It’s the first post-Jeff episode and, since the main action is all about his death and its effects on those who knew him, particularly Layla and Juliette, I think I’m going to get rid of the other storylines first, as a sort of supporting attraction. So: Deacon is intent on going ahead with his plan to become part-owner of a bar with his AA sponsor Frankie and rename it – oh God oh God oh God – The Beverly. As I’ve already heard much, much more about Beverly than I care to, and would be delighted if everyone on the show would shut the eff up about her and never mention her again, I propose instead to refer to the bar in the future using the name of a departed character I actually miss. So The Jeff it is. Rayna is, of course, sceptical but ultimately supportive, even if she must by now be privately thinking that while life with Mayor Teddy – who directs this week – might have had its, uh, challenges, he never pulled shit like this.
The Gunnar/Scarlett tour – already looking like a trainwreck and it hasn’t even started – needs a sound engineer. Fortunately, Gunnar’s sleeping with one: Erin, whose relationship with him is about as convincing as Scarlett’s with Dr Yoko. Gunnar is told by a couple of people to grow up, but he’s not going to, is he? And Scarlett’s had her extensions cut off. Meantime Avery is looking for somewhere to live, but eventually accepts an invitation to extend his stay chez Will, who is something of a good guy this week: as well as being a friend to Avery (who breaks down rather harrowingly), and singing a lullaby to Cadence (as predicted a few weeks ago by our friend Bill), he provides significant moral support to Layla, above and beyond the call of duty for an ex-spouse.
Which brings me back to the main story of the week: Jeff’s death. And it’s striking just how viciously Layla is treated, once again, almost as if the writers have a private bet with each other. Jeff’s sister turns up, makes it clear to Layla – who is, at this point, numb with grief – that she won’t be welcome at the funeral, then kicks her out of the hotel room she was sharing with Jeff. Juliette’s advice to her – “You can get over him by pretending the two of you never happened!” is so staggeringly insensitive that one of her assistants is unable to conceal her shock. “What?” wonders Juliette. “That was great advice!” And although Colt saw what happened to Jeff, he’s discouraged from telling Layla, even after Juliette’s sieve-like memory is jolted into remembering the events on the rooftop. This seems remarkably cruel, as it means that Layla has to carry on believing that a man she thought to be in love with her killed himself. Well done, everyone. Well done.
Not for the first time, though, the episode belongs to Hayden Panettiere. I have of course said this plenty of times before, but I don’t think I can say it often enough: she was playing this role while actually suffering from postpartum depression in real life. And so, when Juliette finally agrees to enter rehab at the end of the episode, it also marks the point at which Panettiere takes a leave of absence from Nashville. I do, though, think it’s more than time for this storyline to conclude and for us to have, perhaps, a little fun; this was another wrenching episode.