This week’s October 14 “Nashville” offering, the fourth episode of the current Season 4, “The Slender Threads that Bind Us Here,” captures every emotion that funerals can stir– the pain, the anger, the regret, the “should haves,” and the staggering reality that time runs out all too quickly. The family circle draws close in supporting Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Deacon (Charles Esten) in the loss of Beverly, and even Scarlett’s closest friend, Zoey (Chaley Rose) returns to pay respects, and learns a truth for herself. The show must go on for Rayna (Connie Britton), Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), and the new star on Highway 65, Markus Keen (Riley Smith), while those around them suffer. Carrying on can take a terrible toll.
Much credit and respect is due to Hayden Panettiere, who not only courageously put forth her personal struggle into her character’s storyline, but who selflessly made the admission of needing greater help in her battle with postpartum depression, and voluntarily went into treatment. Only better things can come from that brave decision. Unfortunately, Juliette Barnes has not yet arrived at her own wake-up call for the right kind of intervention, and her self-medication is soaring to new lows. Jeff (Oliver Hudson) finds her anything but wide awake for the new day, and does one better, telling her that she will be shadowed by a young reporter for the full waking hours. He demands that she shift from “party girl to pro,” putting her fake smile and public show on full throttle. She’s faking calls home to baby and family, and asking assistant, Lacey, for whatever it takes to get her up, then down. Scarlett is moved and surprised that Zoey returned with a song for her mother’s service, and she really needs her old friend. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Dr. Rand (Nick Jandl) share indirect instruction on proper behavior, glances, but no words between them. Markus Keen couldn’t have chosen a worse time for a spur of the moment arrival in town, so Bucky (David Alford) tells Rayna he will take charge of showing off the label to the new signee. The shadowing reporter is astonished that Juliette schedules every second of the day, starting with a workout, while Juliette is wheeling and dealing for every substance she can get to keep the façade up. Emily (Kourtney Hansen) is using her sitting service to most advantage with Avery, but no infractions of fidelity have occurred yet. Markus steps on toes right away, making “Hee Haw” references about the Opry.
Avery (Jonathan Jackson) still wants to believe that the Juliette he married is still there beneath the behavior. “What binds us is not broken,” he asserts, determined to give her every chance. Juliette demands Adderall from one of her shady doctors. Deacon chooses an AA meeting over “funeral casserole” at home with family. The uppers and downers are drilling Juliette, while Scarlett and Zoey feel their same old connection, as Scarlett exudes that things “are better now that you’re here.” Avery puts the bug in Bucky’s ear that he wants to be Markus Keen’s producer, needing work, and knowing his rock style. Deacon and the girls tell Rayna they are staying home, and not going to her Opry performance. Caleb shows up at Gunnar’s doorstep, pleading for his musical expertise to rework the song to reach Scarlett. Gunnar steps up, and makes it something special. Will (Chris Carmack) gets big kudos for his courage from Rayna, and the public affirmation of a selfie, too. Rayna boosts Layla up before her stage show, and she does just fine, but doesn’t feel Jeff is doing enough. During a radio interview, an exposé on Avery and “the unknown woman” is brought to Juliette’s attention. She plays it all cool and polished on air and in front of her press, but goes into orbit over the phone. Deacon dodges time even with Maddie, and Markus swoops in on Rayna, stealing all Layla’s earned spotlight, but Avery does get his shot at the rock star, making quite the impression, before an emergency call comes That Cadence is in the hospital with a high fever. Caleb concedes to Gunnar that his music is indeed “a gift.”
Maddie (Lennon Stella) talks with Colt (Keann Johnson) about her frustrations of not being able to help her hurting dad. He rightly tells her that “it’s more about what you do,” and she decides to take dinner. Layla (Aubrey Peeples) is steamed that Markus wrecked her night, but Will encourages her right out of her slump, and she and Jeff make up. Avery demands a way to reach his wife, but his call goes to Lacey, who never mentions the word “daughter” to the drugged out Juliette, only that it’s “not work,” and Juliette replies, “then I don’t care,” which curtly gets relayed. Avery reacts by saying that the Juliette who cared, “she’s gone.” Deacon is on another destruction rampage in his grief, just as Maddie arrives, and she tells Colt, “just drive,” urgently departing. Markus rushes the stage to duet with new boss, Rayna, to raves from the audience, but she mentions his disrespect to Layla. He insists that he will apologize, nobody hold a breath. Zoey drops in on Gunnar as he sings the song he wrote for Dr. Rand, and she confronts him about the love he still has for Scarlett. Deacon duels his demons, but resists diving into drink. Scarlett makes love to Caleb, after he confesses seeking Gunnar’s help to reach her with music, and anger and pain melt into one for Deacon, in Rayna’s arms, as this “Nashville” night ends.