'Nashville' recap: Rayna and Deacon drift closer together, then apart, as their dance continues forever

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Now I don’t listen to much country music when I’m not watching Nashville, but I certainly understand that inspiring more than a fair share of it is failed relationships and heartache. I’ve heard SONGS before; I get it. So from that vantage point, I’d never suggest that the living history of Deacon and Rayna feels somehow unbelievable. Even outside the realm of country music, there are people in our lives we… just can’t shake. Who take up real estate in our hearts far longer than we could have expected, maybe forever. Who keep turning up, again and again, to dredge up/exhume/other bad verbs those parts of ourselves we thought we’d shut down. I am a human being who understands that love is a complicated and fickle Charybdis.

THAT SAID, the romantic push and pull of Deacon Claybourne and Rayna James over the course of Nashville’s run thus far has felt less realistic than it has… I don’t know, like clockwork. The intervals at which these two have come together, fallen apart, come together, fallen apart? Someone with too much time on their hands might even be able to graph it if they were so inclined. It would look like a sine curve.

Obviously, Nashville, for however long it runs, will be the story of these two star-crossed lovers and their odyssey toward a healthy partnership. It’s a given, the same way it was for JD and Eliot in Scrubs, Ross and Rachel in Friends, Matt and Julie in Friday Night Lights. Shows just have THOSE COUPLES that will forever be breaking up and getting back together en route to a series finale reconciliation/proclamation of love. And it’s certainly not a bad look for Nashville when Deacon and Rayna do get together. As we saw tonight in their brief but charged songwriting session — their chemistry produces good music, and good history-rich scenes! But hovering on the edges of each one of them is the knowledge that it WON’T last, that all we’re seeing is the beginning of another end that’s at best two to three episodes away.

So I ask, for the sake of my fragile heart: Just keep them apart for a little while, okay?

Sweet, stupid Scarlett actually articulated this most clearly when she confronted Rayna in the bathroom at… whatever awards ceremony that was. “If you say ‘jump,’ [Deacon] will always say ‘how high!'” And it sounds from Rayna’s conversation with Deacon after that (“might be too easy to fall back into those old patterns… ”) that she gets it, too, and that sine curve I described above has been flattened — at least for now. I sure hope so. There are enough interesting lives and stories to explore on this show (…potentially), from Juliette’s crises of artistry to Will’s struggle with his sexual orientation, that to focus so much on two that are JUST GONNA BREAK OUR HEARTS feels sadistic.

(Of course, I really can’t stand that Luke guy, either. Gargantuan tool. Rayna should just marry Juliette and be done with men forever.)

ALSO, unrelated: It would be super-great if the assassin who gunned down Teddy’s wife two episodes ago came back to finish the job, by which I mean kill Teddy (he’s a fictional character, it’s okay to wish death on them) and RELEASE US FOREVER from any and all storylines involving the mayorship and whatever bullshit it dredges up. “Trust me, Callie, the audience loves exploring the not-at-all-music-related workings of the Nashville mayoral office!” I imagine one of the writers saying/trolling every morning at the table, very persuasively. Stop bugging Callie with that shit, man.

Image: Vulture.com