Nashville 3×16 “I Can’t Keep Away From You” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Nashville resumed from its mini-hiatus with one of the strongest, most well-written episodes we’ve seen in a while.

Episode Summary: Gunnar, Scarlett, and Avery encounter some negative messages on their new Twitter account regarding Scarlett’s breakdown in Chicago a while back. Juliette continues to be an adorable pregnant wife. Kevin begins to notice how uncomfortable Will is around him. Sadie and Luke sing a duet together but because of her friendship with Rayna, they don’t actually record it. And after she’s confronted by her ex, in a struggle to break free from him, Sadie accidentally shoots him. Deacon tries to push Rayna away in an attempt to free her from the pain of watching him suffer, but he’s later persuaded to understand that they’re stronger together than they are apart. Teddy tries to find dirt on a number of people in order to keep his affair with the prostitute concealed.

Review | Analysis: There were a few things in the episode I felt were unnecessary, but beyond that, I found myself moved to tears and impressed with some characters I wasn’t always fond of. More so than ever, Nashville has been doing a remarkable job of staying true to its characters – particularly when it comes to Rayna and Deacon. It’s great that we’re no longer running around in circles with those two. Additionally, it’s nice that we’re establishing Gunnar and Scarlett again because the two of them have lovely history.

Seeing as how this is my first Nashville review (I was late into the game and completely ashamed of myself because I’ve always been a huge fan of Connie Britton’s since Friday Night Lights), I thought I’d take a moment to let you all know how reviews work here at Marvelous Geeks. 90% of the time, the focus will be on the things I loved most – it’s initially why I write these things. I don’t believe in discussing things that didn’t emotionally move me so limited time will be spent on such matters. And if anyone’s ever wanting to discuss something, we’re completely open to it as long as it’s free of hate because that’s one thing we do not tolerate on here. And now without further ado …

First things first, it’s great that Layla’s finally getting her own voice. I couldn’t stand the relationship between her and Jeff for so many reasons, but my greatest concern was that she wasn’t at all valued by him. And frankly, Jeff just isn’t trustworthy – anything he does tends to frustrate me; therefore, I’m thrilled Layla’s chosen to end their “relationship.” If he can be a reliable manager, fine, but he cannot respect her the way she deserves to as a significant other, and she doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment after everything she’s been through.

While I figured Sadie would accidentally or intentionally harm her ex, I didn’t think it’d be this soon. And I most definitely didn’t imagine that Luke would be the man who’d find them. However, as surprising as this is, it’s actually pretty intriguing. Luke wasn’t always a favorite character – particularly because #TeamDeacon forever, but now that Rayna’s moved on and the series is giving him some independent storylines, I could get behind the potential love blossoming between him and Sadie. Whether the show chooses to go in that direction or not, it’s undeniable that the two have chemistry and a probable chance at embarking on a healthy relationship.

I didn’t want to root so hard for Gunnar and Scarlett, but their story is one of the loveliest henceforth, it’s inevitable. It’s nice that after nearly two seasons, the series is once again revealing the feelings within them more evidently. However, despite all the wonderful moments in this episode, the crown for best easily goes to the incredible performance by the Triple Xs. It reminded me, and presumably many others, of the scene where Rayna finally sings and knocks it out of the ballpark after the accident. There’s nothing more inspiring and stunning than a moment where absolute happiness eclipses a heart-shattering memory. Unfortunately, memories can’t be wiped and things will never be forgotten, but there will come a time when that darkness won’t be as powerful as the light.

And ever since Scarlett’s breakdown, I’ve been waiting for the day she tried again – to realize her worth and to stand on her own with the immeasurable strength within her. Clare Bowen did such a great job of showcasing poise with a sense of fear and it’s precisely what made the performance riveting. It felt organic. After the first note, it was evident that Scarlett O’Connor is now stronger than ever. Her strength comes from the fact that she’s been weak – it means she’s fought through and conquered the pain. With everything that she’s been through it was fascinating to see her finally own the stage like she’s meant to. Scarlett may have never wanted or imagined life in arenas, but sometimes the career chooses you. Sometimes, you’re so good at something, it has to be your calling. And this was the first time in a really long time that audiences could see how much she’d grown to love the thrill of music without forgetting how to respect the art. And aesthetically, stage lighting was breathtaking – the spotlight on Scarlett wasn’t just meant to illuminate her as the lead singer, but as the light in the group. If it weren’t for Scarlett, both Gunnar and Avery’s lives would’ve been completely different.

Her honesty and compassion have undoubtedly played a vast role in inspiring them on countless occasions. Therefore, during the performance – for everyone watching and sharing the stage with her, this was the moment meant to elucidate just how valuable, irreplaceable, and unique Scarlett is because of who she’s chosen to be. I couldn’t be more proud of Scarlett for conquering the cracks in the road because it led her to this exquisite moment where she’s finally at a good place doing what she’s fallen in love with.

That said, while jealous Gunnar is hilarious, his conversation with Scarlett right before they hit the stage has instantly become one of my favorites the two have shared. I love that she shares the stage with these boys because they know her so well and they do such a great job of guarding her – not because they feel she needs it, but because they care so deeply for her, they’d stop at nothing to be there for her. And for Gunnar especially, it’s about time that he realizes it’s always been her. It’s been her since the moment they first sang together and it’s been her no matter how many roadblocks have tried to stop the feelings from flourishing. The sincerity Sam Palladio delivered Gunnar’s little speech with was so moving – since they’d parted ways, we’ve yet to see him that genuinely entranced by her. It was great to see him remind her that what they share, the exquisite ability to speak without words on a stage is still theirs. He’s still there to be her shining light if she feels the darkness is dimming hers. And when they do unite again, there’s no doubt that their bond will be stronger than ever.

Also, how hilarious was the whole “what do we even know about this guy, he could be an axe murderer” – “except we know he’s a doctor”? When an episode is filled with a lot of emotional content, scenes like this are greatly appreciated. And speaking of lighthearted scenes, Avery’s paranoid side was so sweet to watch, as were Juliette’s adorably annoyed but loving responses.

There are some actresses whose strategic acting choices and emotional expressiveness are so incredibly varied that the performances are always evocative. Connie Britton’s one of those actresses whose characteristic choices are unbelievably mind-boggling and with each performance I find myself not only in tears but contemplating how on earth words could even do them justice. They can’t. And that’s something I’ve come to accept – words cannot do Connie Britton’s performances justice. That said, let’s get on with talking about Deacon and Rayna because I have a lot to say.

It’s fantastic that the episode picks up seconds after it ended because the changes in Rayna are inexpressible – much like a child, the way Britton delivers Rayna’s apology and the line “I’m not letting you leave me,” showcased a whirlwind of emotions.

If you know me, then you know that there are very few actors/actresses I speak this highly of, and the reason being is that when it comes to manifesting fear and severe sadness, very few people make the moment ridiculously believable. Very few people actually manage to leave me speechless. And Connie Britton is one of those actresses – every time she cries, you can’t help but cry because of how indisputably raw the emotions she exhibits appear. Britton clearly made sure that there wasn’t a single moment where the audience didn’t feel every bit of misery Rayna was feeling. While the two of them hugged in Deacon’s kitchen, both Britton and Esten managed to even make their embrace feel frightening – a moment where it was painfully evident the characters never wanted to let go.

In order to properly convey the full range of emotions in a sensitive episode like“I Can’t Keep Away From You,” both actors need to bring their all. Thus, while they were legitimately flawless throughout the episode, Britton and Esten floored me most as he first mentioned that he doesn’t want her to go through this with him. First things first, one of my favorite things about Deacon is the way he takes responsibility for his actions. It’s always disappointing when a character with a troubled past continuously blames others for the mistakes they’ve made. While our past shapes us, it doesn’t define us – an awful childhood isn’t an excuse for terrible behavior.

Everyone is capable of choosing the high road, and when you fall, it’s important to make amends with grace and sincerity. It’s important to take control of the mistakes and properly apologize for them. When it comes to his alcoholism, Deacon’s always taken full responsibility. Despite the fact that he’s been sober for quite some time now, he continues to feel remorse over the heartaches he’s had Rayna bear because of his issues. And while the two of them have hurt one another a lot, he’s always making sure she knows that his intentions were never to harm her. Specifically, it’s heartbreaking to know that at the end of the day, Deacon doesn’t feel he deserves Rayna, it’s distressing that he feels she pities him.

Moreover, if we’re going to discuss excellent performances, this very scene is where Britton and Esten were at their strongest – conveying outright misery most evocatively. Deacon wholeheartedly feels such torturous remorse that the mere thought of continuing to hurt Rayna destroys him. It’s clear that he adores and wants her more than anything, but you could see the struggle within himself to remain indifferent because he’s got it set in his head that if she takes care of him, she’ll hurt more. In that scene, what Britton does incomparably is showcase just how profound and unending Rayna’s love for Deacon is. Just as you could see his internal struggle, you could see the pain she was enduring at the thought of the man before her seeing himself as anything but worthy. Both Deacon and Rayna are selflessly thinking of the other person thus, forcing them into a state of grief and perplexities over the fact that they simply want to protect the other person.

Thankfully, Rayna continues trying, and after all the crying, screaming, and guitar smashing she persuades him to stop pushing her away. I love that she says she doesn’t want the girls to miss out on the opportunity to witness true love because that’s the greatest, most selfless gift you can give to someone. Love is underrated. And while it doesn’t seem like it is, it is. We live in a world where so many people choose to settle, and because Rayna has done so twice, she knows that at the end of the day, nothing is more important than being with your person. There’s nothing more sacred than sharing your life with your best friend, the one person who understands and loves you more than anyone in the world because they’ve seen the best and worst. There’s nothing more beautiful than spending your life with the one person who effortlessly brings out the best in you. It was bold, beautiful, and breathtakingly moving.

Also, I love that Deacon’s cabin is a character on its own. The lovely Alice and I discussed this right before Deacon mentions that he got it for them and it made the entire place that much more gorgeous. The cabin serves as an emblematic reminder of what they’ve been through and what they could have. And the very moment they promised forever as they were in each other’s arms gorgeously brought to light and hope back into a place that’d been filled with darkness.

Seemingly happy note first, before I cover the final heartbreaking scene – how sweet is it that Maddie is like their biggest fan girl? Super, if you ask me.

As much as tonight’s episode was about love, it was also about fathers and daughters. And while Avery sang a gorgeous song to his unborn daughter, Deacon broke the tragic news to his little girl he’d just started getting to know more. If it were appropriate to simply say that I’m emotionally compromised and leave it at that, I definitely would. And bluntly, I’m tempted to. However, I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t discuss the beauty in the scenes – especially with Avery and Juliette. Though they weren’t in the same room as he sang to both mother and daughter, there was a closeness between the family like we’d never seen before. It’s one of those defining moments where time and place cannot stand in the way of pure love. This is their life – whether near or far, Avery would be a part of their lives and vice versa. Panettiere and Jackson did such a great job of exuding warmth and tenderness in a scene where they weren’t even together – reminding us how profoundly in sync and in love their characters truly are.

I’m thankful we didn’t actually hear crying because my ugly crying would’ve turned into hideous crying. But all I know is that the rest of the season is going to be so difficult to watch. While I’m 14570% certain Deacon’s not going to die, the process and the concerns until the very last moment are going to be difficult to watch. Something that vastly stood out to me was the way Deacon commended Rayna’s strength by reminding her that no one else is like her. And that’s the truth – as much as the people around her have a great deal of strength, no one bears it all the way Rayna does. During this time of uncertainties and heartbreak, I don’t doubt that she’ll be the anchor for her family. The very strength she carries proudly will play a significant role in inspiring everyone else; however, it’s going to be anything but easy to watch Maddie struggle.

Lastly, there’s Teddy and the fact that he hasn’t changed one bit. Also, if there’s one thing I want from this season other than more happiness, it’s for Will to come out – that boy deserves a happy ending as well and he’s suffered too much keeping the truth hidden.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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