In “Nashville,” even decisions made in torment come at a price, and dream nights can have dreadful downfalls. This week’s October 21 fifth episode of Season 4, “Stop the World (And Let Me Off),” has something for every fan– plenty of good music, of course, melodrama, and making amends, even if the effort comes a little late. The good times rolled, and the bills will come due.
A dose of daylight, and an attack of reality is sinking in for Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) who is now frantically trying to connect with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) at home. Scarlett and Deacon (Clare Bowen and Charles Esten) make the trek to Natchez to sort through Beverly’s belongings, and the mental and physical journey almost brings them each to break down. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) joins a road trip taken by Will (Chris Carmack) and Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey) to see Luke (Will Chase) perform their song on tour. Avery and Markus (Riley Smith) say they’re ready to connect and make music for the new album, but that dream fizzles soon as they face off with entirely different sounds and visions. Rayna is all praise for Layla’s performance, but not for her choice of heavy relationship with Jeff (Oliver Hudson), speaking from a rich history of discovering who he is, but she’s open enough to hear about love, and smart enough to know how it makes the best song material. Scarlett is haunted by memories as she and Deacon sort through Beverly’s past. Maddie (Lennon Stella) has joined Colt (Keann Johnson) and Luke on the bus for the tour, but she’s not too comfortable being all alone with her beau. Arriving at the venue, Maddie is quite apparently relieved to see Juliette, who embraces her, and senses her unease. She admonishes her young admirer, “Don’t wish your family away,” very wisely. Gunnar feels ready to strike out and play the field to find another girl, but all he does is strike out. Will and Kevin try to intercede. A call from the lawyer spells out that full custody will mean $1.5 million, and getting very ugly for Avery.
Maddie tells Juliette that she often asks herself, “What would Juliette do?” in moments of fear or uncertainty. Juliette feels obliged to show her what always does the trick to lift her mood, which happens to be being on stage. She calls Maddie up, and the two sing the trademark song, “Telescope,” to raves from the audience, and leaving Maddie never feeling more fulfilled or grown up, never mind that she’s not. While Colt looks on with admiration, dad, Luke, is livid that Rayna will see her oldest daughter doing the star trip up on stage. He calls Juliette on it, but she only pushes back with where he was instead of disciplining his kids, and says that she only wanted to make Maddie feel better. He warns her not to “play cool mom” with someone else’s kid when she cannot even be in the life of her own. This week’s “Nashville” dialogue cut like fencing swords! Layla (Aubrey Peeples) and Rayna (Connie Britton) use the truth and the heart ache of living with Jeff to create a magical song– Rayna finding the words just in Layla’s true sharing. It’s going to be a monster ballad. Deacon tails Scarlett to a bar, where she protests, insisting that she’s not the drunk, and they trade barbs through the night. Luke is on fire onstage, singing the song created by Will and Kevin, still, Will can’t move past the fact that he let Luke steal one of his songs. Markus and Avery can come to a creative or sonic match, so Avery stumbles home, fuming. Gunnar tells Juliette why her husband is so angry, expecting her to understand, when she hardly remembers. “Selfish” is the word that Scarlett uses as a descriptor for Deacon, and it goes down hard. Juliette lays into her friend Laci, and then her room full of staff to do her bidding, including Jeff. “Those Eyes” turns out to be a tender, beautiful tune, really something special for Rayna and the spilling, artistic lady. Colt and Maddie have their own magical connection on Luke’s bus, but Luke never makes the connection.
Jeff calls home to make up and tries to make up with Layla, inviting her out to join him the next day. Sadly, he’s also putting moves on Gabriella (Cynthia McWilliams), personally and professionally wanting to impress, or in her words, “prove it.” Rayna tries to rein in Maddie, picking her up.
In the final scene, Avery tells Juliette that the time has gone for making a family. He demands that she sign papers terminating her parental rights, and that he wants full custody. She has 24 hours to make her life’s most meaningful and important decision.
Next week, Juliette’s struggle becomes a little more public, and continued kudos to Hayden Panettiere for facing her personal struggle bravely. Brighter futures ahead!