Is there anything more thrilling than an offscreen restraining order? That Nashville sure knows how to bring the drama! So yes, the stalker’s name is Carl Hockney — not to be confused with British Pop artist David Hockney — and he’s been issued a restraining order, the concept of which Rayna doesn’t seem to fully understand.
“So violating the terms means … what?” she asks the security guy, screwing up her face in confusion.
Security guy, who comes highly recommended by someone named “Dolly” (heh), tells her not to worry. You see, he’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan and has seen some shit and he laughs in the face of stupid Carl Hockney and his handwritten letters and stemmed roses and bold representative works on canvas (wait … scratch that last one).
After he leaves, Rayna and Deacon want to huddle with the girls to discuss security, but Maddie wants to instead talk to Clay. Rayna expresses some reservations about Clay — because he’s 24! — and Maddie says, “You guys clearly hate him because he’s black!” Yikes, that escalated quickly. (BTW, I so need a screenshot of Daphne’s “Ohnoyoudidn’t” face when Maddie said that.) Rayna replies by essentially saying, “No, we’re enlightened children of the ‘70s who are colorblind and literally just concerned because he’s older.” Maddie’s not buying it.
Meanwhile, over at the rehab center, Juliette is yukking it up with her physical therapist, who is confirmed as a trans woman. Juliette is all, “You go, girl!” about the PT coming out to her disapproving father. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” her father barked to her. “God must’ve known what he was doing when he made me trans,” she sassily replied. (Nashville is such a curious experiment in blending red- and blue-state sensibilities, don’t you think?)
Juliette, who is now walking on crutches, seems perfectly content and “serene” throughout this episode, and that’s because her transformation into a churchgoing, God-fearing woman is nearly complete. Anyway, the show does this not-so-subtle thing where it blends scenes from Avery’s country-rock concert at the Barista Parlor with the minister’s fiery sermon at Juliette’s new church. We all gotta worship something, I guess.
Later, Juliette visits Hallie Jordan at her “gig,” which is in front of a small group of (musically sophisticated) first-graders. Hallie is ah-mazing and Juliette will not rest until she agrees to a record contract. Honestly, Hallie should just give up now.
Speaking of record contracts, while enjoying some delicious-looking waffles at the Barista Parlor, Avery is approached by this sleazy producer who wants to rep him. Avery seems to attract sleazy producers the way I attract mansplainers on Twitter. (Every once in a while I get a flashback to Wyclef Jean circa season one, and I chuckle to myself quietly.) Anyway, Avery is intrigued.
Maddie goes vintage-record-shopping with Clay, who should definitely adopt the Coco Chanel school of dressing and lose one (or 12) of his accessories. She asks him if he was the one who started the fight that landed him in the hospital. Naturally, he gets all insulted.
“You’re scared of me!” he says.
“I am a little,” she admits.
“You think I’m going to hit you, or something?” he asks. (A really simple way to resolve this conversation would be to tell Maddie that a bunch of racist bros jumped him. But that would be too easy.) “Look, I don’t hurt people, Maddie,” he continues. “The only person I hurt is myself.”
Meanwhile, Maddie finally tells Rayna about Clay’s bipolar disease and how he refuses to go on his meds. Rayna’s touching response: “I fell in love with a messed-up alcoholic. I’m not sitting in judgment of anybody.” (It’s awkward, because she’s talking about Deacon.) Then she adds, “I just hope you know you deserve to be happy.”
Deacon and Maddie also have a heart-to-heart, while eating annoyingly dainty bowls of ice cream, and later, Clay breaks up with Maddie via voicemail message, which is only marginally better than doing it by Post-it. But by the end of the show, they seem to be back together again. These two really need to pick a lane.
Oh, and I’ve yet to mention the most stunning development of them all: Daphne has a — gasp! — love interest! Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I love me some Daphne. On the other, if Nashville thinks we’re clamoring for more adolescent romance, I think they got the wrong memo. Anyway, her little tween stud has the most excellent name of Flynn Burnett and he only wants to go out with Daphne if she’s not “weird.” “No weirder than you,” she replies. Drag him, Daphne! A little bit later, Daphne is approached in the playground by none other than Carl Hockney, who has another letter for Rayna. Once again, Carl Hockney doesn’t seem particularly intimidating, but Daphne is smart enough to run away and call for help. Looks like someone just violated his restraining order.
The absolute worst part of the episode is when Scarlett goes to visit Damien George in the studio and is utterly mesmerized by a snippet of the video. She’s watching a clip of herself watching herself in the mirror, so there is some serious Inception-level stuff going on here. She goes on to say that Damien captured her like no one ever has. “How did you do that?” she asks, in that tremulous Scarlett voice. “I didn’t do it; you did,” Damien replies smugly. (Translation: “I did it.”) Lord give me strength.
There’s also a surprise cameo from Luke Wheeler in this episode, which is sure to please Luke Wheeler Nation. (Hey, I’m sure it exists somewhere.) Turns out he just wants to sit on his farm and write music and scroll the trades for new primetime television gigs (oh … wait). Also, he’s selling Wheeler Dealer Records. How conveeeenient. As Rayna and Luke have a surprisingly civil conversation, Zach Welles scampers off to snoop around backstage and makes his way to Will’s dressing room, where they make sweet, sweet love. Well, not yet. But it’s coming. Oh, it’s coming. (By the way, what do we think of Zach Welles? I can’t get a read on him yet. “Do you trust him?” Luke asks Rayna. “So far,” she replies, which is about as noncommittal an answer as you can give.) Anyway, Luke agrees to sell the company to Highway 65.
Rayna goes to tell Juliette about the deal and make sure she’s okay with that. (Remember when Juliette and Rayna used to have scenes together? Good times.) Juliette says she has an idea for an album. “It can’t be a duet album about the trajectory of your relationship with Avery because that was my idea first,” Rayna thinks, but doesn’t say. “It’s a gospel album,” Juliette says. Of course it is.