Nashville’s back! We had to make it through the holidays and the Polar Vortex without the comforting glow of Connie Britton’s hair, but at last, we’re back in the harmonious (see what I did there?) climes of  Tennessee, where when last we visited, all hell was breaking loose.

As you may recall, the mid-season break was cliffhangerrific: Peggy had just become collateral damage in an assault on Sketchy Teddy; Will was weeping as he wrestled with his sexuality by the light of an oncoming train; Rayna had bet the farm, or more specifically, her house and her daughters’ futures, on the success of Highway 65; and Deacon had made a semi-triumphant return to the stage in a pop-up performance outside the music festival. Oh, and Juliette thought she might finally find some love in Avery’s arms, only to discover that position was already taken by Scarlett.

So, whose fortunes have risen and whose have fallen over the break? Let’s see…

Peggy

Fake Pregnancy Peggy, apparently that whole storyline was pointless, because this week you are OUT.  The show opens and you’re already covered with a sheet and loaded onto a truck, all to a montage interspersed with Juliette’s new song. No rush to the hospital, no chance she survived–the people have spoken, and they said sayonara.

 

 

 

WillWeeping Will is OUT–out of pocket, that is! No one knows where he went after he fled Cute A&R Brent’s wicked Bed o’ Lust…and now it’s three days later and no one’s heard from him. Layla is forced to admit to still more people (OK, Brent) that Will doesn’t tell her anything and she has no clue where he’d be…and then she swans off to do an interview alone, since live is live and Will isn’t there. Brent finally arrives on Gunnar’s doorstep in desperation, and Gunnar does his best Sherlock Holmes in finding him…camping. And weeping. Will confesses to Gunnar that he can’t admit he’s gay, or he’ll lose his newfound career. But he agrees to come home soon.

 

RaynaRayna is IN…debt. And she’s a little freaked, because Evil Label Guy let her take a peek at the market research that says her fancy new concept album has no hit single on it. And Rayna’s trusted radio people agree. She expresses her doubts to Grungy Sexy Liam, who’s all, we did for ART, man, why are you listening to money people? Rayna suddenly finds his shtick less charming as she reminds him that she has children to support. Not so easy when you’re the Evil Label Guy, huh, Rayna?

 

 

Juliette  Juliette is IN trouble, per usual. Not only do people think she’s a total homewrecker because of the whole Rich Charlie fiasco (and somehow Charlie and Olivia are now “the most beloved couple ever”? who the hell cares who some spoiled rich guy shtups?), but groups of Bible-thumpers are starting to protest her shows. (Juliette apparently still has no idea who dropped the dime on her, LAYLA.) At first it seems like things are looking up, because PA Emily (remember her? the good assistant?) is back and ready to clean house…but then a creepy protestor says something nasty about Juliette’s mom being in hell, and she snaps back, “There is no god who’d listen to a crackpot like you.” Can we all see where this is going? You’d think the girl who started this fall because of a YouTube video would have learned the dangers of selective editing…but the only way she can convince the media that she didn’t simply say, “There is no God” (a potential career-ending quote in country music) is to get pure-as-the-driven-snow Layla to confirm the real quote. Now Juliette owes Layla one, which sucks because we have to look at Layla’s sneaky rat face even more often.

DeaconDeacon is OUT of ideas and OUT of patience. His manager (?) tells him that the new songs he’s been writing are cute and all, but they lack substance–not like the stuff he used to write with Rayna. He takes it well, but then goes home to struggle with a massive case of writer’s block. Lawyer Girlfriend comes home to be sweet and supportive, and he’s a total ass to her in Play #472 from the Boyfriend Handbook: Pick Fight with Girlfriend to Punish Self and Avoid Real Feelings. She cooperates and leaves, and Deacon finds himself looking for inspiration in the parking lot of a liquor store. Uh-oh…

 

TeddyTeddy is OUT of his mind, or heading that way…he’s grieving over the loss of Peggy (I’m dropping the FP out of respect for the dead), but he also knows the guy was aiming at him. But why? The shooter claimed he was attacking because he’d been out of work for 5 years, but Sketchy T has only been in office for a year (feels like 30)…so why was the dude mad at him? Teddy thinks he’s still in danger, and sets out on a quest to solve this mystery–telling Rayna to keep the girls away until it’s safe. I assume this will eventually bring us back to the whole Lamar embezzlement stuff, but my interest in that storyline has run OUT.

 

ScarlettScarlett is IN a pickle and IN a snit and IN the wrong, if you ask me. She’s still pissy because Gunnar and Zoe are together and didn’t tell her, even though she’s been back with Avery. She grouses about it to Avery for a while until she gets a phone call–Kelly Clarkson wants to purchase the song she wrote with Gunnar! (I think the one they wrote by the pool on tour?)! So she has to go tell Gunnar–but he’s not home, and after throwing some serious bitchface at Zoe, she and her “best friend” have it out. Scarlett doesn’t have a leg to stand on, but that doesn’t stop her from being self-righteous. But then she and Avery break up because they realize it was just sexual backsliding.

 

Kelly ClarksonAnd finally, Kelly Clarkson is IN this episode! She listens to Gunnar and Scarlett perform the song, she loves it, and wants them to do more writing together “with her in mind.” Coming full circle from season 1, this time it’s Gunnar who jumps at the chance, while Scarlett declares that she couldn’t possibly work with Gunnar ever ever EVAH and too bad Kelly Clarkson you will just have to give someone else your big break. Hey, Scarlett, might want to run that by your BOSS, Rayna, who probably wants you to make the teensiest of efforts to be successful. Dummy. Kelly Clarkson looks great (and not as pregnant as she did in her Christmas special), and I wish she’d go hire Deacon instead.

And with that, I’m OUT of time. What did you think of all the ins and outs this week?