Scarlett takes steps to get her confidence back

By Ruth Kinane
July 27, 2017 at 10:02 PM EDT
Jake Giles Netter/CMT
S5 E20
B-
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“Speed Trap Town” wasn’t the most action-packed episode of Nashville, but then again, we can all agree there’s probably been more than enough turmoil this season. Let’s break this slow-burner down by twosomes:

Maddie and Juliette

Maddie wakes up to the exciting news that she’s been nominated for an American Music Award in the Best Pop/Rock category alongside the likes of Katy Perry — and, um, that thieving Juliette Barnes, which puts a slight dampener on her celebrations. J has also just received the news, but she’s less giddy about it, knowing she stole her nominated song and that Maddie more or less hates her.

Avery calls to congratulate Jules and can tell something’s up, but she blows him off, telling him not to invent drama where there’s none. (That’s her job, you see.) Glenn advises Juliette to put the feud to rest, but she thinks it’ll blow over — after all, she’s known Maddie “since she was a tater tot.” Glenn seems to think Maddie is overreacting: She was already singing a song about a tidal wave; she didn’t need a song about water rising, too. “How much water can one girl sing about?” questions Glenn, thereby becoming my favorite character on this show.

Juliette ends up sending out a congratulatory tweet to Maddie for her nomination, to which Maddie responds hours later: “Thanks, I wrote it myself.” Burnnnnn. Juliette isn’t too pleased with that little dig and thinks Maddie is just out to prolong the pain, while Glenn thinks maybe she’s just trying to protect her; after all, she hasn’t exposed the truth to the world… yet. By the end of the episode, they’re still not talking to each other as they take their seats at the same press conference.

Deacon and Jessie

Jessie has a new song a brewing, and Deacon just loves it. She initially plays it for him over FaceTime but is embarrassed by her scratchy vocals. It’s all about not being the first one to move and that feeling of being replaced. It seems like it needs a little work — but what do I know?

Anyway, they end up meeting for coffee to talk about it some more. Jessie tells Deacon she was supposed to be spending the whole weekend with her son, but her evil ex rescinded the offer at the last moment, so now she has some free time. Deacon offers her some time he has blocked off in the studio, but she doesn’t want to impose. Besides, she has a friend who’s promised her an open slot elsewhere.

Deacon tags along, but when they get to said studio, the band using it before her is running over. Jessie, feeling guilty for making him wait around, sends Deacon away, and in the end, she leaves without doing any recording either.

Later that night, Jessie’s ex shows up unannounced to pick up their son earlier than agreed. He’s literally in her kitchen just hanging out when she walks into the room. He’s manipulative and cruel, but Jessie holds her own and kicks him out, though she’s clearly rattled from the whole encounter. People need to lock their doors in Nashville.

In the end, Jessie gives in and goes with Deacon to his studio to record the song, but she isn’t feeling it. Deacon tries to point out that Jessie is the only thing getting in her way, but she doesn’t see it that way and instead opts to come back tomorrow. The next day, Jessie’s still not about it. She winds up getting mad at Deacon before realizing she’s been projecting her husband’s characteristics onto him, filtering everything he’s doing to help her through that crappy lens. She was mad because she’d gotten it into her head that Deacon was trying to take over, but all he wants is to give her a platform to do her thing. Deacon admits that maybe he was trying too hard to help because he’s so used to being on the other side of the equation. It’s all smiles and forgiveness as they get down to recoding the dang song. (Recap continues on page 2)

Scarlett and Gunnar (who will no longer be known as Scunnar, unless they get back together again and then God help us all)

On the road with Avery down in Texas, Gunnar decides he might as well go and visit his grandmother while he’s in his home state. It’s not the friendliest of interactions — his grandmother seems to barely recognize him. She lights up a cigarette, seemingly willing herself to die sooner.

When he leaves, Gunnar calls Scarlett, who gives him about three minutes of her time before deciding to get off the phone, saying she’ll call him back soon. Just as she hangs up, she hears a colossal crash coming from somewhere in the house and grabs a knife to go and investigate. It really is rather tense for a minute, until she realizes it’s just a mangy raccoon. Still, for someone who’s just been held at gunpoint, that mangy raccoon is enough to send Scarlett over to the Jaymes household to spend the night.

The girls are delighted to see her, and Maddie, the budding feminist, suggests that Scarlett take self-defense classes to help her feel more secure and empowered. When Scar finally gets around to calling Gunnar back, he’s less interested in talking and tells her it’s confusing for him if they’re in contact too much when they’re supposed to be getting some space. They continue this fun game of only calling each other when they’re each in s—ty places for the rest of the episode.

Meanwhile, in Aurora, Texas, Gunnar is at the gas station when he bumps into Kelly Walker, a little cutie he used to know in high school. She says she’s been following his career and he “might as well be Tim McGraw” in these parts, he’s such a success. Gunnar is flattered that the popular girl in school even knows his name. She asks if he’s free that evening and, suddenly in less of a hurry to leave town, Gunnar agrees to go hang out at their old abandoned high school with her that night.

After some fun reminiscing about their younger days while sitting on the football field, they break into the school to do some exploring, because of course. Once inside, they wander around the creepy, disused school, and Gunnar has a flashback to the day he was pulled out of class because his parents had died. He’s overcome and tearful when Kelly reappears from the bathroom and startles him out of his flashback. They head back outside with Gunnar in less buoyant spirits and agree to meet up again tomorrow.

Back at home, Scar goes to her first self-defense class and is terrible. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone! (You have permission to roll your eyes.) The faux-Russian instructor tries to rile her up, but she’s just timid and ends up leaving feeling more defeated than when she arrived. Later, she cries to Deacon about everything and admits she’s even missing Gunnar more than she thought she would. She feels like she should be able to do everything on her own. Deacon doesn’t get why everyone is obsessed with doing things alone. He tells her the opposite of being with someone isn’t being alone — it’s getting a lot of different types of help from different people. That’s what he did.

And so Scarlett heads back to her defense class. This time, she’s a little move invigorated. Her Russian instructor’s accent slips a little as he talks to her about assault and the need to fight back. After watching the others for a minute, Scar gets the hang of it and goes crazy on the instructor, kicking and punching him. She looks pleased with herself.

In Texas, Gunnar decides to visit his old family home. After he introduces himself to the family living there now, a cute kid named Marisol shows him around, and Gunnar has another flashback: He’s singing with his brother until Grandma comes in and tells them to quit their playing, and his brother leaves via the window.

Upset, Gunnar calls Scarlett and tells her being home is weird, but he can’t say much else. When he hangs up, his hands are shaking. And there’s his inspiration for his next solo album!

That night, Gunnar tries to blow off his date with Kelly, but she comes over to his motel and realizing something’s up. They talk about his youth; he admits that he didn’t realize he was so unhappy growing up, but Kelly offers some comfort when she tells him she never worried about him. She could tell he was going to do something great with his life. Then she goes in for the kiss. Gunnar pulls away after a minute, and Kelly admits she’s married anyway to some meathead from high school who sells appliances now. She says she has her own problems and sure as heck isn’t the solution to his.

Gunnar goes back to see Grandma and lays some of the blame on her for not looking out for him as a kid. She says she did her best, and Gunnar, deciding he has to move on, gets up to leave before pausing to add that he’s become a damn good musician. He’s playing a song for her, whether she likes it or not.

And so Gunnar plays us out this week with a song about escaping, and we cut to him taking one last look at his hometown before hitting the road. Gunnar drives out of Aurora with a peaceful smile on his face. Back at home, Scarlett eats a piece of cucumber and dances around her kitchen with a wooden spoon.

How long will it last? We’ll find out next week.

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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