Nashville Recap: 4×20 “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt”

 Previously on Nashville: Maddie emancipated from her parents; Deacon accused Frankie of its being Cash’s fault, and they got in a giant fight; Rayna was mad; Scarlett got a commercial without Gunnar and Gunnar got onstage on Autumn’s tour without Scarlett; Juliette hooked up with a former costar whose name I’ve forgotten, so I’m just going to call him Eyebrows; Will’s mom died; Luke fired Kenneth (yay!).

I’m very sad this show has been cancelled. It’s had moments of sheer brilliance recently, and the return of Juliette brought life back into an originally shaky season. Too bad this may be the second-to-last episode we recap!

The View. Here’s Luke hanging out with—wow, quite a star-studded episode already, and we haven’t even gotten to Elton John yet—Whoopi Goldberg, Raven Symone, and two other randos I don’t recognize. Anyway, they’re asking him about his fight with Cynthia Davis. He keeps asking for the conversation to be about Will’s music, but they press him for his real stance, and he says flat-out that he believes discrimination is wrong. Then Raven asks him why Will isn’t in the conversation. He tries to get away with the excuse that Will’s mom just died, but that doesn’t hang together because this was going on way before last week. “I can assure you that Will cares,” Luke finally says, lamely.

Waiting room of what turns out to be a therapist’s office. Rayna and Deacon are called in by the doctor, and thank him for giving them the whole day. The whole DAY? What do you think he told his other weekly patients who usually see him on that day? “Uh, sorry, but someone wayyy more famous than you needs help, so. Good luck with your regular, non-famous-person marital issues.”

Juliette’s making out with Eyebrows on her private plane. She coos, “I’m glad my publicist sucks at finding me dates for the red carpet.” Eyebrows asks her to come with him to New York, but she says she misses Cadence and needs to get back to her real life. (Juliette keeps talking about her real life, but from what I can tell it seems to mostly involve sitting on the couch while Emily loads groceries into her fridge.) They part with more smooching.

At the hotel, Noel is going over Gunnar and Scarlett’s upcoming schedule, which includes Scarlett’s commercial shoot. Scarlett’s wearing a newsboy cap, what appears to be an actual nightgown from Anthropologie’s lingerie section, and a giant sweater, so from the neck up she looks like Oliver Twist and from the shoulders down she looks like she’s dressed for hot sex in someone’s overly-air-conditioned hotel room. I can only assume that it’s laundry day and she ran out of all real shirts, pants, and dresses and the only thing she had was some lingerie she’d purchased in the hopes that she might soon have a certain lanky, soulful-eyed male visitor in her room again.

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Anyway, Scarlett and Gunnar agree to the scheduling in awkward monosyllables. “Are we doing the not-talking-to-each-other thing again?” asks the long-suffering Noel. They just insist that they want to do what’s best for the band. Noel wisely leaves without trying to deal with this. There’s Autumn in the background, and as soon as Scarlett starts asking Gunnar if they can talk, she bounces over to interrupt them and ask about their plans for the break from their tour. Scarlett has to admit she’s filming a commercial without Gunnar, and Autumn acts super excited for her, and I’m sure she is genuinely excited—not because she gives a shit about Scarlett but because now she can once again get Gunnar on his own. She reveals she’s going to see her “old friend” Elton John and that Gunnar should tag along. And with that, Gunnar’s off to Autumn’s private plane. Scarlett looks half-amused at Autumn’s obviousness, half-discouraged.

Will’s hanging up the phone with his dad in the Bro Castle. Apparently Mr. Lexington is going to send Will some of his mom’s things. Avery remarks on how fast things have changed with them. Will seems hesitant to get too excited, but when Luke calls to check in, he does say that things with his father have improved. “I want you to know that I’m committed as ever to launching your album, only… I can’t do it without you,” Luke says, obviously unsettled by the questions from Raven et al. Will promises to join him on some of the appearances he’s booked, and Luke tells him to come by the office when he’s back later.

Juliette answers the door to find Eyebrows on her porch. He says he wants to clarify what he meant when he said he wanted to see where this goes: more than red carpets, he wants to spend time with her at home too. Juliette hedges that her life is complicated, but he says it’s fine, and that they should really get to know each other. Already, Juliette seems pretty “Ehhhh” about this, but the combination of convenience, the fact that he’s pretty, and the chance to achieve equal moving-on-ness with Avery sways her.

Rayna and Deacon are having a shouting match in their therapist’s office. Deacon is trying to look like he understands how dumb he was while also insisting that actually, he wasn’t that dumb, and Frankie hit him first wah wah. Rayna goes back to the thing where he knew what would happen and didn’t tell her about it because he knew she would stop him. She says he’s starting the same cycle over and over: “betrayal, destruction, abandonment, forgiveness…” Deacon says sarcastically, sure, he loves that cycle. He’s in total defensive mode: “Look, I would love to be the guy that didn’t make the same mistake twice,” he starts blustering. Rayna interrupts him scornfully to say it’s been a lifetime. The therapist decides now is the time for a mid-morning break and remarks portentously, “There are clearly a lot of deep wounds here.” Oh, you think?

Juliette and Eyebrows are hanging out in the kitchen, where Eyebrows is mutilating a squash and Juliette is watching. “I told you it would be fun cooking together,” he says, oblivious to her amused eyebrow-raise. “So … these are really going to turn into spaghetti strands?” she asks. Eyebrows admits that “the texture’s a little different” but then blathers on about how this type of pasta is so good for you and all the nutrients will “supercharge your body.” This guy does NOT belong in Nashville. He is an amusingly accurate mishmash of so many people I know in New York. Juliette’s face is like, “I’LL BELIEVE THAT’S FOOD WHEN I SEE SOME HAMBURGER HELPER ON TOP OF IT, MMKAY?”

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Juliette’s face when Eyebrows tells her about the magic of pasta made of vegetables.

Layla arrives at the Bro Castle with a gift for Avery even though it’s her album launch. “Oh, it’s a tie,” he says, barely able to feign enthusiasm. She admits it matches her outfit for tonight, and then declares it’s a stupid idea and tries to take it back, which has the intended effect of obliging Avery to reassure her that it was an awesome idea. He has a gift for her too: Cadence is spending the night at Juliette’s. So his gift is basically the freedom to sex it up all night? Well, Layla seems to like it.

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Gunnar has adjusted quite well to life as Autumn’s new plaything. He’s sipping champagne and blathering about Elton John’s career like Elton John paid for a product placement deal or something. You know, instead of “Wow, I love how Bing tells me everything I need to know about The Interwebs” it’s “Wow, Elton John has won sooooo many Grammys!” Like, I think Autumn probably already knows that Elton John is amazing? Anyway, she prods Gunnar about his solo career again and he says he can’t imagine doing it without Scarlett again and she says something snotty about how that partnership might end soon again. Then she tells him to enjoy the moment (of fame), “Kind of like how I’m enjoying this one. With you.” Gross.

Somehow Rayna has gotten the therapist alone and is musing about how she’s been looking for a healthier path, and that’s what marrying Teddy (yes, Teddy, felon and visitor of prostitutes) was all about. The therapist points out that even though she broke up with him she hired him as his band leader. “Have you ever heard him play guitar?” Rayna says drily. “There’s a magic that happened. Still does.” Then she says that with her and Deacon it was always inevitable. “We’re inextricably tied,” she says. Rayna, that didn’t work when Dawson said it and it doesn’t now.

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Avery brings Cadence over to Juliette’s and warns her that baby’s cranky because she’s teething. “I’m sowwy,” Juliette says cutely to Cadence. Avery smells the food and asks if she’s cooking. She says that Noah’s cooking. Oh, right. I keep forgetting that name because it’s almost exactly the same as Scarlett and Gunnar’s manager. I’m just gonna stick with Eyebrows. Anyway, Avery remarks passive-aggressively that that’s “fast.” Juliette somehow manages not to point out that it’s slower than the five minutes Avery took to get to Layla’s hotel room the other night. Growth! But Avery clarifies that he means, you know, it’s all about Cadence. Juliette promises Eyebrows is a good guy and that Cadence is too young to absorb much, “which is why I’ve never had a problem with her spending time with Layla.” Point, set, match for Juliette.

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Juliette wins.

She invites Avery inside, and Eyebrows greets him happily, announcing that he’s making heirloom tomato marinara. He asks if Avery wants a taste, and Avery is like “Uhhhh, no thanks,” as if he’s just been offered, like, mashed cactus with wheat germ or something. So funny how everyone is reacting to this food! Anyway, Juliette promises Avery they’ll be fine. Avery leaves, directing a longing glance over his shoulder to where Juliette is introducing Eyebrows to Cadence in a cooing voice.

At his meeting with Luke, Will asks about Kenneth. Luke explains briefly what happened, framing it more as a naysaying thing and not quite saying it was about homophobia. Will says he’s sorry to hear that, and Luke says, “That’s all right, I never liked him that much anyway.” Hee. And, word. So Luke’s talking to Will about how there’s a mainstream radio station that wants to have them as guests. Will asks anxiously if he’s going to have to talk about the controversy, and explains once again that he doesn’t want to be a spokesman. Luke promises he won’t have to, but he’s interrupted by some nameless assistant who says he has a call from a Medical Center. Uh-oh. The call turns out to be about Colt, who’s had “an accident.” Luke apologizes and tells Will he’ll have to do the radio show on his own.

Noel and Scarlett arrive at the commercial shoot, Noel remarking that Scarlett barely talked on the flight. Scarlett says she’s fine, and then some guy from the commercial comes over to her and explain the gig: The theme is “Cut out the noise. What do you hear?” They have a bunch of mock-ups of posters that pair different female artists’ faces with words like “Peace” and (for Scarlett) “Joy.” Then a red-headed woman interrupts, “Would you stop please? Don’t listen to him.” Apparently it’s the photographer, Jackie, who says, “I don’t need you to tell her what she should feel. I’m sure you can figure that out on your own, can’t you?” She tells Scarlett to listen to the music and be honest.

Back at therapy, Deacon’s alone on the hot seat now (while the doctor’s regular patients presumably deal with their lame, regular-person problems on their own at home). He whines about how ashamed he has always been and that he doesn’t want to be the guy who let Rayna down anymore. The doctor turns the question around and asks who Rayna is to him. “She’s everything. Without her, music doesn’t mean anything, nothing means anything,” he says. Then he says he’s had to try to face life without her too many times and doesn’t know if he can do it again. The doctor asks what he would do if he had to. “Wait,” Deacon says sadly, staring into the distance.

Will’s on his own at the radio show, while the host summarizes his crazy career and then says that there’s a lot of emotional depth to his new album. He asks if the experience of coming out had any impact on said emotional depth, and Will just stutters and looks upset at this really pretty softball question. Then, to a question about the gay community, Will snaps, “I can’t speak for anyone else. All I know is I’m really proud of this new album.” The host wisely switches over to playing his single.

Layla arrives at her launch and is greeted by Glenn, who apologizes that Rayna can’t come. Layla gives her crazy-eyed smile and says that’s better because now Rayna can’t overshadow her. Oh, Layla. That’s what you think. It’s not what you say. Poor Glenn may just now be realizing he has a mini-me of Juliette on his hands, only more sociopathic than the original. Anyway, Avery arrives, tells Layla she looks beautiful, and swings an arm around her. He does a sterling job of smiling at the cameras and looking very glum whenever he is in motion. Layla notices this and asks what’s wrong, and he says he’s worried about Cadence but reassures her tonight will be perfect.

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Luke arrives at Colt’s hospital room to find Colt unconscious in bed, his head swaddled in a giant bandage, and Angry Grandpa waiting in the corner. Angry Grandpa runs down a list of everything that’s wrong with Colt and says he was “jumped” by fellow recruits. Luke asks why. He says it was “on account of all that noise you’ve been making in the press lately… so to answer your question, this happened because of you.” Ugh, gross.

Now Rayna and Deacon are back in the therapist’s room together. He has unraveled the key to all of their psychic wounds! He announces that Deacon is tortured by remorse, and that Rayna has a history with men who disappoint her. So Deacon needs to be relieved of his guilt, and Rayna needs to forgive. How very original! But before I can entirely write the good doctor off, he concludes with something that’s actually pretty smart: “You both have a deep mythology about this bond. Its inevitability, the sense of yourselves as artists all tied up within it, but there’s a dark side to it. I’m not questioning whether you love each other, you clearly do. The tough question you have to answer is, what are you both getting out of this relationship?” So true! There can be real love that still contains a self-serving mythology that keeps people trapped.

At the commercial shoot, Scarlett is wearing a tutu bedecked with pink ribbons and spinning around like a little kid while her song plays. Jackie asks what she feels. “Cheer, glee, fun,” Scarlett says obediently. When this doesn’t convince Jackie she tries, “Happiness?” The photographer announces that her eyes don’t show happiness, they show fear. Scarlett mumbles that if Jackie just tells her what to do, she’ll do it. Jackie lectures, “This is about you. This is about your feelings,” and then she yells to everyone to cut the music and get out. “Perhaps now you can stop hiding,” she tells Scarlett.

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Autumn introduces Gunnar to Elton John, who’s sparkling in every sense of the word. He says he’s heard a few tracks of Gunnar’s and likes them, and asks what Gunnar’s favorite song from his own (Elton’s) new album is. When Gunnar names it, Elton says they’re going to sing it onstage together. Autumn squeals happily. I guess she’s either so famous she doesn’t need a boost from Elton John or just so busy trying to break up the band she brought on tour with her that she doesn’t have time to be jealous.

Rayna and Deacon are driving home. Rayna says that Daphne won’t be there that night. They do not look happy.

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Avery puts his phone away only just as Layla is supposed to start.

Bucky is introducing Layla at her showcase as a“terrific young artist.” Layla has to actually tell Avery, who’s texting Juliette to (purportedly) check on Cadence, to put his phone down. Meanwhile, Avery is staring at his phone and the picture of Cadence’s cherubic face that is lighting up on it. When Layla starts singing, he actually looks away to check the phone again. Dude! Come on, that’s so uncool! Put the phone away! On the bright side, Layla sings beautifully and everyone in the audience seems charmed by it.

Juliette is trying to get a slightly fussy Cadence to bed and murmuring, “Call me back Avery.” But Eyebrows comes in and gives her a spoon, which Cadence takes quietly. He explains the pacifier that Juliette put in the freezer (is that a thing?) might be too cold for sensitive teething gums. Juliette tells him he’s full of surprises, but she doesn’t seem super enthused about it.

Luke comes into the waiting room at the hospital, and his father-in-law starts attacking him about his crusade again. He says that he’s not protecting his own child. Luke says that he wanted to change some minds for the better. Angry Grandpa says it’s not going well, and Luke agrees angrily that it’s not. “Well, I hope that singer of yours appreciates it, considering that you’re fighting his fights for him while your son was here getting his head kicked in,” says Angry Grandpa. OK, I do think Will’s resistance to being a “spokesperson” is getting kind of old, as a plotline. But ugh, this implication that he doesn’t deserve for Luke to be standing up for him because he’s not willing to go out and invite the infinitely worse abuse he’ll suffer as said spokesperson? Like he only deserves straight allies if he voluntarily undergoes further oppression? I hate it with a fiery passion. Luckily Luke does too. He yells that he was just trying to do the right thing. The men part with angry glares.

Will’s arriving home when he finds a guy waiting by a pickup truck. The guy greets him by name in a thick Southern accent and mentions the radio show. Will, justifiably afraid, mumbles that he doesn’t want any trouble. But that isn’t what the guy’s here for. He says Will’s wrong and he is speaking for other people. He grew up gay and ashamed, and that hearing Will “speak [his] truth” helped him realize there was nothing wrong with him. Will looks both moved and nervous—recognizing, I think, that he can’t get away from being a spokesperson forever.

Rayna and Deacon arrive home to the darkened kitchen of the Jaymes Mansion. Deacon says he’s done being the screwup in her life and wants to relieve them both of the guilt. She says he can’t just decide that after today, and they’re trying to work through this. He asks if she’s found the first step to forgiveness. She admits she hasn’t, but says it takes time. “This is me. This is us. This is our happily ever after, right here,” he says. He has a point, and that is kind of a scary thought. Anyway, they play a game of emotional chicken, asking each other if they want out. Finally Deacon leaves, telling Rayna to think about what she wants.

Layla’s performance is over, and she’s getting wild applause. Bucky and Glenn hug and congratulate her, and she looks thrilled. Glenn brings her over to meet someone from “I Heart Radio.” She asks where Avery is, but they say they don’t know.

He’s in the back pantry, calling Juliette back. Juliette explains what happened, and Avery’s like, OH, SO GLAD YOUR NEW SQUEEZEBOX SAVED THE DAY FOR YOU. He has to actually put the phone down for a second and direct a pleading glance to high heaven. But he just says he hopes they’re having fun. Growth? I guess?

Scarlett is in an impromptu therapy session of her own with Jackie the Creepily Over-Involved Photographer. Jackie says that she can tell from the music that Scarlett feels things deeply (oh, you couldn’t tell that on sight from her insane accessorizing?) and then pushes her to admit whether “I Will Never Let You Know” is about her. Scarlett sort of admits to this, saying she had a lot going on.

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Before the song, Elton is working the crowd and Gunnar is hyperventilating backstage. Autumn grabs his hand and promises him he’ll be great. “Go get ‘em, rock star,” she grins as he goes out with Elton. Gunnar takes a guitar and somehow goes out onstage for a perfectly coordinated duet with Elton. Did they even practice? Oh well, it’s Nashville. The song is fun, anyhow. Meanwhile Autumn is smiling proudly from backstage like she’s his wife or something.

Back at the hospital, Colt opens his eyes slowly and sees Luke. He asks what Luke’s doing there. “You just say the word and I’ll get your father out of here,” Angry Grandpa promises, practically salivating at the thought. Luke puffs up and announces he’s not going anywhere. Colt interrupts them, saying he wants Luke there. “I’m so sorry, Colt,” Luke says tearfully, “I never want to be responsible for you being in pain.” Colt says it’s not Luke’s fault and he threw the first punch because he was defending Luke. He tells Luke he’s proud of him. It is a truly lovely moment.

Meanwhile, Will is having an abysmal moment, watching Cynthia Davis on the couch in his living room. She’s complaining that Will is rubbing their noses in his morally depraved behavior, while in the same breath also complaining that he isn’t even standing up for himself. Then she says the gays should disappear. Shut up Ann Coulter. I mean Cynthia.

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At the studio, Jackie places headphones on Scarlett’s ears and tells her to just listen. Scarlett listens to “I Will Never Let You Know” while running her own mental montage of key moments with Gunnar: the first kiss, singing together, sleeping together in the hotel a few weeks ago, etc. She starts to cry. “Stay in it,” Jackie says. “I can’t, it hurts too much,” Scarlett sobs. “Scarlett, what are you so afraid of?” Jackie asks. OK, I mean, Scarlett and Gunnar 4e!!1 and everything, but this is just embarrassing.

Deacon finds Rayna lying in Maddie’s room. She tells him what she wants is to have Maddie back. “Me too,” he says and leaves Rayna crying on the bed.

After the Elton performance, Autumn congratulates Gunnar, pokes his chest, and says that Elton said “you were an absolute natural out there.” Gunnar scoffs at this, but I mean … he’s already been on stage? A lot? So he’s not really “a natural” at this point, more an “experienced performer”? Whatever. Anyway, Autumn tells him he has the goods (dirty!) and that he can do whatever he wants. “On your own,” she adds. Oh my God, shut UP already about that, Autumn. She looks up at him through her eyelashes and says, “In case it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I like you, Gunnar. A lot.” Gunnar looks… blank, pretty much.

Eyebrows and Juliette are cuddling companionably on the couch, and arguing about the movie they just saw. Juliette suggests rather dispiritedly that they just go to bed, and Eyebrows takes this slightly differently and starts making out with her.

At the launch, Glenn congratulates Layla on all the interest in her album from programmers. She thanks him sincerely for helping her get here, and he tells them to go celebrate. Avery says he wants to “swing by” Juliette’s and check on Cadence and then meet up with her after. Layla knows exactly how to get Avery’s attention back: play on his sympathies. “I don’t even know what we’re celebrating,” she melodramas, and then says that Rayna couldn’t even make it to the launch. She goes over all her grudges against Rayna and concludes that her label “couldn’t care less” about her. Avery points out the giant party they just threw for her, but Layla brings crocodile tears to her eyes, saying that Rayna ruined her night. And it totally works. Avery promises that he’ll take Layla out right now, and that he was just being overprotective about Cadence. He grabs her hand and leads her out, and Layla says, “You really are the best boyfriend.” Wow.

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These are the eyes of a predator satisfied that it has trapped its prey. Right?

Noel finds Scarlett sitting in an emergency exit staircase somewhere and congratulates her on a great shoot. But she’s crying. He sits down with her, and she says, “Gunnar’s right. I am afraid. I’m afraid of the truth.” Noel asks, with obvious dread, what she’s talking about. “I’m in love with him. I’m in love with Gunnar,” she says. I’m sure Noel is SHOCKED to hear this.

At that exact moment, unfortunately, Gunnar is jumping into bed with Autumn.

Juliette and Eyebrows are staring up at the ceiling in awkward post-coital silence. He asks her what’s going on, and she tells him even though she likes how he’s passionate about stuff, she doesn’t think that they have the connection they need. “I guess the fantasy’s better than the reality, huh?” he says. OK, if he’s referring to Juliette as the fantasy, that’s just mean. And if he’s referring to himself as her fantasy, I think he is very misinformed about how much sheer proximity (slash boredom) had to do with her sleeping with him. Anyway, he leaves. Juliette looks pensive.

Luke’s joking cutely with Colt that his crazy facial injuries are barely noticeable when he gets a call from Will. He tells him not to worry about Cynthia Davis, and that she has so much hate that she’s not worth it. But Will says he wants to face Cynthia on her show. Luke offers to book “us” a time. “You’ve done so much for me, Luke, and I am truly grateful, but it’s time for me to take it from here,” Will says. “Go get ‘er, son,” Luke smiles. Aww, yay! I just hope Will doesn’t entirely forget this giant step he took in a week and a half. He has been known to do that on occasion (understatement of the year).

Rayna and Deacon are lying sleepless in bed. Finally Rayna turns toward Deacon—who’s on his side, facing away from her—and lays her hand on his shoulder. He hesitates a moment and finally, slowly, covers her hand with his, leaving their bodies still far apart. It’s a nice, understated moment of ambivalence and tenderness.

And I guess there’s just one episode left! See you guys next week for one more recap!

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