After her performance at the CMTs, everyone wants a piece of Maddie. Scarlett – very much mother hen to the Jaymes/Claybourne family unit this week, which will become particularly significant by the end of the episode – keeps the entire entertainment industry at bay, reasoning that Maddie needs to be protected. Well, says Juliette, Maddie’s having a “moment”, so I assume her manager is handling this wave of interest? Blank looks all round. In that case, she continues, Imma take Maddie to New York City. But relax, everyone; I’ll take care of her as if she were my own. Which should be the very opposite of reassuring for anyone who remembers how she handled Cadence. But no-one – least of all Deacon – feels like arguing, so off they go.
Deacon himself, meantime, is deploying those big puppydog eyes of his, and looking through old Rayna material: a DVD from the 90s, her diaries, that fly-on-the-wall documentary from earlier in the season. But that isn’t going to run a business, and Zach is getting twitchy: Highway 65 is in the red as a result of its acquisition of W******’ D*****’; its best asset is the unfinished Rayna/Deacon album; so when can it be released? When it’s ready, says Deacon, which will be never. This isn’t good. Bucky is aware that if Zach pulls his money out Highway 65 is dead – which might be no bad thing for the show, incidentally – so something needs to be done. But as everyone argues about the best way of strong-arming Deacon, Avery overhears and steps in: “This man just lost the love of his life… we need to be there for him, not ask things of him”. Which is also a fair point.
Back in New York City, Maddie appears on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah then, with increasing confidence, on Harry Connick, Jr.,’s daytime show. But she mis-speaks, says something which could be interpreted as meaning that the death of her mother was to be welcomed, pulls out of further promotional duties, and heads back home. Juliette is “disappointed” in her “lack of professionalism” – don’t ever forget to do your homework, Cadence – but wants to manage Maddie anyway. Which means another step forward in the show’s change of generation, with Juli as the wise older head mentoring Maddie. I wonder whether this is wise, for Nashville and for Maddie.
Not that it matters too much for now, because Rayna, frankly, is appearing as much in the show as she ever did when alive. And a settlement is brokered between Zach and Deacon when the Nashville extended family piles in to provide guest vocals on the unfinished album, although this still feels to me like little more than a pause before Zach asserts full control of the estate of Rayna, H65, W’D’, The Girls, and everything else he can get his hands on.
We finish with Gunnar and Scarlett about to head out on tour, but not before Scarlett reveals that she’s pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. It’s not a bad episode, but I still feel as if the show is reluctant to cut the cord attaching it to Rayna. Sooner or later it’s going to have to do so, though, and it might happen in the next episode, which in America was screened after a midseason hiatus. In the UK, though, we’re just going straight on without a break.