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Nashville - Second Chances - Review: "We're All Supposedly Adults Here"

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The final season’s second episode is aptly titled “Second Chances.” Besides this being true for our favorite characters, it’s also partially true for the new showrunners. When they took over the show, they left a complete and utter mess in their wake during season five. Part of the hiccup could be changing networks and having new showrunners, but there is only so much change that can be excused. These new showrunners took what so great about Nashville and destroyed it in one fell swoop. While they started to find their footing by season’s end, they still had a lot of rebuilding. With the show in its final season, this is their second chance, so to speak. They have one shot to make things right, and they haven’t totally screwed it up yet. Despite it being a low bar, they seem to be at least be listening to some of the fans’ outrage. For the past two episodes, Juliette has been front and center – even though it’s a disappointing storyline. We have barely seen any of Zach and Brad. Scarlett does seem to be addressing some of her more problematic issues. And we get see Gunnar and Will and now Avery share some epic scenes. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

So it seems Juliette has officially joined a cult, or an “intentional community” as the unnamed lady calls it. We start the episode by Avery wanting Juliette to get help from a therapist, a licensed professional, but Juliette has her own ideas about how she wants to handle her issues. She decides it would be better for her mental health to visit Darius, the somewhat of a stalker cult leader, instead of a real doctor. So after Juliette travels how many miles to get to the intentional community, Darius flakes on his meeting with Juliette. He then sends some random lady, whose name I still don’t know, to give Juliette a personalized introduction to what they do at the cult, which includes all the cult members living together, because why not. Apparently these like-minded individuals felt that the workshops brainwashing wasn’t enough, so they decided to live together year round to support one another. But don’t worry; living at the intentional community is just like living anywhere else in that you have to donate 30% of your income to charity. Now Juliette, being a country music singer, must make a lot of money. So she would have to donate so much more than everybody else, and the random lady conveniently leaves out the part of where the money is going. Maybe right back to the intentional community, where the cult members can use said donations to “perform” good deeds because that totally seems plausible, right. Oh wait, the fun doesn’t stop there as Juliette is then invited to join the cult as they attend a worksite and a singer with no construction work experience is handed a nail gun and told to insulate the walls. While it was funny watching Juliette try to figure out to use the tool, she could have seriously been injured. I mean, there was barely any supervision. I, personally, thought she had the right attitude when she explained that someone would get hurt if she was left alone. As for it not really being her kind of task, she was right on the mark. There are lots of ways to give back like volunteering at a nursing home or a soup kitchen or literally hundreds of other things that don’t involve you potentially hurting yourself or someone else in the process. Aren’t there supposed to be, I don’t know, some kind of permit or training you have to go through before you’re allowed to operate potentially dangerous tools?

But apparently, this is exactly the task Juliette needs because like she predicted, she does hurt herself. This being Juliette and everything, she expects people to give her special treatment. The random lady actually says the one thing I agree with at this point – that no one is making Juliette stay. She can leave if she likes, and she definitely should have taken that chance and run for the hills. Yet, then the lady goes on about how we become weak when we’re handed things, but if we’re refused we rise to the challenge. Apparently the good work the cult does isn’t just giving back, but it’s about moving away from victimhood and realizing our own power. So Juliette once again continues her pattern of making bad decisions and decides to stay for dinner, which isn’t that bad, except it leaves the door open for Darius to convince Juliette to stay at the intentional community for longer. In order for Juliette to break old habits, she needs distance and structure; something that can’t be achieved in old environments despite that being where her family is. And then we end with Juliette most likely telling Avery she’s going to leave her husband ex-husband baby daddy [insert what Avery actually is to Juliette here] and their daughter to live with a bunch of strangers who are part of a cult. Is there any way you can break that gently to your committed partner? I don’t think so. Has she really forgotten what happened last time she “left” her family and went on a bender? To her this probably seems different; she’s not using drugs and feels better than she has in a long time, but she nearly lost her family in the process. Hasn’t she put Avery and Cadence through enough? Why is it so hard for her to seek treatment for a professional instead of getting tricked into joining a cult and probably ending up donating all her earthly possessions for their cause? Does none of this even sound remotely familiar? As for Avery, he deserves so much better. Time and time again, he has stuck by Juliette has she routinely continues to screw up her life. If she can’t see clearly how her actions affect her, does she at least have the foresight to realize how much this hurts the man she loves? How much pain can she put him through before she realizes that it’s just not worth it? Maybe someone else has some insights, but I’m just at a loss right now.

And then we have Deacon and Jessie who go on the most awkward first date of this show. After Deacon and Scarlett run into Jessie at the farmer’s market, Scarlett encourages Deacon to ask Jessie out, claiming they chickened out before they actually started anything. Taking his niece’s advice, Deacon asks Jessie over the phone, but things hit a snag when Jessie wonders if he’s really ready to start dating. It’s not exactly clear if Deacon and Jessie are truly ready for another relationship, but after both claim they are, they decide to go out. I’d also like the point out that Deacon doesn’t even ask Jessie out; he sort of dances around the issue until she picks up on what’s going on. I’m pretty sure if you can’t say it, you’re not supposed to be doing it. Of course, their impending date night is short lived as Jessie cancels on Deacon at the last minute, explaining that Jake is having a meltdown and there’s just a lot going on. So while a convenient and plausible reason to cancel, we later learn that Jessie was just nervous, which makes sense giving everything she’s been through. To make things less nerve wracking, Deacon suggests the date can just be dinner, just two people sharing a meal. I mean everyone has to eat sometime, and if the two of them just happen to go to a fancy restaurant, that’s totally casual, right? They even take separate cars to keep the pressure off. Yet, no matter how much they want their non-date to be dinner, it just can’t be. When Jessie reveals she’s not going to pursue music as a career anymore and she’s thinking of going back to school to study psychology, Deacon is totally supportive. Which would be a good thing when looking for a romantic partner, but in them trying to take things to the next level, Jessie fears they have endangered their friendship. She said if things were really OK with them, then Deacon could have given her a hard time about her decision and even though there are a million things going on in their live, she should still make time for it. Deacon explains that he was really looking forward to their date, but now that he’s here, he’s overwhelmed, with both of them realizing this couldn’t just be dinner, no matter how much they wanted it to.

So as Deacon drops Jessie off, they decide to chalk this up as a fun but failed experiment. Like Deacon said, they would have always wondered if they didn’t try. For the tiniest nanosecond it seems like the duo would part ways as platonic friends, which I know is sort of a stretch considering we’ve seen them kissing in the season’s promo, but just go with me for the moment. Then in a moment straight out of a romantic comedy, Jessie, who is about halfway to her doorstep, turns around and she and Deacon kiss. We then cut to black and cue the feels. It’s not clear how far things went between them, but I think it’s safe to say they’re slightly more than friends now. I mean, they weren’t exactly subtle when Deacon dropped Daphne off for school, and the text Jessie sent implies things are definitely heating up. As for how long this relationship will last and if Deacon and Jessie are still endgame remains to be seen. This has the potential to be the first serious relationship for both Deacon and Jessie since Rayna’s death and Jessie’s divorce, and there are definitely going to be complications. Even if Maddie, Daphne, and Jake were fine with their parents dating, which at least two of them won’t be, there are still a million and one things that could and probably will go wrong. There’s the age difference, Jessie’s obnoxious ex-husband Brad, it’s been less than a year since Rayna died, Deacon running Highway 65, etc. At least Deacon and Jessie are aware of the potential uphill battle their facing; it would have been way worse if they thought they wouldn’t face any blowback. While I didn’t expect them to get together so soon, I’m keeping an open mind. Given this is the final season, it makes sense that Deacon and Jessie would get together sooner rather than later. I mean, viewers want Deacon to be happy, but it’s still hard seeing him with someone besides Rayna. It took Dayna like four seasons to get there happy ending, and then everything was ripped away when Connie Britton left the show. It’s just that they were the heart of the show, so to see Deacon moving on is hard. I think I was more OK with the idea of him being with someone else than actually seeing it play out.

So enough about my complicated feelings toward Deacon and Jessie; let’s move on to my favorite part of the episode. While it wasn’t three men and a baby toddler road trip, it was still pretty epic. Gunnar has another solo gig coming up and Will asks Gunnar if he wants Will to play with him again. Even though Gunnar appreciates the sentiment, he doesn’t need Will worrying about him. Will then explains that the reason he was asking was because he had fun playing with Gunnar; he hasn’t felt that free on stage in a long time. So the guys once again perform together, which I am loving by the way, and Will continues his reign as best friend ever, this time by setting Gunnar up with a fan. Seriously, we could all use a friend like Will in our lives. After the gig, Gunnar, Will, and Avery go out for coffee where Avery expresses his “jealousy” over how much fun Gunnar and Will were having up on stage. Being the great friends that they are, Gunnar and Will invite Avery to play with them sometime. And being the ascetic that he is, Avery declines their offer, explaining it’s not a good time with everything going on (i.e. Juliette joining a cult). Like I said, as the AMAZING friends that they are, Gunnar and Will promptly ignore Avery’s decision, instead deciding to “kidnap” him and Cadence. With Cadence being given to a highly-rated babysitter on Yelp, the trio is then free to perform together. The cliché saying of getting the band back together comes to mind here, except these guys have never really been in an actual band. We’ve seen both Gunnar and Avery be part of ZAG and The XXXs, with Zoey and Scarlett respectively, but Will has always been a solo artist. And if the cheers from the crowd weren’t an indication of how awesome they were, then you can take my word for it. In case you didn’t realize, I love any excuse for these guys to get together and jam. So whether the trio decides to form a “supergroup” or just make music as friends, I’m all for it. The more screen time for this newly formed unnamed band, the better.

And then we have Scarlett who was actually bearable this episode, other than hiding behind vegetables to avoid talking to Gunnar. Scarlett has her first solo performance of the season this episode, and while it’s a beautiful song, it’s apparent something is off by the end. When Deacon brings this up, Scarlett explains that performing up there alone, she felt Gunnar’s absence. While she’s OK without Gunnar up there with her, she’s starting to wonder why she’s performing at all. She feels like the lights and crowds and all that was Gunnar’s dream and without him, she just doesn’t know if pursuing music is what she wants. However, she starts having second thoughts when Nadine, also known as the obsessive Scunnar fan from last season, explains how Scarlett’s music helped the high schooler through a rough time last year. Scarlett realizes that since music has given her this platform to help people, it would be selfish to worry if she enjoys it or not. As many of you know, I had no problem calling out Scarlett for being selfish in the way she treated Gunnar last season. I was deservedly hard on her, but like Deacon tells her: It’s not selfish to want to enjoy what you do. If music isn’t making Scarlett happy anymore, then she can take a break. We’ve seen her struggle with whether or not she wants to pursue music in past seasons. Last time she performed as a solo artist, she didn’t listen to her instincts and ended up having a nervous breakdown. While I think it would be good for her to get some help, I don’t want to see institutionalized again. Thankfully, she seems to be listening herself this time and decides to take a step back from music. So I was really glad when she told Gunnar she was thinking of taking a break, and even more so that she didn’t hide this time. She realized while her music does help people, there are other ways to achieve the same effect. Where this new direction will take Scarlett, I don’t have a clue. Maybe she’ll end up enrolling in those online psychology classes with Jessie, who knows? As long as she’s tolerable onscreen, then I can’t really complain, or at least not more than I ususally do.

So what else happens in this episode? Even though we see very little of Maddie, we learn she and Jonah are still hanging out, but he’s still hot and cold. They apparently had a great time hanging out the day before, but he’s now taking forever to respond to her texts. It’s nice to see Maddie being a regular teenage girl obsessing over whether Jonah likes her or not, and it was a bonus that we didn’t have to watch all this angst play out. The scene with her and Deacon was perfect: It was a reminder of her love life without it being shoved down our throats. We also catch up a little with Daphne this episode, who seems to still be “dating” Flynn. She and Jake are kind of awkward in their interactions, but both agree it would have been weird if their parents had actually started dating. Well, since that seems to be happening, I’m assuming we’ll see more of Daphne and Jake bonding over this weirdness and possibly scheming to break them up. And then lastly, we get an actual conversation between Scarlett and Gunnar. After initially hiding behind vegetables the first time, Scarlett spots him at the farmer’s market, they decide to be adults instead of awkwardly avoiding each other. It may not have been the deepest conversation, but it was a start. Besides sharing what they’ve been up to, both of them seemed happy that the other was in a good place. And for all of you Scunnar shippers out there, that longing stare at the end of the conversation should be enough to tide you over for the time being.

Some stray thoughts:
- You know it’s going to be a better than average episode just because Zach and Brad aren’t in it.
- What is up with Will constantly going to the gym? I think this is a teaser for his possible steroid use, but I don’t yet understand where this need to be super buff came from.

So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. How long will Juliette live with the cult? What are your feelings on Deacon and Jessie finally getting together? How much did you love seeing Gunnar, Will, and Avery perform together? Is Scarlett making the right choice by taking a break from music?

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