Scarlett foolishly ruins a chance to work with guest star Kelly Clarkson and Gunnar; Deacon and Rayna find themselves under pressure to write
Nashville Kelly Clarkson
Credit: ABC
S2 E11
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And the dead character is…. PEGGY. “She was nice,” Maddie concedes to a grieving Teddy. LOL. Couldn’t have said it better myself. It looks like we won’t see much of Teddy in the near future — he suspects Peggy’s killer (who was really after him) wasn’t working alone, and wants to protect his daughters.

As for Will — the other character who might have died in December’s cliffhanger midseason finale — he’s camping in the mountains, getting more in touch with how much he hates his gay self. Gunnar heads out there to visit and the opening score from Brokeback Mountain swells in the background… No. I wish. (No I don’t.) Wlll confides in his indoor/outdoor rookie that he did want to kill himself and for a moment saw pure relief in the bright white light of the train headed his way. Cheers to Chris Carmack for great acting here, and Gunnar for some tough love: He throws Will down and yells “Don’t pull crap like this, you hear me? I am your friend!” That was awesome!

Not awesome: Will returns to the tour, has a sheepish avoiding-reality convo with fake girlfriend Layla, then the same leave-me-alone interaction with Brent he always has. “Nothing’s gonna be fine with us ever again,” he seethes. What next for Will? Those demons will not party well within the confined space of a bus.

I can’t even deal with Scarlett, who turned down the opportunity for her and Gunnar to write more stuff for severely underused but always lovable guest star Kelly Clarkson because of her stupid, stupid, stupid beef with Gunnar and Zoey. Can she not?! A talented, famous rich person wants you to “hole up for a few days” and crank out some material, you do it, no questions asked. Can you imagine the snacks? I’d probably pay to take a fun retreat like that. You’d think Scarlett would be all over this due to her love of sock-slippers and blankets. Plus, Scarlett’s tantrum also killed the symphony of sexual tension and all that is good in the world that had been going on during her “Fade Into You” duet with Gunnar. Agghh! She’s the worst.

Hey, Scarlett:

Get it together.

Blown away by Scarlett’s childish idiocy, Gunnar returns home to Zoey. “I love you,” says Zoey. And what could he say? (Say no! Because you don’t love her, obviously.) “I love you too,” he monotones.

NEXT: ‘No respect for Juliette!’ Meanwhile, Scarlett and Avery undergo the briefest and most amicable TV breakup (between two relative drama queens) in recent memory. She accuses him of having feelings for Juliette, he denies it, and she comes back with this: “I saw the way you looked at her.” This line is always fascinating to me, coming from real, live people (ewww) as well as TV characters. It’s the ultimate deal breaker line that just puts the ball in the other person’s court: How will they react in the face, basically, is the question.

Well, Avery’s face flickers in recognition of the truth, and Scarlett’s done (again…though she’d been done again long before this, I think). I like what she says next: “We’re like old slippers, aren’t we? Step back in and try to pick back up where we left off. But we’re not the same. No, I guess we’re not.” THIS COULD BE A SONG. That damn fool just wrote a verse. Eff her.

Ooh boy. Juliette. As if the cheesy galaxy backgrounds during her rehearsal of “Dreams” weren’t bad enough, she makes the mistake of engaging with her haters — this sad sack group of reactionary taunters/stalkers that apparently thinks “No respect for Juliette” actually rhymes. Think again, creeps! Enraged by a protester’s comment — “You know your mother’s in hell just like you will be” — Juliette coolly approaches him and seethes, “There is no God… that would listen to a crackpot like you.”

The lesson here is: Never say anything out loud because YOU ARE ALWAYS ON CAMERA. Some dork loops the footage of Juliette saying “There is no God” and it hits the terrible, horrible internet, out of context. (I love that the context, the complete story, is obviously better than just the God comment, but it’s not that much better. Like, just keep your mouth shut next time. But that’s so hard when haters be hatin’.) So Juliette enlists Zooey Deschanel stand-in Layla, who’d been next to her, to hold a press conference explaining the context. The catch? Now she owes Layla one. Gross.

Deacon’s in a bad place, too — but eventually realizes that it’s so bad because he’s so happy. Let’s back up: Pressed by his manager to come up with new material, he endures hours of pencil-drumming and piano key-cleaning that lead nowhere. When Megan comes over, he’s psyched to see her (sexually…) but soon his frustration over writing takes over and turns him incredibly nasty. I get it, though. It’s no fun to see Deacon be so mean, but zero progress when you’re under pressure is NO FUN. She rightfully deletes herself from the toxic situation, and Deacon ends up parked outside a liquor store. NO!

NEXT: Liam gets away with a very romantic scarf He doesn’t go in. While he’s out there, Deacon realizes that all of his past writing success has come from a place of pain and unrest — so it makes sense that his natural inclination was to find inspiration at the bottom of the bottle. But why not give this happiness thing a shot, he wonders, and Megan — a very reasonable woman, even if (maybe because!) she’s not a like-minded musician to Deacon — forgives him.

The ultimate payoff for Deacon’s struggle: At the end of the episode, he and daughter (I think I can quit calling her “bio-daughter” at this point!) Maddie co-write this perfectly lovely duet together and perform it for Rayna and Daphne. It’s gorgeous and delicate — I like Lennon Stella’s voice better every time I hear it. And you could see the wheels spinning in Rayna’s head, because…..

…..She’s also under pressure now, to deliver a single that’ll help sell the new album she produced with Liam St. Lucia (nee McGuinnis). Liam’s back this week, wearing an earth-toned floral patterned scarf that could only work on someone as tall and viciously hot as he is. Liam urges Rayna to ignore the market research that said there was no hit single on that record and just go with it because she’s an artist. Well, this artist has a new label and a family to support. Rayna wises up and bravely decides to write a new song.

“You’re so sexy when you’re right,” says Liam. Props to Rayna for not jumping him right then and there. I guess she’s still pretending to date Luke Wheeler, but yuck.

I love that Deacon hates the word artiste. So do I!

The sense of family and happiness in that last scene will easily last until next week. Obviously Rayna and Deacon should be together eventually, but I don’t mind the distance for now. The bigger the payoff in the end, I say. Watching him and Rayna, you sense all the darkness and bulls–t in their history, but also the unrelenting bond they’ve shared forever, the one that will never go away. I love imagining them coming up with brilliant hit songs “in between coffee and dessert.” It’s not out of the question for the future…. Coffee and dessert NEVER GO AWAY.

Loose, Gorgeous Connie Britton Wave of the Week:

In mid-swing!

What did you think of “I’ll Keep Crying”? Did you tear up with Juliette at the end as her photos crackled in the FIRE OF HATE? Who should get together first: Juliette and Avery, Scarlett and Gunnar, or Rayna and Deacon?


Episode Recaps

Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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