‘Nashville’ Season 5, Episode 13 Recap: Getting Back to (the New) Normal
The death of Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) still looms large in the lives of Nashville's surviving characters, naturally, but in Episode 13 of Season 5, for the most part, everyone’s getting back to business as usual.
Episode 13, titled "‘Til I Can Make it on My Own," kicks off with a flash-forward: Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is staring down an expectant crowd for her first performance since the plane crash that almost killed (and temporarily paralyzed) her at the end of Season 4. Then, the action jumps to 36 hours prior: Juliette is being examined by a neurologist, who tells her that her problems are psychological, not physical, and urges her to see a psychiatrist to deal with her trauma. It certainly doesn’t help that Juliette is still reeling from the negative reviews of the gospel album that she recorded with the church choir, and facing her big comeback performance at the (very cleverly named) Music City Music Festival.
Originally, Juliette was scheduled to perform with the church choir, including Hallie Jordan (Rhiannon Giddens), but she makes a rash decision to cut the choir and perform music from her previous albums. She lies to Hallie and says that the label made the choice, but that excuse really doesn’t fly; Juliette and Hallie have a fight, which leaves Juliette doubting her choices. As she rehearses for the performance, her disassociative episodes continue ... Perhaps Juliette isn't actually able to make her much-anticipated comeback after all.
Much of Episode 13 focuses on Juliette dealing with her trauma, slipping in and out of disassociative states as she recalls memories from her past. An image of a young Juliette and her father keeps recurring, and throughout the episode, viewers learn how deeply she was affected by his loss.
At the same time, Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella)’s career is at a critical crossroads, and that has everything to do with the creative struggles at Highway 65. Investor Zach Welles (Cameron Scroggins) wants to push Maddie’s album out via a midnight release (how very Beyonce of him) and build viral buzz; Bucky Dawes (David Alford), who guided Rayna’s career, is skeptical of that approach, however. That leaves Rayna’s widower, Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) to make major choices about how the label moves forward: Does he fire Bucky? Does he buck Zach’s wishes and release the album in a traditional way?
Zach makes it clear that he wants Bucky out, and Deacon confronts his old friend with the bad news -- but says that he’s not going to support Zach’s decision. Maddie is equally supportive of Bucky, but still enthusiastic about the midnight release strategy; however, Bucky bows out on his own ... and tells Deacon to watch his back.
Also on the rise is the career of Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), who performs at Music City Music Fest and earns kudos from real-life country star Michael Ray. His agent comes by after the set and tells Avery that he’s been offered a spot on tour with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes -- news that leaves Avery equal parts excited and terrified.
Meanwhile, Daphne Conrad (Maisy Stella) is still struggling: After lying to Deacon, Daphne heads to the “crash space” to hang out with Liv, the homeless teen she met after skipping school in Episode 12. Liv is leaving with her fellow roommates (who are skeptical of Daphne’s presence) to steal from a scrapyard. Daphne goes with them, and although she doesn’t sneak inside the gates, she is standing directly outside of them when a salvage employee sees the kids and chases them off. They narrowly escape, but Liv gets stuck on the barbed-wire fence and cuts herself. Daphne brings Liv home to tend to her wound ... and when both girls open up to each other about their family situations, they realize that they might have more in common than they know.
Later in the episode, Deacon discovers the bloody gauze and peroxide that Daphne used to fix up Liv’s wounds and storms into Daphne’s room while Liv hides under the bed, only to catch her a few minutes later. At first, Deacon says that Liv has to go, but after hearing that her parents are out of the picture, he ultimately allows her to stay.
Intensifying in Episode 13 is the ongoing baby daddy drama between Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen). Viewers learned in Episode 12 that Scarlett's former flame Damien George (Christian Coulson) is the father of her child, but he doesn’t know it yet -- that is, of course, until Scarlett meets him in a bar and blurts out the news. Damien is understandably shocked, and doesn’t seem to be too excited about becoming a dad; he does, however, offer to support Scarlett financially, a response that seems brutally cold. Scarlett storms away, to the Music City Music Festival to perform a set with Gunnar (that's introduced by guest star RaeLynn).
The last viewers see of Damien in Episode 13 is near its end, when he shows up at Scarlett’s house to admit that he acted like a jerk when she told him the news. He’s clearly a big bundle of emotions, because he tells Scarlett that he’s in love with her and wants to make it work. Scarlett, however, knows that isn’t true ... but it doesn’t seem like her heart is totally with Gunnar.
With the focus back on Juliette's storyline, Avery encourages Juliette to apologize to the choir ... and she finally does. However, before that, she has yet another episode: Viewers see Juliette with her mother, who arrives in a police car and tells her that Daddy isn’t coming home. Juliette gathers the courage to get out of her car, cops to her choice to exclude the choir and asks them to perform with her. They’re not sold on the idea after her betrayal.
Because he feels that he needs to stay with Juliette, Avery tells his agent that he can’t take the spot on that Edward Sharpe tour. And with her performance only moments away -- and the choir not yet there -- Juliette is still seeing memories of her father. Right before she takes the stage, she remembers her father coming to her in a dream and telling her that he’ll always love her and be proud of her. It’s an emotional moment that only continues to build: The choir (they've arrived!) starts singing, and Juliette misses her cue. As she grapples with her memories, she begins to walk up the stairs to her raised platform.
Since the plane crash and her physical therapy and recovery process, Juliette has come a long way, and her performance is proof: She sounds (and looks!) incredible, and everyone in the crowd is cheering her on. As she sings, though, things are much less certain for the rest of Nashville’s characters: Bucky tells Deacon that he’s leaving on his own terms, and Deacon isn’t able to talk him out of it; he tells Deacon to be careful with Zach, that he could be the next one out.
But there’s a brief moment of peace for Scarlett and Gunnar, who appear ready to figure out their complicated future. That same peace washes across Avery’s face, too, for a moment: He's confident that he’s made the right decision to stay in Nashville with Juliette.
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