Nashville Can't Stop Testing Young Love
Will Clayton ever run out of reasons not to date Maddie? And will Gunnar figure out how to take Scarlett's side against an aggressive video director?
Scarlett Might Kill The Video Star
Alert Type: Artistic Abuse Alert.
Issue: Damian, the fancy British director we met in the last episode, has started work on his video for The Exes, but Scarlett's not on board with his very clichéd ideas, starting with her revealing wardrobe (which he edits by requesting that a couple of flouncy cap sleeves get removed), and on through the sexy dancing he wants her to do but which she finds "degrading." (Rayna, who makes a set visit, does notice that Scarlett doesn't seem to be having a great time, but Scarlett won't whine to her label head, and when Rayna raises her concerns with Zach, who midwifed this whole production, he advises her not to mess with Damian's process, because Zach knows better than a multi-platinum-selling country star when it comes to artists, apparently.)
Complicating Factors: Damian is a total dick whose only idea as to how to get a good performance out of Scarlett is to emotionally abuse her until she's authentically feeling the emotion he wants for the video. And not only isn't Gunnar -- her partner both in their relationship and in this band -- backing her up when she and Damian clash; he also goes out for drinks with Damian and spills the tea about what a saint Scarlett is for taking him back after he fucked around on the road, which naturally Damian then uses against Scarlett in front of the entire production the next day.
Resolution: Scarlett delivers the performance Damian wants...
Spoiler: ...but there will still be pain.
She Was Too Young To Fall In Love
Situation: Maddie and Clay are getting closer, showing off their musical knowledge to each other in his car and going to a club where his friend is performing and where he gets called up on stage to wow her some more.
What makes it awkward? When Clay takes Maddie to the former site of one of Nashville's many venerated music venues -- which I assume is a description that also applies to every Piggly Wiggly and gas station, but which he actually knows about because of his grandfather, who raised him after his mother couldn't and helped settle down the wilder young Clay by teaching him guitar -- they kiss, which he quickly breaks off because she's underage. When she protests, he begs, "Don't make it harder than it already is." PHRASING!
How is order restored? Clay calls her up, compliments a song she's working on, and acts all cute so she'll go out with him again, though that doesn't go so great either.
Who called the meeting? Bucky, with an assist from Rayna.
What's it about? When Randall steps away from his desk, she opens his drawer and finds the little knickknack with Maddie's picture that used to be in her office; she suspects he might be her stalker.
How'd it go? No sooner has Bucky produced the box than Randall bursts into tears and apologies: he just wanted something that was special to Rayna so his mother would think they're friends! TOTES NORMAL MOTIVATION! Rayna asks whether he's also been sending her flowers and notes, but he's confused and aghast and, given how quickly he folded as the conversation began, probably not a good enough liar to fake that one. Bucky asks for a handwriting sample that exonerates him as a stalker -- the real culprit didn't know "their" from "there" (great, that means every egg avatar on Twitter is a suspect), which Randall does -- so Rayna decides not to press charges against Randall for the doodad theft but also doesn't want him working there anymore, which: reasonable, and pretty much the best outcome for Randall, all things considered. Don't be such a creep at your next job, Randall! And...don't expect a good reference from this one, probably!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Clay vs. Maddie
Maddie heads out with her parents' knowledge and very restrained interrogation to the recording studio with a bed in it that his friend actually rents, where Clay lives. It's a bit sketchy, and Maddie seems slightly dismayed about it...
...even though to me it looks perfectly nice...
...and like just the sort of place where an up-and-coming musician whose sole source of income is from busking should be living. Anyway, Maddie decides to blow past it and sit on the bed to fulfill Clay's request that she play more of the song she's been working on, which just makes him want to kiss her again. She's into it, but once again he pulls back. She promises, "I won't tell anyone," but he tells her, "You don't know what you're doing with me." She assures him that she's not a virgin, but he's not talking about that: he thinks they need to get to know each other better (which is what she thinks they're doing) and that they've been tiptoeing around a bigger issue -- namely race. Maddie comes right up to the edge of saying she doesn't see colour, and points out that people enter interracial relationships all the time. Clay counters that the fact that she's not even able to talk about their racial difference is proof of her privilege, basically, and since there's not really any answer to that one -- PSA for everyone reading this: if someone in circumstances different than yours suggests that you might be blind to something due to your privilege, THEY ARE PROBABLY RIGHT and you should LISTEN rather than GET DEFENSIVE -- she gets sad but doesn't try to argue further, whereupon Clay backs down and says he should take her home. Coldly, she agrees. Poor kid.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Of all the episodes for my esteemed colleague John not to be able to cover, I'm glad it was this one, since this is the only scene with Juliette in it. Maddie goes over to her place the next day -- where we see that Juliette can lift her leg a few inches, and where she informs us all that her cast is coming off in a week -- to talk boys, and Juliette is only too grateful for the distraction. Except Maddie's description of what's been going seems like...not at all what we've actually seen? "Every time I feel like we're taking a step forward, he, like, clams up or something, and keeps saying I don't know what I'm getting myself into." He's actually offered two very good reasons there could be impediments to your dating -- one legal, one that just involves having a lot of awareness of each other's circumstances -- but okay. "And last night he was mean for no reason," Maddie concludes. Juliette offers the wisdom of her few more years to advise Maddie to take him at his word: "If a guy's not treating you right, that doesn't mean that there's some sweeter, nicer version of him under there and it's your job to try to find him. Trust me, I've been down that road too many times to count." Maddie asks why she's dated bad guys so often if it's obvious when they suck, and Juliette shrugs, "Because screwed-up men are sexy. Don't ask me why. Until they're not." It's not that anything she's saying is wrong; it's just that it seems like not at all germane to the situation given the reservations Clay has actually expressed? But it gives us a nice friendly scene with these two, so I can't be that mad.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Bros vs. Clay
Clay's playing on the sidewalk outside a bar when two bros come wandering out and demand that he play them "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy." Clay mumbles that he doesn't know it, but when Choad #1 says he'll pay $20, and that everyone knows it, Clay reluctantly admits that he just thinks the song sucks.
Choad #2 does not care for that response, but the scene ends before we see exactly what goes down.
Winner: Spoiler alert: not Clay...
...as Maddie soon finds out when she goes over to see him, bleeding from the head and passing out as soon as he stands.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
Putting The "Guy" In "Smorguysbord"
For some reason Will is at the shoot? He's outside by the craft services table, having been kicked out due to the shooting of a private scene that's about to start, when Zach rolls up and starts chatting. Their conversation is pretty superficial other than Zach asking what Luke's vision is for Will's career (which I think is the first time Luke's even come up since the show moved to Season 5 and whom I'd kind of forgotten about) and suggesting that what could propel Will to a higher level would be a profile in the New York Times, which Zach could totally hook up. Will:
Zach realizes he's being way too forward and pushy and just gives Will his contact info instead of demanding Will's...
...but is he hitting on Will? WHAT IS THIS GUY'S DEAL?! If he is, Will does not seem that into it.
Wrap It Up
After waiting impatiently (and ignoring Rayna's texts) at the hospital or clinic where 911 has brought Clay -- and by the way it is such a This Week thought but as soon as I saw her there, I worried about Clay's coverage and who will get billed for his treatment -- Maddie is relieved and overwhelmed to see Clay come out, looking a little less awful than before. Outside, she asks if there's someone she could call for him, but he keeps declining her help, finally telling her, "You're gonna go and do you, and I'ma do me, all right?" Maddie won't accept that, to which Clay finally snaps that he's "not a normal person," and that he has "big mood swings." Maddie could not be more blasé as she replies, "You're bipolar." "How'd you know that?" She basically says all her drama-queeny friends think they have it, hee. She tries to tell him there are things he can do to manage the condition, which he knows: the problem is the drugs he'd be prescribed make it so he can't feel, which also means he can't write or sing. But Maddie doesn't accept that either, and says it's that he's just scared of how much he likes her, and nothing at all to do with his age or race or mental illness. "What do you want to happen?" snorts Clay. "You want me to walk up to your parents' front door, say 'Hi Mom, hi Dad, I'm your daughter's broke-ass, older boyfriend, and oh, by the way, I'm off my meds, nice to meet you'?" But Maddie has no hesitation: "YES. Yes, that's exactly what I want. Because you're brilliant, and I care so much about you! And the only thing holding you back is you." [fire emoji]
After the video wraps and Scarlett is packing up, Damian finds her and kind of shyly compliments her work on the video; he knows she's going to be famous. As he starts to walk away, Scarlet asks, "What gives you the nerve to treat people like that?" "Wait 'til you see the video," he replies. Based on the predictable corniness we saw during the making-of, I'm not holding my breath that it's going to change Scarlett's opinion of you, dude, but sure.
The next morning, Scarlett shuffles into the kitchen, where an oblivious Gunnar has made an elaborate breakfast spread. Apparently Scarlett just slept angry and didn't say anything about her feelings about the shoot until...now, when she asks, "Why would you tell him our personal business?" She says she's made her own peace with taking Gunnar back, but she doesn't like anyone else know the details because she thinks it makes her look weak for having forgiven his cheating. Gunnar says he thinks it's actually proof that she's strong (and who could possibly be more objective about that?), and that he's thankful for her strength every day. She lets him hug her, but this seems like it may not be a closed issue. Even if the only effect of the experience with Damian is to make Scarlett stick up for herself more: GOOD.
After skipping breakfast, Maddie wanders down to a concerned Deacon and Rayna. They respect the new relationship the three of them have, but when she doesn't answer texts or tell them where she's going, they get worried. Maddie is testy but understands and gives them an abridged version of Clay's "accident." Rayna says that if Maddie's going to be spending so much time with Clay, Rayna and Deacon would like to meet him, to which Maddie says she'd like that too, but it's over now.
Which is when the doorbell rings. Rayna tenses, assuming it's the stalker, but when Deacon gets on the intercom, it's...Clay.
And he's put on a jacket and fixed himself up as much as he could under the circumstances to come present himself to Maddie's parents, like a gentleman. Maddie, who'd already started pouting back upstairs, rushes back down and throws himself into his arms. The age thing is...no? Okay.
And then Rayna's at the label going over paperwork when HER ACTUAL STALKER TOTALLY SHOWS UP AND SCREAMS FOR HER TO TALK TO HIM!
WHO'S THIS FUCKER NOW???