In a well-written episode all about identity, Nashville‘s residents are trying to figure out who they are and where they belong as they face the challenges presented by the past, present and future and come to terms with broken relationships. They’re also seeking to understand what it means to be true to oneself while still being able to find room to grow.
Juliette’s South American nightmare is over but another is unfolding as she arrives home to find an eggplant-haired stranger straddling her husband. She goes to visit Hallie and our first thought is how refreshing is it to have these two back onscreen at the same time. She tells her about being kept prisoner and how Avery had told it would be a disaster. But Juliette also admits that they were helpful and that being kept like a caged bird helped her learn a lot about herself. Like, apparently, how to sue their asses on behalf of herself and everyone else who fell victim to the Movement.
In the studio, Hallie sings as Juliette watches. (Can we please get a Nashville spin-off starring Rhiannon Giddens?) She assures Juliette that Avery will see how she has changed. Avery, however, has reached the breaking point and assures Alannah it’s really truly and finally over with Juliette. Strangely enough, there were no mentions of Juliette’s pregnancy so Avery remains completely in the dark.
Alannah has another borderline creepy conversation with Brad, and is annoyed that the songs she sent to the label were rejected. Brad wants her to write and perform material that will please radio stations and brand influencers and assures her he’s her friend, but he still comes off more like an arrogant perv.
Scarlett gets a call from Sean’s wife telling her that he won’t go to the Veterans Administration for help after his suicide scare. She puts Scarlett on the phone with him and she takes him to the V.A. but he walks out before he can be seen by someone. He lashes out at Scarlett about not being her “project” and says that he feels sorry for her that he’s the best she can come up with to do with her life. “Get professional help or I’m out,” she says. Later, he goes to Scarlett’s to apologize and assure her he is going to get help. But he wants to understand her and why she’s not back onstage. “That ain’t happenin’,” she says.
Deacon’s dad, meanwhile, is cozying up to his granddaughters, showing them old photos. But the trip down memory lane is making Deacon carsick. By breakfast time, Gramps has obviously charmed Maddie and Daphne and they’re confused as to why Deacon said he was so mean. Maddie tells Deacon she’s thinking of joining Jonah on his six-week European tour. Of course, the old man thinks it would be a great adventure, which doesn’t make Deacon too happy. They blow up at each other later and his dad insists again a lot of the bad things Deacon remembers never happened.
Deacon and Jessie crash their carts into each other at the grocery store and she tells him Brad dropped the custody case but is still planning to send Jake to boarding school. They miss each other and it’s a good thing they’re in the tissue aisle because they both get pretty weepy. They hug and kiss and go their separate ways.
Daphne rehearses for the TV show and Brad shows up to tell the youngster her vote totals are dropping because she’s hiding her talent behind her guitar. Judge Ilse tells her that performing without the guitar and moving around onstage will be liberating for Daphne but Daphne watches as Ilse “connects” with the song by using hand gestures and comes off looking like a reject from the Miss Universe pageant.
Deacon and Ilse talk about Daphne’s reluctance and she returns to the show to tell Ilse she can’t and won’t perform without her guitar. Later, Deacon walks in on a conversation between Daphne and her grandfather and thinks they’re talking about him. He tells Daphne that maybe there’s some value in what Ilse is telling her. Grandpa watches and interjects, which Deacon doesn’t like. Daphne says she’s not quitting but Deacon gets mad and then finds out they were smack-talking Brad. Oops. Deacon goes to an AA meeting and says that everything his dad does makes him angry but that with the many people who have forgiven him for the things he’s done he should be able to forgive his dad. He doesn’t want to, however, because the people his father hurt aren’t alive to speak now. Deacon says he realizes he wears his hatred like an armor but looks at his daughters and realizes if he doesn’t take off that armor then he’s the broken one. He could also rust like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
As the episode ends, Daphne decides to shed her armor and performs – beautifully, of course – without her guitar. Avery leaves Juliette for what will likely be the last time as Sean bonds with his son and Alannah gets more demos and a note from Brad saying, “Let’s be friends.” We’re pretty sure even Mister Rogers would tell Brad to F off.
As Scarlett faces a blank page in her journal, Deacon tells his dad that he wants him to know he’s trying. He’d better try a little harder… the Nashville series finale airs in just three weeks, on Thursday, July 26th.