I had a big problem with this episode, because I’m kind of over Juliette and her Bolivian adventures. One could argue that the character – and, perhaps, the actor – have been ill-served by the writers; one could speculate about why that is the case. But what’s left is an arc which is both stupid and boring.
So let’s deal with everything else first. Fleetwood Nash are still mired in turmoil, with Gunnar and Avery arguing furiously about Alannah, because – who would have thought it? – when Gunnar said that he was OK with Avery’s romantic interest in Alannah he wasn’t being entirely truthful. Has Avery never met Gunnar before? “I just feel like I’ve caused nothing but trouble”, muses Alannah. Well, yes. Will adroitly runs a couple of diplomatic missions with a view to getting the band back together, or even in the same room, and he’s kind of successful. But meantime Alannah is off having signing talks with Brad, which – as Jessie tries to warn her – is really just a raised middle finger to the entire human race.
Then something… odd happens: Alannah, who has previously come across as someone who is reasonably comfortable in her own skin, suddenly has a meltdown, wondering why she’s always so hard on herself. I hadn’t seen any evidence of this, so it’s possible she’s being manipulative, I suppose. Either way St Avery is on hand to reassure her, prompting the thought in one viewer at least that what Avery could really, really do without is another high-maintenance love interest. Why can’t he just be allowed to have a little fun?
On the subject of love interests, Maddie calls Twig over in order to play him a half-written song… about Jonah. I’m aware that there has been some controversy about the concept of the “friendzone”, as it seems to be used by some to imply male entitlement. Since I think it fair to say that Twig doesn’t strike me as the entitled sort, I’m going to say that when your crush plays you a love song meant for someone else you’ve been friendzoned. Twig is good enough to do a bit of production work on the song, turning it into a bit of a banger, and he and OG are bonding about that when Jonah walks in. Oh dear. Twig risks an attempt at a kiss later, but he decorously backs off when Maddie makes it clear that she’s not interested, and their friendship is sort of preserved.
To Jonestown, Bolivia then (oh God), where Juliette is NOT. HAPPY. with the treatment of one of the “volunteers”. Wait, she thinks, until Darius finds out! Meantime, though, she tells a couple of his brainwashed surrogates that she wants to leave, and their response is to lock her up, which they present as entirely reasonable given her previous issues: issues which she herself has conceded have been addressed by the Church of Darius. But, but… says Juliette, you’re imprisoning me against my will! Meh, whatevs, say the disciples.
The whole thing takes a turn for the worse – the much worse – when Juliette discovers, courtesy of a test smuggled in by Disciple Rosa, that she’s pregnant. Rosa, whose son is being held captive by the cult, offers to help Juliette escape, and Juliette in turn promises that if she’s successful she’ll ensure that someone comes back to help Rosa get her son back. At the end it looks as if Juli has managed to break out – unless that apparently helpful Bolivian van driver is another of Darius’s people in country – which presumably means that next week a pregnant and irate Juliette is going to hit Nashville. The outcome of that will go a long way to determining whether the final few episodes of this show are going to be a pleasure or an endurance test. (Our reviews are now going on hiatus for a couple of weeks; but we’re nothing if not completists on Unpopcult, so we’ll catch up shortly.)