‘Nashville’ Winter Finale Recap: Royal Wedding Fail

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Rayna admires her wedding dress while she can. (Mark Levine/ABC)

It’s finally here guys, the winter finale and Ruke’s wedding!

We open on what appears to be Luke and Deacon singing a duet of Ball and Chain. Luke loves to stick it to Deacon however he can. This must be his final torture before Deacon leaves the tour, to be replaced by Queen Rayna. Will is there, singing Rayna’s part of B&C as well, so, I guess Luke justified the burn by pitching the idea as some sort of farewell send off the boys of ‘Wheels Up!’ OR, this is how they had to end the show every damn night of this tour, and, oh man, poor Deacon! Luke asks to shake hands as they walk off stage, “even though they’ve had their differences.” I can’t help but think that Luke is gonna have one hell of comeuppance when he realizes what everyone watching has known for weeks—there is no way this wedding is happening.

Side note: ‘Yeah, right’ that Jeff Fordham is smiling re: that text from Layla with the smiley face.

Oh, Haayyy, Tandy’s back in town! And she could smell the bullshit surrounding this Royal Wedding all the way from Portland. (That’s where Tandy went, right?) Tandy casually mentions that she’s had no need to miss her sis, since Rayna’s been all over the place – Dancing with the Stars, Rolling Stone, that Xmas Special, girl has been busy. This is not really a compliment to Ray, but not really a dig either. Tandy coolly plays the ‘I’m your sister, you can’t hide shit from me’ card by simply listing back to Ray what she’s been up to and letting Ray’s feelings reveal themselves through her facial expressions. Sisters ain’t fooled by posturing, if one is hiding something, anything, no matter how insignificant, her sister is definitely going to be able to snake it out. And if that thing is not insignificant, it is in fact, ‘I don’t recognize the person I’ve become’, well then, God knows that’s coming out just in time to ruin this wedding. Tandy puts it all out on the table and asks Ray the question she’s been avoiding answering to herself for weeks: Are you happy? Rayna can’t lie to her sister, so instead of saying anything, we get a classic Rayna James blank stare. I am so glad Tandy is back.

Uh-oh, Luke wants Tim and Faith (that’s McGraw and Hill, obvs) to sit at the head table at the wedding, instead of the Ruke children! Oh snap, celebs over fam. Rayna is not into it. ‘But babe’ Luke coos, ‘we’re sitting with our kids at the rehearsal dinner.’ Then he looks at her with those ‘one for you, one for me’ pleading eyes and Rayna is all, WTF, how is this my life?

Guys, we lost our only minority character last week. But don’t worry, this week we got some Latinas to make up for it. Like, seriously, did any one know Kalie was Hispanic? I mean, I guess she has brown hair. It’s nice that Nashville didn’t really make a thing out of this, in fact, I kind of think they just decided Kalie was Hispanic, like, when they cast her mom. There was that painful moment when I was terrified the grandmother was cooking tamales in a terra cotta pot, but don’t worry, it was only pasta! Oh, and apparently Gunnar doesn’t know how to boil water.

Gunnar’s not Micah’s father, but we all knew that like, weeks ago. Sorry, G, uncles have no rights. Guess G can go on tour with ZAG SAG now (that’s Zoe, Avery, Gunnar sans Zoe, + Scarlett). I’m sure when SAG cuts their first album, and it’s sold in Starbucks, Zoe will tell all her new friends in LA just how much Gunnar and Scarlett suck as people, and she’ll be right. Because, here’s the thing– Gunnar and Scarlett were both pretty shitty to Zoe. But, Gunnar and Scarlett are also definitely supposed to be the new Rayna and Deacon. I know I give these two a hard time but, yes, it was a good thing Zoe was written out of the show, because my sympathy for her very real feelings of betrayal were getting in the way of my wanting to root for a Scunnar reunion. And I do. I want Scunnar. I want Zoe and Micah, and any other distractions, gone. Then, we can get back to those amazing Scunnar duets we had in season one. And, guys, I think it’s gonna happen. Remember back in season one, when Scarlett slept with Gunnar for the first time, ever, because Jason died she pitied him? Well, after finding out that Jason is Micah’s father, Gunnar shows up on Scarlett’s doorstep, crying. Nothing gets Scarlett all tingly more than a man who needs to be saved and here one is, just in time for Christmas. Maybe now she’ll stop holding hands and cuddling with her Uncle Deacon all the time.

Speaking of Deacon – holy shit, liver cancer? WTF. If they kill Deacon off, I will be pissed. I do not think that’s where this is leading. I am pretty sure, Rayna will sit by his bedside and he will make a full recovery. But I just want it known, if I am wrong, and Deacon dies, well…in the words of Valerie Cherish, “I don’t need to see that.”

Can I applaud Nashville for fooling me, now? I was pretty damn convinced that Deacon drank in that hotel room, and I was pissed. It seemed wholly out of character for him to relapse again. I even wrote in my notes, ‘there is no way Deacon is relapsing now that he has this relationship with Maddie.’ Then when Layla took all those pills I wrote, “are you kidding me? Two OD’s in one epidsode?!?” But, good job, Nashville. I was mad at you without reason, you didn’t disappoint me. And I did not see cancer coming.

If they are trying to make me believe that Jeff Fordham has real feelings for Layla, I don’t. I do, however, believe that he would call Teddy to help him get out of a potential manslaughter case. But, Layla’s not really dead, is she? I mean she looked pretty f’in dead. As much as I dislike Layla (and people who wear Santa hats at Christmas), I don’t want her to be dead! Can’t we just send her back to, I dunno, Sharknado or something? (Did she die in that too? I have no idea!) Poor Layla!

And poor Will! His face as he forced himself to have sex with blogger was heartbreaking! Just come out, Will! It’s worse in your head than it will be in real life.

So, Juliette and Rayna have sorta switched places. People magazine is paying for Rayna’s wedding, with 500 celebrities guests in tow, and Juliette is marrying her soul mate in a private ceremony, wearing a pregnancy blouse and clip-on flowers barrettes from Claire’s. I am so fucking happy Juliette and Avery are back together. Thank you, Nashville. Happy Christmas.

Finally, Rayna calls off the Royal Wedding because she doesn’t want to turn Luke into Teddy. Luke, even if you don’t think so now, you don’t want that either. You don’t want an escort to be the only person you can talk to about your feelings. You don’t want to be a cliché politician, paying for sex. Luke, reveals himself twice in this scene. The first time when he says, ‘It would have been easier to go through with it and dissolve it quietly later’ (typical Luke, always thinking about the media angle). The second, is when he tells Rayna to ‘get the hell of my property!’ He chucks ten (of the five hundred) wedding chairs around the ranch, most likely hitting some innocent off-screen assistant in the tantrum. I get it, the man was jilted and he’s pissed, but Ruke was never gonna be the happy globe-trotting couple he wanted them to be. Sure, they could have done the globe-trotting part, but happy? Not so much. Maddie and Daphne will not be boarding school attending, private jet flying, industry kids. Not if RJ has anything to say about it. I was proud of Ray for fessing up to her behavior mirroring past behavior, and wanting to break the cycle. I was proud of her for making the decision to leave about herself, and not about Deacon, and I was proud of Nashville for ending on a close-up on Rayna, sans man. Go Nashville, go.

‘Nashville’ Winter Finale Recap: Royal Wedding Fail