One month later. There’s a half-hearted Deacon-is-dead fakeout; his side of Rayna’s bed is empty, and Rayna herself bravely concedes that she’s had to do some “letting go”. But it doesn’t even survive the credits, and the good news is that Deacon lives. Unfortunately, the appalling Beverly has also made it through; at any rate, she’s in a coma, which obliges everyone to pretend that they want her to regain consciousness. Which she eventually starts to do, to tears from Deacon, Scarlett, and Unpopcult.
Rayna can’t worry too much about that, though, although God knows she’ll have some dissembling to do if and when Beverly comes walking back into her life. Because just as she signs Juliette’s life over to Jeff, W******’ D*****’ Records, and some dude called Patrick (who seems to be covering for Jeff while the latter is torturing sinners in the Infernal Places, or whatever he does in his spare time), Juliette phones her, in a state of intoxication and tearful disarray from The Road.
Now Juliette, it should be said, is ostensibly having the time of her life: she’s on tour, promoting Cline! (which appears, unaccountably, to have been given a different name by its producers), about to release a new album, hanging out with vapid party girls, keeping Layla in her place, duetting with Steven Tyler, and forgetting about poor little Cadence and poor little Avery. So what up?
Well, when Rayna private-jets out to see her, Juliette denies all knowledge of the call, delivers a spicy put-down or two in re Highway 65, and chases Rayna out. “You break my heart, girl”, murmurs Rayna. “You really do”. And mine too, as it happens: as I said at the end of the last season, the fact that Hayden Panettiere – who’s been superb in this show for years now – was playing this part while actually coping with postpartum depression in real life just makes it all the more harrowing. (And, incidentally and impressively, Jeff manages to be the nastiest person in the whole episode despite not actually appearing this week.)
But it all leaves Rayna with a little food for thought; yes, Rayna, your vanity label has indeed been something of a disaster. On the bright side, though, you’ve still got The Girls. Who are now getting letters from (ex-?) Mayor Teddy, behind bars but still creating havoc. Older Girl – intolerable as ever – is throwing Teddy’s letters straight in the bin, to which Younger Girl takes (unexpectedly violent) exception. Deacon wades into their fight, still bruised by the whole Beverly/sibling rivalry thing, and tells them that each will be the best friend the other will ever have. Well, you can see why that might not come as great news to YG – imagine having OG as a lifelong BFF? – and she stomps off in a way which suggests that she, too, is going to be problematic this season. Ho hey.
And, unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if Gunnar and Scarlett are going to be my safe place. They’re meeting up to record their latest song, which is, of course, as molten and gorgeous as usual. But Gunnar starts off wanting to “talk about it” – the almost-kiss at the end of season 3 – when Scarlett very clearly doesn’t. Then when the two of them are rehearsing, with all the usual eye contact, they totally make out! At last, I thought; but then Scarlett is all, we can’t do this; and Gunnar is all, you want this; and I’m all, dude: you really don’t want to be telling her what she’s thinking. Thing is, I’ve been on Team #Gunnlett since like forever, and even I’m getting fed up with it. The only thing keeping me going now is that Scarlett’s doctor boyfriend is perhaps the dullest person in the world, and you can see that she knows it. She just about manages to stay awake for long enough to tell him that she loves him.
Underneath it all, though, I still maintain that Gunnar is a good guy. His scenes with Will are always among the best in any episode – they have a real chemistry – and there’s a lot of work to be done there, because Will’s having difficulty coming to terms with his sexuality being public. “Why’d you come out just so you can stay in?” wonders Gunnar; affectionately, it should be said. Fortunately, there’s about to be plenty of fun round at the Lexington/Scott household: Avery’s back from his parents, he’s moving in, and he’s brought Cadence with him! Wonder who’ll be the first one to leave Cadence on a bus (or whatever)? Anyway: a perfectly serviceable return for Nashville, although I spent quite a lot of time waiting for something consequential to happen.