Everyone gets highlights and Juliette joins a cult
Credit: CMT
S6 E1
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We’re back in the ‘Ville, country music fans, and ready to catch up with all our crooning faves. Apart from Rayna. She’s still dead. Apparently no one over at CMT liked my “it was all a horrible nightmare” suggestion. Anyway, let’s get right into the action with the remaining living members of the Nashville gang. Y’all ready?

We kick things off over at the Claybourne/Jaymes household, where the girls and Deacon are taking a holiday pic when they’re interrupted by a call from Bucky inviting (a newly very blond) Maddie to perform at the “Hits and Hunger” benefit. She’ll be playing at the Staples Center in L.A. and attending an MTV New Year’s party afterward. Deacon is bummed that they won’t be ringing in the new year together as a family but insists that she go nonetheless — so long as she takes Scarlett with her as a chaperone. Daphne’s freaking out because Justin Bieber, Sia, Bruno Mars, and Jonah Ford (!!) are going to be there. Good old Jonah must be a pretty big deal if he elicits more squeals from Daph than the Biebs. I’m assuming he’s a teenage bopper with great hair who became famous on YouTube.

Elsewhere, Juliette (as ever) is having a bad day. The problem seems to be a shortage of the type of champagne she wants for her upcoming NYE party, but she’s also simultaneously planning her first tour in two years and probably still dealing with the fallout over stealing Maddie’s song last season, so it could be a number of things causing her crankiness.

Anyway, since Deacon has given her another chance at Highway 65, she heads onstage to kick off her tour. Some fans/enemies in the crowd hold up some mean posters and start heckling her, yelling things like like “unoriginal” and “nobody likes you.” It’s pretty baffling that they spent money on tickets to do this. Can’t they just be mean on Twitter like everybody else? Jules is thrown for a loop, stops singing, and delivers a speech about feeling unloved and giving up on trying to find acceptance. She’s over it and and walks offstage. Deacon’s probably feeling real good about that second chance right about now.

Turns out the last few months have been hell for Juliette; it’s been a struggle for her to even get out of bed each day, so she and Avery decide to go on vacation to get away from everything. They head to Asheville, North Carolina, where Jules’ sleeping problems persist. She ends up down in the hotel lobby for a late-night spot of people watching and winds up striking up an oddly deep conversation with a stranger (Josh Stamberg). I’m certain he isn’t going to be a stranger much longer. The yet-unnamed but smartly dressed gentleman throws around words like “journey” and “control” and spouts a bunch of clichéd expressions like he wrote a book on them. He probably did.

Later, J’s watching TV and a segment on the Church of Coherent Philosophy comes on, starring none other than the man from the lobby. He wants to save everyone from their pasts by giving up control to get control, or something along those lines. It’s all about self-actualization and there are a bunch of former addicts it seems to have worked for. Jules is intrigued. (Recap continues on page 2.)

The next day Glenn informs her the mysterious savior, Darius, has called and wants to meet with her; he sees her pain and wants to help her change her life. Sounds like brainwashing to me, but I’m a cynic. Anyway, Juliette decides it might be worth it and goes to see Darius. He impresses her with some “close your eyes and count to 10” calming tricks, and I’m pretty sure Juliette will be making a donation to the Church of Coherent Philosophy any day now. The counting technique does come in handy when she’s in a radio interview later that day and the interviewer tries to bully her into giving up her career. Juliette immediately goes to react aggressively but then stops herself and then takes a minute (or 10 seconds) to breathe before admitting to suffering from depression. She says she’s trying to work through it and hopes people can understand that. That moment of clarity is enough to send her into Darius’ church/cult/program, as she calls him and tells him she’s in.

Over in L.A., Maddie heads onstage at the Staples Center, where everyone’s going crazy for Jonah Ford (played by new recurring star Nic Luken). He introduces Maddie as a “personal favorite” of his — turns out it was actually his suggestion to add her to the roster for the charity gig. When she starts performing, Jonah tries to hang around to see her set, but his super-cool teenage entourage drag him away. He does find a second to catch up with her after the show though and invites her to spend some time together at the studio the next day. And then he doesn’t show up. One of his groupies mentions something to Maddie about Jonah owing him money, making it seem like they placed a bet on Maddie showing up. Kids.

Later, back at the hotel, Maddie and Scarlett (who’s having a tough time missing Gunnar but is probably going to take up horse riding again to see her through) share their woes over ice cream and decide to head home to Nashville. Just in the nick of time, Mr. YouTube conveniently shows up as they’re leaving and offers to fly them back in his private jet. He then takes Maddie to dinner, where they do things like eat with their arms linked. It’s nauseating.

Elsewhere, a newly blond Gunnar (bleach seems to be a new Nashville trend) is having a crisis of confidence now that he has to preform alone without Scarlett. He thinks he’s lost all his creativity without her. Luckily, Will (who isn’t doing much else apart from missing Zach) is going to coach him because he’s great on stage. By episode’s end, though, Gunnar’s still struggling and Will ends up jumping onstage with him to see him through. Are we seeing the beginnings of a new double act? Meh, stranger things have happened: Remember when Scarlett thought touring the country with two of her ex-boyfriends was a good idea?

Also, everyone’s trying to encourage Deacon to date, including Scarlett and Zach, who thinks “women in this city would line up” to date him. The D man is not into it and is relieved when Maddie, Daphne, and Scarlett show up at the house to celebrate the start of the new year together after all.

That’s it for the season 6 premiere, folks. Check back in next week to see if Scarlett’s considering a career as a dressage Olympian.

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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