No one can say that “Nashville” didn’t come back with guns blazing following the holiday hiatus, and the February 18 episode 13 for Season 3, “I’m Lost between Right and Wrong” had plenty of fire power, this time of the female variety. Rayna (Connie Britton) goes on the warpath when she discovers that her eldest talented daughter, Maddie, has been signed to Edgehill without her consent, and that’s not all she doesn’t know. Deacon (Charles Esten) is still defending his decision to keep the truth from his daughter and Rayna, but finds new inspiration to stay in his cancer battle. There’s plenty of secrets certain to cause nothing but pain. When will these parents ever learn?
When Jeff sends a diamond necklace to court his new signee, Maddie, Rayna intercepts it, and knows she has to run interference to prevent her daughter from being used, corrupted, and rushed into the business long before she’s ready. Deacon is not in dire condition enough to be priority on the donor list, and he settles into plans to prepare for his death, which sends Scarlett (Clare Bowen) into a frenzy of desperation. Avery (Jonathan Jackson) finds that Papa duties are distracting from his drive as a producer for Sadie (Laura Benanti). Luke (Will Chase) comes to Gunnar (Sam Palladio) in hopes of becoming collaborative partners on a “hate on women” song after his downfall with Rayna. Deacon becomes committed to making final plans after online research indicates that he has around six months to live. Maddie pleads with her dad for a guitar lesson, and the closeness that comes from it, but Deacon still cannot disclose his life situation. Will (Chris Carmack) offers his place to Layla (Aubrey Peeples) for some quiet healing while he goes to stay with Gunnar, still feeling guilty. Rayna and Jeff go to hand-to-hand, and document to document, combat over Maddie’s future. Avery’s perfectionism in crafting the perfect sound, and all the daddy and drama delays are costing big studio dollars, with very little music. Jeff’s threats keep Teddy (Eric Close) towing the line.
Luke and Gunnar are putting much more effort into getting wasted instead of writing words, and Sadie gets served with papers for a lawsuit from her ex, feeling her restraining order was useless in her protection. When attorneys tell Rayna that Maddie will be in breach of contract, and vulnerable, unless she complies, Rayna is torn about which path she can take to protect her girl. Deacon has an emotional meltdown, thinking about the moments he will not be able to share in Maddie’s future. Jeff asks Layla to “show what you’re made of” in his meeting before the boss, Henry Benton, memorably portrayed by Mario Van Peebles, as a man who can see past the crap being thrown at him. She agrees, still dubious of his motives. Peebles directed a Season 2 episode, and is very familiar with Music City, having shot his film, “Redemption Road” there. Layla knows Jeff cares about his label’s display far beyond her near drowning, but she shows up. Luke, Will, and Gunnar go barhopping. Sadie asks to be pulled from the session. Deacon proposes that perhaps Maddie should get “a real guitar teacher, in case I’m not here,” but no other teacher is her father. Deacon’s Dr. and Scarlett have a come to Jesus kind of meeting, and the doctor warns her about becoming “a happiness bully” and to take the stance of hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Rayna drops by Teddy’s office with big news that she is filing an injunction to terminate his parental rights, and that prompts him to come clean about the truth with Jeff, Layla’s drowning, the contract, and the blackmail over escorts.
Avery comforts Sadie, coaxing her to tell the truth about her fears of her ex-husband. The chord transitions that Maddie proudly is mastering, showing them to her dad on computer, cause Deacon to find the will to fight his cancer again. He even downs beet juice, and thanks Scarlett for being “absolute” in her support the next morning. Avery goes to confront the stalker-husband, and Sadie finds her own girl power, too, threatening to call police for a restraining order violation unless he makes haste back to Virginia. Suddenly, she has newfound strength to sing, and creates a perfectly captivating track, vindicating both her and her producer. Secrets nearly slip out between Will, Gunnar, and Luke the morning after their night on the town, but Gunnar deflects the attention away from Will’s sexuality, instead saying his friend has a more sensitive side than a ladies’ man image. That leads to a more compassionate song about losing a love, “I Can’t Help My Heart,” finally making collaboration worthwhile for Gunnar and Luke. Rayna rushes Jeff’s meeting with the boss, spilling all his ugly truths, and getting Maddie’s contract voided. Instead of saving the label, having it out in front of the boss winds up with Jeff being fired. Layla is left with nothing in the waiting room, but still receives Jeff after his “really bad day.” Boy, does this girl need a backbone! Rayna tells Teddy that his behavior, and putting their daughters in danger, has caused her to make the decision to remove him from their lives until he gets help.
Next week, look out for a showdown, as Luke decides to start his own label.