Everything's a mess when Maddie's hearing begins, Scarlett and Gunnar try to work things out, Will deals with homophobia, and Juliette learns a secret
Credit: ABC/Mark Levine
S4 E18
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Every now and then, Nashville gets a little crazy and goes off the rails. It’s just part of the show’s DNA. Story lines build up, and then they come crashing down in a flurry of insults, misunderstandings, and straight-up terrible behavior. “The Trouble With The Truth” is one of those episodes — just about everyone acts like a horrible human being and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

The episode opens on Rayna and Deacon prepping for court, and they don’t look too happy about it. Their lawyer assures them that everything should be fine, though, that they have a lot going for them and Maddie doesn’t have much to back up her claim for emancipation. For a while, it looks like Rayna and Deacon will be just fine, but this is Nashville, so that doesn’t last long.

Meanwhile, Scarlett and Gunnar are late for their interview with Rolling Stone, but they couldn’t be in a better place. “It wasn’t just the scotch,” says Scarlett after Gunnar worries she’s going to think they made a mistake. Rather than be filled with regret, the two seem closer, even slyly holding hands under the table during the interview.

Will and Juliette are doing pretty great, too! Will hears his song on the radio while he’s in the shower, and his joyous reaction is adorable. That dude deserves it. Then there’s Juliette, who learns she’s snagged an Oscar nomination for her first film role. Things are looking up for those two, at least for now.

Of course, things take a turn for the worse when Juliette calls to tell Avery the news and realizes he’s still in bed with Layla. That’s when she just goes off on Emily for some reason, saying that the only way this could happen is if Layla is manipulating Avery for some larger purpose. Um, yeah, you might want to take a step back and think about that for a second, Juliette.

Juliette can’t leave it there, though. She calls Luke to deliver the same diatribe, shouting about how poisonous and manipulative Layla is. Luke, somehow, is the voice of reason here. He tells Juliette that she’s probably being paranoid. She doesn’t want to hear it though and just throws her phone. Everything’s fine, totally fine, nothing to see here.

Because this episode is largely about everyone being terrible, Will and Luke have to come under fire for “pushing the homosexual agenda.” That’s what Cynthia Davis, an anchor in the Fox News mold, says on air about Luke and Will’s appearance on Good Morning America. Luke tries to fight the thing head on, going on Cynthia’s show to defend Luke, but a poorly timed “technical difficulty” means his message doesn’t get across. Let’s just say it: that’s a stupid, contrived way to tell a story, Nashville. Shame on you.

Thankfully, despite all the nastiness (and ridiculousness), this is turning into one of Nashville‘s better story lines. There’s something interesting in the way both Will and Luke are approaching the pushback to Will’s sexuality. As Luke says, though, it’s not about to get easier. Will finds that out at the end of the episode when his car is vandalized, slurs spray painted across the whole vehicle.

NEXT: Better as Exes

Back at the hearing, everything goes wrong for Rayna and Deacon when Deacon is asked to take the stand. He’s bombarded with all the horrible, harmful things he’s done in the past, things not even Maddie knows about (though Maddie does say she fears for her safety around him because everyone in this episode is acting like a different person). So, how did the lawyers get all that information?

Well, it was Frankie, out to hurt Deacon for reasons that aren’t really clear, but hey, who cares about character motivation, right? When Deacon shows up at the Beverly to talk to Frankie, they go out back and Frankie gives a half-assed explanation about why he abandoned the man he agreed to sponsor. Then Frankie just loses it and starts attacking Deacon, forcing him to fight back. That all ends with Deacon in a holding cell and Frankie in a hospital.

Meanwhile, the Rolling Stone interview, which is ridiculously personal, gets bad quickly. When the journalist brings up Gunnar’s proposal, things get tense between him and Scarlett. All of a sudden, they aren’t on the same page anymore, with each of them saying they see past events differently. It’s so silly and contrived, especially coming after their moment of connection just a bit earlier. But contrived is the name of the game this week.

The unfolding love triangle between Avery, Layla, and Juliette does get a bit of a resolution, though…for now. Layla tells Avery, during a conversation that Juliette eavesdrops on, that she’s cool with just going back to the way things were before they slept together, to being just friends. Avery says he wants to give a relationship a shot, though, and you can tell that that’s what Layla actually wants. It’s kind of sweet.

Even Juliette thinks it’s sweet; she decides to come clean to Layla about what happened on the roof with Jeff. She understands that she has to let Avery go, and after confirming that he’s happy, she goes onstage with Luke and tries to move on while Layla and Avery look on with a mixture of anger and disappointment. This isn’t done just yet.

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That only leaves the hearing to deal with. Rayna goes to see Deacon in jail — it’s a habit with her men — and she’s not too happy. Deacon pleads his case, but she’s having none of it. She reprimands him for not knowing better, for refusing to see how this would turn out and how it could affect the hearing. It’s just another instance of Deacon being clueless. To be fair, Frankie did start it.

Sure enough, when Rayna goes back to court to hear the outcome of the hearing, the previous night’s events helped sway things. The judge grants Maddie emancipation, and Rayna breaks down crying. It’s a devastating moment (even if the whole story line is beyond silly and frustrating) and a lot for Rayna to lose in such a short amount of time.

As I said, Nashville is prone to ludicrous episodes every now and then, and this is one of them. It’s bold, crazy, and often unpleasant to watch because everyone is acting so out of character, so nasty toward one another. Hopefully it’s not a trend for the last few episodes of the season because the back half of this season has been strong when compared to the mess that was the first half.

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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