Wednesday's episode of "Nashville" reminded us that a gal can make it in the Country Music Capital of the World by playing naughty, nice, or neutral. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who gives the Worst (and Best) Wedding Anniversary Gift Ever, wrote the songbook on naughty. Reigning Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), who clearly didn't suffer any brain damage in that quickie coma, plays nice so adeptly that she gets the best of Edgehill overlord Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson). And finally, a neutral, timid gal like Highway 65 crooner Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) can become a star even if she's afraid to shine.
It's hard to say which gal's methods worked in their favor this week. The best we can do is revisit the naughtiest and nicest moments of the hour and call out the plot points that made us feel stuck in neutral. Fortunately, there ain't that many of 'em.
Naughty: How gloriously evil is Jeff Fordham? Hudson is having such a great time playing the sleaziest, most money hungry man in town. He's planning a showcase for the stockholders — you know, because he only cares about money — and Rayna and Juliette just won't get in line. And we don't want them to because we like it when Jeff's fuming.
Neutral: Oh, Scarlett. She moves in with Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) the Bad Driver With Enough Demons to Fill 87 Gold Records and he's being a martyr about his pain, refusing to take any medicine because of his addiction, and he won't even look Scarlett in the eye. But she's just like, OK.
Neutral: Rayna and Teddy Conrad (Eric Close) finalize their divorce and say nice things to each other. We kind of miss the fighting, no? That scene was necessary, but we kind of wish they'd signed their divorce papers during a musical montage with no dialogue.
Naughty: A jealous Juliette is a very entertaining thing. How much did you love it when she verbally backhanded the reality show new girl Layla (Aubrey Peeples) and compared her singing to karaoke? Meow. It was almost as good as when she sauntered out of Jeff's office and promised to send him some crabs. She was, after all, on her way to Maryland to make a quick $1 million by playing at Charles and Olivia Wentworth's (Charlie Bewley and Brit Shaw) fifth anniversary party. Wentworths = major money media moguls.
Nice: Producer Liam McGuinnis (Michiel Huisman) knows how to mess with a gal, and that's a compliment. By the end of the episode, it's clear that he forgives Rayna (and then some) for ditching him on the St. Lucia trip. But it was gratifying to see a nice guy stand up for himself ... and eventually get the girl and the gig.
Naughty: We are loving Juliette more than ever this season. She's trying to be a good person. She was visibly upset after Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) overheard her describe him as "on the payroll." He called her on her issues and quit, and that was impressive. And for a second there, as she was drunkenly gazing at the superwealthy couple celebrating their fifth anniversary, we thought she was gonna call Avery and go all rom-com on him. But nope. When Charles Wentworth made a pass at her, he reaffirmed all of her insecurities and she brought him right into bed.
Naughty: How do you get back at the label for stealing your main artist, closeted and cut cowboy Will Lexington (Chris Carmack)? (Sidebar: This is the best thing Carmack has ever done.) Well, you agree to show up to the showcase, you waltz onstage, and ... introduce the artist they didn't steal from your label. Rayna, once again, is out of that coma and then some.
Neutral: The drama over Rayna's vocal cords feels a little forced. We know she's gonna sing again, right? We also know that Scarlett's friendly second fiddle Zoey (Chaley Rose) needs to sass it up, figure out Will's secret, or make a move on Gunnar (Sam Palladio). All this waitressing and BFF'ing isn't letting us get to know her that well.
Nice: Well, Deacon finally went to an AA meeting the serious way. He told heartbreaking stories about his childhood and, we have to say, apologized to Teddy and went to his doctor about his pain. Can it be long before Rayna realizes that he's changing for real ... or will he just go back to being Deacon when his arm heals?
Neutral: Dear "Nashville," we are not that interested in Teddy and Peggy Kenter's (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) relationship. Y'all have to give these two something to do besides having calm conversations on couches.
Watch the full episode:
"Nashville" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Rayna Jaymes
- Charles Esten