Lives and love are going in all directions on “Nashville” this week for the November 18 eighth episode of Season 4, “Unguarded Moments.” Careers are colliding with new relationships, and love is being confused with what’s between the lines of a contract. Youthful dreams are coming true, but the choices could be destroying families. With emotional limits tested and torn this way and that, something is bound to give.
Deacon (Charles Esten) is all caught up with life at the bar, leaving Rayna (Connie Britton) to handle the teenage crisis at home. Her label, Highway 65, is running into the ditch with debt from costly studio time, and little releases to show for it, and daughter, Maddie (Lennon Stella) demands to sign the contract she’s just been offered from Sony. It’s a good thing Ms. Britton’s real world has been spinning much better. She was just out showing support for Worldwide Orphans Foundation, and gave a nice look into her past “Friday Night Lights” most “high school moment.” Scarlett (Clare Bowen) tries to call her good doctor, who never picks up, and Erin (Scout Taylor-Compton) doesn’t seem all the way there for Gunnar (Sam Palladio). Avery (Jonathan Jackson) is not into recording jingles to sell cars, but has big concerns as sole support of his daughter. While Deacon is concerned about adding rows at his bar, there are rows, rhymes with “cows,” meaning heated disputes, at home. Maddie dies her hair, seemingly trying to morph into Juliette. Markus (Riley Smith) offers a latte and a listening ear for Rayna, who reminds him of reasons not to have kids. Gunnar pops out of the shower with Scarlett at his door, asking if he wants to join her in a show of gratitude to their fans, before she realizes that Erin is calling. Gabrielle (Cynthia McWilliams) guides Luke (Will Chase) to replace Juliette for the tour, and get a new CEO for his label, her comfort to him of “you’re doing the best you can,” turns to a big kiss, but she backs off, still wanting to keep everything all business, until he pleads that this is “our chance,” so she concedes.
Scarlett is a hit with fans in her short hairdo, showing her gratitude to the crowd, and she tries another call to Caleb (Nick Jandl), but he’s not willing to give in even an inch to accommodate his beloved’s work schedule. She also brings up touchy sound issues with Erin, who insists that she has the right expertise. Avery finds out that Will (Chris Carmack) has been writing songs to work his way through his breakup with Kevin, and offers strong support for his friend’s emotionally vulnerable effort, no matter how Will downplays his talent. The Triple X’s are off to a killer show, until Scarlett motions to Erin to boost her sound up, and everything goes lights out. Erin feigns that she has no idea how to fix things, but going unplugged goes gloriously anyway, as Scarlett and Gunnar do it acoustic, like in their old days, and their fans can’t get enough, and neither can their manager. Avery decides to play Will’s “amazing song” at the Bluebird for songwriter’s night. He feels it to the core, thinking of Juliette, and the crowd feels it, too, including a publisher. Markus clearly starts to feel for Rayna more than just as an employee, as she heads home to deal with her daughters. She sees that Maddie is “exactly like me,” after the same age, meanwhile, younger Daphne is dealing with “you don’t need me,” relating to her sister’s success. Deacon gets accused of “going dry drunk” instead of dealing with home by Frankie (Mark Collie). Gunnar tells Erin that if she does not up her game, “you’re off my tour,” which reassures Scarlett. Deacon comes home at last, and Rayna declares that “She needs us, and I need you,” regarding decisions with Maddie. Luke tells his son, Colt (Keann Johnson) that he and Gabrielle are a couple, and the boy retorts by asking dad if he was with her the night that Jeff fell to his death. Luke responds in the affirmative. On a positive family note, Oliver Hudson, who portrayed Jeff Fordham, has just reconciled with his own estranged father. There are turns in life that not even “Nashville” takes.
Avery gives Will the publisher’s card, and an atta-boy from his performance of “History of My Heart,” and Deacon and Rayna announce in a family meeting that both sisters will be signed to Highway 65, and predictably, Maddie is less than delighted, sensing that it’s only a move to concede to Daphne, and control her, keeping her from her real opportunity. Late at night, Scarlett talks with Caleb, and just as she starts to talk about her hit show, he bows out, and says good night. Rayna and Deacon are rapt in love-making, and then a message comes to her phone from Markus, thanking her for their talk, and the green-eyed monster makes a roaring appearance.
The tension will have to sustain fans a little longer than usual, as “Nashville” doesn’t return until December 2, but the wait is always worth it.