Everybody wants what they haven’t got on this week’s Nashville.
The tour (brilliantly titled Red Lips, White Lies—though it irked me that Rayna wasn’t wearing red lipstick!) finally kicks off with an awkward press conference where Rayna and Juliette are barely veiling their snipes at each other, much to the reporters’ glee. But both ladies are preoccupied by the men in their lives. Sean won’t sign the divorce papers Juliette served him with, and in fact counters by serving her with a summons for an annulment hearing. Rayna’s trying to make the new guitar player into a partner on stage, quite obviously missing Deacon. She’s not really missing her husband on the other hand, as she decides not to fly home for the results of his suddenly impending election night.
The episode spends a lot of time delivering some pretty predictable twists and hoary, old storylines. Out in Atlanta, Avery is still waiting to sign for his deal and when Marilyn tells him she rejected the terms, he goes to see Wyclef Jean himself, who of course plants seeds of doubts about Marilyn and suckers him into signing by the payoff of a hot car. When Marilyn finds out and calls him on it, he stomps his feet and says he wants to work with Dominic and she has to get on board.
Gunnar is heading to Texas for some sort of private family matter and Scarlett totally invites herself along for the ride, as Deacon is playing with his new band down there. The worst and most useless development is this subplot where naïve little Scarlett gets the Perils of Pauline treatment, when the Gypsy Kings’ gross lead singer corners and creeps on her, leaving Uncle Deacon to save the day by tackling the jackass and then quitting. It’s a melodramatic, contrived resolution to get the man back to Nashville, but thank God he’s returning.
Gunnar’s secret family business is picking up his brother Jason (played by Jane by Design big brother Ben, David Clayton Rogers!), who’s just getting out of prison. Apparently, the musical talent runs in the family as the brothers duet on the one new song of the episode (all the other performances are rehearsals or concert pieces of tunes we’ve heard before) the quite-apt “Lonesome Fugitive” and…make beautiful music together. Honestly, they sound great (big bro must have done a lot of practicing in the slammer) and pretty much have me wishing Gunnar would ditch the ditsy blonde in favor of hitting the road with a brother act. Alas, it’s not to be, as his sibling’s already secured a gun and is surely off to do nefarious things once more. (Hey, Nashville, I got your season 2 storyline right here: fresh-out-of-rehab Jolene picks up fresh-out-of-prison Gunnar-bro and they head to Branson, Missouri, to swindle dinner theatre patrons out of their social security checks like a low-rent Bonnie and Clyde!)
Back at tour headquarters, Liam (who for some reason is still hanging around all the time to “record”) is a dick to Juliette because she goes 15 minutes over her rehearsal time, and Rayna naturally loves it and asks him to be her new guitar player for the tour. I know she’s our underdog, but the constant derision towards Juliette for being a) spoiled and b) untalented is seriously straining my patience. To me, Rayna (or Connie Britton anyway, even though I love her) is noticeably less talented and even more spoiled—and whiny! Juliette snaps while Rayna whines! (It’s like on Smash where anyone with eyes and ears can tell Ivy is WAY more perfect to play Marilyn Monroe but they keep trying to make Karen happen.) I don’t like Liam and I don’t like Rayna with him, and for that alone I hope Deacon hurries on up and gets his ass home. It’s time for him to find out he’s got a daughter, anyway, right?
Juliette finally agrees to give Sean his annulment, after waffling about it for most of the hour. In a heartfelt moment, she testifies to the judge that she “defrauded” Sean about their marriage. He’s hurt and pissed and tells her that she was right when she told him back when they met (a month ago?) that once he got to know her, he wouldn’t like her. Ouch. Poor Juliette.
Our little firecracker doesn’t let anything get her down for long though. She rallies for the tour and while she’s onstage singing that one song about Black Mascara tears, Rayna, listening, has a change of heart and decides to fly home to her husband. The votes are in and Teddy wins the election, to no one’s surprise. Heck, if he didn’t, creepy Lamar and Tansy wouldn’t have anything to do and he’d have to go out and get a real job. But Nashville’s next mayor is humbled by his opponent’s concession speech and the obviously warm and loving relationship he has with his wife. When the healthy-looking Peggy shows up at his door to congratulate him and assure him it was just an accident and she didn’t try to kill herself because she’s pathetic, they nearly kiss, but manage to dodge the adultery bullet at the last second.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.