Juliette is pacing up and down in front of Glenn, trying to persuade him that she still has a limp. Glenn – much more relaxed these days, presumably because having walked out once he can do it again – reminds her that she’s lucky to be alive at all, and anyway she’s doing great. “I don’t wanna hear about how great I’m doing”, snaps Juliette. “I wanna hear about how great I am”. Then she demands that Glenn goes out and finds her a hit song so that she can relaunch her career. “She’s ba-ack…”, observes Glenn, more or less fondly.
But she isn’t: her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live gets pulled, and there’s a lot of competition out there for hit songs. Disaster, particularly for a woman in showbiz: “Our comebacks don’t come until we’re too old to care”. Then she meets an old songwriting friend, Travis, who has a surefire hit… which he wants her to pass on to Maddie. Ruh-roh.
Maddie, meantime, is starring in this week’s episode of #wokeNashville: she’s out driving with Clay when they get pulled over by the police for no particularly good reason, save Clay’s race. Clay’s behaviour is by-the-book co-operative and careful, giving step-by-step explanations to the officer of what he’s about to do: reach into his pocket, open the glove compartment, that sort of thing, because he doesn’t actually want to be shot. Maddie doesn’t quite get this, and – kinda understandably – kicks up a fuss.
They both get arrested, but the whole thing is filmed by a passer-by, and makes its way onto social media, where Maddie gets a bit of a hard time, which Deacon wisely tells her to ignore. He’s still doing his best impersonation of a record company exec – glasses on, sitting at a desk – but an opportunity arises to perform in a songwriters’ circle at The Bluebird and he takes it, because that’s much more his thing. There he meets up with an old friend, Jessie Caine, and even though it’s way too soon I’d say we’re going to have to contemplate Jessie as the rebound girl in a few weeks. It’s all quite sensitively handled, mind you, in particular the part where Bucky channels Rayna to tell Deacon to get the hell on with living his life.
The Scarlett/Damien/Gunnar “love” triangle, on the other hand, is now essentially unwatchable. Damien is now all puppyish enthusiasm about the baby (“Rupert”, as he’s already calling it, after more or less putting the poor little thing’s name down for Eton), and shows Scarlett round a mansion he’s going to buy so they can play happy families. Damien thinks Scarlett should move in with him. And I agree, because it might stop Gunnar tolerating this shitshow for a moment longer, although there are signs that his patience is beginning to crack. Anyway Scarlett kisses Damien a few times then tells him that she can’t see him any more and goes home to Gunnar, who – entirely reasonably – excuses himself because he doesn’t want to see her crying over another man.
And it’s not the only breakup this week: Clay tells Maddie that they live in different worlds and they should take a break. On top of that Maddie has an additional reason to be grief-stricken, of which she’s not yet aware: Juliette has expropriated the song Travis meant for Maddie, and is going to record it herself. Not that it matters, though, because as it happens Maddie is turning her pain into gold and casually knocking out a terrific song called “Beautiful Dream” which is not only miles better than the anodyne pop track Travis has earmarked for her, it’s comfortably the best original song of the season so far. (Written in real life by Ben Caver and Erin McCarley; take a bow, folks.) In fact, this was the best all-round episode for weeks, with some excellent, crunchy one-liners: I see that it was written by showrunner Callie Khouri herself.