It’s New Year’s Eve, it’s the start of Nashville’s final run, and just about everyone seems a little out of sorts. Gunnar and Scarlett are officially Not A Couple, but don’t seem entirely happy about it. Presumably because they’re still actually in love with each other but don’t want to admit it, and since they’ve been BEHAVING LIKE IDIOTS and BREAKING MY HEART for five seasons now, I guess it would be unrealistic to expect anything different at this stage.
Gunnar, with a courageous hairstyle, and somewhat adrift without the other half of The Exes, almost falls apart on stage, but is rather sweetly rescued by Will, in a sequence which for all the world looked as if it was building to a big New Year’s kiss. Scarlett, meantime, is chaperoning Maddie, who’s been invited to play a concert with Jonah Ford.That’s JONAH! FORD! OMG! Daphne is SO. EXCITED. He’s like… a slightly nicer Justin Bieber who looks not unlike a young Gunnar, I suppose? Anyway, there’s mutual attraction between Maddie and Jonah, of course, even though he, annoyingly, has a “posse”, or whatever it’s called these days. Maddie’s song at the concert, incidentally, is the best of the night. A melancholy Scarlett toys with phoning Gunnar, but doesn’t. As I say, idiots.
Deacon seems to have reached some sort of détente with Zach, who has moved on from Will, to the latter’s chagrin, and is encouraging Deacon to get back out there and live his post-Rayna life. He’s not the only one doing so either, and since Kaitlyn Doubleday’s name appears in the credits I assume that what everyone actually means is that Deacon should be endeavouring to hit it with Jessie. Deacon, though, is quite happy to stay at home and read his book. I feel ya, Deac.
The main storyline of the night, though, belongs to Juliette. At the start, she’s back in diva mode, and running through her usual checklist of appalling behaviour in the run-up to the start of her first tour in two years; St Avery, as ever, looking on patiently, although unless I imagined it I detected just the slightest hint that he’s finally growing wearily of her shtick.
All, then, is normal on Planet Juliette. But when she takes to the Bridgestone Arena stage, one or two audience members hold up placards calling her out for stealing a song from Maddie. And, despite the fact that it’s an otherwise full house which is all on Team Juliette, she mumbles something about how people wouldn’t love her if they knew her, and walks off. (What that says for Avery’s more or less unconditional love for her is clearly something she hasn’t thought about.) She and Avery then decide to have a getting-away-from-it-all trip, but she’s unable to sleep; finding herself in a hotel lounge at 2am, she has a curious encounter with a mysterious, yet irritatingly smug, stranger who describes himself as “someone on (your) journey”.
Unfortunately, that’s not the last we will see of Smug Stranger; not by a long way. Juliette is later watching TV when he turns up, now identified as Darius Enright, standing outside his Church of Coherent Philosophy and talking the sort of nonsense that sounds profound but isn’t, apart from a reference to how everyone has a Secret Pain, which is certainly something Unpopcult has learned over many years of watching TV.
Darius then contacts Juliette through Glenn and they have a meeting, at which he spouts more woo – the “fake power of celebrity” is “diminishing (your) authentic power within”; “you have to give up control in order to get control”; that sort of thing. Juliette, lacking in confidence and suffering from depression, laps it all up, even as Darius maintains that he isn’t running a cult. This is stupid, but also good: I kind of feel that Nashville at any given time always has at least one story arc that annoys me beyond measure, and this season it’s going to belong to Darius and his not-a-cult. I wonder if he’s going to want, I don’t know, some money from her? Anyway, this wasn’t the best Nashville by any means, but I’m delighted it’s back.