NASHVILLE Debriefing: “I forgive you, but I still don’t trust you.” That’s it, that’s the show.

CHARLES ESTEN

There’s never a dull moment on Nashville. When people aren’t sleeping together or maneuvering against each other, they’re undergoing near-death experiences or battling it out over award nominations and surprise long-lost children! Tonight’s episode seems to be all about trust, and the consequences of breaking it.

(Can someone explain why all the promo pictures are of basically one scene tonight?) / Courtesy ABC

(Can someone explain why all the promo pictures are of basically one scene tonight?) / Courtesy ABC

We pick up with Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) immediately where we left off in last week’s cliffhanger: she’s collapsed backstage at her show in Cincinnati, and rushed to a hospital, where we learn she’s suffered a pulmonary embolism. Luckily, she and the baby appear to be fine. Accolade-obsessed Juliette doesn’t even care that she only got nominated for one paltry CMA award, because she felt herself “slipping away” when she was in the middle of her attack, and she’s feeling grateful that she and the baby are still alive. (“That’s a pretty good day for me.” Aw, Juliette.) It’s a testament to her growth that she is able to put things in perspective so calmly — something Rayna (Connie Britton) could stand to learn, but more on that later.

In any case, Avery (Jonathan Jackson) drives all night to rush to her side, after Zoey (Chaley Rose) calls him to tell him about Juliette’s emergency. Only, as soon as he enters her room, her co-star Noah (Derek Hough) shows up too, and he gets the wrong idea about their relationship. Now, Avery has every right to still be mad at Juliette, and even to assume she’d moved on given her track record currently, but at the same time, he is the one who came to her, so I think she at least has the right to explain herself without him scoffing before she gets a word in edgewise. Anyway, it’s not like she’s in a position to run after him, but Noah stays, and even asks if the two of them can see where “this” is going. Juliette sweetly tells him he’s a good guy, but that Avery showing up at her bedside “means something,” even if she doesn’t know what yet. Ah yes, leave it to Juliette to turn her merry-go-round of suitors into a medical drama!

Juliette’s doctor tells her she has a medical condition — and likely has her entire life — that makes her more susceptible to blood clots, which becomes pronounced in pregnancy. She should be fine, but it means she has to cancel the rest of her tour dates, because somehow it puts her at greater risk. (I’m guessing because of all the flying involved?) Her movie’s still a go though, so it’s not a total loss. The cat’s slowly getting out of the bag, but she tells Glenn (Ed Amatrudo) she doesn’t want to tell the media until she figures out for herself what everything means. (Somehow I think she’s going to lose that battle.) Her first stop is to confront Zoey at her hotel for stealing the limelight. Now, I think Zoey undoubtedly saved Juliette’s bacon onstage at the show, but I don’t buy for a second that she didn’t realize what she was doing, either, after all her frustration this season, so I’m glad Juliette called her out on it. That being said, firing Zoey was a harsh consequence for a little spotlight hogging, but I also didn’t expect anything less from impulsive Juliette. Her impending motherhood may be softening in her personal life, but she’s still hell on wheels when it comes to owning the stage.

Since Avery is crashing on Zoey’s couch, Juliette uses the opportunity to finally talk to him, and she acknowledges that he has every right to be mad at her. But, she also declares that he’s either got to be all in with the baby, or he will have no part in its life. I wasn’t sure if she meant “all in” in being committed to the baby, or to her, but her last scene with Avery seems to confirm the latter. He states that he’s sick of being angry and it’s “turning him into a disaster” (ya think?), and as a result he’s forgiving her, but he still doesn’t trust her and can’t be with someone he doesn’t trust. So he rejects her ultimatum, and stands his own ground, presumably willing to stand by the baby (“Whether or not I get to be this baby’s father is not your choice”), because Juliette ends the episode by revealing her pregnancy to the press outside her home, and naming Avery as the father. She doesn’t seem happy, so there will be fireworks, I’m sure. Are we heading for a custody battle? Other story lines in the episode lead me to think the writers may be setting us up for that. Interestingly, though, I like that Juliette is involving Avery from the start, when we have two other plots right now involving the consequences of not involving a father in a child’s life until much later. I am curious if the contrast is deliberate.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

In other baby daddy drama, Gunnar (Sam Palladio) confronts Kylie (Alex Penavega) about hiding his son Micah from him, too. Kylie tearfully pleads that she didn’t feel like she had a choice, because her parents were controlling and wouldn’t let her see Gunnar anymore, especially given his and Jason’s less than stellar reputations at the time. Nonetheless, he points out that she knew what he really was like, and that he had a right to know he was a father, particularly given that he has no family left. I’m with Gunnar on this one, for once, since I hate seeing kids used as pawns in their parents’ personal problems, or worse yet, seeing them suffer for their parents’ selfish decisions. (See: Rayna, Maddie and Deacon, for one.) He freaks out about the fact that Kylie is about to leave town, again, without giving him a chance to know Micah, and Scarlett (Clare Bowen) counsels him that the best thing he could do, as a first step, is to simply be Micah’s friend in the time he has left with him, without worrying about being a parent. (I understand what Scarlett was getting at, but as we’ll see later with Maddie, being a “friend” will only get you so far.) Eventually, he stands his ground with Kylie, asking to spend time with Micah, and convinces her to stick around Nashville a little longer to give him a chance to build a relationship with his son. Of course, right after that happens, Zoey walks in on the scene, and I’ll bet there’s going to be more sour looks from her next week over this whole deal.

Need more long lost children angst? Maddie (Lennon Stella) makes plans with Luke’s son Colt (Keean Johnson) to “hang out” at a local diner, only to be forced to bring Daphne (Maisy Stella) along when Teddy (Eric Close) implores her to take on more adult responsibilities, such as babysitting her sister when he has a last minute hot date with the mysterious lady friend (heh) from last week. (“Don’t embarrass me!” “Can’t make any promises!” I love Daphne, so much.) Now, anyone with younger siblings has been there, right? We see what you did there, Teddy. Anyway, Maddie turns lemons into lemonade, and decides that if she isn’t allowed to go out to a party, then she’s going to bring the party back to her house, and throws a bash at Rayna’s empty pad. Sweet little Daphne freaks out when she can’t find her sister (who is upstairs trying to make out with Colt, who rightfully brushes off his future stepsister — as if this family isn’t complicated enough as it is), and when she can’t get a hold of her dad either (who is busy playing naked Marco Polo), she ends up calling the cops. (Go, Daphne!) Maddie is predictably mad at her sister for narcing, but Daphne yells back that she couldn’t find anyone and was scared when people she didn’t know started trashing her house.

I have to admit that the Conrad sisters are often my favorite part of an episode, and I was really impressed with both Lennon and Maisy Stella in this episode in particular. Maddie may be a bit of a brat sometimes, but she’s so believable to me, and her shame when all of her parents confronted her about her actions prove she’s a great kid deep down, but as she told Colt, her life exploded all at once in the last year, and she doesn’t really know how to cope. Hell, the adults in her life often do a worse job of handling the total crap storm they created, and they don’t have teenage hormones to contend with on top of everything else. Maddie could have easily thrown another fit when Rayna and Teddy stated that they were hiring a nanny to take care of the girls when Rayna is on tour, but she accepted the verdict without a word, like she knew she deserved it and didn’t want to let anyone down. Moreover, Lennon Stella’s acting skills keep improving every week it seems, and she handled the aftermath of the party very well, especially in the scene where Maddie seeks out Deacon’s (Charles Esten) comfort, and he lets her know he’s disappointed in her behavior, too. Meanwhile, Maisy Stella keeps infusing Daphne with such spunk and charm, while also demonstrating how Daphne’s starting to crack at everyone else’s drama in her life. She’s been ignored for so long in the middle of all the divorce and paternity upheavals that it’s about time she starts standing her ground. Either of these two characters could crash and burn, but I’m pulling for them to come through the other side of this as sweet as they began.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

That being said, I don’t think Rayna or Teddy were nearly angry enough at Maddie for her actions. If I’d done what she did, I don’t think my parents would be speaking to me in soothing voices and calmly telling me I’d need a nanny. There’d be way more yelling and “what the hell were you thinking?!” and threats of boarding school or who knows what. On the other hand, good on Teddy for underscoring that the real issue in Maddie’s actions was that she exposed Daphne to danger and broke her parents’ trust, which made Maddie feel even guiltier. Actions have consequences, which some of these adults need to learn, too.

Speaking of which, remember Teddy’s hot date last week? I totally thought she was a call girl, and it turns out I nailed it, so points for me! As expected, Jeff’s (Oliver Hudson) wingman charity was a giant scheme to get Teddy in his back pocket: their lady friends were actually escorts he hired for the night, there to fulfill every lonely fantasy poor dumb Teddy could dream of. (It was a little awkward when smitten Teddy rambled about how much he liked “Natasha,” knowing it was all a ruse.) So now Jeff has leverage, proof that the mayor is availing himself of prostitutes, but what’s even sadder is that later on, even after her finds out the truth, Teddy calls Natasha again, because he’s so lonely. Whether it’s for sex or simple companionship we don’t know, but this won’t end well for the mayor, I’m sure. I still don’t know how the record deal for the girls is going to factor into all of this, but even if Teddy envisions a Pretty Woman conclusion, I don’t think he grasps the mess he’s just walked into. He really has just made a deal with the devil.

It seems like Rayna’s made her own deal with the devil — if the devil is Twitter, I mean. She gets nominated for a handful of CMA awards, as does Luke (Will Chase), but because she’s Rayna (meaning, a tad narcissistic), she can’t leave well enough alone when an entertainment reporter speculates she only got as many nods as she did because of her recent social media exposure with Luke. Just about everyone, including Luke later, tries to tell her a win is a win, no matter why she made it onto the ballot, but she keeps insisting she wants to win an award on her own merits. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, but even I know that entertainment awards of all kinds are won almost exclusively on their media campaigns, and I find it so hard to believe that industry veteran Rayna acts like this is the first she’s heard of it. Unless she’s been living under a rock these past two decades, and not working for a major record label, it’s preposterous that she’s so ignorant of the impact of media exposure on her career. She decides to actively campaign for the awards this year, under the guise of it being good for Highway 65, but I’d bet there’s more than a little pride involved, too. (Again: Rayna might not have campaigned personally for awards before, but I sure as hell believe Edgehill would have on her behalf at the very least in the past. Sometimes I feel like they’re writing Rayna like she just fell off a turnip truck, instead of being someone born and raised in Nashville. In that same vein, I wonder how old Sadie Stone (Laura Benanti) is supposed to be, because while I initially tapped her to be about the same age as her portrayer, Sadie sometimes acts so naive that she seems more like she’s 21.)

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Rayna finds out the hard way that people are more interested in her personal and professional union with Luke than they are in her on her own, which is a bitter pill to swallow. Luke is the voice of reason, which I never thought I’d say: they worked hard on their joint single, so why does it matter if their current success is attributed to that instead of their individual projects? Look, I get that Luke isn’t altruistic in this, and I increasingly feel like his relationship with Rayna is more of a ploy for his public image than anything else, but he has a point about this. Rayna doesn’t want to promote their single anymore, in favor of boosting the success of her solo efforts, which irks her fiancé. So, they’re engaging in a little “friendly” competition heading into the CMAs, but I’d bet Luke is going to be secretly scheming, if not outright sabotaging Rayna’s campaign, on the road to Artist of the Year. (Or whatever it is they’re after.) Trust isn’t something I’m seeing these two succeed at anytime soon, because neither of them have the other’s best interests at heart. (Because the only interests that really matter right now are their own.)

Elsewhere: Layla (Aubrey Peeples) is a drunken, self-harming trainwreck who can’t hold it together in front of the cameras anymore, nor does she apparently care about herself to boot. Will (Chris Carmack) is still useless in the entire situation. Deacon’s new squeeze convinces him that being a grouch makes him miss out on life, and he reacts by finally getting his head out of his ass about performing his new material in public and starts an impromptu jam session backstage at a show. (Luke’s none too happy.) Scarlett tries to help the homeless man with the golden pipes outside her studio, but he won’t accept charity, so she instead enlists him to clean Deacon’s gutters in exchange for a warm meal. There, she discovers a picture of his family while doing his laundry, and he lashes out at her questions by storming off. Yikes!

AUBREY PEEPLES, CHRIS CARMACK

Courtesy ABC

What did you think about tonight’s episode? What are Luke’s ulterior motives? When will Layla crash and burn? Is Deacon ever going to get over his pity party? Is Rayna going to wake up about her career? Is Juliette declaring war? Is Teddy’s new love interest just paying for law school? (Points if you get that one.) Is Daphne the only responsible person in her household?

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

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