*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*
Questioning if the better part is over suggests it was there to begin with, yet I failed to see it in this episode.
Uplifted by the success of her Highway 65 Rooftop concert, Juliette has been jetting off around the country, popping up on the rooftops of all the major cities. With fans showing a resurgence of interest in her, she has withdrawn further into her bubble and not even Cadence is able to penetrate it. Those who can however, are quick to sense the hostile host and environment. When Glen informed Juliette that Rayna wanted to see her to discuss her ‘rogue concert strategy’, Juliette responded by saying “Bitch gets five minutes, tops”. This bellicose remark left Glen wondering if her fuse was shorter than usual, while I was convinced it was blown. And it couldn’t have blown at a worse time. Rayna, who we have come to expect to masterly handle the unforeseen, was not interested in playing electrician. Prior to Juliette’s arrival, the news had broken about Deacon’s cancer and her phone became a ringing reminder of his probable death. I say probable, not from a pessimistic outlook, but because the divulgence was followed by an envelope from Beverly. Inside, torn into pieces, was the cheque Rayna had given to her, and the tacit message ‘I can’t be bought’. Good for her, because I thought she would have done it for a lot less and evidently so did Rayna. But where Beverly is lacking in monetary preoccupation, Juliette is in excess. When Bucky informed her that Highway 65 has been receiving complaints and fines from all the cities where she has performed, she insisted on paying the problem away. Her money was not wanted, which in turn bruised her ego. She proceeded to rant about the lack of support she was receiving from the label, and her determination to not be a mother whose life ends just because they had a baby. Unable to listen any longer, Rayna left. Bucky informed the two that she had a lot going on in her personal life, and Juliette, always ready with a tactless response, told Bucky that she did as well, but she was still working her cute little ass off. She’s right Bucky. She does work her ass off – by talking through it. Promising a finished album in two days Juliette stormed off, leaving Bucky and Glen in disbelief and me with an already very painful set of eyes.
Speaking of sore eyes, as Will and Kevin returned from a romantic getaway, an unwelcome sight was awaiting him back in Nashville. Give a warm welcome to papa Lexington! Or not – I’m not entirely sure; Will was giving a lot of mixed signals! Initially upset by his father’s appearance, his anger waned surprisingly quickly when papa Lexington expressed fake (there, I said it!) remorse. The presence of his father caused him to take a painful trip down memory lane; specifically to the moment when he was left on the side of the road with nothing. Not in the mood for a trip, the man culpable swiftly dismissed any such talk, and steered the conversation instead to Will’s success. Teetering on the edge of forgiveness and rejection, the boy in Will, forever desperate for his father’s approval, chose forgiveness and went as far as to second Luke’s invitation to the party that evening. This reunion was much to the surprise of Kevin, who was not so quick to forgive or forget. With love obscuring Will’s perspective, Kevin took it upon himself to remind him of the man his father was and still is. “The man told you that he wished you’d never been born, that you’re disgusting. We wrote a song about how he threw you away like trash”. Hurt by the truth, Will refused to talk about it and went back to the comfort of denial, which his father made a whole lot comfier when he told Will he loved him for the first time. With these three words, a boy’s dream came true and years of unhappiness were erased – partially. Will gave Kevin a pencil when he confided in him, and as he erases the betrayal, Kevin is quick to redraw it. His intentions are wholehearted, but you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. In any case, he should save his fighting spirit for what is to come. Jimmy (Luke’s right hand man) received pictures of Will and Kevin’s romantic break from a tabloid reporter he knows, and they are going to run the story next week. The doors to Will’s closet are about to be thrown wide open!
And when one door opens, another one closes or, in Layla’s case, slams shut right in your face. Teary eyed, she watched as ‘Extra’ reported that she was dropped from Jade St John’s concert and replaced by Meghan Trainor. Jeff, always in possession of some spare salt to rub in the wound, had no pity to offer to her, but he did have a plan. He was going to make Layla “the Taylor Swift to her Katy Perry” (love it) and start a twitter feud. Much to his delight, the tweets soon caught the attention of The Huffington Post, who called it a ‘Twitter War – Country style’. Relating only half the truth, Jeff told the otherwise ignorant Layla, that not only was Bucky happy about the attention she was getting, but that she had made the front page of the Huff Po. Feeling unstoppable, he took advantage of both her severely mistaken gratitude and impressionable personality and got her to sign a contract. So convinced was she that he was helping her out of the grave that she had dug, that she failed to realise he was throwing dirt in it instead.
Immediately next to Layla in the burial plot is Teddy who is, in my opinion, being given a shovel rather than a hand. Dash informed Teddy that the US Attorney’s office has been building a case against State Senator Richard Stern for his dealings with Wyatt Industries, and that if he wants to avoid jail time, he must instigate a business relationship with Stern while working for the Attorney’s office. Desperate for redemption, he enlists Albert’s help in facilitating an introduction with the Senator, and when the time is finally upon him to connive and contrive, he excels. Down in this grave, which bears a striking resemblance to those of Lamar’s fashioning, Teddy even learns something new about Tandy. Stern discloses that he never really worked with Lamar and that his dealings were in fact with the youngest Wyatt.
So the plot thickens and elsewhere the hope thins. Crestfallen by Beverly’s rejection, Rayna’s hasty departure brought her home, where she wallowed in the misery and recognition that her future may not contain Deacon Claybourne. Her imminent present did however, and his arrival prompted them to have a brutally honest but much needed discussion about his illness. She confessed about her trip to see Beverly and the $ 1 million cheque, and he told her, that since the news broke about his cancer, he has felt like a ghost (Deacon, let me just go on record as saying, you can haunt me any day
). But that day is still some time into the future (if the writers have the courage of their convictions). Accepting the absence of a Hail Mary, the two went back to the place where their story began – The Bluebird. (Actually they went to the Bluebird because Deacon was supposed to be singing there, but the romantic in me got a little carried away).
Busy tainting the sanctitude of Nashville’s greatest music café were Gunnar and Scarlett. So icy are the feelings between the two, that anyone in close proximity is left feeling cold. Suffering the brunt of the chill is Noal, who warned Gunnar that if the two of them did not resolve their differences, he would move on. This chilly caution came after they met with Rayna and Bucky to discuss a potential record deal. Disagreeing about their next course of action, the two split bad blood and Nolan wasn’t willing to let his reputation slip in it. Also vulnerable to falling were Caleb and Kylie, as they became painfully aware of the chemistry between the two. Painful, because the duo were forced to take to the stage as Deacon cancelled and asked Scarlet to perform on his behalf. This momentary pause in their ongoing fight proved fruitful, as they resolved to keep their personal lives off limits and just be business partners. And their first decision as amicable business partners – to sign with Highway 65.
As their drama dwindled, Juliette’s swelled. A modern day Pinocchio, she dismissed the severity of Deacon’s cancer and when Avery questioned her as to why she didn’t tell him, she asserted that she did. Her indifference towards Deacon’s condition troubled Avery, and she insisted that while she did care, her mind was preoccupied with Rayna’s demand that she have a finished album in two days. At this point, I was shocked her nose had not poked Avery in the eye. She offered to take care of ‘the baby’ – that is what they have unofficially renamed Cadence – so that Avery could go to The Bluebird and show his support. Unfortunately, that never happened. He was forced to rush home prior to Deacon’s performance, as Juliette had left Cadence with Emily; and in the time she had ‘looked after’ her, she failed to change, feed or take heed of her crying. You know what’s coming don’t you? An intervention! Well, it was an attempt at an intervention. Juliette’s volatile personality brought it to a swift end, but not before they could voice their concern that she was suffering from postpartum depression. If looks could kill, Juliette would have left a bloodbath in her wake as she stormed out and vowed to prove them all wrong!