First off, apologies to Dawn Wilkinson, director of last week’s episode. Turns out that Juliette’s momentary fugue state was an actual thing. In fact, the episode starts with Juliette’s vision going all wonky again as she stares up a long, blinged-out stairway to heaven — okay, on to the stage at the Music City Music Festival. Flashback to 36 hours earlier, when she and Avery are consulting with a doctor. Between Rayna and Deacon’s many sessions in doctors’ offices last season (remember Deacon’s liver cancer LOL?) and now Avery and Juliette dealing with the aftermath of her plane crash, this show could be renamed: Unsexy Conversations in Doctors’ Offices With All Your Favorite Couples.
So the doctor basically says, “It’s all in your head, Juliette,” and tells her she needs a therapist. He equates her sensation to PTSD, but not related to her plane crash. Huh? Instead, he feels it’s a reaction to something embedded deeply in her childhood. “Junkie mom!” we all think at once.
“Her dad died when she was 4,” Avery says. Record scratch … what? Did we even know that Juliette had a dead, saintly father (who looks vaguely like Avery, but that’s something for Juliette and her therapist to discuss). Argh, I hate a convenient plot point that is brought up — and neatly resolved — to satisfy the needs of a particular episode. We’ve veering into Very Special Episode territory here, folks.
Anyway, Juliette decides that the real problem is performing the gospel music that was so poorly received by the public and press, so she tells Glenn to tell the choir they’re out for her performance. Glenn is all, “I’m not telling them, you tell them” so Juliette lies to Hallie and says she got pressure from the studio to ditch the chorus. Meanwhile, as she’s telling Hallie that the gospel choir is out, she has another dissociative episode and Hallie tells her to find a “safe place” — i.e. a comforting memory — which, in Juliette’s case, is thinking about her dead father who is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO HER and who, until this episode, none of us knew existed.
Avery is also performing at this festival and he crushes it, apparently (I wasn’t too fond of the song, for what it’s worth) so he and his band get invited to open for Edward Sharpe on their national tour. That’s a big deal. The only catch? The tour starts in ten days and Juliette clearly isn’t stable enough to be left alone. Decisions, decisions.
Over at Highway 65, Zach Welles is now explicitly gunning for Bucky to be fired. I’ve made my binding, executive decision on Zach: The guy’s a jerk. You don’t inherit a company from a dead woman you supposedly admired and then try to push out one of her best friends and confidantes. Also, how much can Bucky pull in in a year? $150,000? Maybe $200,000? Zach is supposed to be a billionaire. If you want some young branding, synergy, and juicing expert, just hire one.
Zach’s big idea is to release Maddie’s single at midnight and get it in the hands of “influencers.” “No press, no announcements, no begging some reporter at Slate to give us a mention under the fold,” he explains. (I rewound the screener twice and he definitely said “Slate.” Should someone tell Mr. New Media hotshot that Slate, an online magazine, doesn’t have a fold?) This isn’t exactly radical stuff, but neither Deacon nor Bucky are feeling it. (Maddie loves the idea.) Later, backstage at the music fest, Bucky tells Deacon that he’s out — he wasn’t fired, per se, he just doesn’t want to stick around where he’s not wanted. Deacon glares at Zach.
“What did I do?” Zach says, innocently.
“You know what you did,” Deacon says.
Oh, it is on.
Meanwhile, Daphne is still hanging out with Rayanne Graff. She goes to the teen squat house, where all the kids are beautiful and clear-skinned and dressed in their Free People finest. They decide to raid a private junkyard while Daphne lurks cautiously just beyond the gate. Of course, some thuggish-looking guys immediately show up and chase them away — and instead of squeezing out of the gap in the fence where she got in, Rayanne Graff climbs over the barbed-wire fence and she cuts her arm. (Honestly, I don’t know how badly she cut it because, to quote my beloved Valerie Cherish, “I don’t need to seeeeee that!”) Daphne reasonably worries that Rayanne will get an infection, and takes her home and hides her in her room. Then Nashville has her do something so dumb, I am offended on Daphne’s behalf: She cleans Rayanne Graff’s wounds and throws the bloody gauze and tape in a trashcan without a lid. Worse still, the trashcan is in Deacon’s bathroom. Naturally, he figures out that Daphne has a stowaway, but since he’s a softie, he lets her stay for now.
Because I’m cynical and a horrible person, I was sure Rayanne Graff was going to steal something from the house. Instead, she stands in front of a picture of Daphne’s family and cries. Poor little beautiful, sad teen hobo.
Speaking of hobos (heh), Scarlett meets Damien George at a hotel bar and tells him she’s pregnant. (Special kudos to the guy playing the waiter in this scene, who does some excellent deadpan acting as Scarlett says things to Damien like, “You do understand the process of conception, right?”) Damien reacts like a jerk — first expressing disbelief, then questioning Scarlett’s decision to keep the baby, then drinking heavily. Scarlett storms out and joins the adorably behatted Gunnar onstage, where they sing a song called “I Love You Even When I Don’t,” and do lots of meaningful eye-sexing that doesn’t actually correspond with the current state of their relationship. Later, Damien shows up at Scarlett’s house and expresses contrition.
“I’m in love with you, Scarlett, and I want to do this the right way,” he says, taking her hand. “We can make this work.”
“Don’t say that,” Scarlett replies. “It’s not true.”
“I want it to be true,” Damien says.
You guys, I think I like Damien now? What is happening?
Anyway, back in Juliette’s World of Woe, the choir figures out that it was Juliette’s idea to ditch them, mostly because Emily blew her cover (passive-aggressive revenge for all those times Juliette made her babysit Cadence?) and Hallie calls Juliette a “bitch” and a “narcissist” (I honestly didn’t think she had it in her). Later, Avery, who has been the soul of patience, tells Juliette to apologize to the choir. She says they won’t listen to her and then confesses that she’s confused and doesn’t know what she’s doing. Then she walks toward Avery and says, “The one thing I can say, though — thank God I have you. Thank you for not running away.” Guess who’s not going on the Edward Sharpe tour! For the record, I’m glad Avery decided not to go and I appreciate him standing by his woman. I just hope he doesn’t resent Juliette for holding him back in his “career.”
Juliette goes to the church and apologizes to the choir, in a sincere way. She admits that her biggest fear is being ridiculed (true!) and tells them she’s had a change of heart — to hell with the critics, she wants them to perform with her. They say they’ll think about it.
That night, the choir does show up and they are assembled onstage, singing the opening strains to Juliette’s song as she stands at the bottom of that bedazzled staircase. Things start to go blurry and she has a weird vision of meeting her father’s ghost in the woods (at least I’m pretty sure it was his ghost — dude was so corporeal) and he tells her that he’ll always be watching over her. This gives Juliette the confidence boost she needs to sing with the beatific choir, as Avery gets misty-eyed watching in the wings (oh, Avery) and Gunnar possessively takes Scarlett’s hand while Damien George glowers jealously. As for the song, I was wondering how Nashville would handle it, since her album was so wildly panned: Would they make it bad … on purpose? But it’s a perfectly lovely song, albeit not a radical departure from every other pop star who has performed with a gospel choir. Anyway, here’s hoping that Juliette’s one episode of grappling hard with the life and death of her father fixed all of her problems.