After a long, hot summer of reruns, the new fall TV season is back in full swing. That means finally getting some answers to the burning questions left by all those season-ending cliffhangers from last spring. And nowhere was there a more life-or-death nail-biter than on the Season Three finale of Nashville, as Deacon Claybourne and his sister (and Scarlett’s mom) Beverly both went under the knife to save Deacon’s life. “I have some bad news,” Scarlett’s boyfriend, Dr. Caleb, told Rayna and family before the episode ended. The season premiere picks up a month later, with Rayna waking up at home… alone. Here’s what we learned in the jam-packed episode.
1. No one’s wearing black (yet). Although it was unclear at first whether Deacon or Beverly had survived, they both pulled through. But Bev remains hospitalized and unawake after suffering an aneurysm (caused by neglecting to mention she was taking supplements for menopause). A month in the hospital is going to put quite a dent in that million-dollar check from her future sister-in-law.
2. Patrick is a shady middleman. Shenandoah Girl is the name of the Patsy Cline movie starring Juliette, who’s apparently getting “Oscar buzz” for it. At the film’s red-carpet premiere, Juliette fumes while Layla relishes the attention she’s getting from the press. Jeff, however, is nowhere to be found. In his place is Patrick, Jeff’s lackey who has the unenviable task of trying to keep Layla and Juliette getting their claws into each other. He’s also in cahoots with Jeff, plotting something behind Layla’s back.
3. Maddie has Daddy issues. Mayor Teddy has been writing to Maddie and Daphne from prison, but Maddie doesn’t want to hear from him and promptly puts her letter in the trash. Daphne fishes it out and reads it, leading to a huge fight. Deacon intercedes but Daphne plays the “you’re not my father” card.
4. Avery is a great Mr. Mom. While the musician/producer plays dutiful daddy at his parents’ house in Ohio, Juliette is in Hollywood telling a reporter about her “incredibly supportive husband.” Avery eventually heads back to Nashville where he, Gunnar, Will and Cadence will now be roomies. Nice arrangement and surely a set-up for some comical Three Men and a Baby adventures to come – like fighting over which one has to be Steve Guttenburg.
5. Juliette is a drunk dialer. The pop-country starlet is partying hard in Hollywood and in a moment of weakness calls Rayna for help. Rayna, who is signing the contracts releasing Juliette from her deal with Highway 65, is worried for her and flies cross country to help her frenemy out, only to have Juliette deny she ever called.
Second best line of the night: Rayna tells Juliette, “You break my heart, girl.” Best line: When Juliette works out that Layla and Jeff are together, she tells Layla, “I didn’t think I could think any less of you, but there you go making it happen.” Juliette tells Patrick she wants Layla gone and asserts that she is Jeff’s number one priority. Layla calls Jeff and wants reassurance that she’s top dog. One of them is definitely going to come away from this feeling like number 13.
6. Scarlett is still torn between two lovers. Gunnar is getting ready to record with Scarlett, who is understandably preoccupied with her mother’s illness. Dr. Caleb gives her a lovely vintage necklace, but both of them are skirting around the “L” word. Scarlett and Gunnar are singing in perfect harmony but still struggling with their feelings for each other. Another passionate kiss complicates things further, with Gunnar ending up recording his part of their duet alone in the studio. Scarlett finally decides she loves Caleb and tells him so.
7. Will didn’t take his dancing shoes with him out of the closet. Will hasn’t gotten out of bed and has grown quite a healthy beard (as opposed to Layla – his unhealthy beard). Boyfriend Kevin is not happy but once they do go out to dinner, Will is confronted (in a crowded restaurant) by an angry woman he once slept with. Will and Kevin go to a gay club, which may win Kevin some points for persistence and Will a few points for being brave and true to himself. Neither of them, however, get points for their dancing skills.
8. Even when singing with a woman 40 years his junior, Steven Tyler can make any duet sexy. The rock-gone-country icon belts “Crazy” (the Patsy Cline hit, not the Aerosmith hit) with Juliette at her show in L.A. He’s so good, in fact, that the producers of Shenandoah Girl are probably wishing they’d cast him in the role instead.