Previously: Juliette left Avery, Scarlett pretended to hate Gunnar, Luke dropped Will from his label, Teddy went to jail and was “a total criminal,” and Bev had a big old aneurysm … again.
We open with a montage under a really great, crooning, poppy song that made me wonder, probably stupidly, why they didn’t use a Nashville song. A doctor checks Beverly; a pantsless Juliette surveys a morning tableau of drunken bodies splayed over her furniture; a woman sneaks out of Luke’s bed while he pretends to be asleep; and Juliette goes for a vigorous run on the treadmill. You’ll have to run pretty hard to escape your gigantic problems, Juliette. At the end of the montage, the song turns out to be Maddie, singing in some sort of studio in her school uniform. That kid is so talented. Her teacher asks where Daphne is. In the principal’s office with Rayna, that’s where, getting scolded for punching a girl. She’s suspended for three days.
Bro Castle, kitchen. Cadence screams in Gunnar’s arms as Avery yells at the tour manager on the phone. “Good morning, Cady,” says Will sweetly as he takes her from Gunnar. Avery yells that it’s Cadence. (I wouldn’t be so proud of having named her that if I were you, buddy.) “What’s with all the fussiness?” Will wonders, giving the baby back to Gunnar. “Talking about Avery or the baby?” Gunnar says, and urges Avery to give up, since obviously Juliette’s people aren’t going to put him through. Will decides to leave since Cadence is still screaming, and Gunnar protests that he made breakfast—so Will just grabs two floppy pancakes in his giant cowboy paw and makes off with them. Avery gets off the phone, but Gunnar tells him to calm down before he takes the baby back. So Avery storms off and, Gunnar’s like, “Aww, why am I the only one who’s ever in a good mood, huh?” to Cadence, who is not impressed. I’m not surprised that a baby of Juliette’s would be very fussy.
At the tour, Luke sees Juliette and asks why she’s not at home. With a strained smile, she says that the baby gets cranky if she comes and goes like that. He doesn’t buy it but is about to go when Juliette asks what he’s doing and offers to tag along. No! Guys! Don’t hook up!
Scarlett and Deacon hold hands at a giant doctor board meeting. The main doctor explains that Bev has few brain stem reflexes, and he wants to “reassess the goals of care.” Deacon’s like, too many syllables! Can you say this to me in cowboy please? So the doctor says they think she’d die without machines. Scarlett looks sort of withdrawn and heartbroken, like she’s grasping this in private, as Deacon argues and blusters and fights about how Bev came back last time. The doctor says, “Respectfully, it’s not up to you. It’s up to Miss O’Connor.” She signed something before the surgery that’s still in effect. And again Clare Bowen kills it with her face, which is at once brave, terrified, and devastated.
Deacon protests that his opinion should matter. Scarlett says that it does, the doctor just has to follow the rules officially. “Then officially tell him that we’re not taking her off life support.” Scarlett can’t say this. She looks totally under attack and flinches as Deacon argues that she just needs time. Scarlett tries to find out if Bev is in pain, and the doctor says no—but that she has a low chance of recovery, and he wants to harvest her organs to help other people. I see why they went with this framing so as to maximize Bev’s redemption, but honestly, as an expert on how to talk to families about organ donation (and by expert, I mean that I have watched a lot of episodes of ER about this subject), I would like to explain something to this milquetoast doctor guy. You can’t bring up the organ thing just as you’re saying, “Well, I think she won’t recover, and we need her organs anyway, so let’s get on with taking her off the life support, OK?” That’s not exactly the way to reassure families that you’re assessing their relatives objectively.
But even Deacon doesn’t point this out. The doctor suggests a sleep apnea test, where they take her off life support in a controlled environment to see if she can breathe on her own.
Daphne stalks out of the principal’s office. Rayna asks if she’d like to share what happened. Daphne says no, and Rayna abandons the gentle talk: “Well, that’s not gonna be an acceptable answer.” Finally Daphne explains that the girl was saying Teddy was a criminal. Looking sad, Rayna hugs her. Daphne doesn’t get why Teddy’s in jail if he didn’t do anything wrong.
Avery has Cadence at the table in a cafe with Emily and Glenn, and as usual, Cadence is fussy. Emily offers to hold Cadence; it’s the least she can do, being paid for nothing. Avery gets very excited and asks if she has Juliette’s number, but she doesn’t. “But the paychecks still keep coming!” Glenn asks how he’s holding up, and Avery is like, how do you think I’m doing? Glenn reminds him that she’s sick and needs help. “She doesn’t want to get better, Glenn, that’s the problem.” Avery, firming up, asks Emily to watch Cadence for the day. He’s going to do something he should have done two months ago. Uh-oh. Glenn tries to salvage this, saying, “Wherever Juliette is I’m sure she’s just as miserable as you are, probably more.”
Nope. No, she’s not. We cut immediately to Juliette driving a race car, looking fabulous and carefree as she finishes the race, takes off the helmet and shakes her hair loose like she’s in an Herbal Essences or Juicy Fruit commercial. She sort of makes fun of Luke’s fannishness about the famous racetrack they’re on, teasing that “we were just driving around in circles in a hot car in front of an empty grandstand.” So Luke asks what her idea of fun is. She smiles big.
Next thing you know Juliette’s ordering tequila for herself and Luke. “A bar. At noon. On a weekday.” She says it’s a party, even though as Luke points out the bar is empty, and sends something on her phone. Luke looks a little bored and nervous. I am also nervous because no please Juliette don’t hook up with Luke!
Will drops by Kevin’s, where he finds a group of people playing guitars and looking way TCFS. Immediately he gets nervous and offers to leave, but Kevin says, “Grab a guitar. Join us.” He demurs, since he’s not experienced as they are (I think there’s also an element of “Please nobody look at me, I don’t want to be gay with Kevin in front of a bunch of strangers” in there?). But Kevin persuades him to stay for lunch so his friends can get to know Will better.
Teddy is sitting dejectedly in his cell when he gets a message that his ex-wife wants him to call her about the kids. Rayna says that the kids need to see him, but Teddy doesn’t know what to tell them. She says the truth. Teddy says, “I pled not guilty, remember? And my attorney’s confident that we can beat this thing if we drag it out long enough. Wait for the public to lose interest.” (The brilliant ladies at Go Fug Yourself had some very amusing commentary on that legal advice.) He asks her to hang on a bit longer, but she says no.
Gunnar’s with his manager, trying to find a drummer that he likes. The manager asks if there’s any word on when Scarlett will be ready. This is how Gunnar finds out what’s happening with Beverly. Manager guy is surprised Scarlett never called, and Gunnar admits that things have been a little strange between them lately. “Lately?!” the manager (whose name according to IMDB is Noel, maybe?) repeats incredulously. He refuses to “get involved in a game of telephone between bandmates in a strange relationship.” Gunnar’s face is like, “Yeah, good point.”
The sleep apnea test is going on. Suddenly, there’s a little blip on the screens. Scarlett cries and asks, “Mama?” The doctor is like, shit, forgot to tell them about blips. He mumbles anemically that it’s an involuntary response and they’ve done lots of other tests (uh, but you said this one would be the one that showed them!). But he’s totally drowned out because Scarlett cries hysterically, and Deacon is yelling at him. “This is my sister and she is trying to breathe. She’s a fighter!” Finally Scarlett says “Stop” and leaves. Duncan storms out.
A man welcomes Avery into his mahogany office for a ten-second scene. “I want to divorce my wife,” Avery says staunchly. Noooooooo!
Scarlett finds Caleb in the hospital, and he gathers her into a hug, asking what he can do. “Tell me miracles don’t happen,” she says. He says he can’t make this decision for her, although his speech totally implies what he would tell her: “If I were to tell you yes, take her off life support before you were really ready … you might even resent me.” He says she has to find the answer for herself. She agrees she has to do it on her own and walks away. Caleb calls her name but she says dully, “I’m all right. I’m OK.”
Lawyer’s office. “It’s a clear case of abandonment,” says the lawyer, and tells Avery he has a right to alimony, child support, maybe the house. Avery wants only full custody, but his lawyer tells him that can be tough to convince the courts, which are still biased towards mothers. “And if your wife chooses to fight it—“ “She won’t,” Avery says.
Everyone is doing shots at the bar and cheering. Juliette calls Luke a fuddy-duddy because he’s sticking with beer, and drags him by the hand up to the stage. “Pleeeease, for me?” she pouts. She yells into the mic, “Hit it, boys!” and starts singing “Bad Reputation,” accompanied by some band that I guess she had on call? It’s pretty awesome. Luke stands to the side and laughs with a mixture of admiration and indulgence, mixed I think with a little alarm. Juliette is not really a rock singer, but she’s so charismatic that it doesn’t matter—everyone is super excited, and even Luke, who obviously knows this is not a good sign for her sanity, seems totally charmed and amused. Juliette jumps around, declaring that she don’t have to please no one. Then she tries to get Luke to sing the next verse, chanting “Luke, Luke, Luke!!” till the whole crowd is chanting with her. So he jumps up and starts singing and rocking out, half-ironically with his hand on his waist, but very whole-heartedly and charmingly throwing himself into it. They sound a little out of their depth, but because they’re both having so much fun, I found it fabulous. (Nothing like Joan Jett for a great impromptu rocking-out scene, as we learned from Dawson’s Creek.) At the end she leaps over to him for a hug. I think… I think… they are not flirting. They’re just happy to be performing and having fun.
Like Luke, I couldn’t help finding this scene fun and exciting, even though realistically I should have been wishing she would stop getting drunk and go call Avery. That’s the real-life problem with someone like Juliette—she’s spoiled, selfish, and wild, but there’s a light inside her that goes on brightest when she’s making trouble, and it draws people to her, and into her craziness, and they forget to judge until it’s too late and the light has gone off again and the fun is all gone, and she’s in bed with Jeff Fordham hating herself, or puking into a toilet hating herself, or doing whatever and hating herself.
Lunch. One of the male songwriters says he likes the stuff Will has written with Kevin and he should really join in. “I’m taking a little bit of a break from music right now.” Jill (played by Becky Wahlstrom, who was Grace in Joan of Arcadia for anyone who’s keeping track (Ed. note: literally no one cares)), says, “Yeah, we noticed.” Kevin tries to distract her, but Will looks worried.
The visiting room at the jail. Daphne greets Teddy with a hug, but Maddie refuses to hug him, and he says it’s OK. Daphne says she had to punch the girl, because “She was saying stuff about you.” Teddy says he can stand up for himself. Daphne starts freaking out, yelling that he should tell them he didn’t do anything wrong, that he’s not a criminal. Teddy kneels down. “You can stop defending me now,” he says. “Did you really do all those things?” Daphne asks, her voice breaking. He says, “I’m so sorry.” Daphne, who’s obviously been taking notes on how to throw a teen tantrum from Maddie, yells that she hates Teddy and throws her necklace on the ground. Rayna hustles the girls out.
Scarlett wanders into the hospital temple. Her hair looks weirdly normal, and she’s wearing a dress that belongs at a hippie’s funeral, and she has an enviable collection of bracelets on her wrists, so all in all, grading on a curve, A+ for your fashion choices there.
As Kevin’s group of cool friends is working, they ask Will for an opinion on some unexplained debate. Jill passive-aggressively jabs, “I don’t know, Kev, seems like Will’s the kind of guy who goes out of his way not to weigh in on things.” She says that she’s been working ten years to combat homophobia in country. Meanwhile, he’s a star, but he’s “hiding out hoping folks will forget you’re gay.” He says he doesn’t owe anyone anything, but she disagrees, because he can reach more people. Kevin says for everyone to back it up, so Jill leaves, angry. Will, true to form, doesn’t say anything.
Maddie and Daphne are systematically ripping up every photo of Teddy in the family scrapbooks. It’s kind of funny; they’re in total silence and ripping very efficiently and cooperatively, like a factory line of scrapbook destruction, as if this was just a random arts and crafts project they’ve decided to do together. But when Rayna finds them, she’s obviously not as amused as I am: “You can’t just go and rip up our scrapbooks, this is our family!” Maddie yells that he’s not her father.
Deacon holds Beverly’s hands as she lies in her bed. His eyes are red and tired, like he’s been crying for a week. “I’m here. I’m still here. I won’t let anything happen to you. Promise.”
Scarlett plays on the piano in the temple, singing one of her songs which, predictably, has a lot of light and shadow metaphors. Gunnar comes in, and when she sees him, she hesitates. “Listen, I know I shouldn’t be here” he starts, obviously gearing up for a speech about how he cares about her or something. But she rushes into his arms.
The party. Juliette is jumping up and down and cheering, and playing with the guitarist’s or drummer’s hair. Luke in his cap is looking on from, I think, the DJ booth; I think he’s too mature to really join in the debauchery, but too chill to pretend he doesn’t see the fun in it. Juliette’s playing with some guy’s hair. The manager tells Luke they need to leave: they’re way over the legal capacity. Luke points out that they can’t get out the front door, and the manager offers to call the police. “That wouldn’t be good for anyone’s reputation,” Luke says. (When we watched this, JD nudged me: Do you see what he did there? Do you get it? Do you? Yes, I think we all get it. (Ed. note: Do you though?)) Luke asks to hide out in the office and trick everyone into thinking they’re gone. Just then, Juliette decides to crowdsurf.
Scarlett and Gunnar sit at the piano. Scarlett says, “It’s hard because Deacon’s so sure.” She looks down. “The doctors are sure, too.” She confesses that when she was younger she used to pray her own mother would disappear, so Gunnar reassures her this isn’t her fault, and that she loves her mom. Scarlett asks, “What if I make the wrong choice?” Gunnar says, “You’re the wisest, most level-headed, empathetic person I’ve ever met.” (Level-headed? Has he forgotten all of season two?) “If you believe it’s the right thing to do, that’s good enough for me,” Gunnar finishes up sweetly.
Will and Kevin are alone now. Will says it’s not up to him to solve country music’s problem with gay artists, and objects to being a “voice for the community,” because it should be nobody’s business who he sleeps with. Kevin agrees it should, but it’s not, so they have to stand together. It’s a fairly generic opinion, but I’m happy to see Kevin getting to participate in some conflict here. Will is still resentful: “I’m supposed to be some kind of poster boy now? Will Lexington, gay cowboy?” I mean, that’s probably the sexiest thing you could be a poster boy for. Also you’ll really have some stiff (Ed. note: Hey now!) competition from Jake Gyllenhaal.
Emily is playing Juliette’s lullaby when Avery comes home. He’s hostile about it, but she explains it put Cadence right to sleep. True enough, Cadence has her arm thrown behind her head, and her adorable eyes are closed and her adorable chubby face is calm. Emily notices the divorce papers and asks Avery if he’s sure about this. “Come on, Em,” he says. “This is Juliette Barnes we’re talking about, the most selfish, immature, unreliable person on the planet. Honestly, what the hell was i thinking? How could I ever believe that she actually wanted a family? That’s crazy!” He apologizes for laying this all on her. She looks uncomfortable—but then she says she understands his anger, but, “She wanted that baby. And she wanted you.” Avery’s eyes go all red again, and he sheds one tear.
Scarlett comes in to see Deacon and says, “We are ending life support and we are donating Mama’s organs. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but I need you with me on this, I need you beside me.” He accuses her of shutting him out. She calls him “Deacon” and says calmly that they have to let her go. I do like how this storyline showcases the best part of Scarlett: the fact that her mother was a selfish mess and her substitute parent, Deacon, was an alcoholic and not much better, and so she’s been a parent to them as much as they’ve been parents to her. She’s firm with Deacon, and addressing him as an equal. And he can’t live up to what he needs to do.
“We can give her time,” Deacon says, convulsively trying not to cry. She says even if she wakes up she won’t be her anymore. “There are things that are worse than death.” Scarlett says that she knows Deacon feels guilty, but it’s not his fault. “And the best we can do now is make her death mean something. She could save so many lives just like she saved yours.” (What about all those hormones Bev was taking? Oh well. Better an estrogen-soaked kidney than none at all, maybe.) Scarlett tells him it’s happening tomorrow at noon and says, “Please be there. Please. I need you. I can’t do it alone.”
Kevin is sitting and playing guitar when Will re-enters. They both say they’re sorry. Will explains that he knows Kevin’s right: “I’m not that naive, just… scared.” It’s so new, he is so used to keeping his secret, and now he’s been kicked off his label and he doesn’t feel like he has anything great to share: “I haven’t stepped up to a mic ‘cause I don’t know what to say.” He says he’s confused about everything except for them. He puts his hands on Kevin’s shoulders. “I know that I love you. Can’t that just be enough for now?” “Absolutely,” says Kevin. They kiss gently. And by “gently” I mean “tepidly.” It sort of made me wonder if Chris Carmack has an issue kissing men, but then again, they still have more chemistry than Scarlett and Caleb, so.
Back at the jail, Rayna and Maddie and Daphne are meeting with Teddy. Rayna says that “things got a little out of hand yesterday,” and they’ve been talking about honesty, so she wants to say thank you to Teddy. Unsurprisingly, Teddy can’t think of any possible reason why she’d want to thank him. But Rayna makes a pretty good speech about how he was a great husband and father, and kept the family going when she was out on tour, and how his mistakes don’t change that. They hug, and Maddie gets up to join, saying, “I love you, Dad.” Daphne joins too, and says she’s sorry. Teddy apologizes for letting them all down; he’s spoken to his attorney and is going to plead guilty. “Actions have consequences.” But he promises when he gets out he’ll make things right, and will work night and day to earn their trust again. He asks them to promise not to forget him while he’s in there. “We could never forget you. You’re our dad,” says Maddie. That’s nice to hear—Teddy annoys me for obvious reasons, but it’s heartbreaking how Maddie is able to deny his parenthood at the drop of the hat because he’s not the bio-father.
Juliette wakes up in a bed, sees the baseball cap on the nightstand, and panics. But no one’s in bed with her, and she’s fully dressed. Luke is outside on the couch, reading a newspaper, with hilariously hipster glasses on. She sits with him and they drink coffee. Juliette apologizes for getting carried away, and Luke asks how much she remembers. “Singing, dancing… did you stuff me in a suitcase?” Turns out, the band lent them a road case so they could sneak her out. I can’t believe we didn’t get to see this on-screen. “Maybe next time we could stick to just driving racecars?” Luke says. Then he drops a little fatherly advice: He says that back in the day he’d have given her a run for her money “and then some.” And he had a wife, and two kids, and screwed it up, so his wife left and took the kids. “Part of me was actually relieved, till I woke up, realized what I’d lost. By that time I’d missed half my kids’ lives.”
Juliette has been taking it all in and looking almost regretful, and vulnerable without all her makeup on (her freckles are showing). But at this she anemically tries to insist that they’re one big happy family—didn’t Luke see the red-carpet photos? He points out that she’s got time off and “chose to get wasted with five hundred of your closest strangers.” He says he’s not judging, but he wants to help her avoid the mistakes he made. Juliette gets up and walks away. He gives her a cute, fatherly, sad smile.
Rayna talks to Deacon, trying to persuade him to go to the hospital to see Bev. She says Scarlett is here for him, and she’s afraid of a rift: “You’re gonna need each other now more than ever.” He says he can’t do it, “baby.” (Everyone is calling each other “baby” a lot in this episode, from Deacon to Teddy. Is that normal? It seemed off.) Deacon says what’s happening is wrong, and Rayna isn’t sure but thinks he needs to say goodbye. He seems convinced, but rejects her offer to go with him.
Avery is about to sign the divorce papers when Cadence starts screaming and rolling around, throwing a huge fit. Facing the prospect of another five hours of wailing, Avery fishes his phone out of his pocket and plays “Lullaby.” Avery picks her up and bounces her, and she begins to quiet.
Juliette comes into her now-empty room and looks around, seeming defeated. She pulls out her phone and then Trashy Blonde Friend wanders in and ruins everything. She waves an orange juice and a bottle of champagne. “You look like hell. Lucky for you, I brought breakfast.” Juliette takes it from her with a tired, mischievous smile.
Scarlett, alone, walks Bev down the halls of a hospital. “Lullaby” is still playing. We see Deacon in the car, agonizing, and then see that he’s not at the hospital but at his house. Avery is looking at a picture of him and Cadence with Juliette, and he looks back at Cadence sleeping with her adorable chubby little face. He puts the divorce papers in a drawer and looks pensive. He’s a pretty strong guy—with no real guarantee if he’ll ever even hear from Juliette again, to keep hoping their family might be reunited is a brave move (or foolhardy, for the cynics). Scarlett says good-bye to Bev, and kisses her whispering, “Forgive me.” She looks on, crying, as Bev is unhooked from various wires. Meanwhile Deacon is sitting in a bedroom, looking at a framed childhood picture of two kids that I guess are him and Bev. He starts sobbing.
Bev flatlines as the lullaby draws to a close with the line: “When you wake I will be here to hold you in my arms.”