Previously on Nashville: EVERYTHING. Gunnar made out with Autumn and Autumn tried to convince Gunnar that Scarlett was holding him back, but Scarlett was in love; Juliette was nominated for an Oscar; Juliette told Layla that Jeff died saving her life—but Colt already had; Cynthia “Fake Ann Coulter” Davis told Will to disappear, so Will decided to speak up for gay rights (finally); Rayna met a girl who sang a couple songs and disappeared, then decided to throw a charity benefit for troubled youth or something, and then didn’t mention it for like five episodes; Maddie got emancipated and signed with a label in New York.
In Hollywood, Juliette’s schmoozing at some sort of Oscar event in a turtleneck-dress-and-giant-gold-jewelry getup that would look perfectly at home on, say, Lucille Bluth; but as soon as Glenn rescues her from her conversation she complains, “Why can’t they just give out the damn award already, why do they have to have so many parties?” She’s tired of pretending to be friends with people and wishes Cadence were here. Glenn suggests, “You do have a jet.” Juliette is thrilled by the idea, but seems nervous it’s too much to ask.
In an empty arena, Deacon and Daphne stand onstage and survey the stands. Bucky promises her she’ll be awesome. Deacon reports offstage to Rayna, saying Daphne’s excited and nervous. Rayna manages to stay interested in the topic of Daphne’s feelings for long enough to give him a half-hearted smile before changing the subject to the daughter she actually cares about, Maddie. Apparently the concert is in New York, so they’re in the same city, but can’t get in touch with her. Rayna and Deacon are noticeably non-affectionate. He doesn’t even call her baby once. Which basically means it’s the end of the world.
Cash and Maddie arrive at the offices of RFC, greeting an exec excitedly. Maddie is now sporting flat-ironed hair almost as straight as the exec’s even more flat-ironed hair. Then they’re introduced to Vince, who’s going to produce Maddie’s record. Older millennials will know him as either Fun Bobby or, my favorite, Billy Christiansen. He has creepily-mussed psycho-killer hair and nerd glasses, and he’s all too happy to pose for a selfie with Maddie.
Luke’s facetiming with Colt, who is wearing very convincing (/sarcasm) camo gear in front of a bucolic farmland green screen. Colt drops oh-so-casually that his mom is single now. Since she has never come up before, you may think you don’t need to start caring about her, but hey. I’m just here to faithfully report storylines, no matter what their level of character continuity may be.
Will comes in to show Luke a clip on his tablet, of Cynthia Davis talking about Will: “I refuse to give an avowed homosexual a platform from which he can spread his gay agenda.” Luke tries to say something comforting about fighting the fight elsewhere, but Will is like, “You can’t win a war if you don’t face your enemy.” Well, I guess when he changes his mind, he really changes his mind! He says even if he has to force his way on her show, he’s going to be on it.
Layla finds Avery futzing with his mic in the studio and announces good news about her album’s sales. Then she pouts when he doesn’t pat her on the head and give her a lollipop. Avery apologizes and explains why he’s distracted: Juliette invited them to come visit and will put them up in a hotel. Including Layla, apparently. That’s pretty damn heroic of Juliette actually—Avery and Layla have been dating for about five seconds. Even someone who was totally over her ex-husband might not bother inviting the new squeeze this early! Layla, of course, starts furiously maneuvering to make sure Avery doesn’t go on the trip. She would love to take a trip with him—just not to see his ex-wife. Avery tries to explain that this is a normal part of co-parenting. Layla literally rolls her eyes like a teenager and says condescendingly, “She’s trying to control you, Avery. I can’t believe you’re giving in to all her crazy demands—” Avery interrupts to say they’re not crazy, they’re not demands, he’s doing it, and he hopes Layla joins him. This is what happens when you date a child, Avery.
Scarlett finds Noel in her dressing room, and Noel asks her if she’s talked to Gunnar. Apparently Noel is team Exes (or rather, team No-Longer-Exes) now, despite—or maybe because of—all the drama he’s had to witness. Scarlett thinks Gunnar is off on some road trip, so she hasn’t talked to him. She says she’ll tell him, but isn’t sure when. Noel says, “I have faith in you,” and shows her some photos from the commercial shoot she did. He even touches her shoulder, paternally, as he leaves. Aw, it’s the last episode and Noel finally has feelings and a personality!
Gunnar comes in, saying he needs to talk to Scarlett, but gets distracted by the photos from the commercial. He says they’re amazing. Scarlett sees her opportunity and tells him that the photographer got her to be honest with herself. She blurts out, “I’m in love with you, Gunnar,” just as Autumn comes in, with her usual annoying timing. For absolutely no reason (since Scarlett and Gunnar’s faces express “brave determination” and “vacant confusion,” respectively, not exactly the face of two exes sharing news of a replacement lover) she says, “Oh, good, you’ve talked,” and pets Gunnar like he’s her new kitten while bragging about how they were banging in Aruba for the last two weeks. Scarlett excuses herself, not even trying to look like she’s cool with it. Autumn makes a hilarious expression full of hammy surprise and dismay at causing awkwardness, while in fact enjoying it. She’s great.
Rayna arrives home to find Deacon on the couch. He asks after Daphne, and Rayna devotes one sentence to the obvious fact that Daphne is not doing well before changing the subject, yet again, to the daughter she actually cares about. What excellent parents these guys are! Deacon shows Rayna the Instagram page he’s stalking that shows Maddie at restaurants and clubs and wearing heels that Rayna immediately identifies as expensive, worrying that Maddie will go right through her advance. I bet Cash is helping herself on Maddie’s tab at all those clubs, too! Then Rayna sees the picture of Maddie with Vince and is completely dismayed: “When I was Maddie’s age he practically tried to force himself on me.” Alarmed silence from Deacon.
Glenn is dragging Juliette, still in her Emily Gilmore costume, to another event. She moans, “Can I wear my PJs,” and he says, “Oh, come on, honey,” guiding her inside. Unfortunately, the paparazzi are here to ruin this cute moment: they’ve heard Juliette was on the roof with Jeff. “How did you—” Juliette cries incriminatingly, before Glenn pulls her inside and out of their reach.
Back at the tour, Autumn is playing the Wise Older Woman to Gunnar’s Confused Ingenue. He has apparently told Autumn everything that happened. “Why tell me now? What’s changed?” he asks. Autumn tells him it’s his new confidence (uh, what new confidence, all I see is someone who finally agreed to sleep with a powerful pop star because he got tired of pretending he didn’t know what she wanted), and says, “Girls like Scarlett love keeping guys like you on the line.” Aaand girls like Autumn always seem to project their own evilness onto other girls.
This is followed by an even more priceless exchange where Gunnar says, “You’re saying she’s manipulating me?” and Autumn says, “I’m just saying she’s playing a head game.” So: yes, in other words? Of course, Gunnar is still too naive to even pick up on how manipulative Autumn is, and he’s just worried that their band will be ruined. Autumn has an answer for this too: she says he can go on her tour solo. Honestly, how can Autumn even be entertained by manipulating someone who’s such an easy target?
Back at the Jaymes manse, Rayna is recounting her memories of Vince. It’s not particularly surprising stuff: Vince told her she had to sleep with him to succeed in the business (Deacon is barely holding his shit together as Rayna says that Vince grabbed her and held her down); and even when she escaped, her manager didn’t care: he said both a) it happens and b) nothing happened, which is an amazing way to doubly minimize a near-rape in one fell swoop.
Well, I should say the situation is almost unsurprising, except that the teenaged Rayna was apparently in possession of an impressive level of assertiveness. She not only told Vince “That isn’t what I came here for,” she also fired her manager when the manager wasn’t sympathetic. Go Young Rayna!
Meanwhile, predictably, Deacon is in his Incredible Hulk mode, all heavy breathing and “That son of a bitch is working with our daughter?” This should end well.
At Wheelin’ Dealin’, Luke is facilitating a meeting with Will and Kevin, the sweet and bland guy who he came out of the closet for. Will says that Kevin is “the only link to the community I have,” which is kind of cute, like, does he not have Twitter? Kevin asks how he can help. Will explains that the Cynthia Davis thing is not just his fight anymore (“of course it never really was,” he amends, to which Kevin nods sagely). Kevin agrees to come—and provide some “bodies,” aka gay allies to protest with. He also slyly mentions that he has more free time these days, and Will gets saucer eyes. Luke cutely looks back and forth between them with raised eyebrows and then breaks the moment by asking how they’re going to do this protest.
Juliette is telling Glenn about what happened, how she forgot and then gradually remembered. “I’m so sorry,” he says. “I didn’t realize that you had gotten so bad.” She tells him it’s not his fault, and that “Everything that happened was because of me.” Glenn asks why they’re just finding out now. Juliette says she told Layla a few weeks ago. “Whatever, if it was her, I can’t blame her. It’s my fault Jeff’s dead.” Glenn, calling her “honey” again like the wonderful father figure he suddenly is, tells her that it was an accident, and that he hopes it blows over. But of course when she turns on the TV it’s already conveniently tuned to a shot of Jeff’s mean sister announcing that she intends to hold Juliette legally responsible.
Someone else is watching the same broadcast: Avery, who’s staring in horror at a laptop (yes, an actual laptop, not one of the tablets that this show is constantly shoving in our faces) given him by a bearded sound guy in the studio. Layla comes in and does a terrible impression of someone who Definitely Does Not Know Anything About This Yet And Is Very Shocked, including asking, “Are they saying she pushed him?” Avery snaps the laptop closed, obviously not wanting to get Layla started on the Juliette subject again. “I think I’m going to be sick,” Layla whines, going over to Avery. He tells her not to jump to any conclusions since this is just a gossip mag. Layla, getting desperate, plays her cards too early, saying she can’t be near Juliette if it’s true: meaning, she wants him to cancel the trip without even talking to Juliette. “What does it take for you to see that she hasn’t changed, that she’s done something awful?” she demands of Avery, who’s calling Juliette right at that moment. “Proof?” he says in a duh voice.
Layla stalks away, disappointed, as Avery leaves Juliette a message. Soon we see her in a more private location, anonymously tipping off Jeff’s mean sister and telling her that if she talks to Colt Wheeler she’ll win her case against Juliette.
Speaking of whom, she’s moping on a fancy leather chair in her fancy hotel suite while her team of lawyers and Glenn freak the fuck out. Glenn wants to “backchannel” a settlement offer to quiet this immediately. He approaches Juliette to tell her Avery is calling yet again. “Tell him not to come,” Juliette says sadly. Glenn sort of tries to mediate, telling Avery it’s just not a good time. Avery hangs up and tells a fake-teary Layla that they won’t be coming to California.
Glenn’s next call is with Luke, who’s at a raucous Cynthia Davis protest and has to shout to be heard over the chants of “Let Luke Speak!” He tells Glenn he’s being slammed with calls. Glenn promises to try to keep him out of it, but like Juliette, Luke has grown. He says matter-of-factly that since it happened on his watch that might not be possible, and asks after Juliette, and is generally nice about it all. When he hangs up, Will comes up to him and says randomly, “She’s had protesters outside your office for weeks, seems only fair to return the favor.” Wouldn’t he be more likely to have said this at any time in the past twenty-four hours when they were planning it, than to say it when they’re already neck deep in their plan? Luke says he hopes the press beat the cops here, and Kevin says, “Let’s do this.” Again, though, I … think they’re already doing it? Do they not hear the chanting? Because it’s very loud and has obviously been going on for awhile.
In Vince’s studio, Maddie is singing “Wild Card,” sounding way too much like a baby sexpot and utilizing very little of the beauty of her real voice. Cash is standing around being useless, and Vince asks her if she’s a “family friend, or guardian, or what…?” I assume he’s asking so he knows how much Cash is gonna care if he gropes Maddie later. He’s a crafty dude, that Vince. But Cash just says smugly, “Sort of like a big sister slash co-songwriter slash consultant slash friend.” Shut up, Cash. Maddie comes in and asks if she needs to change anything because she can do this all day. Vince says he has to leave and that he’s working with an artist at his home studio in Williamsburg. Then he invites them over to see it, practically salivating at the thought.
Rayna is in the office of the label exec, pleading with her that Maddie shouldn’t be working with Vince Pearce because he was inappropriate with her and she doesn’t want to take the risk for Maddie. The studio exec doesn’t mention that Rayna doesn’t actually have standing to take or decline risks for Maddie, because she’s too busy being a spokesperson for rape culture. She tells Rayna Vince is awesome and famous. “Does he have an eye for the ladies? Sure… There’s not a woman in this industry that hasn’t been hit on in one way or another… It comes with the territory. And as women, we deal with it.” Ew. Rayna points out that Maddie’s not a woman, but gets nowhere.
Back at the protest, Will and Kevin’s team has been met by a crowd of homophobic protesters across the street. One sign says “Honk if you oppose the gay agenda,” and it’s accompanied by a lot of honking, because people are the worst. Luke says the other side won’t be as loud—and asks someone on the phone about a “pop-up stage.” Fun!
Deacon and Rayna are wringing their hands since Rayna didn’t convince the studio exec. Deacon lists all the people he’s called to try to find Maddie, who has blocked them on Twitter and changed her phone. Rayna announces she’s going to go old-school and write a letter.
Back at the protest, the pop-up stage has arrived, and Luke introduces Will. “Cynthia Davis says she won’t give me any sort of platform, but luckily we found one of our own!” he yells. Luke and Will start singing a duet, and they both look like they’re having a blast. Even better, their song is about how “some brothers are born, some brothers are chosen.” I cannot deal with how cute this friendship is.
Scarlett leaves her hotel room with a suitcase to find Gunnar waiting outside it. She tries to leave without talking to him, and he protests, “You can’t just say I love you and then disappear. Did you even mean it, or was it some weird manipulation?” Scarlett laughs at the idea that she’s the one being manipulative and tells him to forget she said anything about it, just like she’s forgotten stupid stuff he’s said in the past. He says that he’s sick of arguing about the past, and it makes them think there is no future for them. She gives him a look and asks what he’s saying. Um… I think he just said it?
In her hotel room, a depressed Juliette is drinking tea under a blanket. One of her lawyers says that Jeff’s sister is asking for three million and they can negotiate it down. “For what? Jeff’s life? He’s dead, it’s my fault, pay her whatever she wants,” Juliette says dully.“Or you’re fired.” He gives in, but says they’re going to get a public retraction. Glenn tells Juliette now she can just worry about winning at the Oscars. She does not look relieved.
Maddie and Cash arrive at Vince’s smoke-filled Williamsburg loft and take a selfie, as friends slash sisters slash consultant/consultees do, ya know? Vince greets them, and Cash immediately leaves to greet some friend of hers. Vince, seeing his moment, offers to give Maddie a tour, if you know what I’m saying.
Luke and Colt are texting, and Colt tells Luke that he told Layla. Layla’s house of cards is coming down all around her! Will comes up and he cheers up immediately as they chat about whether they’re ruining Cynthia’s day. Will tells him he owes him one, squeezing his shoulder. It is SUPER CUTE. Luke asks about Will’s relationship with Kevin, and says, “I always thought y’all were pretty great together, both personally and musically, and in my experience that doesn’t happen too often.” Will, quite reasonably, thinks this is a Rayna reference. It turns out it’s a reference to Luke’s heretofore completely unimportant ex-wife.
The two times he talked about her, by the way, I feel like it sounded as if she was the missus at home with the kids while he went out and partied it up. Not like she was also a musician. But who cares? This show has decided that life is one big game of musical chairs—everyone’s gotta have a significant other when the music stops. Anyway, Cynthia Davis’s producer comes up to tell them she wants to have Will on—but only if the music stops, and he goes on right now. Will, for some reason, looks totally panicked.
Back at Autumn’s tour, Noel is chewing out Scarlett and Gunnar for breaking up the band. They just released an album, and what about their contract with the tour? Gunnar can’t help but grin as he announces smugly that Autumn offered to take him on as a solo act. Scarlett, who’s sitting and staring at herself in her dressing-room mirror and talking boredly like she’s Marilyn Monroe or something, says that they’re both getting solo attention. Noel protests that they don’t have solo albums, but both of them staunchly insist that they’re done. “Tonight’s the last show,” Gunnar says. God, poor Noel. I know I say this every week, but these two have put him through so much.
Glenn calls Layla and she brightly asks him if he’s heard how well her album’s doing. He says that yes, but he’s kind of busy with Juliette’s issue. He asks if she leaked the story and points out that it wouldn’t be all that different from when she leaked her and Avery’s romance to the paps. Oh, Glenn. He looks like such a teddy bear, but Layla should’ve known no one could survive working with Juliette Barnes for as long as Glenn has, without some steel in his backbone. Layla says, “Juliette has never said a word to me about Jeff.” When Glenn yells chin-first into the phone that Juliette already said that she did, Layla pleads that Juliette is a liar. Glenn growls that he believes Juliette, which means Layla’s the one lying, and he’s no longer representing her. Ouch. Layla says defiantly that she has everything she needs.
At the hotel room, Deacon finishes reading Rayna’s letter and calls it powerful. Rayna muses about why she never said anything—because she felt vulnerable and ashamed. Apparently the letter is running on Huffington Post. I love that that’s what she meant by old-school. Deacon grabs her hand, comfortingly.
Maddie is in some deserted studio with Vince, who stops her from texting Cash about it and then drags her away by the arm so that she leaves her phone on a side table with a text about her mom’s letter blinking unseen. Dun-dun-dun!
Layla comes out from the kitchen where she was talking to Glenn to find a tearful Avery stalking the room. “I just fired Glenn,” she says. Wow, she’s actually a crazy person. Avery, though, has another lie on his mind: “You acted like it was the first time you’d heard that Juliette might have been involved in Jeff’s death.” Layla’s eyes go dead. She says it was. But Avery says that Colt told her at the wedding, and he accuses her of lying to him every day since. Layla tries to lay the blame on Juliette but Avery’s not having it. He says this isn’t about what Juliette did, and as his voice rises, Layla dissolves into tears. “What was I to you, a target, some kind of revenge?” She pleads that Juliette took everything from her, and “maybe this started out wrong, but I swear, my feelings for you are real.” Avery cuts her off and says it doesn’t matter anymore. Layla, apparently getting mixed up about which lies have already been exposed, pleads that she had to show him who Juliette really was.
Avery realizes that “this whole nightmare that she’s mixed up in” is Layla’s fault, and declares, “OK, you’re crazy, and we’re done.” Layla, left alone, sobs harder. It’s really sad, actually. I mean, she is kind of crazy, but in that really sad way where it’s all born of low self-esteem and this desperate need to be loved. Girl had a gay husband and then her straight boyfriend died tragically, ya know? I mean, it’s been rough.
Scarlett’s alone in her dressing room when Noel finds her and asks, rather more kindly than he was acting before, asks her what happened. Scarlett says sadly that she tried to talk to Gunnar but couldn’t get anywhere. Noel says paternally, “Look, if the Exes have truly run their course, that’s fine” (really? That’s not the tune you were singing earlier, Noel) “but calling it quits without ever having a real conversation about your feelings? I mean that’s just dumb.” Scarlett says she’d have thought he’d be happy to be free of their crazy. I would’ve thought so too, Scarlett. But Noel puts his hand on her shoulder and says he cares about them, and that he would hate to see them “throw away something so special.” Shouldn’t there have been more to that sentence? Were they five seconds over time or something?
Will sits down with Cynthia Davis and turns on the charm with an easy half-smile and a “Hi,” as if he thinks they’re going to have a civilized conversation or something. But Cynthia cuts him off and just starts her show with the bitchiest possible opening. Will is smiling hopefully at everyone, that innocent darling, because he has learned absolutely nothing about how shitty some people are willing to be to his face. But his face soon falls as Cynthia announces that she’s going to take on “the domestic terrorism of his homosexual agenda.”
Rayna’s backstage somewhere when Bucky tells her that her letter hit a nerve. Deacon asks her if there’s anything from Maddie, but there isn’t yet. Daphne comes up for a big hug, and Rayna asks her if she’s excited. Daphne says she’s nervous, and Rayna tries to comfort her by saying they’ll all be together. Um, not quite, Daphne points out. Rayna’s face falls.
Back at Cynthia Davis’s show, Will’s under attack and Cynthia is using her natural viciousness to shut him up. She’s babbling about attacks on religious liberty. “Me singing songs does all that,” Will says, lifting his hands in frustration. Cynthia says that his lifestyle is “historically, Biblically and physically” wrong. It is always amusing how much time homophobes spend fixating on gay sex. Then Will tells her she’s scared of him, or if she’s not, she should let him speak. “You don’t want your audience to see me or hear me, you know why? Because they might recognize me. Not as Will Lexington, gay country singer, but as their brother or their cousin or their friend or their coworker.” Luke looks on proudly from the back. Cynthia laughs scornfully, but clearly feels herself losing ground. “I’m a human being, a good man, a good son,” Will declares. “There’s nothing to be scared of here.” Point to Will!
Rayna’s introduced at her benefit just as Deacon finds Maddie’s picture of herself and Cash at the party, with Vince leering in the background. Deacon makes a break for it. Oh, no.
Arriving at the Oscars in a limo are Glenn and Juliette – Juliette in a sequin-striped dress that is quite fabulous and very her. Glenn tries to reassure a stone-faced Juliette that “everything’s been handled.” She says that’s the problem: she made a mistake and everything went away. “All this money, mine, the studio’s, the label’s, it’s just perpetuating a lie.” She doesn’t want to lie to the press about how great she is. Glenn says she doesn’t have to talk to the press and she says irritably that he’s missing the point. She’s hatching a plan!
At the benefit, Bucky has to tell Rayna and Daphne that Deacon’s disappeared. Even Bucky can’t spin it very well: “He said he had something important that he really needed to take care of,” like, oh you don’t say? If it’s rilly rilly important, then sure, it’s fine to miss a charity concert! Daphne asks worriedly if they’ll do this without him, and Rayna says they’ve got each other’s backs. They go up on stage.
Glenn and Juliette get out of the limo and Glenn tries to pull her away, saying they’re going to skip the carpet. “I’m sorry,” Juliette says, pulling away from him, and then asks if the coordinator can find Deborah Roberts.
Gunnar comes backstage and starts to talk to Scarlett, but she cuts him off and tells him that she loves him, and would never tell him that to control him, and she only hid it because she was scared. He asks sadly how he knows she won’t change her mind. She gets all girl-power on him and tells him not to tell her how to feel, which… is not what he was doing, so maybe calm down, Scarlett. They’re called up onstage by one of those inconvenient assistants who are always popping up to interrupt big scenes on this show. Scarlett leaves.
Maddie and Vince are sitting—on different pieces of furniture, thank God—in the big empty studio, having drinks. Vince is nattering about intimacy between creative people. His hair looks even more like a pedophile’s hair than before. He goes off to grab more drinks. I don’t even want to know what he’s gonna put in Maddie’s. Luckily she, like any good teenager, immediately pulls out her phone as soon as she’s left alone for two seconds. Back at the concert, Rayna and Daphne are singing “Together We Stand” as Maddie reads Rayna’s letter. “No young woman should have to feel pressured or shamed or tricked into a sexual situation by any man,” Connie Britton’s voice reads. Maddie looks up, stricken, at Vince.
Juliette is giving an interview (presumably to Deborah Roberts) and telling the truth, finally. She says that she was trying to kill herself when Jeff died, and that she didn’t remember it at first, and that she was in rehab—basically everything she’s been hiding. Avery is watching at home in the Bro Castle, crying. Juliette concludes that she’s not doing it for sympathy: “I just wanted people to know the truth, and I want Jeff’s family and friends to know that he was a hero.” This is another satisfying step forward in a character arc, in an episode that was full of them: Juliette stubbornly demanding to take responsibility for her actions, even as others try to keep the machinery of fame going all around her.
When Vince gets back with the drinks Maddie tries to extricate herself. He accuses her of “cozying up” to him before and asks why she’s not interested now. She protests that she was never interested. “I thought you wanted to be a grownup,” he says. Maddie, rather heroically, says, “If this is what it takes to have a career, I don’t want one.” But before she can get up, he clamps his hand on her leg.
After the commercial break, Vince is still groping Maddie and pressing a drink on her. “Please don’t,” she murmurs tearfully as he grabs her face and tells her what a great artist she’s going to be. It’s a wrenching scene—not gratuitous, but very scary and upsetting.
Then she hears Deacon yelling her name and says it’s her dad. Vince makes an oh-shit face, and Maddie runs into Deacon’s arms sobbing. “You touch my daughter?” Deacon asks, advancing on Vince. I was genuinely worried—and kind of exasperated, realistic as it might have been for him to backslide at this moment—that he was going to clock the guy and end up in jail again, but Vince puts up his hand and aw-shucks that nothing happened, and Deacon somehow resists the temptation to punch Vince’s obnoxious face. After telling Vince that the whole world knows about him now, he’s pulling Maddie away when Cash arrives. “You said you’d protect me, but when I needed you you were gone with some guy!” she screams at Cash. Cash apologizes and pleads it will never happen again. “It’s your choice,” Deacon says sadly.
OK. I love that Cash is getting her comeuppance, but I thought there would be so much more drama. Like that she was going to embezzle money from Maddie, or lock her in a basement and pimp her out to a thousand Vinces, or something. It’s like, not even really that bad that she took her eyes off Maddie for a few minutes. Lord knows that girl hates to be watched, so if Cash had gotten too involved Maddie probably would have re-emancipated herself from Cash.
Will emerges with Luke to find his supporters cheering for him, even though it’s nighttime now. Kevin is right at the front, clapping proudly. Luke calls him “son” and says everyone’s grateful to him. They share a cute smile. Then Luke gives a little aphorism about second chances and taking a chance that’s not nearly clever enough to transcribe. He leaves, saying he’s “pretty sure you got a ride back.” Dirty! Will descends the stairs towards Kevin, smiling.
Juliette’s somehow managed to find a deserted bar at the damn Oscars. I find that hard to believe. Glenn finds her and tells her that he’s never been prouder of her. She gives him a sweet smile. I love it. Juliette gets a call from Avery, who has a sleeping Cadence in the background. “If I had known how bad things have gotten,” he says. She says it’s time for her to take responsibility. He promises her that “We’re still here.” Juliette smiles tearfully.
Meanwhile, Layla is sobbing alone on her bed as she so often is. Her phone jangles. She picks up: Bucky is telling her that Cumulus, whatever that is, is making her the artist of the month and her career is about to skyrocket. Layla smiles through her tears. I guess she does have everything she needs after all.
Gunnar and Scarlett are singing a slow ballad as Autumn watches triumphantly from backstage. “As good as they are as a duo, some people just aren’t meant to be together,” she smugs to Noel, who gives her a knowing look—he’s obviously seen a thousand Autumns in his life in the music world.
The music continues. It’s the very last Nashville montage, guys!
Montage part one: Luke calls his daughter, who I had completely forgotten existed. She’s super excited to hear from him and yells that she missed him so much, and he’s like yeah, yeah, I missed you too, but can I talk to your mom?
Well, I certainly hope that was enough affection to tide poor Nameless Wheeler Daughter over till the next time Luke bothers to call. And beyond that casual tossing aside of his role as a father in service of getting lickety-split to a “happy” ending, it really annoys me that Luke is given this half-hearted romantic resolution at all. Because he actually had a well-earned happy ending that it took him a long time to get to: realizing the importance of family, making amends to Colt, and learning to choose doing the right thing over his image. He doesn’t need a woman in his life right now; the whole triumph of his arc this season was that he learned to do the right thing and became brothers with Will and all of that! Jeez guys, are you even watching your own show? You only need to shoehorn a tidy little romantic bow onto everything when you didn’t execute an excellent season-long arc with a satisfying resolution.
Montage part two: Juliette on her plane, being served either ice water or vodka on the rocks, who’s to say? Someone remarks that she left the Oscars early, and Juliette says that she had somewhere more important to be. YEAH you do, and it’s called Avery’s bed!
Montage part three: Maddie arrives at the benefit and hugs Rayna tearfully.
Montage part four: Scarlett and Gunnar make eye contact. As the song ends, he rushes over and dips her into a kiss. Yay! Noel rubs it in: “Looks like they’re still a duo!” Autumn, pissed, snaps, “Yeah. But they are so fired.” Hee.
At the benefit, Maddie and Daphne hug tearfully, and Deacon apologizes for running out. Rayna kisses him. All is forgiven. I don’t know, Rayna, you might want to make sure he didn’t kill anyone before you go forgiving him. Luckily he didn’t, so I guess it’ll all work out for these two and their oh-so-well-thought-out reconciliation. Maddie declares that she wants to go home, so they all link up and walk out. But I am sure Maddie’s teenage hormones will live to torment her parents another day.
At the no-longer-a-protest, some rando is singing on the popup stage. Kevin and Will compliment each other on their roles in the triumph. Will stutters as he tries to ask for another chance and finally says elegantly, “You’re single again, right?” This very romantic overture is good enough for Kevin, who confirms that he is and kisses Will. I care very little about Kevin, but this is a nice full-circle I guess, since Will’s stepped up and accepted being a spokesperson, and his unwillingness to do so was what lost him Kevin in the first place.
Avery gets a call as he waits on the tarmac with Cadence. It’s Emily, telling him that Juliette didn’t win her category. Then an official interrupts him, asking if he’s waiting for Juliette. “We received a distress call. We lost contact, ninety miles west of Nashville,” he says. Avery makes a panicked face.
End of show? I guess?
Well, that was silly. I guess you can’t have everyone have a happy ending, but having Juliette on her way home to Avery after that sweet, but not conclusive, phone call would have worked pretty darn well, as opposed to this hammy “cliffhanger” where it’s like, obviously if the show gets its fifth season Juliette won’t be dead, so there’s not even any point other than to elicit a moment of (for naive viewers, anyway) shock.
Goodbye, Nashville. (Maybe.) You’ve filled our lives with beautiful music, entertainingly sociopathic characters, Hayden Panettiere’s acting, Connie Britton’s hair, and Avery’s forehead vein for four years. And for that, we are grateful.