'Nashville': Scarlett finds her voice in Tampa

I’ve gotta say, I like the episodes of Nashville that are largely geographically constrained. One of the problems this show had throughout its first season (and not totally solved just yet) was the way its characters were literally all over the place: someone’s on tour, someone else is in the studio, someone else is at city hall, the Dairy Queen, etc. I suppose everyone was technically in the city of Nashville, or living according to its rules and ideals on the road, but the ability for characters to, like, interact was slim. How could you have the kind of relationship polygons you had in last week's episode? Minus those episodes in which they were on tour together, Juliette and Rayna barely got to share the same stage/television screen. And I guess I have to acknowledge that no, they didn’t share either of those things tonight, either. But almost everyone else of importance did!

“Hanky Panky Woman” took the bulk of the Nashville gang to Tampa, where Luke Wheeler’s massive “beers and trucks” tour (Deacon’s words) was making its latest stop. In tow: Rayna, Scarlett, Gunnar, Deacon, and that slimy Edgehill exec who no one likes. Everyone had at least a little bit to do! They got to share conversations with one another! This is the Nashville we want to see (well, in theory), where the insular world of country music closes tight against the characters.

Certainly we don’t watch the show for Teddy and Peggy’s baby drama, which resurfaced last night (maybe for the last time? Probably not!) when Peggy decided to tell Teddy that she had miscarried. Or rather, fudged the timing of the miscarriage to imply that it had just happened, as opposed to several weeks/months in the past. Wouldn’t it be great if Teddy and Peggy just told the truth to each other? We could have saved a whole 10 minutes, and been a lot happier for it.

Back to Tampa: Scarlett got up on stage in her slightly sexy get-up with pink streaks in her hair and was immediately greeted with boooooooos from the crowd. Tampa, who’d have thought? Thankfully, her over-protective mom, Rayna, was there to set everybody straight, appealing as best she could to their sense of human decency, even six beers in. Nashville is trying to say something about the differences between country music stylings and venues — the folksy soul singer can’t hack it in the world of high-powered pop country! — but it’s difficult to make that point clear when Scarlett would have had trouble in any context. Anyway, she gets her groove back the following night, even though afterward she curls up on her bed with very obvious second thoughts about life on the road.

What’s Gunnar up to? I’ll tell you! Gunnar’s working hard on that one song he just can’t lick when Scarlett shows up with her mousy, musey ways to help him fix it. She fixes it, because Scarlett is a baby-voiced blonde angel from Heaven. And who should be overhearing this impromptu jam sesh by the pool than LUKE WHEELER HIMSELF, peering out of his sex balcony with his sex partner, Rayna. They may as well have just listened in on the NEXT BIG THING.

Image: ABC