse into romance ever since the pair’s first spellbinding Bluebird duet. How did it finally happen? Mutual jealousy.

To Deacon’s chagrin, Liam was back in the mix last night. Under the guise of resuming work on RayRay’s record, Liam gets her into the studio, and eventually gets to second base. And what the hell? RayRay’s a single lady now – “Just have a little fling,” Tandy tells her. Liam’s got bigger plans in mind, and offers to whisk Rayna to the Caribbean for a romantic getaway.

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Meanwhile, Deacon’s busy domesticating with Stacey – their relationship is at the point of putting away groceries together. But Stacey’s only Deacon’s sideshow. That’s abundantly clear when she notices how jealousy consumes her beau while they watch Rayna and Liam ham it up onstage at a hometown arena show. Deacon, unable to bear the sight, abruptly storms backstage. Stacey follows to confront him, and ultimately dumps him when he gives an honest answer to her $64,000-dolar question – “Do you still have feelings for her?” It gets worse for Deacon.  Rayna witnesses the spat. “You need to call Stacey and make it right,” she advises.

Did she really mean that? Fuck no. I mean, sure, on paper, and in mind she did. But the heart tells no lies. Hours later, RayRay pulls an anti-Casablanca, ditching out on the flight with Liam and, instead, shows up Cusack-style on Deke’s doorstep to profess her undying love.

Remember last time, when I said Juliette made a terrible call hiring Dante to manage her? Well, it didn’t take long to find out just how enormous a mistake that truly was. Turns out Dante is more than just an all-in-one controller, manipulator, yes man and sobriety counselor. He’s a full-blown con artist, and he’s just fleeced Juliette to the tune of almost a half-million dollars. The awful truth comes to light when, first, Jolene sees him kissing another woman – ostensibly a realtor who finds Juliette a “hideous” modernist mansion to buy. At first the move blows up in Jolene’s face, and she inadvertently outs herself for stalking Dante, who counters by planting pills on Jolene, getting her back in rehab and, thus, out of the way.

But later, upon closer look, Juliette realizes that the pills are a drug Jolene is allergic to. Cue the Hitchcock zoom. Jolene was telling the truth, and the realization collides with that of Dante making off with the walking-around money. But it’s too late – Dante and the “realtor” are sitting pretty in first class, off to scam some other hapless millionaire teen-pop country star. Watch out, Taylor Swift.

Juliette buys Hideous House anyway, to teach herself a lesson: “Never trust anyone.”

If street-smart Juliette’s enough of a fool to fall for Dante’s elaborate three-card monte, Scarletts definitely dopey enough to fall for Averys penitent, roadie-on-a-road-to-redemption shtick and go running back to the comfort of his soul patch.

Terrifying as that may sound, it appears a dangerous possibility. Backstage at RayRay’s Nashville concert, Scarlett bumps into her loser ex-Beau, who’s pushing flight cases around, suffering the myriad indignities of roadie life. After seeing Avery stripped of his bravado and entitlement for, like, a fucking minute, Scarlett is reminded of the sweet boy she fell in love with on Unicorn Match[dot]com. After the show, the ex-lovers have an uncomfortably magic moment when Avery takes her on to the Enormodome’s stage to gaze out into the galaxy of empty, beer-and-nacho-cheese-stained seats.

That’s all it takes for Avery back into Scarlett’s better graces?! Seriously, if people like Scarlett actually do exist (they don’t), I hope I can continue to have the fortune of going through life without meeting any of them. And if Nashville’s writers would only borrow a page from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s playbook and find ways to Kenny-fy and kill off Avery every week, Nashville would be a great show.

With Scarlett out about town, skipping over rainbows and consorting with her magical menagerie of animated sparrows (or whatever the fuck), Gunnar is left to bro down with Will, who traded in his train-dodge truck for a motorcycle, and who from now on will be known as Organ Donor Will. Guns cheers ODW as he plays his first honky-tonk gig, which, despite the 11:30 a.m. time slot, goes well enough to garner him a groupie. Offstage, Will proves quite the meatheaded womanizer as he gives relationship-status-it’s-getting-complicated Gunnar advice on how to get laid, a lot.

Earlier, Gunnar lifts some lyrics from his dead brother’s journal, which he turns into an infectious Brit-pop-gone-honky-tonk toe-tapper that impresses a curious music manager and Avery, who looks on like he’s seeing a ghost. In an awkward scene not unlike the one between De Niro and Pacino in Heat (kidding!), Scarlett’s current and former suitors share a beer, but little eye contact. That maladroit moment ain’t got shit on what happens later, when out of nowhere ODW embarrassingly and unsuccessfully tries to land a kiss on Gunnar while they talk about chicks on the apartment couch. So, Nashville has a gay character now. Y’all think he’ll last? Or y’all thinkin’ motorcycle crash?

On the political front, Teddy confronts Peggy on leaking his divorce to the tabloids, and to his horror, she puts herself in an even worse position by confessing how Lamar blackmailed her into persuading Teddy to go with his baseball stadium proposal. In a completely reactionary move that puts him at odds with Coleman, Teddy cancels Lamar’s city contracts, essentially declaring war. In The Art of War, Sun-Tzu famously said, “All battles are won before they are ever fought.” And this one is already a loser for Teddy, especially when still-in-recovery-mode Lamar learns that Tandy told Teddy about the Peggy situation. To get back in daddy’s good graces, and certainly for her own ulterior motives, Tandy tips off Coleman to Teddy and Peggy’s tainted Cumberland Deal, in hopes that the deputy mayor will backstab his boss and former adversary.

Last episode: Knockin’ on Hell’s Door

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