It's nothing but chaos as Maddie runs away, Riff is in the hospital, and Autumn is still trying to break up the Exes
Credit: Mark Levine/ABC
S4 E16
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After a few weeks of relatively upbeat episodes, tonight’s Nashville gets back to the messy drama we’ve all come to know and (mostly) love. There’s runaway teenagers, misguided romances, alcohol binges, and escorts. “Didn’t Expect It to Go Down This Way” has a little bit of everything, and it’s kind of a lot of fun.

Things pick up exactly where last week’s episode left off, with Autumn flirting with Gunnar for one reason or another. She’s doing her best to bring him into her life, even offering to take him with her when she goes to New York the next day so that he can meet his idol James Taylor. He smartly declines the offer, though, after he realizes she doesn’t want Scarlett to come along.

Meanwhile, a few folks are getting back in the game, but the game means a few different things here. There’s Juliette, who’s having breakfast with Emily and Ed, stating that she’s eager to keep her career going. She’s not about to go on the road or anything, but she wants to get started on a new album. Then there’s Will, who’s just trying to get back in the dating game after working with Kevin day after day. Working with your ex will leave you feeling a little wanting, that’s for sure.

For the first time in awhile, Layla gets some good news. She’s told that her opening set is going to be filmed. There’s only one problem, though, and she just doesn’t know about it yet. Riff is still missing, and there’s a chance that Luke will have to cancel the show if he can’t find him or a replacement.

She also doesn’t have a bandleader as Avery was hesitant to accept that gig. Well, at least he was hesitant until Juliette came over with the baby and started talking about her own album plans and her idea of having Avery produce. Then he jumps at the opportunity, telling Juliette that he’s heading out on Layla’s tour. Damn Avery, you really have to get your affairs in order. You’re looking a little frazzled.

What’s even crazier is that he’s planning on bringing Cadence on tour with him! Now Juliette will have even less time with her daughter. Like, I get where he’s coming from; the dude’s been through a lot with Juliette. Still, he got all upset about her leaving to film a movie, which she then dropped out of, and now he’s heading out on tour? And with a baby in tow? Seems kind of hypocritical to me.

Back at the James household, things aren’t going so well. Rayna is finally back home and talking to Deacon about what happened with Maddie. Once she hears it all, she decides to sit down with her and figure the whole thing out together. When she goes up to her room, though, it’s empty. Maddie’s run away and a number of frantic phone calls confirm that nobody knows where she is. She does text them at least to say that she’s safe. I guess that’s something.

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So back to Will’s love life because who isn’t interested in that? While he’s recording a new song, he’s making eyes with a guy in the studio. Later, he meets him, and it turns out he’s one of Will’s backup singers on the album. The two seem to hit it off, and after a hilarious conversation with Avery where Will asks him how to figure out if someone is gay, Will decides to ask him out for a beer. Thankfully, Bryan accepts! Less thankfully, Bryan turns out to be straight. Once again, Will’s love life fizzles out. At least his new song sounded good!

Meanwhile, the Exes lead single is doing pretty well! They’re interviewing on the radio, their song is moving past 10,000 downloads, and press like Rolling Stone and Billboard are calling for coverage. Everything seems to be going well until Autumn once again gets in there.

She goes for a spa day with Scarlett, and the two connect, which is all well and good, but she basically tells Scarlett to stay away from romantic relationships with her bandmates, i.e. Gunnar. Then Scarlett sees Gunnar leave Autumn’s hotel room after he turns down another of her advances, and it’s clear that Scarlett is jumping to the obvious conclusion. But seriously, what is wrong with Autumn? She’s just causing chaos for no reason. I hate her. Unequivocally hate her.

But what about that other tour? As it turns out, Riff is in a hospital in New Orleans because he had a stroke after a three-day binge on booze, pills, and escorts. Yeah, that wasn’t my first guess either. Anyway, that brings Riff’s wife and Luke to New Orleans and leads to Luke realizing that the perfect life he believed his friend had wasn’t so perfect after all.

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But Luke still needs a replacement. Thankfully he finds one for the night, which means that Layla still gets to perform, right after a steamy rehearsal that Juliette sees and doesn’t seem to happy about. That paves the way for a big moment later: Luke is in need of a long-term plan for his tour, and Juliette is right there to take advantage, getting on stage with him and securing her spot on the tour. There’s no way this goes well, right? The devastated and shocked looks on Avery and Layla’s faces suggest no, things will not go well.

But, back to the search for Maddie. After Rayna unsuccessfully searches Cash’s house, with Cash getting all in her face about it, it’s revealed that Maddie is in fact hiding out there. Then Cash starts to do everything she can to distance Maddie from her parents. Not only does she actively hide her from Rayna, she calls Sony and finds out that their record deal still stands and if Maddie wants it, she can have it.

That leads to Deacon going crazy and parking outside Cash’s house — he still doesn’t know where she is — just in case Maddie happens to show up. He even seems regretful for a moment, wondering what he’s doing there. Then he sees Maddie at the door, and things get bad. He and Rayna coax Maddie to the door and tell her to come home, that they can work this all out together. Maddie’s having none of it, though, so she drops a bomb. She’s talked to a lawyer, and she thinks there’s grounds for emancipation, which means Maddie would be legally free of her parents. Teenagers, am I right?!?

Between that news and the fact that Juliette is joining Layla and Avery on tour, and Scarlett isn’t so sure about Gunnar’s relationship with Autumn, the remaining episodes in the season are sure to be filled with conflict. I’m still wondering where Vita is, though.

Episode Recaps

Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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