Oh dear. Juliette wakes up the morning after not answering the Cadence-in-hospital call, and it looks as if she’s starting to realise what she’s got herself into. She stops taking the pills, although it’ll take most of the episode for her to get rid of that appalling idiot who’s latched onto her as friend/factotum; meantime, she tries reaching out to Avery and Emily, unsurprisingly without success.
Avery, toying with divorce all the while, will head out to the Luke/Juliette tour for a face-to-face. But there’s a little redemption to be had before we get to the climactic Julvery confrontation: Older Girl has joined the tour for an evening in order to hang with Cody, and Juliette – sensing that OG needs someone to talk to – sits down with her, offers some sage advice, then brings OG up on stage with her. And, actually, it’s a great moment: Juliette, whatever else can be said about her, is always good to OG; OG, for her part, manages to not annoy the bejesus out of me for the first time in a year or two; and, on stage, the two of them knock it out of the park. The baseball metaphor is apposite because, when OG leaves the stage vibrating with excitement, she and Cody hit the tour bus where, it’s strongly implied, the two of them take care of first, second, and third bases before hitting a home run of their own. Amusingly, Luke – anticipating Rayna’s wrath – and then Rayna are furious about the going-on-stage thing alone. (Luke gets line of the night: “Don’t go trying to play ‘cool mom’ with somebody else’s kid just because you’ve abandoned your own”.) Just wait until they find out about that.
And, actually, it’s another hell of a week for Avery, which makes me realise that I’ve come a very long way since thinking him, in season 1, to be a total jerk. (Which, in my defence, he was.) He’s supposed to be producing Markus, but while trying to deal with absent wife and sick child he’s not been paying quite enough attention. Ultimately Markus chastises him, in front of a studio full of musos, for talking on the phone “like a girl”, and fires him. I abhor violence, of course, but can’t help thinking that someone needs to punch some manners into Markus stat.
Mind you, the same could have been said of Deacon for a while now, and indeed for most of this episode. Poor Scarlett – who was, let’s not forget, the victim of parental abuse from her revolting mother – heads off to Natchez on her own to clear her mother’s house. Deacon eventually turns up, scowls, sulks, and just when I was about to throw something at the TV Scarlett finally tells him to shut up and take what he wants, then get out. They eventually reconcile – kind of – but Deacon has been such a horse’s ass for weeks that I’d like to think she won’t let him off easily.
Rayna, too, has been unnecessarily tolerant of Deacon and his horse’s-assery, but she’s still distracted by business. This week she sits down with Layla ostensibly to discuss the new album, but it’s mostly about Jeff. There’s a touching moment when, after Rayna’s laid Jeff’s flaws out – and it really can’t be argued with – Layla acknowledges much of it, but also makes the point that Jeff isn’t all bad: “He can be a total jerk. He’s too old for me. There are times when I really don’t like him. But he’s also really kind to me. And he challenges me and inspires me and no matter how many times I think about all the bad things, the truth is I love him. Even when my head tells me to stop, my heart just won’t let go”. Which is kind of what we’ve been saying about Jeff as well. Anyway, Rayna’s been around country music for long enough to know that Layla has, essentially, just written a song, and all it needs is a few minutes with a guitar to knock it into shape.
Back on the tour, Luke – trying to launch a lifestyle brand (?) with the help of Gabriella – is joined by Will, Kevin, and Gunnar. The first two are also acting as wingmen for Gunnar, who they (correctly) think needs to get laid. Gunnar will get nowhere with one of Juliette’s roadies, a hottie named Erin, right up to the point where Erin gets purged in Juli’s Year Zero. Then, all of a sudden, she’s up for it. Women, eh? Tch. But Will has to watch as Luke sings one of his songs on stage, and he realises that’s still the life he wants; just being a songwriter might be enough for Kevin, but it’s not enough for Will. And Jeff wants to be CEO for Luke’s Lifestyle plc, but Gabriella tells him he needs to be able to separate business and pleasure (which she will, later, successfully do by resisting Luke’s advances, although in such a way as to not quite close the door forever). Does that mean that Layla’s about to get dumped? Strangely, I kind of hope not.
It’s all leading, though, to the final scene, and Avery turning up with signed divorce papers to give to Juliette. You can hardly blame him; yes, postpartum depression, but Juli’s not really helped herself. One of the better episodes of the season, I’d say, although the pervading gloom is starting to get me down a bit. This is a show about country music, folks. How about some more big hats and sparkles?