Ladies and gentlemen, Nashville‘s Beverly O’Connor — bless her heart — has left the building.
Yes, the aneurysm that closed out the last episode left Scarlett’s abusive mama/Deacon’s spiteful sister/Rayna’s jealous hater hitching a ride on the gleaming Greyhound to the great beyond. Only problem is, in the same way Bev never knew how to exit an argument gracefully, her brain-dead body hasn’t gotten the memo — creating drama, strife and freefloating sadness for her daughter and brother (and those who love them).
Which leads me directly to some real talk for Rayna’s man: Deacon Edward* Claybourne, don’t you dare use this tragic life event as a reason to push Rayna awayna. Cry it out, journal your feelings, punch a pillow and use your words — but do not shut Big Red out of your emotional turmoil. Ray’s shoulders are slim but strong; lean on them as needed.
Now that we’ve got that straight, and because Juliette’s situation isn’t getting any better the longer it sits, let’s recap what happens in the tear-soaked “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye?”.
*Not his real middle name… at least, I don’t think it is…
GOODBYE, BEV | There are a bunch of characters worth pity in this episode, chief among them Beverly’s poor doctor who tries to convince Deacon and Scarlett that she’s not going to wake up. Man, that guy is patient! He suggests that what appears to be a spontaneous inhalation on Beverly’s part is just a reflex, but Deke isn’t hearing it and Scarlett literally runs out of the room and into Hot Doc’s arms as she — aka the one with her mom’s medical power of attorney — tries to figure out how to proceed.
When nothing else works, Scar heads to the hospital chapel, where Gunnar finds her forlornly sitting at the piano, literally singing a sad song. She runs to him and sobs; he tries to find a place to pat on her back that’s not covered by storybook-long blonde hair. (Seriously: Someone get me whatever vitamins Clare Bowen sucks down every morning.)
Eventually, Scarlett takes her uncle aside and tells him she’s decided to have her mother disconnected from the machines keeping her alive. Deacon loses it — and, judging by the way Charles Esten is pretty much real-crying instead of primetime-soap-crying here, I’m guessing this was a tough scene to get through. Scar asks her uncle to be there at noon the next day to say goodbye to his sister, and though Rayna tries to convince him to put aside his objections and make some peace, he chooses to go to Bev’s room at his place and weep on her bed. (Side note: Has anyone checked on Esten lately? Because that level of laid-low looks like it hurt.)
I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ‘BOUT MY BAD REPUTATION | During some downtime on a tour stop in Indiana, Juliette latches onto Luke. First they take a few laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but pretty soon they end up at a bar that Ju fills with her fans (thanks, Twitter!). And of course there’s a live band, so she gets up and performs Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” with abandon, then joins the crowd in urging Luke to take a verse. He’s all, “No, I couldn’t possibly, no no really” and then all of a sudden, he’s got one foot up on the monitor and Rent’s Roger is in the house!
It’s all fun and crowd-surfing until the joint gets too crowded for safety, and Luke has to remove Juliette from the premises in a gear case. Or, as she puts it, “You had to sneak me out in a box?” Count your blessings, honey: We know as well as you do that the moment you woke up in Luke’s hotel room and saw his stupid trucker hat on the nightstand, you feared that you’d been wheeled and dealed by the man himself. (I mean, given your nearly uniformly terrible choices when it comes to older men — well, men in general — I can’t blame you.) But no, Luke just knows a hot mess when he does a few laps around a major racetrack with it, and he offers up the sad story of his first marriage as a cautionary tale.
A LINE CROSSED | As fun as it is to watch Will and Gunnar juggle a cranky Cadence while Avery rails at Juliette’s stonewalling tour manager, there’s no denying that the Barnes-Barkley union is fraying faster than a cloth diaper snagged on a washing machine agitator. So when Avery stashes Cadence with Emily — who’s inexplicably still on Juliette’s payroll — we know he’s going to see his lawyer for divorce papers. All Avery wants is full custody of the ridiculously cute little bub; but later, when he’s listening to the lullaby he and JuJu recorded in the hospital after their daughter was born, he’s unable to go through with signing the papers… for now.
TEDDY’S READY TO TELL THE TRUTH | After Daphne gets suspended for fighting at school (defending her dad’s alleged honor), Rayna decides it’s time for Maddie and her sister to see their pop for the first time since he was thrown behind bars. The visit is tough to watch; the return, when Rayna and the girls make nice with Teddy and he cries as he tells them that he’s going to plead guilty because “actions have consequences” is even harder to get through. It is around this point in the hour that I wonder whether Nashville writer Debra Fordham (who penned the episode) is legitimately trying to kill us via ocular dehydration.
“WILL LEXINGTON: GAY COWBOY” | Look at the subhead at the beginning of this line; I would watch the hell outta that show, wouldn’t you? (Are you listening, spinoff gods?) Anyway, Will is angry because Kevin’s gay songwriter friends want him to use his newfound gayness for good instead of hermitty seclusion, but he just wants to pump the brakes a bit (not a euphemism) and love Kevin. “Can that be enough for now?” he asks, and Kevin is touched and kisses him yes.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!