I basically want to blow through the other plots in this episode so that we can get straight to Hayden Panettiere, who was epic and hysterical. I have no idea when she had her baby in real life relative to when they shot this, but… she is a national treasure, y’all. The greatest argument for the continued existence of Nashville is that Juliette Barnes needs to endure, and the greatest sin of its continued existence is that the Emmys ignore her.
But first, yes, Deacon and Rayna are still being cuddlemonkeys.
They stayed up all night talking out all their feelings with Maddie and Daphne, who are now passed out on the couch. The two of them were settling in for a long day of gazing and squeezing until Rayna’s phone rings, and she learns Sadie is at the police station because she shot her ex. Rayna reacts to this the way you would if your brain were sort of slow and fuzzy after a night of crying — she’s like, “Wuh?” — and Deacon reacts to this the way your brain would if you were Deacon (“Huh”). He is a total hothead when it comes to his own problems, but when it’s other people’s drama, he’s so even-keeled that sometimes I want to snap my fingers in front of his face to see if he blinks.
Gunnar’s hair is in a ragingly jealous cloud. I’m going to start calling it a pouffant. He’s carping at Avery about Scarlett being late, Scarlett sleeping with totally random men she just met (because he doesn’t know the absurdly youthful Dr. Pre-K is Deacon’s cancer man, as he looks like he’s only just old enough to be learning lowercase letters), Scarlett not clinging to the hem of his pants and kissing his feet… he’s in a snit. When she does finally show up, totally late and still needing to pack and doing a Walk of Shame, Gunnar is a jackhole to her and continues to give her the cold-shoulder all day — unless, of course, he’s raising an eyebrow about her sexual practices. Because the way to a woman’s heart is to slut-shame her.
In other news, Teddy washed his face:
Well, more accurately, he washed his face with a palm full of shame water, which ran off his furrows in rivulets of self-loathing and regret, but the fact remains that his pores are now clean.
Eyebrows here is a curious creature. He has dug up all kinds of gnarly info on the finance guy that Teddy needs for his discretionary fund, but then he makes fun of Teddy for hiring him at all: First he says Teddy reminds him of The Great and Powersful Boothe, and then snarks, “Your family must be SO PROUD.” Listen, Eyebrows. You’re a dirt-slinger. If you start judging all the people who PAY you to sling said dirt, you are going to lose clients. Let’s be thoughtful about this, please. I’m just looking out for your mercenary interests.
For some reason the show decided that during this ONE scene, and this one scene alone in the entire episode, it was cold enough for Rayna to be in a snood. Her interest is piqued when Luke says he was with Sadie when she shot Pete, but Luke — correctly — is like, “NOMB, you jiltress,” and takes off. (NOMB is what we usually say in place of None Of My Business. It’s very efficient, and also best intoned in a deep voice.)
We can knock this out fast: Laura Benanti is great in this episode. She even sounds congested, the way you would if you’d spent 24 hours crying. Basically, Sadie doesn’t get charged with murder because Luke claims he pulled up in time to witness the whole thing and swears it was self-defense. Sadie, though, decides to leave town because Laura Benanti got cast in a pilot and they only booked her to help bridge the time when Hayden P. couldn’t regularly work. So off she goes to Virginia to work through the pain of killing her abuser — fair enough; I’ll allow it — and cuts short whatever was brewing with her and Luke. Which he seems sad about, possibly because without the promise of a love interest, I’m not sure what they’re going to DO with him.
Deacon, meanwhile, is left brushing the frost off his face that’s being blasted his way by Maddie. She’s coping with her grief by being extremely unpleasant, TOTALLY ignoring what looks like French toast and onion rings (I’m sure it’s not, but… would that be so awful?), and ceasing to call Deacon “Dad,” in favor of using his name because that reinjects distance between them. She also flounces into Scarlett’s room, slams the door, and calls Teddy to come get her. Meanwhile Daphne seems very well-adjusted to this. I hope she’s not going to turn out to be a sociopath.
Let’s visit Juliette:
So, Rayna is hosting this baby shower, and for some reason that means having people pre-decorate Juliette’s house hours and hours beforehand. This place looks like a boutique store threw up on it, with absolutely no personal touches at all, which may have been the first clue to Juliette that this was not going to be the afternoon of her dreams.
But then she puts on this hilarious red lace bag, and proceeds to wear it through some of the most entertaining Juliette scenes in recent memory. First, she finds out that everyone is bailing on her shower for lame reasons, and Avery isn’t there because he’s on tour, so she’s feeling abandoned. But the dart that really hits is when Glenn arrives with an apology from Rayna. Juliette is ENRAGED, at which point Glenn explains that it’s because Sadie shot her ex. Juliette’s eyes get wide, and she utters, “I cannot BELIEVE… she would choose to SHOOT SOMEONE on the DAY OF MY SHOWER!”
And then cakes are hurled against windows. Furniture is kicked over. Juliette wobbles around on her huge black YSL Tribute sandal equivalents (platform, clunky… they were the same in theme, if not in actuality) and tries to have a dignified hissy, and fails spectacularly because she can barely move without waddling. She even jumps in the air to rip down some streamers, ineffectually, and rages against the pink doilies (she is correct about that). If anyone is counting, though, this means Nashville has recently scripted TWO cake-related rampages. Doesn’t ANYONE get to EAT the cake on this show?
Glenn and Emily give wonderful reactions, but they don’t actually stop her, either, which is a delight. The actress who plays Emily couldn’t get through the scenes without letting amusement sneak onto her face. In a way that I appreciate, because I think it would, indeed, be difficult to watch this as Emily OR as The Actress Playing Emily without an involuntary snicker.
Let’s give a virtual hug to the costumer. Watching Juliette throw an epic tantrum in this outfit was one of my week in TV’s deepest pleasures.
Then we sidestep into Luke’s world: Bucky is at the studio to listen to a new artist, and Luke tags along to distract himself from the fact that he’s worried about Sadie. They both love the gravelly voice of the guy, but Bucky sighs that he’s not really on Highway 65’s brand (then why are you there, Buck? He’s a YouTube star; you’d heard him before), and notes wistfully that he would sign him in a heartbeat if he were the A&R guy for Wheelin’ and Dealin’ Records. And so Luke offers the guy a deal on the spot, Bucky blesses it, and they go their separate ways… but if we’re setting this up for Luke to poach Bucky, well, consider the groundwork laid. If we are NOT setting that up, then check on Craiglist to see if this missed opportunity posts anything about itself.
I love Deacon. When Teddy rides up on a cloud of self-righteousness to take Maddie home, Deacon totally lets Teddy yell at him for a while so that Teddy will feel like a douchehole when Deacon says, “I GOT CANCER.” (Note: Deacon may not have done that on purpose, but I like to think he did, because making Teddy dig a hole for himself is a special delight.) Teddy then tells Deacon not to push Maddie too hard because that makes her pull further away, and then gives Maddie a hug. She asks him not to die anytime soon, and he agrees. You can tell he’s thinking of the metaphorical Death By Media that’s coming his way.
Juliette is calmly sipping a tea when Rayna finally shows up, and discovers the carnage and cancelled shower. Juliette snippily repeats that she’s resentful that Sadie deciding to shoot someone is more important than her baby. “I know where I stand. Somewhere beneath your little label and your perfect hair!” she shouts. She’s so deliciously petty. It’s just… I’ve said this before, but I don’t think TV shows fire on all cylinders until the writing and the actors inspire each other. The writers made Juliette good, but they couldn’t truly make her GREAT until they learned just how fab Hayden Panettiere could be. And now they’re cooking with gas.
Rayna finally explodes that she’s been trying REALLY HARD to be strong for everyone right now and it SUCKS so could Juliette PLEASE SHUT UP FOR ONE SECOND. She does not thank Juliette for the compliment about the hair.
Juliette’s face contorts into an expression of exquisite shock.
Because her water has broken. Baby Barkley is COMING.
Thus, Avery immediately hops off the tour bus and rushes back to Nashville, leaving Scarlett and Gunnar to be “just a couple of exes,” or “Xs,” I guess, but I refuse to pander to their dumb spelling. He and Scarlett have a huge fight on the tour bus, in which he cannot contain his jealousy and neither can agree on who hurt the other the most. Scarlett hated that he took up with Zoey; Gunnar wasn’t keen on her refusing his proposal. Scarlett claims she did it because he was messed up with grief about his brother and she thought he needed to come back to her when he was out of the weeds, but instead, he nailed her bestie. They’re interrupted just as Gunnar is processing that Scarlett had still been in love with him and seems about to spill his heart to her, and so they go out on stage still not having resolved anything. Scarlett is dressed as Kendall Jenner at Coachella, and Gunnar wants to sing something from their twosome days that’s a ballad of deep yearning all about wanting the other person to stay longer. But when it’s over, Scarlett coldly tells him that “all I felt was the music.”
You could freeze water in there.
Rayna coached Juliette through Lamaze until Avery arrived, and their daughter was born without further incident. I kept waiting for Juliette to reveal that part of her breakdown was trying to navigate impending motherhood without her own mother alive, or whatever, but no. She’s calm after the birth, because Avery made it and declared that nobody in the world is more important to him than she is, and nothing calms a Juliette tantrum quite like a little worship. The episode ends with her and Avery singing a sweet lullaby to the baby while we see Rayna cuddling first with Deacon, then with her girls, and then Juliette turns to Avery and says, “I know what her name should be. It should be–“
And that’s it. They did a CLIFFHANGER on the baby name. Nothing screams “I have no idea how to end this episode” quite like cutting to black in the middle of a