This was one of those episodes that reminded me that, as much as I love this show, sometimes it’s really, really hard to watch the characters make stupid mistakes, especially when they’re mistakes they’ve already made once and seem to have learned nothing from.
1. Case in point, I was really frustrated with Layla in this episode. She’s had some great moments of standing up for herself since her breakup with Will, but she’s also had a lot of moments like the ones in this episode, where she allowed herself to be manipulated. It was especially tough to watch here, since Jeff, someone who’s burned her before (and nearly killed her, actually), was the manipulator. I’m hoping in next week’s finale we see her stand up to him, though it’s going to be hard to do now that they have a contract
2. I appreciate the story that they’re trying to tell with Jules, but I’m a little worried that, like a lot of the issues that this show tackles, they’re moving too quickly to do it justice. It seems like it was engineered to come to a head at the finale, without paying too much attention to natural progression. But Hayden Panettiere and Jonathan Jackson have been doing a great job, and I’m trying to reserve judgement on the storyline as a whole until next week.
3. Rayna and Deacon have been killing me with the cancer storyline since she found out, and this episode continued the trend. I loved the rawness of the two of them admitting their fears (as their old records played, no less), but then deciding to get up and perform at the Bluebird, no matter how desperate they felt. It was also really powerful to see the two of them break down together, and let themselves be sad for a moment.
4. Their performance was great, and the atmosphere (Connie Britton and Chip Easten’s authentic acting, the audience members getting visibly choked up), almost made me forget that Deacon Claybourne is a fictional character.
5. As much as I loved (and felt for them) in this ep, those two REALLY need to stop with the pet names. The “baby”s and “darlin'”s just make every scene with the two of them that much harder to get through. Their relationship is just too dang real sometimes!
6. I’m glad that Scarlett and Gunnar called a truce of sorts, but I laughed out loud at their declaration that they need to keep their personal lives out of the music. Their personal lives (and their tumultous relationship) is exactly why their music is so good, and there’s no way they’ll be able to separate the two. That being said, I’m pretty excited to see them try.
7. As far as their significant others, Caleb seems nice enough, but hasn’t really been developed enough for me to root for the two of them as a couple. Kylie and Gunnar seem to be headed for a rekindling of their relationship, but I kind of agree with Scarlett that he forgave her too quickly, despite what happened in her past to justify it.
8. I like the idea of the Exes signing with Highway 65 (in the show’s world, their only alternative was Luke’s label, which doesn’t seem like quite the right fit), and Scarlett’s hesitation made total sense to me. I’m not a huge fan of the way her breakdown storyline was done, but I’m glad they’re at least acknowledging its ramifications.
9. Will’s past with his dad wasn’t too surprising (even as heartbreaking as it was), but I was surprised that Will forgave him so easily. I also liked that Kevin made his opinion known; it says a lot that, even though they haven’t been dating long, he cares enough about Will to risk their relationship if it means saving him some more heartache.
10. I still can’t bring myself to care too much about Teddy’s storyline. He’s never been my favorite character, and the fact that his storyline has taken him away from the rest of the characters so often lately hasn’t helped matters. I feel like he may end up dying in the finale (with one of his nefarious deals coming back to bite him), which would actually open the door for some really interesting storytelling next year.