Nice rebound for Nashville this week. Don’t get me wrong, the show didn’t actually make any “sense” or resemble the “world as we know it,” but at least it was hella fun, which is a lot more than I can say for last week’s dud.
I kind of want to begin with the madness of new Juliette, but I should probably leave that for last, huh? Instead, let’s start with a boy named Twig. Early in the episode, I almost turned on Twig because he was talking to Maddie and Jonah in a fake British accent, which is one of my deal-breakers, right up there with vaping, wearing cargo shorts, and voting Republican. But damn! Dylan Arnold, the actor who plays Twig, is just so charming, isn’t he? He brings a whole different kind of quirky energy to the show that I’m really digging.
Anyway, Maddie has just finished a gig in Miami with Jonah and is vacationing with the boys when Jonah gets called to Austin to do an emergency audition for Richard Linklater (snort!), conveniently leaving Maddie and Twig to their own devices. They’re having a great talk when an anti-drug PSA basically breaks out as two other members of Jonah’s entourage emerge with a giant bag of magic mushrooms, which they commence stuffing in their faces like potato chips. Maddie and Twig both demur, but then the boys start rapping/chanting, “Twig don’t … Twiggy, Twiggy, Twiggy … Twig do…” It’s all very disturbing. Twig succumbs to peer pressure and takes the mushroom. And of course, since this is a PSA, Twig has a bad trip and starts freaking out.
Twig’s friends don’t help matters by throwing Cheetos at his face. (At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I was tripping.) Maddie gets her phone and looks up “How to talk your friend down from a bad trip,” presumably (clear your cache, Maddie, clear your cache!), and takes him into the bathroom and tells him to breathe. He begins to calm down. The next day, he thanks Maddie and very casually is all, “Oh hai, funny thing … I don’t even have your phone number” when Jonah walks in, brimming with that Jonah confidence, kissing Maddie possessively. Twig looks wounded.
Bad spoken-word rap is apparently a leitmotif of this episode because it turns out that young Jake is also a practitioner of the spoken-word arts. Daphne’s junior high school is having an open house, which back in my day meant, like, showing off the new filing system in the library, but since this is Nashville, there’s an assembly. Daphne goes first and she’s amazing. I love that they are letting my boo shine this season. Deacon is tearing up, which is the cutest, most Deaconest thing. But — argh! — Brad is there, too, and I do not like the way he is looking at Daphne one bit, like she’s the chum and he’s the shark. STAND DOWN, BRAD.
Then it’s Jake’s turn to do this angry — but down-tempo, he is a suburban white boy after all — spoken word that references Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and, naturally, how much he hates his father. Afterward, Deacon tells Jake that his rap was “something else” (and later, the two have a genuine bonding session), but Brad is a complete jerk, praising Daphne (“You deserve a real stage, girl”) and mocking his son for “whatever that was.” As Brad slithers off, he turns to Daphne and says, “Hey, you, you’re a star.” I need a Silkwood shower, stat.
Meanwhile, Gunnar, Avery, and Will’s band still has no name, which is just bizarre at this point. Also, thanks to a few behind-the-scenes machinations on Brad’s part, Alannah is getting the lion’s share of attention from the press. She and Gunnar are still sleeping together, but she seems to want things to be more casual than he does. (In true Gunnar fashion, he’s already picking out china patterns.) She tells Gunnar to “get a hobby,” which is flat-out rude. The best part of their scenes is when Alannah gives Gunnar a frozen waffle with no syrup and he acts like it’s some sort of gourmet taste sensation. “Wow!” he gushes. Bless his simple little heart.
The Band With No Name scenes also give us a chance to explore Will’s roid-rage situation, which as far as I can tell manifests as him being slightly testy to his bandmates and going all Guitar Hero on stage to show up Alannah. Later at the gym, he’s on the treadmill rage running — faster, faster, faster — until the world gets blurry and he almost passes out. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Finally, we get to poor Avery. I mean, my God, poor Avery. He takes Cadence to the tarmac to wait for Juliette to touch down from Bolivia — “Look, Mommy’s on that plane!” — but she’s nowhere to be found. This is positively enraging. Hasn’t Avery suffered on tarmacs enough? (Okay, that sentence was inadvertently funny, but tell me what part of it is untrue.) Turns out, Juliette has decided to stay in Bolivia, but she hasn’t so much as sent Avery a text or a tweet or a snap to tell him about her plans. He decides to take matters into his own hands and fly to Bolivia. At first, I thought he was just going to land in Bolivia and wander the streets, yelling, “Juliette! Juliette! Wherefore art thou, Juliette?” but there’s actually a Bolivian branch of the Movement for Coherent Philosophy. (Is it just the two branches, by the way? Nashville and Bolivia? If so, that’s a weird franchising model.)
Initially, they won’t let Avery past the front desk but he makes a fuss and they finally lead him to Juliette.
Let me set the scene: She’s sitting alone in a spartan room, wearing a plain dress, with her hair pulled back, and no makeup. She is placid, she is calm, she is the soul of serenity. She is NOT HERSELF AT ALL.
Avery goes to hug her, but she’s a bit cold in response.
“What’s going on?” he asks, recoiling. “You’re not acting like yourself.”
“You’re right,” Juliette responds, calmly. “I’m not the person I was. But I’m more myself than I’ve ever been in my life.”
Juliette goes on to tell Avery that she’s coming into her own, finding an inner peace and clarity, and that, although it’s not his fault, he’s part of the problem. Also? She’s staying in Bolivia.
“What about Cadence?” asks Avery — and literally every one of Nashville’s viewers. Juliette half-heartedly suggests that Avery bring Cadence to come live with her in Bolivia, which even she knows is ridiculous. When Avery loudly objects, Juliette says, “Then I’ll FaceTime her every day.” Great parenting there, Juliette. A+.
And that’s it. Avery has to leave Bolivia and leave behind his wife, who has basically been body snatched by a cult.
Nashville, we have a problem.