While Scarlett and Avery have to make tough decisions, Will and Juliette battle different kinds of demons.
Nashville knows exactly what we want after last week’s episode. It knows we want deliberation over the health of Beverly. It knows we want to see if Juliette can pull out of her tailspin. It knows we want to see Avery, Will and Gunnar do everything with Cadence — seriously, I could handle a spinoff that’s just those three guys with the baby.
Thankfully, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” gives us everything we want, even if that means a lot of tears along the way. The episode opens by checking in with everyone and seeing where they stand. There’s Juliette waking up from another bender, but also hopping on a treadmill. Is she turning her life around? Not likely, but hey, stranger things have happened. There’s Scarlett and Deacon looking on as Beverly is being tested and diagnosed, and there’s Maddie recording a song while Daphne sits in the principal’s office.
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Back to all that in a minute though because we need to start with Avery, Will, and Gunnar. Avery is doing his damndest to get through to Juliette on the phone, but he’s having no luck. Gunnar is doing his best to keep the situation in check, making pancakes for everyone (this guy!!) and telling Avery that he needs to calm down and focus on Cadence. Will, on the other hand, is eager to get out of the house that has a screaming baby in it and heads over to Kevin’s.
In fact, everyone leaves Gunnar hanging, as Avery also takes off and has a visit with Glenn, who tells Avery that he just needs to give Juliette some more time, that she always comes back. Avery doesn’t have the time or patience for that anymore, though, so he makes the only decision he thinks he has available to him. He gets Emily to look after Cadence for the day while he goes to visit….wait for it…a divorce lawyer! It’s drastic, but perhaps justified.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Scarlett and Deacon receive the worst news possible. Beverly’s suffered severe brain damage. She’s basically being kept alive by machines and her chances of recovery are slim to none. When the doctor suggests that taking her off life support and using her death to help other families through organ donation is a serious option, Deacon refuses to even listen. That decision isn’t up to him, though, as Scarlett learns that she still has power of attorney and needs to decide whether to take her mother off of life support or not.
That’s not an easy decision to make, especially as Deacon is so adamant about keeping her alive. Naturally, she turns to her boyfriend Dr. Caleb for advice, but he gives her a vague answer. He tells her that he can’t tell her what to do, that she needs to be sure of her decision, not him. He’s not exactly wrong, but what he doesn’t realize is that Scarlett needs someone right now. Get it together, Doc.
Thankfully, Caleb’s stubbornness allows for a brief reunion between Scarlett and Gunnar. Gunnar walks in on Scarlett singing a powerful song — seriously, those high notes! — and before he can even get a full sentence out, she’s hugging him and crying into his arms. I know this is a sad way to bring them back together, but damn, I just want these two kids to make it!
NEXT: Bad Reputation
While Scarlett is facing the toughest decision of her life, both Will and Juliette are battling certain demons. Juliette’s are the most obvious, as she’s still out partying and ignoring her responsibilities, but this time she’s dragged Luke out with her. The two hit up a bar in the middle of the day, where Juliette then decides to put on an impromptu concert and invites all of her friends.
After blasting through Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” which will only ever belong on one TV show, Juliette continues to drink until she doesn’t remember a thing. That means she doesn’t remember Luke and the bar’s manager having to sneak her out of there in a roadie trunk. Luke uses this opportunity to offer some sage advice, talking to her about how he was responsible for breaking apart his marriage by shirking his home responsibilities. Juliette is having none of it, though. By the episode’s end she’s back to drinking champagne for breakfast. Super classy.
Will is at least reckoning with his own issues in a more mature way. When he goes over to Kevin’s place and meets a bunch of his gay musician friends, one of them, Jill, takes him to task for being so silent after coming out. She understands that Will has the opportunity to reach a huge audience and fight homophobia in the industry, and she sees his cowardly behavior as a betrayal.
While Will initially balks at the criticism, especially after Kevin says Jill isn’t exactly wrong, he opens up and admits that he feels the same way. He knows he has an opportunity, and he knows that he has a responsibility to be a mouthpiece for the gay community, but he’s downright scared. He’s confused, lost, and he’s been dropped by his label. As he puts it, “I haven’t stepped up to the mic because I don’t know what to say.” The accomplishments haven’t exactly been piling up since he came out, so he just needs some time to process everything. Thankfully he has Kevin by his side, who is legitimately the most understanding and empathetic guy. I’m so glad Will has him.
With that relationship on solid ground, Nashville turns its focus to Rayna and her kids. After the fight at school, Rayna decides that Maddie and Daphne need to have Teddy in their life, so they go to visit him in prison. While the first visit doesn’t go so well, with Teddy admitting to the things he’s done and therefore ruining his reputation in the eyes of his daughters, a second visit turns out better. Rayna gives a lovely speech about how Teddy has always been there and how strong he’s always been and that despite his mistakes it doesn’t change who he is. It’s legitimately stirring, and it works to bring Daphne, and even Maddie, back to his side. Hugs and reunions for everyone!
NEXT: How can we let go?
Well, for almost everyone. After getting some guidance from Gunnar, who assures her that she’s the most level-headed, empathetic person he’s ever met (this guy!! Again!!), Scarlett comes to her decision. She needs to take her mother off life support because even if she does wake up ten years down the road, she won’t be the same. Her brain is so damaged that she’ll never be herself again.
It’s a mature, devastating decision, but Deacon can’t be there to support her. It’s partly because he disagrees with the decision, partly because he feels guilty, but also largely because he can’t stand to lose his sister. While Scarlett goes to the hospital to face her decision alone, Deacon goes “home.” And as the episode comes to a close, he wails in pain while Scarlett lets go of her mother’s hand and completely breaks down. I’m officially out of Kleenex.
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