Not for the first time this season, the best – most interesting, most thought-provoking, sweetest – storyline goes to Older Girl, so I don’t know what the hell’s going on there. I’m even going to refer to her as Maddie this week. Call it a promotion. She’s totally into street musician Clay, who seems to be what parents like me would call a “nice boy”. However, Clay decorously refuses even to make out with her, which at first he claims is because she’s underage, but which will turn out also to be connected to her unacknowledged #privilege, and him being bipolar. Which is, y’know, quite a lot with which to deal.
After he’s been beaten up by a couple of racist douches, Clay testily wonders whether Maddie wants him just to wander up to her parents’ front door all, hey there, I’m the broke, older, bipolar African American dude who’s dating your daughter? “Yes”, Maddie replies, “that’s exactly what I want. Because you’re brilliant, and I care so much about you”. The show even gives us a lovely scene with Maddie and Juliette – who tends to be at her best in these situations – as Maddie asks for advice on what to do. Meh, says Juliette, “screwed-up men are sexy. Don’t ask me why. Until they’re not”. (I have no comment to make.) But then Clay does what Maddie hoped he would: he turns up at her house and introduces himself to her parents. I can’t imagine that Rayna and Deacon will be overjoyed once they realise that Clay is a homeless street musician, but for now it’s all quite touching.
I’m not sure quite to make of the Gunnar and Scarlett storyline this week, which may be a good thing. They’re filming a video with Zach’s man, Mr Big Shot Director, who has a Big Shot Concept that Scarlett just isn’t buying into; and, on the evidence of what we see, she probably has a point. This isn’t good enough for Mr BSD, though, who treats her appallingly – maybe in the hope of dragging out of her the performance he thinks her capable of, but he dresses it up with bullshit about how Scarlett needs to “embrace (her) sexuality on (her) terms”, which no she doesn’t, and shut up. At the end of filming, he justifies his behaviour by telling her to watch the video, which we haven’t yet seen; and, I must admit, I am actually keen to see it.
My suspicion, mind you, is that this is just being used as another method of driving a wedge between Gunnar and Scarlett; a suspicion which is heightened by the way in which their past relationship is caricatured. No, folks, Gunnar wasn’t screwing around with half of Nashville (or whatever it was); he and Scarlett had split up and he was dating other women, as he was entitled to do, and if Scarlett didn’t want to see him with other women she shouldn’t have broken up with him. We’re not even in we-were-on-a-break territory here, and turning this into Gunnar’s fault – and something for which he and only he needs to be forgiven? – assumes that we’ve forgotten about Dr Yoko, for one.
Meantime, Randall is sacked for being a creep, but not a stalker. The real stalker turns up at Highway 65 later. I don’t think we’ve seen him before. Presumably we’ll see more of him next week. I can’t wait. I thought this was an excellent episode.