Need to catch up? Check out the previous Nashville recap here.
The Nashville Personality Refinement Program continues its very welcome work in this week’s episode. The latest graduate: Luke “Watch Out, Cake!” Wheeler.
Rayna’s former fiancé shows up in connection with yet another major business opportunity for which Zach so conveniently has the cash and interest. And while, yes, buying Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records and absorbing its artists and catalogue might be a good idea for the fledgling Highway 65, is climbing deeper and deeper into the very deep pockets of a very weird man really a good idea?
Elsewhere in the hour, Rayna and Deacon get a better security system and Juliette gets religion. Read on for the highlights of “A Little Bit Stronger.”
OOPS | An understandably unsettled Rayna and Deacon boost their home security, all the better to keep the guy with the letters — whose name is Carl Hockney, and who is the same guy who wanted a photo with Ray a few episodes back — away. They’ve got a restraining order, too; between the two measures, one of the burly security team dudes promises, “This man will not get to you.”
However, the guy probably should’ve added, “But he might get to Daphne.” Because that’s exactly what happens while Rayna’s younger daughter is on her school’s grounds, ‘tween-flirting with a classmate named Flynn. Hockney is hauled away for violating the restraining order. Rayna and Deacon are shaken. But Daphne’s like, “Teen crush trumps all! Daph out!” and goes back to class like nothing happened.
IT’S GETTING BETTER | Juliette’s physical therapy is clearly working, as evidenced by an in-home session with Allyson. Juliette’s overall mood is so much lighter and happier than we’ve seen in a while, and it’s a welcome change. She even giggles a little! Ju has made so much progress, in fact, that she ditches the wheelchair for crutches, an improvement Hallie notices when she comes over for a meal with the Barnes-Barkley family.
We learn that Hallie is a social worker whose clients are “families in crisis.” Juliette wonders why the other woman hasn’t attempted a recording career, given her golden pipes. But Hallie says she’s using her gift her own way, and invites Ju down to the community center later that week to see what she means. She also mentions Juliette coming to church. “I just don’t want to be a distraction,” Ju demurs. (And somewhere, Juliette’s former mother-in-law sniffs, “Sure, now she doesn’t want to be a distraction in church?!”) (Side note: The shot of Cadence in this scene is totally gratuitous, but I LOVE IT.)
GETTIN’ THE SPIRIT | So Juliette goes to Hallie’s church while Avery is playing his first gig in a while, and they both get something out of their respective experiences. Avery gets an offer from an agent, which appears to intrigue him. And Juliette just kinda feels better about life, breaking into a grin as she wholeheartedly joins in with “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” near the end of the service. (Side note: Ju,I don’t want to harsh your God buzz, but if you didn’t want to be a distraction, you could’ve shown up on time and sat near the back rather than walking down the entire aisle. Just sayin’.)
After Juliette catches a rousing community-center performance for kids by Hallie’s group, the Nashville Chocolate Drops — a play on the real-life Carolina Chocolate Drops, which are fronted by Hallie’s portrayer, Rhiannon Giddens— she and Rayna have a cup of coffee. Wait a minute… are these two hanging out on the regular now? And if so, why is the whole hour not just them sipping, gossiping and being the girlfriends I want them to be?
Anyway, Rayna floats the idea of Highway 65 buying Wheelin’ Dealin’, which would mean that Juliette would be a H65 artist once more. After they deal with the fact that Rayna’s no longer mad about Juliette’s massively public defection from the label not all that long ago, Juliette says she’s interested… and that she wants to make an album of gospel music and spirituals. You — and Juliette — can tell Rayna’s not jazzed about that, but Ju seems so happy and at peace with the world that even Big Red doesn’t put up much resistance.
At home, Emily comes into the room with a grave face and a tablet in her hands: The tabloids are making fun of Juliette for going to church. Em is all, “I think you should see this.” Honey, there have been SO MANY WORSE stories about your boss in those rags. Breathe a minute.
Naturally, the next time Juliette attends services, the paparazzi are waiting for her. But she just makes her way into the church with Avery at her side, sits down and feels good about herself for once. Hallelujah!
HEARTBREAK IN HINDSIGHT | So now all that’s left for Rayna and Zach is to actually, um, ask Luke if he’s selling his record label and whether he’d consider selling to them. Evidence that this show has broken me this season: When the Highway 65 bosses catch up to Luke on tour, I really like “Wide Open,” the song he’s singing on stage. (And Will Chase is, as usual, pretty rad.)
After the show, Luke admits that his heart isn’t in Wheelin’ Dealin’ since the whole IRS kerfuffle. Then he acknowledges that Rayna was right to call off their wedding, because they wouldn’t have been happy in the long run. “Now say that you’re sorry for all of your stupid big-game themed dressing-room décor!” I shout at my television, but to no avail. Ah well, two outta three ain’t bad. Luke adds that he trusts Rayna, and that he’d be happy to sell her his company.
While all of that is happening, Zach wanders backstage and winds up in Will’s dressing room, where the tech geek seems very into watching Mr. Lexington change his sweaty shirt. To be honest, dude has an 86-pack going on under there, and I’m pretty sure a human of any sexuality would have at least a passing curiosity about the sheer beauty of such a thing. But yes, given that awkward conversation at last week’s video shoot and this scene, it appears that Zach is kinda into the cowboy. But why does he have to be so creepy about it?
BUT WHERE’S TINO? | Maddie and Clay grow closer, but he pushes her away every once in a while, saying she’s scared of him and his situation. She vows that she’s not. Deacon and Rayna aren’t thrilled that he’s 24 and dating their 17-year-old daughter, but when Mads tries to accuse them of being racist, that nonsense gets shut down right quick. “Are you kiddin’ me right now?” Rayna says, her tone the verbal equivalent of taking off one’s earrings, and then delivers a great monologue about how times have changed in terms of loving who you want to love, but a 24-year-old with a 17-year-old is still kinda worrisome.
Later, with Deacon, Maddie delivers some lines that could’ve come right out of Angela Chase’s mouth. “People are like worlds, like whole worlds inside,” she says, lamenting that “I honestly don’t know what to say to [Clay] right now.” And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go call my mom and apologize for being exactly this dramatic about ridiculously unimportant things from ages 12-20.
The point seems moot when Clay breaks up with Maddie via voicemail, but Mad isn’t having it. She tracks him down where he’s performing and reiterates that she wants to get to know the real him, and she wants him to know the real her. He kisses her. Looks like they’re back on!
CHANGE OF ART | You’re dying to know how The Exes video came out, aren’t you? When Scarlett watches a rough cut with Damien, she’s suddenly crying and talking like Jodie Foster lamenting that her space program hadn’t sent a poet up in the orb in Contact. “So… beautiful…,” that kind of thing. “I’m not sure I know what’s happening,” Damien says, and I’m glad he says it before I do. Turns out, Scarlett feels like the verbally abusive director captured Scar’s true essence on film, and she’s shocked. “You showed me what I look like in my own mind,” she says reverently. Blech. I know what they’re going for here, but I wish that she’d seen the footage, thought it looked good but NOT let him off the hook for being such a mean-spirited jerkface to her throughout the shoot.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!