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Nashville - Strong Enough to Bend - Advance Preview: "Double-Edged Sword"

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“Strong Enough to Bend” is the fourth to last episode of Nashville, and it’s time I accept the reality of the series. For so long I have been clinging to this notion that the series will someone manage to recapture its glory of its earlier seasons, but with three episodes left that seems unlikely. I’m just going to have to realize the series will continue to feature plotlines and characters I don’t care about instead of prioritizing those who have been with the series since the beginning. The good news is viewers get storylines that feature both Deacon AND Juliette, an occurrence I can’t remember the last time which happened. The bad news is, well, the same as usual: Viewers are stuck watching plots and characters they don’t want to see monopolizing the show’s remaining screen time. So now that you’re appropriately hyped, let’s dive in.

In this episode, Deacon deals with the new family dynamic after Gideon comes to stay at casa a la Rayna Jaymes. What’s interesting about this plot is the disparity between how Deacon sees his father versus how Maddie and Daphne see him. To Deacon, this is a man who was a verbally and physically abusive drunk, who would literally beat him, Beverly and their mother. Deacon has no love lost for his father, yet he gets guilted into letting Gideon stay after Maddie goes to visit her grandfather and gives this whole speech about forgiveness. Besides it being really manipulative on Maddie’s part, she and Daphne don’t really seem to get just how much Gideon hurt Deacon, something that is made painfully clear by Gideon’s interactions with his granddaughters this episode. To them, Gideon is an entirely different person, not the one Deacon so clearly remembers from his childhood; he’s just this new addition their family, not a raging and abusive drunk. For me, I fall somewhere in between Deacon and the girls on my feelings toward Gideon. On the one hand, viewers have seen firsthand just how badly Gideon treated Deacon as a child, thanks to some particularly horrific flashbacks and our leading man’s conversation with Jessie. On the other, viewers haven’t witnessed any sort of particularly violent outbursts, raised voices aside, from him. All he really seemed interested in “The House That Built Me” was making amends with his son and possibly meeting his granddaughters. What is puzzling though – and makes me question my feelings toward Gideon even more – is his instance that he wasn’t always as bad as Deacon remembered, leaving viewers to wonder if our leading man has a slightly faulty memory or if Gideon is just lying through his teeth. I know people can repress traumatic events but can the same to be said for good things as well. Is it possible Deacon only remembers the bad because it was so awful? Like it was so terrible that any sort of good memory just doesn’t compare? Or could it be because he was a child and conflated events together? While I’m inclined to believe my favorite country singer, I can’t say anything with certainty. Hopefully, the remaining three episodes will offer viewers some more clarity.

Meanwhile Avery and Alannah deal with the aftermath of Juliette’s surprise return. I have so many feelings about this plot and what happens, but I feel like I can’t adequately put them into words without spoiling too much. What I will say is this storyline sort of has two prongs: Javery and Avery/Alannah. Viewers will see what happens to Avery and Alannah’s relationship now that Juliette is back in the picture, at least in the sense of her physically being back in Nashville. Are they staying together? Are they breaking up? Are they taking a break? Viewers will also see how Juliette and Avery discuss, or dance around, some pretty major issues. Are they getting back together? Is Avery going to continue his relationship with Alannah now that Juliette is back? What does all of this mean for Cadence and their unborn child? I’m sure fans have had plenty of time to imagine what would happen when Juliette and Avery finally came face to face after all this time, but I honestly think they’ll be surprised by the turn of events; at least I was. After watching this episode, I’m not entirely sure where this love triangle is headed. I could see Avery choosing to stay with Alannah or reuniting with Juliette or choosing some unknown third option. What I would really like is just for Avery to be happy. He’s been put through the ringer as much as any character on this show, and I’d really like to see him get his happily ever after. However, that may not be that easy as he, Juliette, and Alannah have a lot to figure out amongst themselves, and some unexpected decisions are made this episode. Again without revealing too much, there are decisions I agree with and others I don’t quite understand. Some of these decisions show just how much these characters have evolved while others are mindboggling because they are just completely out of character. However, some of the actions we’ve seen from characters this season are completely ludicrous, so maybe there is no action or reaction off limits. Maybe, we should just accept these characters are going to do whatever they want, and we should just suspend our disbelief and accept it as normal.

Some stray thoughts:

- So we don’t get a break this week, as viewers have to sit through the endless Scarlett saga as she continues to try to save Sean from himself. What I did appreciate about this episode is that Sean finally questions Scarlett’s motivations, which leads to some introspection on her part. All I can say is that it’s about time that someone finally called out Scarlett on her motives, and I hope she takes Sean’s words to heart and actually does something instead of hiding behind him.
- We also check in on Daphne, as she continues her journey to become Nashville’s next country music star continues in this episode, but yet again things don’t go as she imagined. She is once again forced out of her comfort zone, but this time she finds help in Judge Isle De Witt. This episode briefly touches upon an important issue for young singers, which I did appreciate, but I wish she didn’t continue to monopolize the limited time we have left with the series. Also, if she doesn’t win, then won’t this storyline have felt like even a greater waste of time?
- This episode also sees the return of one of my least favorite characters, but at least the individual isn’t front or center. He or she appears in a secondary capacity only, which is something that should have been happening ever since he or she was introduced.

So hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. How do you feel about Gideon? Who should Avery end up with? Which character returns this episode?

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