All of those Juliette-on-the-ledge Nashville promos ABC threw at us weren’t kidding: This week’s episode was fatal… just not for the rock-bottom-hitting Ms. Barnes.
Nope, Jeff Fordham was the hour’s casualty, falling from the roof of a hotel in the process of saving a drunk and drugged Juliette from committing suicide.
It’s been a while since the ABC drama surprised me; I think maybe the last time was when Rayna showed up on Deacon’s doorstop to declare her love in Season 1. But Jeff’s death — though it makes sense, given Oliver Hudson’s Scream Queens gig — took me unawares and set up an interesting situation for Juliette moving forward in the season.
Will the tragedy (and the investigation into it) sober Juliette to a place where she realizes she needs help? Or will it push her farther down her ever-steeper spiral and create even more distance between her and Avery?
I truly don’t know. But I’m looking forward to finding out. Read on as we review what befell everyone (too soon?) in “Please Help Me I’m Fallin’.”
JU’S DARKEST HOUR | Fresh off a crying jag as she realizes that Avery is really done with her, Juliette contacts his lawyer and agrees to all terms — which, as you’ll recall, involves relinquishing all rights to Cadence. She arrives in the Atlanta hotel lobby with her hood pulled up and her big shades on, giving off waves of “Don’t eff with me” that ricochet around the room. Too bad a fan doesn’t pick up on Ju’s vibe; when the woman tries to take a selfie with her, Juliette knocks her to the ground and straddles her torso, clawing at her like a hungry walker until Jeff pulls her off and hauls her up to her room.
After brokering a small quid pro quo — if Jeff can make the public-relations disaster go away, Gabriela will recommend for the CEO gig at Luke’s company — Jeff goes after Juliette with some real talk. But he’s as mean as he is truthful, and the fact that she drunkenly throws herself at him and scratches his neck as he pushes her away makes the scene even harder to watch. “No wonder Avery left you,” the Smirky Turtle says, his voice dripping with disgust as she snivels on the couch. “What a waste.”
Meanwhile, back at home, Avery sees a news story about Juliette’s attack and wonders if he should contact her. Will and Gunnar advise him not to, and SHUT UP, GUYS.
IT’S BEEN HANDLED | So Jeff pays off the fan to hold a press conference saying she’d provoked Juliette’s violent outburst, and Luke is so impressed that he takes Gab’s advice and hires Jeff to start his “lifestyle brand.” (Side note: What the heck does that mean, exactly? Is Luke trying to be the next Gwyneth? Is he putting together a GOOP-like newsletter? And if so, may I humbly pitch a few ideas? “The 12 Private Jet Hacks You Must Try,” “The Best Cake Recipes for Ramming With a Pickup Truck — Two are Gluten-Free!” and “Goatee Steaming for the Novice.”)
Layla is happy for her man. Though the new gig means losing Jeff as her manager, it also means he’ll be able to move her into his place when they get back to Nashville. And damn it if the pair of them aren’t cute about the whole thing. (Though she also notices the wounds on his neck, and knows Juliette gave them to him, which I’m sure will be important in the future.)
LATER, SMIRKY TURTLE | After Layla leaves Luke’s rooftop party, Jeff catches sight of Juliette wobbling her way to the edge with a vodka bottle in her fist. He has no idea she’s taken every single pill in her possession — both by swallowing and snorting — and has nearly pickled herself with all the alcohol she can find.
(Meanwhile, back in Nashville, Avery receives Juliette’s text — “I’m sorry” — and taking Glenn’s heartbreaking advice from earlier in the episode, deletes her number from his phone. Sob.)
When Jeff’s verbal attempt to stop his client from swan diving into an Atlanta sidewalk don’t work, he makes a move to grab her and pull her away from the edge. But there’s a slight tussle, and as she falls backward onto the roof… he topples over the edge and falls to his death.
And Colt, Luke’s son, sees the whole thing from his balcony.
TERRIBLE TEENS | Let’s move on to the episode’s other bit of unpleasantness: Maddie. She’s still grounded after taking the stage with Juliette in the previous episode, and Rayna decides to confiscate the teen’s phone so she can’t call or text Colt. The kids’ last conversation goes something like this (and reinforces my bad feeling from last week): HIM: “She doesn’t know, does she?” HER: “Know what? That I love you?” Hmm…
But Rayna apparently thinks it’s totally within the bounds of Maddie’s grounding to bring her (and Daphne) to a rehearsal with an increasingly needy and bossy Markus Keen. After declaring that Rayna should be his producer — and then just as promptly deciding that she doesn’t understand what he wants for his new sound — Markus is thisclose to leaving Highway 65. But then Rayna has Maddie sing her stripped-down version of his song (Daphne declines, citing some residual mean-girl mojo left over from the talent show), and Markus acts like the teen changed his damn life with her (admittedly beautiful) voice. “Girl, you unlocked it,” Markus says. (Side note: Ugh.) “Can we go home now?” Daphne says, unimpressed. Oh D, I feel you.
VAYA CON DIOS, BEV | In Natches, Deacon and Scarlett attend a memorial service at the lounge where Beverly sang each Sunday night. The event provides closure for both; as Scarlett sings a tune her mom performed to close each show, Deke imagines his sister singing it. The whole thing is shot really nicely, by the way, giving Dana Wheeler-Nicholson a goodbye that isn’t all ghosty and shifty. On the ride home, Deacon calls his sponsor, Frank, and tells him he wants to buy into the bar Frank owns. Oh, and he wants to rename it The Beverly.
ROOMMATE DRAMA | Will and Kevin break up after Will has an awkward moment with a male fan and uses it as a reason he should’ve never come out in the first place… Gunnar and guitar-tech Erin have bra-on sex — seen only on TV! — but she wants very little to do with him until it’s time for her to crash again for the night. “What is this?” he asks a little sheepishly as she heads for his bedroom. “Fun,” she says, at the exact same time I say, “Free lodging.”
Now it’s your turn. Are you sad or glad to see Jeff go? Sound off in the comments!