Moment of Goodness / Recaps

Nashville “First to Have a Second Chance”

Photo Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

Photo Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

Confession: I’ve watched this winter finale three times because it packed in so much. Punches, pills, and paternity, oh my!

The night started with Luke Wheeler, Deacon Claybourne and Will Lexington on stage in Memphis singing “Ball & Chain,” and Jeff Fordham backstage receiving smiley face texts from Layla Grant which he looks pretty happy about. This leg of the tour is wrapping up and everyone’s heading home for the holidays except for Deacon who decides to hang in Memphis for a few days to keep out of the Ruke wedding hoopla back in Music City. Scarlett decides to stay with him to be on “mope patrol.”

Jeff corners Will after the show to let him know a tabloid website is speculating about his sexuality. The two argue about how to handle it with Jeff ultimately telling Will if he wants to quash the rumors, he’s going to have to “butch it up.” Jeff should really consider some sensitivity training.

Photo Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

Photo Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

Tandy is back for the wedding and she senses something is off with her sister. Rayna’s album has gone platinum and now Luke and their managers want to extend the Honeymoon tour by six months. Rayna seems to be reeling about the changes in her life — and there’s only a couple of days until the wedding.

Avery and Juliette are getting ready for the baby, navigating their renewed “friendship.” Juliette suggests he move in to the guest bedroom for a while so they don’t have to shuttle back and forth when the baby is born. Avery agrees but expresses worry about how they will explain their relationship to their daughter. Juliette sweetly says, “We’ll tell her she came from a place of love and her parents became great friends.” Avery doesn’t seem convinced.

Cut to Gunnar and son Micah playing in the front yard before school when Micah’s grandparents show up unannounced, guardianship papers in hand.

With all this crammed into the first few minutes before opening credits, I knew this winter finale was going to be a wild ride. So during the commercial, I refilled my TV tray with snacks and beverage, put on my Snuggie â„¢ and got down to business.

Over at Luke’s ranch, the wedding/rehearsal dinner prep is a mad house! People magazine is onsite, Luke is rearranging the seating chart and Rayna is trying to figure out how her life as she used to know it fits into all this. When she talks to Maddie and Daphne about the tour extension, the girls surprise her with the topic of boarding school. Apparently they discussed boarding school with Luke while Rayna was out on tour. All of the parents have been off doing their own thing and Maddie points out that even dad (meaning Mayor Teddy Conrad) has been “super busy lately.” Umm, that’s because Daddy’s been banging a hooker. No wait — highly paid “escort.” @MoniquaPlante, who portrays “Natasha,” reminded me on Twitter that Natasha is classy. I agree. I would also like to add “professional” because she lets Teddy know right up front that their freebie at the CMAs was a one-time thing.

But back to Rayna and her girls. All this talk about boarding schools comes out of nowhere for Rayna and that’s when the wedding jitters got ratcheted up a notch. The two even argue right before their huge rehearsal dinner.

Meanwhile Gunnar, jittery with worry that he is about to lose his son, meets with his lawyer who sets up an emergency hearing for custody. His attorney sends him to get an expedited paternity test, which is routine in these matters, of course. Kids, this is what we call foreshadowing. Later that day, Gunnar tries to play nice with Kiley’s parents, but her mother gets all kinds of aggressive with him and he eventually kicks them out.

Over at Sadie Stone’s studio, her ex-husband Pete shows up and he gives me the jitters in a bad way. He keeps swaggering into her personal space, smiling and talking about all her success. Thank goodness Avery shows up. He’s producing Sadie’s album and the two get to talking about exes. Avery’s wheels are turning big time. Later he talks to his mother who points out that it’s only important that he have a good relationship with his daughter. At this moment, I am starting to panic about the future of Javery.

Will “Butch” Lexington returns home to request that his beard accompany him on his post-Christmas tour.  She politely declines and he figures out that she’s met someone because she’s glued to her phone. Later that night, they head out to Jeff’s party where it takes Will about eight seconds to figure out who was on the other end of Layla’s texts. Jeff admits that he and Layla have been together, but he goes into total douche mode and acts like he’s doing Will a favor since Layla isn’t “getting it at home.” Charming.

See, here’s the thing: I think Jeff really does like Layla. But Will is his biggest up-and-coming star and Jeff needs to keep him both happy and closeted. So Jeff basically agrees to blow off Layla so she will leave Nashville and go on tour with Will.

Well, Layla freaks the freak out! She’s drunk already and Jeff gives her a bottle of pills and basically tells her to calm down. Meanwhile, a hot little blogger corners Will upstairs and strips to her skivvies. When he rejects her, she points out the “rumors must be true.” So, Will sucks it up and gives the blogger the full butch (perhaps I have taken this metaphor too far). Already primed with liquor and rage, Layla opens the door and sees Will with the other woman and she quietly snaps. And by quietly, I mean she washes down every single pill in the bottle.

But let’s get back to that rehearsal dinner. Things are pretty strained between Ruke. But we have to put on a happy face for People magazine! Maddie and Daphne sing a sweet song as a wedding gift. When Maddie introduces it as a song she wrote with her dad (Deacon), Luke flinches and Rayna — well, just watch for yourself:

That scene put a little hope in my heart for #TeamDeacon. But what about Deacon? Well, he stayed in Memphis with Scarlett, watched The Peabody Ducks, sang some karaoke and finally retired to his hotel room telling his niece he was tired and didn’t feel well. He got even sicker when he looked down and saw Ruke on the cover of a magazine. In his sorrow, he throws it across the room into the mini-bar covered in liquor.

It seems Deacon’s not the only one pining for Rayna. Teddy gets a text from his daughters that the rehearsal dinner performance went well, and in walks Natasha fresh from the shower. As I have said before, this story line is one of my favorites. Natasha pitches Teddy the “girlfriend experience” and in that moment he finally realizes how truly pathetic his situation is.

Over at Gunnar’s, another realization is about to hit. After having just thrown out Micah’s grandparents, he gets a call from his attorney with the news I’ve suspected for months — Micah is not Gunnar’s son. But they are in fact related because Micah is Gunnar’s dead brother’s son. You remember Jason — he was beaten to death in an alley back in Season 1.

While Gunnar reels from this double-helix twist, Tandy and Rayna have a post-rehearsal dinner heart to heart. Tandy tells her sister she’s just experiencing night before the wedding jitters and encourages Rayna to focus on the love, how he looks at her, talks to her. “You love him. That’s enough.” But who is the “he” in Rayna’s mind?

The last 15 minutes of the winter finale fly by! Scarlet comes back to The Peabody to find Deacon unconscious in his hotel room with broken glass on the floor and the mini-bar in shambles. She can’t revive him and calls 911.

While Rayna contemplates her past — Avery shows up at Juliette’s contemplating their future. An unexpected moment of goodness in an episode full of turmoil! Check it out:

While Avery and Juliette put their ex-ness behind them, Sadie Stone comes home to find her ex Pete waiting for her, stalker-style. When she stands up to him because she’s not that scared little girl from ten years ago, he PUNCHES HER IN THE FACE. I probably should have seen that coming, but I did not. It is still shocking even after the third watch.

Cut back to the Jeff Fordham party—Will is looking for Layla and runs into Jeff who tells Will he thinks he got thru to Layla. In that moment, Will spots a discarded Santa hat by the pool and sees Layla face-down in the water. Will jumps in, screaming for Jeff to call 911. But instead, Jeff calls his bosom buddy, Mayor Teddy Conrad. He has a “small problem” he’s going to need Teddy’s help handling.

Back to Deacon and Scarlett in the hospital. Scarlett fears he has fallen off the wagon, but that’s not the case at all. And then this:

It’s not that Luke isn’t Teddy—it’s that he’s not Deacon. And now Deacon has cirrhosis and possibly cancer and insists Scarlett tell NO ONE? Two seconds later, Gunnar is weeping at the door telling Scarlett his heartbreak while Juliette and Avery marry in front of a judge, and Rayna drives away after ditching Luke on their wedding day. Nashville writers — you are killing me. And I love it.

Is Layla dead, alive or in coma? How long until Teddy’s “pay to play” escapade catches up with him? Are Gunnar and Scarlett primed to rekindle their flame? What does all this mean for #TeamDeacon? Do we finally have some happiness for Javery? We won’t know anything until February 4, 2015, cuz they’re saving all the goodness for sweeps!

Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

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