Nashville Recap, 'I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You)'

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As the sun rises over Music City, we find our intrepid hero Rayna attempting to drop her children off at school. She’s held up in traffic, and her daughters are wondering if they’re ever going to have a scene that doesn’t involve them being stuck inside a vehicle. What’s causing the jam? Only crossover trollop Juliette Barnes shooting a video ON THE MUSICA STATUE, a phrase that deserves shoutcaps if ever there was one. The shoot is mobbed by kids, but Juliette whines about wanting to create something beyond “pop music for preteens.” If there’s going to be one element of this show that irks me, it’s going to be the Authenticity Boner that pops up every time anything vaguely mainstream is mentioned. Those kids are keeping you in tour buses and lacefronts, girl.

Speaking of authenticity, Rayna is bored of being broke and looking for a solution with her bros Randy and Watty. They suggest touring smaller venues with just Deacon — a solution Rayna’s husband Teddy is none too keen on, what with Rayna and Deacon being former lovers and all. She’s all, “At least I ask you before I made a decision, boom!” and he’s all, “Politics requires secrets vetting so you’re gonna have to get on that, boom!” Their marriage seems fun.

Actually, if there’s going to be one element of the show that super irks me, it’s the pretense that Bluebird beer-slinger Scarlett is supposed to have any moral quandary whatsoever about dumping her boyfriend Avery, shacking up with nicer lookalike Gunnar, and cutting records with one of Nashville’s greatest starfinders. Kid needs to take some confidence lessons from Juliette, stat. It’s not her fault no one cares about Avery’s music. (Nice bungalow, though.)

Juliette is still trying to pick up Deacon, for touring, songwriting, and sex-having. She pulls him back in after he finishes up rehearsal with Rayna, and they take her weird vintage Chevy out to the country, presumably so they can do it in the dirt like a couple of peasants. But first, it’s all talk of Tammy Wynette’s old land that now belongs to Juliette — she’s just name dropping (drink!) some old greats to prove that she does care about real music, and then there was gear talk and I zoned out. Their songwriting session does prove successful — he’s genuinely impressed by her talent. And her talents, that are soon displayed on the way to the pond for some skinny-dipping.

Meanwhile, Rayna is catching up with old friend Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom). Well, not so much “catching up with” as “apologizing for” 1. missing his mayoral announcement, 2. her dad as both a person and politician and 3. her husband running against him in the mayoral race. It’s off to a fundraiser from there, where she gets the pleasure of hobnobbing with the Real Housewives of the Surrounding Counties, and dodging questions about her album’s availability at Starbucks. She spots her father Lamar, and they proceed to smile-fight about the “vulnerability study” and his treatment of Coleman. Their family seems fun.

Teddy meets with the “vulnerability study” folks to go over his sordid past. While he’s never bought a hooker (high five I guess?), he doesn’t appear to be totally upfront about his dealings with his investment group, their $75,000,000 land purchase along the Cumberland river, his term on the board of the Music City Credit Union, and the one-two punch of swift board resignation and land-deal falling though.

The 5 Spot! Oh, my beloved 5 Spot. Avery’s turd-rock band is just finishing up their set, and a wannabe groupie (he is hot) accidentally gives away the Scarlett/Gunnar songwriting partnership. Then Scarlett accidentally gives away the Watty White demo offer. Avery’s not a dick — he doesn’t seem jealous so much as he does befuddled by the fact that Scarlett is unsure about accepting White’s offer. Scarlett later pops over to a janky motel bar to catch also-handsome Gunnar playing to a sparse crowd in his finest Western wear. She continues her hand-wringing in spite of excellent advice, delivered in fringe. (Scarlett is a Grade A moron.)

I’m assuming a $50,000 guitar is a pretty nice gift, because that’s what Juliette delivers to Deacon as extra incentive for him to drop Rayna’s tour and tag along with her. A Deacon/Rayna blowout ensures, with Rayna stomping off after insulting “Miss Sparkly Pants” and Decaon flat-out telling her that she hadn’t supported his songwriting in the past, oh, decade. Their partnership seems fun.

We find out just how fun with the “vulnerability study” muckrackers. Rayna and Deacon had been dating long-term, but she started seeing her now-husband while they were still together. In fact, she married her husband while Deacon was drying out in rehab on Rayna’s dime. She claims their romantic entanglements ended while he was in rehab, but that seems to be about as truthful as Teddy’s pinkie-swear that nothing underhanded happened with his real estate boondoggle.

The scene: The Bluebird Cafe. Deacon's doing his thing while both Rayna and Juliette watch in the crowd. Juliette has just dropped off a demo of the song they wrote together, asking him to play this fancy new guitar on the track. Rayna has appeared at the club for the first time in years. Deacon calls up a Special Guest. A visibly gutted Juliette remains seated while Rayna joins him for a genuinely moving performance and the best song of the series thus far. The magical song is so very good, it moves the shunned Juliette to sing along, and the impish moron Scarlett to agree to do the thing she should have agreed to last week. Music is so powerful, y'all.

Random Thoughts:

* As a frequenter of The 5 Spot, I can confirm that no patron there has ever spoken with a Southern accent.
* I also created this elaborate subplot in my head where Avery’s “gig” at The 5 Spot was just the Wednesday night Old Time Jam. Hilarity doth ensue.
* Teddy burns up some incriminating documents ... that were living in a safe for five years? Burn incriminating stuff immediately, bro.
* I should probably look up who my Metro Council member is.
* Perhaps instead of a baseball stadium, Coleman was advocating a riverfront Hamsterdam?
* Juliette’s home decor included a giant honking crystal next to some candles in a bowl.
* Gah, this show has a lot of plot. I might try a character-by-character recap next week. Thoughts?

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