You cannot want Nashville not to be ridiculous. If you're going to love the show, you have to revel in the evil machinations of the blackhearted business-focused record execs and the sight of a man so committed to making a change in his life that he saws off his own cast, the existence of hospitals be damned. Last night's Nashville served up plenty of drama, those being two examples among many, and it was a fine return to form, a push to move the show forwards instead of letting it idle in last season's tired waters.
Rayna has fully recovered from her coma-- she spends the whole episode walking around like nothing happened, though they're Vaselining her lenses so hard it's a difficult to tell through the shine and blur-- just in time for a new guy to take over her record label, Edgehill. He promptly poaches one of the artists she's been hoping to sign to her vanity label, Highway 65; he also enrages Juliette by letting her know that her new, more mature work isn't selling as well as he'd hoped, which is a problem, since he has zero interest in her as an artist-- only as a cash cow. Juliette responds to this with one of her usual insane stunts, in this case a TV special that has her back in the Alabama trailer park where she grew up. The writers know that Panettiere is a good enough actress to pull off tough, emotionally unbalanced scenes, and she plays this one beautifully: Juliette is equal parts unaffected and undone by the sequence, trying to play her genuine emotion for the cameras, and fool herself into believing it's all fake in the bargain. Avery accompanies her "to work on some new material on the plane;" later she brings him to the party the new exec is throwing for his artists. The pairing seemed forced at first but I'm starting to buy Avery and Juliette: she's the only person on the show less emotionally literate than he is, so he gets to be the good guy for once, and it's pretty nice to watch.
Elsewhere Deacon blames himself for his and Rayna's accident and decides that the best way to deal with this is by refusing to go to physical therapy that will help his hand heal so that he can play guitar again, and then, when Scarlett drags him there, to refuse to do the therapy and insist on casting the hand instead. He sells off his collection of guitars. Scarlett makes a lot of impassioned speeches. He tries to appeal to Rayna who, thank god, tells him she really can't do this with him anymore. Finally he does cut off the cast himself (seriously, Deacon, why) and tries to go back to playing.
That's where we're headed this season: the crash may have destroyed Deacon's ability to play and the intubation may have irrevocably damaged Rayna's vocal chords, or both, or neither. (My bet is on neither in the long run, but we'll see.) Juliette's being threatened by the next young up and comer, a reality TV runner-up named Layla (Aubrey Peeples, whose previous credits include "Super Hot Girlfriend" on Gray's Anatomy). Scarlett and Gunnar are still broken up but Gunnar is writing again. Will is still gay, still closeted. Maddie is pissed about her paternity but the press hasn't caught on yet. Let's hope they're saving that one for sweeps.