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Nashville - Speed Trap Town - Review: "Ghosts of Hometown Pasts" + POLL

I had such high hopes for the rest of the season. It seemed like the show was finally finding its footing as I felt the every episode was better than the last. However, "Speed Trap Town" fumbled a little or a lot, depending on how strongly you feel about the consistent lack of Avery and Will. The good was that we got a very Gunnar-centric storyline without Scarlett and got a better understanding of his past. The okay was very little movement on the feud between Maddie and Juliette. The bad was that we had a pointless Scarlett filler plot when characters like those aforementioned could have been featured. I really wanted Nashville to continue delivering quality episodes but all that is left is to hope for improvement in the season's penultimate and finale episodes.

It took five seasons, but we finally got a deeper insight into the man that is Gunnar Scott. He goes back home to Aurora, Texas, but his homecoming is less than ideal. I can’t remember if it was specifically mentioned that Gunnar’s parents died, and he was raised by his grandmother. We know very little about Gunnar’s past other than the specifics surrounding Jason and Kiley. Jason was always getting into trouble and spent time in jail while Kiley was Gunnar’s high school girlfriend who didn’t have a son with. From these two characters, we’ve learned that Gunnar didn’t have the easiest upbringing. Well this episode, we meet two more characters from Gunnar’s past: his grandmother and Kelly Walker, an old acquaintance who Gunnar liked as a teenager. However, it’s not so much these characters that give us an insight into Gunnar’s childhood as it is to flashbacks to him and Jason as children. So the flashbacks we probably the most heartbreaking thing about this episode. We see Gunnar learn that his parents have died and then we see his grandmother telling Jason and Gunnar to stop playing music. I’m honestly not sure which one is more gut wrenching. No child should have to lose a parent, let alone both, at such a young age, but as we learned earlier in the season, music is the thing that saved Gunnar, that kept him from ending up like Jason. The fact that his grandmother didn’t let him play just breaks my heart.

I’m not really sure what I think of Gunnar’s grandmother at this point. I mean she was sort of a crap guardian by taking away the one thing that gave Gunnar solace after he lost his parents, but then again, she was saddled with raising two boys after losing a child. I think Gunnar sums up my feelings perfectly in the final scene where he tells his grandmother that he needed more from her. And then to top it off, he makes her listen to a song he just wrote whether she likes it or not. The song Gunnar sings at the end is my favorite this episode, even though there are only two. While Gunnar may not have initially looked forward to visiting his home, I think this was a trip he needed to take. I think he had been holding back his resentment and anger with his grandmother for so long that it was cathartic to finally confront his feelings. After everything that happened with Scarlett from the miscarriage to the breakup, it was time for Gunnar to finally focus on himself and what he needed. What he needed was to let his grandmother know how he felt. What he didn’t need was to hook up with Kelly.

So Gunnar runs into Kelly at the gas station just as he’s about to head out of town. He decides to prolong his stay in Aurora to catch up with her. They make plans to grab dinner and end up at their old school. Before I dissect this any further, how did Gunnar not notice the engagement ring on Kelly’s finger. Is he that blind? I know men can be oblivious but that thing was pretty noticeable. Anyway, sparks start flying as they reminisce about their youth and Kelly conveniently dodges the question of what she’s been up to these days. After a little breaking and entering, they make plans for the following day. Fast forward to Kelly showing up at the motel and Gunnar inviting her in. It’s been pretty obvious since last week’s promo that something was going to happen, and it almost does except Gunnar stops things before they progress past kissing. I know I may be in the minority, but I kind of liked Kelly. She was a one and done character who made Gunnar realize that a one-night stand with her wasn’t going to miraculously solve all the problems in his life. While Kelly has no idea what has been happening with Gunnar the past several years, she had enough common sense to realize they are both just sort of using each other to escape their problems in the present by reliving what could have been in the past. I really do think it was also important for Gunnar to realize there are other women out there, who he can be happy with, besides Scarlett. Kelly was never going to his soulmate, but I do think Gunnar learned some valuable things about life, his past, and himself by reconnecting with her.

So while Gunnar didn’t have any face to face interactions with Scarlett, they did share so conversations over the phone. After last week’s episode I really thought Scarlett and Gunnar were broken up, but these phone calls made it seem like they were just taking a break and giving each other some space. However, they weren’t even that successful at that. Scarlett and Gunnar have relied on each other for so long, that they keep falling back into old patterns. After an unpleasant visit with his grandmother, Gunnar reaches out to Scarlett for comfort and to check on her. And then after Scarlett gets scared about staying home by herself, she reaches out to Gunnar for the same. After everything Scunnar has been through, it’s not as easy as either of them thinks to cut the cord. Scarlett even surprises herself by telling Deacon how much she misses Gunnar. Gunnar even sort of gets Scarlett’s permission to hang out with Kelly by reminding her they are technically on a “break.” Like I’ve reiterated before, I really have no idea where each other stand. Just when I think I have a handle on it, the rug gets pulled out from under me. It’s like both of them realize they need space from the relationship, but they don’t know how to function without the other. And I’m pretty sure Scarlett won’t be too happy if she finds out about Gunnar’s extracurricular activities while he was in Texas, despite them being not technically together or whatnot. I really hope all this relationship drama is sorted out by the end of the season because I don’t think I can watch another season of this back and forth.

Now shifting gears to Deacon and Jessie. After Jessie sends Deacon a text about a new song she wrote that she doesn’t completely hate, Deacon decides to facetime her so he can hear it. I was with Jessie on this one: completely surprised that Deacon knows how to facetime. Deacon then insists on helping Jessie record her song even after she repeatedly tells he doesn’t need to do that. This back and forth goes on for most of the episode with sprinkled information about Jessie’s son who we have yet to meet. In their last scene together we finally clarity behind their motives. Jessie’s marriage has completely destroyed her ability to trust anyone, and she mistook Deacon’s kindness for trying to control her. It also probably didn’t help that she had her ex-husband show up at her house unannounced and basically tell her what a horrible job she’s doing raising their son. Her ex-husband is a piece of work and deserves horrible things to happen to him. Deacon, on the other hand, is so used to being helped by others that he gets carried away with trying to help Jessie. I also have this weird theory that Deacon wasn’t able to save Rayna so now he’s trying to save Jessie. Of course I could be totally off base. What I really like about Deacon and Jessie’s dynamic is that they communicate and tell each other how they feel. I know that’s not a huge thing, but when no other couples are actually being honest, the truth is extremely refreshing.

Then we have Maddie and Juliette who are both nominated for the same American Music Award, and that’s pretty much it. Juliette has a talk with Glen where she blatantly admits what she did and tries to make nice by congratulating Maddie on twitter. Maddie then later throws some shade by tweeting that she wrote it herself, a thinly veiled reference to Juliette’s manipulation without completely outing Juliette. I kind of love that these two characters used social media to express their feelings instead of actually talking face to face. It’s so true of the culture we live in where celebrities get in feuds on the internet that may or may not have really happened, and everyone basically goes crazy taking sides. The one thing that did bother me was that when Maddie was contemplating whether to respond to Juliette’s tweet was that there were no likes, replies, retweets or direct messages. If this was really happening, hundreds and thousands of people who have responded or retweeted it, but that’s just me being nitpicky. So where do we go from here? I’m really hoping the rivalry picks up in the last two episodes, otherwise I feel like what was the point. I predict that Juliette is either going to be outed, dropped from Highway 65, or both. This a drama after all, and I feel like the writers are just going to be throwing twists and cliffhangers our way, making us wait for the next season for what comes next.

And finally we have the pointless story arc of Scarlett learning self-defense. She’s back to living alone and when she hears a noise, she freaks out and decides to stay with Deacon, Maddie, and Daphne. Maddie has the idea that Scarlett should learn to defend herself. Predictably, Scarlett struggles initially because she is too nice and afraid of hurting the other person; she just wants to be able to get away. I hate to break it to you Scarlett, but the instructor is right. In the real world, there are bad people who do bad things, and they aren’t going to stop just because you’re nice. Eventually, she gets it through her head that nice goes out the window when you are being attacked. Like I said in my review, I believe that it’s important for every woman to know how to defend herself because, unfortunately, bad things happen in this world, and we need to be prepared. However, I didn’t feel it was necessary to have a whole story arc devoted to this. It does make sense that after everything she’s been through, the mugging, the miscarriage, and her breakup with Gunnar, that she will feel scared and vulnerable, but I still feel like this story arc could have been a throwaway comment when Scarlett had one of her phone calls with Gunnar. I know a lot of viewers are frustrated by the disproportionate amount of screen time so characters receive, but what I hate more is when screen time is wasted. We have many 42 minutes an episode, so any sort of filler plot just falls flat because we know that another character could have been given the spotlight.

With only two episodes left I hope the series ends on a high note. After such an uneven season where we lost our leading lady it would be nice to go out with a bang. So hit the comments below to let me know what you thought. What did you think of Gunnar’s homecoming? Will something happen between Deacon and Jessie by season’s end? Is the Maddie and Juliette rivalry finally going to get some traction?

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