Nashville – Recap: I Just Hate Missin’ You
Recap and review of Nashville – Season 3 Episode 13 – I’m Lost Between Right or Wrong:
Nashville occasionally deals in absolutes, considering that success and failure in the entertainment industry can often be a black-or-white issue. Either you succeed or you don’t. Okay, maybe you can have a career of moderate success, where you never fully realize your potential but never really burn out either, but even that manages to be a kind of success.
And so it is with life too, which isn’t as cut or dry as some stories would lead viewers to expect. So I found it pretty interesting that Nashville decided to craft an episode specifically about not dealing in absolutes, since it showed the characters finding a different path, creating their own solutions that subvert the either/or complications of life’s drama. “I’m Lost Between Right or Wrong” is an exploration of how to escape being stuck between two states of being: hope and despair, strength and weakness, bravery and fear, success and failure.
This theme is perhaps best exemplified in the story centering on Deacon (Charles Esten) and Scarlett (Clare Bowen). Deacon is in the clutches of despair, while Scarlett is clinging desperately to hope. While Deacon draws up a will, Scarlett makes health smoothies and encourages Deacon to remain optimistic about his chances. It’s a powerful storyline that continues to build Esten’s candidacy for an Emmy, since it’s an absolutely wonderful embodiment of a man coming to grips with his own mortality. Esten has always been great on this show, but this storyline is giving him a lot more room to dig into the meat and potatoes of his character. This is more than just overcoming addiction, it’s overcoming the urge to take the easy path and just give up. Succumbing to despair is a path that, in this situation, is arguably just as deadly as falling off the wagon, since Deacon needs to be willing to fight if he’s actually going to beat this cancer. His enraged outburst against Scarlett, in which he tells her she needs to face the fact that he’s dying, is an impactful moment because it shows how worn down Deacon has become.
With all the hardships he’s faced and all the close calls he’s had in his life, the fight has just been beaten out of him. It isn’t until he resumes guitar lessons with Maddie (Lennon Stella) that he realizes how foolish he is to throw in the towel. He also comes to understand the necessity of Scarlett’s optimism, in much the same way Deacon’s doctor helps her to realize that there needs to be a balance between tireless optimism and grim pragmatism. Deacon wiping away tears as he watches Maddie play, realizing that he could potentially miss out on her entire life if he gives up, is a positively beautiful moment, as is his affirmation that he’s going to do his best to be around for a long time to come. “I just hate missin’ you,” he tells Maddie, and the hope and warmth in his eyes suggest a man who’s found a middle ground between hope and despair. You can realize your situation is grim while also recognizing that there’s value in keeping faith — especially when you have a daughter and niece worth fighting for (and perhaps a future wife, if Rayna ever comes around).
Speaking of Rayna, I loved her take charge attitude upon finding out Maddie has been signed to Edgehill. It seemed fairly clear from the start that she would have Teddy’s (Eric Close) parental rights revoked in a last-ditch attempt to get the contract voided, but I didn’t think the show would actually have Rayna go through with it, since it seems like such a vicious move on her part. Like him or not, Teddy took on the role of raising a kid that wasn’t his, and loved her like she was his own. For Rayna to imply that Teddy doesn’t have a say in the lives of the girls he raised is a bit beyond the pale for Rayna, even if she’s right that, biologically, he isn’t Maddie’s father. With that said, Rayna is pretty much right to be coming after Teddy as viciously as she has been. This is a man who made a decision that could affect the rest of his daughter’s life, and all to cover his own ass. Or rather, to protect both himself and his family from a scandal that he himself created. Basically, he created a lose-lose situation, and only through Rayna’s savvy tactics was Maddie saved from a life she frankly isn’t ready for.
The show eases up on having Rayna revoke Teddy’s parental rights by having her instead ambush the Edgehill board of directors meeting, where she reveals Jeff’s (Oliver Hudson) misdeeds in nearly causing the death of Layla Grant (Aubrey Peeples). Jeff gets fired, Maddie’s contract is voided, and Rayna has won the day. But that’s not all, as she essentially takes full custody of both the girls from Teddy, since he’s proven himself incapable of making clearheaded decisions about their well-being. And while that might seem a harsh move to make, I’d argue Rayna is right to do it. Who’s to say Teddy won’t make another stupid mistake that prompts some shady figure to use their daughters as a bargaining chip? When stuck between the right path (protecting Maddie from a life she isn’t ready to face) and the wrong path (allowing Maddie to sign with Edgehill to protect the family from Teddy’s scandal), Rayna finds a middle ground. And that resourcefulness strengthens her as a character, even if I’m sure there are viewers who disagree as to whether or not a record contract at this age would actually ruin Maddie’s life.
Meanwhile, Sadie (Laura Benanti) is trapped between fear and bravery, as she continues to be harassed by her psychotic ex at the recording studio, despite the restraining order she took out against him. Luckily, Avery (Jonathan Jackson) is there to tell him off, nearly getting into a fight with the man in the process. Avery’s friendship helps give Sadie the courage and resolve to stand up to her ex, threatening to show security tape of him violating the restraining order unless he leaves her alone. It’s a succinct story, but no less powerful for how it takes a character struggling to find the best path forward, and allows her to forge her own. It’s the best of this episode’s minor plots, since the guys night out between Gunnar (Sam Palladio), Will (Chris Carmack), and Luke Wheeler (Will Chase) ultimately fell a bit flat for me. Luke almost discovers Will’s sexuality, and Gunnar decides to burn every last photo of his brother and Kiley in despair, but those are about the most significant developments we get, beyond reminding us that these three guys all know each other (since I imagine it’ll become important in the future, with Luke getting closer to Will’s secret, and Gunnar writing new music for Will).
Still, it’s a story that fares a bit better than the subplot in which Layla is shown to be, once again, the show’s new Juliette, in that she’s become the punching bag of the show. Just as she’s about to leave Nashville for good and start over, Jeff offers her the chance to show her real artistry to the Edgehill board. Of course, she waits outside the office only to discover the meeting has been canceled. Jeff goes to her house and explains that the reason it was canceled is because he was fired. And, out of sympathy, she lets him into her home to help him with his “bad day,” because, much like Juliette in the early days of the show, Layla still can’t recognize a bad idea when he’s standing right in front of her. Yes, Jeff does care about her, but he’s so inconsistent in his affections that I worry she’ll simply wind up heartbroken again. I long for the day when I can watch a Layla storyline and not think “Poor Layla” by the end of it. Here’s hoping this turns out differently.
But minor issues aside, “I’m Lost Between Right or Wrong” is a great episode. The show has really been firing on all cylinders lately, for me, although that’s just my opinion. I love how the show has balanced industry-focused storylines, and deeply intimate, personal stories. Nashville has occasionally struggled with finding the right balance, and I think they’ve finally found it this season.