'Nashville' Recap: Rayna and Luke Deal With Wedding Pressure - Rolling Stone
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‘Nashville’ Recap: Blonde Ambitions, Tense Reunions and Dirty Looks

With Rayna and Luke headed to the altar, tensions run high both on and offstage

Derek Hough, Hayden Panettiere

Derek Hough and Hayden Panettiere on the set of ABC's "Nashville"

Mark Levine/ABC

In an episode titled “I Can’t Get Over You to Save My Life,” it’s not surprising to find our friends in Music City nursing old wounds and stumbling over their various insecurities.

Luke and Rayna are both trying to adjust to the whole “Ruke” phenomenon, going so far as to suggest that their respective teams push “Layna” as the preferred portmanteau for the supercouple instead. (OK, so it’s not ideal, but at least it doesn’t rhyme with “puke.”) But when Rayna sits down with Team Wheeler to go over both artists’ respective tour schedules, it’s obvious their impeding union has everyone but the happy couple salivating at all the marketing opportunities that lie ahead: “Layna” TV specials, Christmas albums, bath soaps, his-and-her handguns…. Rayna bristles at the idea of a quickie wedding, but she’s pretty much the only one objecting to it. 

Juliette, meanwhile, is rehearsing for her Inside the Dream Tour, which should probably be renamed Inside the Crypt, since she looks less pop-country princess and more Walking Dead reject during her rehearsal. Juliette lays the blame on Zoey for the rehearsal going badly, but that’s just the start of Zoey’s downward spiral when it comes to her self-esteem.

Deacon and Maddie have a “moment” after he leaves her with her “other” dad, Teddy. For the first time, she calls Deacon “dad.” (Stay tuned for the Nashville spin-off starring Maddie, Deacon, Teddy and Luke in My Three Dads!)  

Rayna tells Maddie and Daphne that the wedding is on and Maddie is pissed. “Shocker,” Daphne wisely observes. In the annals of excuses, however, Maddie’s protest that it interferes with her fishing date with dad (Deacon, not Teddy … or Luke) isn’t exactly airtight.

When Rayna finds out that Deacon told Maddie he proposed she too is pissed. In any event, Deacon wanted Maddie to know he tried. (If he’s as skilled at landing fish as he is at landing a wife, Maddie will probably wish she’d gone to the wedding). When Rayna suggests to Luke during a phone call that they consider pushing the wedding to a later date, Luke says, ‘That’s kind of the tail wagging the dog.” Because Luke apparently can’t go one episode without coming off like he’s auditioning to be Mark Twain. Or Dr. Phil. Rayna should have hung up on him — but he beats her to it.

Gunnar is less than enthusiastic about singing with Zoey, but they decide to get the old band back together with Avery, who continues to pickle his brains with alcohol. At this rate, if they ever do reunite, Juliette and Avery will make a fine zombie couple for Halloween.

Scarlett is having trouble getting her music publisher excited about her songs, so she’s encouraged to laugh, dance and party (because we all know how well she does that). Maddie and her dad (Teddy, not Deacon … or Luke) go another round, this time over the short shorts she wants to wear to a barbecue. Meanwhile, Daphne tells Teddy she’s off to go glow-in-the-dark bowling with friends, leaving Teddy to tell her he can find something to keep himself occupied.

At the barbecue (titled “Barn-aroo,” because the kids all love a clever pun), Maddie is (briefly) wearing her Teddy-approved dress, but changes back into short shorts when she meets up with friends. Scarlett and Zoey are also at the party, where Scarlett, like some down-home Margaret Mead, plans to observe happy, horny humans in their natural habitat. Once she sees Maddie and an older boy cozying up to each other and taking off to get her another drink, she drags her cousin away.

Avery drinks … and drinks, and Gunnar reunites with his old pal Kylie, who asks about his brother Jason. (She obviously didn’t catch Season One.) Avery, Gunnar and Zoey take the stage to sing “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” Not to be confused with the Charlie Rich ballad from the Seventies, Avery snarls and sneers as he sings, “She was horrible, she was rude and she insulted everything that he knew, she wasn’t clean, she was untrue.” That Avery, such a romantic. Later, he’s approached by a blonde woman whose tries to pick him up by telling him he’s pretty. “It’s as if Johnny Cash and Johnny Depp had a baby,” she says. (We’ll give you a minute to picture that and decide whether it’s sweet or creepy.) Zoey is caught between trying to keep Avery from drinking and taking off with the woman and watching as Gunnar and Kylie reminisce. Zoey later unloads all of her insecurities on Gunnar, who tells her that Kylie was his first love and he doesn’t have any family. She assures him that he does have family and all seems well between them once again. Later, Gunnar goes to talk to Kylie, who tells him she left Texas because her parents thought he was a bad influence. They both cry as he tells her that his brother died. (Somewhere Zoey is no doubt glaring and rolling her eyes.)

Deacon meets Pam, Luke’s new (and blonde) backup singer, whom he instantly rebuffs. Later, as Jeff introduces Luke to Sadie, Deacon mopes and complains about Luke having a meet-and-greet on stage in the middle of his soundcheck. When Luke and Deacon have a heated exchange backstage before Deacon goes on to play an abbreviated set at Luke’s behest, Pam keeps her eye on Deacon. Deacon later tells her she must be the only woman in the world who doesn’t know he’s in love with Rayna Jaymes. And, naturally, they are locking lips within seconds.

Juliette, who caught Glenn and Emily (her manager and publicist) going through her dressing room searching for drugs, kicked them out instead of admitting what’s really going on with her. On the set of the Patsy Cline movie, she meets Noah, played by (blond) Derek Hough, who is playing Patsy’s husband, Charlie Dick. When he asks her if she has done much acting, she tells her she’s done her fair share of pretending. It’s hard to say which one is the better actor since the two of them play their movie scene like a community-theater production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Later, Noah makes an awkward play for Juliette while the two commiserate over their failed relationships. And we can add him to the growing list of people from whom Juliette is keeping her big secret.

Will, who plans to sneak away for a “session” with his “trainer,” is singing “If Your Heart Can Handle It” with his “wife” Layla’s hand getting a fairly tight grip on his neck. When she tells him, “You’re not going anywhere, honey,” it’s clear that it’s not just his neck she’s got in a stranglehold. As the pair heads onstage to play for a large crowd, Jeff takes Will aside to tell him that the screaming women and their flying panties will disappear if he takes the stage with the Mrs. He also tells Layla she might as well stick to the reality show because her music career is over. Will, who has apparently perfected the technique of dodging flying panties, heads for the stage, leaving Layla scowling in the dust. Later Will delivers what may be the understatement of the season: “I may be gay, but you are insane.” He is literally working out his frustrations with dumbbells when his trainer walks in and they are, yep, locking lips. Layla, meanwhile, blackmails Jeff into making sure her next record goes gold, telling him that if that doesn’t happen she’s going to “out” his cash cow to the entire world.

Jeff also comes between another relationship when Rayna meets Sadie. The two singers quickly form a mutual admiration society, which Jeff of course tries to come between by insulting Rayna. Rayna can’t really be rattled by him at this point, however, since she wants to make up with Luke. She opts for hopping a private plane instead of talking to him by phone or Skype and surprises him onstage. Luke serenades his betrothed with a song about her being “a good woman” (still just a tiny bit sexist, Luke? Check.) Later, as they are making up and she’s removing his shirt, Luke reveals his latest romantic gesture: a tattoo with her name (because a tattoo makes everything permanent).

Teddy, who has apparently forgotten he’s the mayor of a major Southern metropolis, can’t find a thing to do at home, so he’s sitting at a bar when he’s approached by a woman (yep, blonde), who obviously hasn’t had much experience picking up mayors at bars. Otherwise she might have reconsidered her awkward opening line of “How is the cheese?”

As the episode wraps up, Juliette is in her car, practicing her “you’re gonna be a daddy” speech for Avery. She watches as he gets out of the pickup truck with the blonde and the two make out in front of his apartment building. Inside the apartment, Avery abruptly stops the woman — who is straddling him — and when he tells her he’s “not feeling it,” she leaves. As he sobers up, he sings a very different — and utterly heartbreaking — version of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” 

Deacon, in bed with Pam, is clearly having morning-after regrets as he reads a newspaper article about country music’s new power couple. But he’ll probably cheer up once he hears that he and Maddie can now go on that all-important fishing trip, since Rayna and Luke have postponed the wedding until December and are combining their respective tours.

On her way home, Rayna spots Juliette on her doorstep. Juliette finally has the courage to show someone her sonogram. Rayna, who doesn’t say anything, is obviously thinking, “Please, not another blonde.”


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