Nashville recap: What I Cannot Change
I don’t know if it’s just the presence of a healthy Juliette Barnes on the screen, but “What I Cannot Change” is perhaps the best episode of this season of Nashville so far — and by quite a long shot. There’s nothing overly dramatic or depressing or out of character. Just good ol’ fashioned drama and country music, which is exactly what Nashville is supposed to be.
The episode opens on a healthy and happy Juliette in the rehab clinic, handing Cadence back to Emily after her visit. It’s a nice moment for her, and for us, as we get to see Juliette in a much better mental state than the last time we saw her. Things get better, too, when she’s told that it’s time for her to go home and start adapting to her normal life again. Hurray!
Things are looking up for Highway 65 as well. The push to get Layla’s record on country radio is in full swing, and there’s a big showcase planned to show off just how much of a talent she really is. Plus, The Exes are readying for their own album release. Between the two, it’s sure to put Highway 65 on the map as far as signing and promoting young country talent.
Of course, Rayna’s still worried about Vita. There’s absolutely no lead on her whereabouts, and Rayna is worried that the police aren’t focusing enough on finding her because she’s homeless and doesn’t have a family. Still, there’s not much she can do about the disappearance. That’s made abundantly clear when she goes and visits the investigating officer and he tells her how hard it is to close these types of cases. Rayna isn’t going to just give up, though, and it seems like she might have something up her sleeve in the near future.
Speaking of giving up, Frankie begins the episode completely off the wagon. He’s generally holding things together since his drink last week, but just barely. He doesn’t tell Deacon that it’s his 15th anniversary of being sober, and he doesn’t invite him along for the celebration. It’s partly because he’s still pissed at Deacon for steamrolling him when he came on at the Beverly, but there’s also got to be some shame involved.
Meanwhile, Colt is still pretty excited to be in the Army! He calls Luke and tells him that he needs a parental waiver signed in order to enlist. Of course, Luke isn’t exactly eager to see his kid go off to war, so he goes and visits him in an attempt to talk him out of it. What follows is a weird subplot where Colt wins Luke over by saying he “believes in something” now, which also leads to a surprising choice from Luke later in the episode. Did anyone else find the whole pro-military tone of this subplot kind of strange, or is my Canadian demeanor playing a part in my perspective?
Anyways, now that we’ve checked in with everyone else, where is Will at these days? Well, basically, he can’t catch a break. He has nobody to write songs with now that Scarlett and Gunnar are planning their tour and Avery is distracted. Plus, Luke won’t release (or rather forgets about releasing) the hold on the songs he wrote when he was still a part of the label. In other words, he’s stuck and doesn’t know what to do. Typical Will, am I right?
NEXT: Something resembling family
So, Juliette’s only been out for one day, but she has a huge dilemma on her hands. She wants to spend more time with Cadence, but Avery doesn’t trust her enough to let it happen. Then, she gets an offer for a cameo in the newest Steven Spielberg movie, which is a great opportunity — it’s Spielberg, so duh — but it would mean being gone from her family for two weeks. She goes back and forth on what to do, even signing up for the movie at one point. But then, during a very honest press conference, she realizes her mistake and pulls out of the movie to focus on herself and her family. But will it be enough to win Avery over?
Meanwhile, everything is looking up for Layla. Her showcase is a huge hit, and on top of that, big time country star Autumn Chase sees the whole thing, and rumor has it that she’s looking for an opening act for her tour. When she accompanies Layla to see Scarlett and Gunnar perform at the Bluebird, it seems that Layla is a lock for the spot. Well, at least until Autumn sees The Exes play and chooses them instead, sending Layla into a crying fit and looking for comfort from an absent Avery. That’s the good ol’ drama I’m talking about!
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Layla is really the only one in this episode who doesn’t end up in a better place by the time the credits roll; well, maybe Colt, too, who’s signed up for the Army but is also hugging his Dad, so read into that what you will. Frankie delivers a disastrous, drunken, hostile set at the Beverly and then lashes out at Deacon, but the two find some common ground the next day, and Frankie goes back to AA and starts back on Day 1 of sobriety. It’s a tough moment to watch, but it’s a good progression for both Frankie and Deacon, especially when Deacon admits that he did take a little too much control of the bar.
Even Will, despite all his fumbling, ends up in a better place. When he goes back to Luke’s office to angrily demand the release of his songs, Luke takes the lessons about bravery he learned from his son and says that he wants Will back on the label, that he wants to release that album, and Will eagerly accepts. Look, I’m happy for Will, but Luke cut him from the label because he was worried about Will’s sexuality ruining his good thing, so I’m not totally into this sudden partnership. Be mad, Will! Make sure Luke knows that what he did was unacceptable!
The sweetest ending, though, sees Avery showing up at Juliette’s place and handing Cadence over for an unscheduled visit. It’s an endearing moment that suggests that maybe these two can work their differences out. That might not mean getting back together, but hopefully it means that Cadence gets all the love and attention she needs. Either way, it’s nice to see Nashville indulging in a little forgiveness and empathy for once. Here’s hoping we get a little more of that this season.