For better or worse, big decisions are being made on Nashville that have major impact on major players. Scarlett (Clare Bowen) made a bold move, breaking free from her mother in every sense, checking herself out of the hospital and starting over her way. Will and Layla (Chris Carmack and Aubrey Peeples) bought into of reality show gig, despite counsel to the contrary, and Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) thought “what the heck” to another one night stand, highly under the influence, even with her worst enemy. Consequences can be very tough to swallow, but facing them can also turn life around. In episode 21 of Season 2, “All or Nothing with Me,” some take the high road in facing the music, and others try to skate, and some just try to get by.
Sobbing in the shower the morning after, Juliette can’t scrub away the sorrow and regret of her interlude with Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson). Just as Rayna is fighting for her life in a board meeting of her Highway 65 label, deflecting heat over even having Juliette on board, news comes that Luke (Will Chase) has been injured in an IED hit on his convoy in Afghanistan. Rayna wants to leave immediately to meet him when his plane lands back stateside. When Teddy (Eric Close) comes to take the girls, Maddie (Lennon Stella) chooses her moment to pitch that this would be the perfect time for her to stay with Deacon (Charles Esten). Putting up a protest, but not willing to create a feud in the middle of a crisis, Rayna agrees, and Teddy concedes. Sister Daphne questions whether it will always be a situation of Maddie and Deacon, and her with Teddy, and her dad affirms that they will be a family. Avery (Jonathan Jackson) tells Juliette that he gave up on her coming home the night before, but his moves to make apology meet up with a less than warm reception. Rayna is glad to see that Luke is not badly injured, only bruised ribs, scrapes, and a noggin hit. When Will sings to Layla on camera, the producer calls the two of her new stars “gold,” but things go south quickly. Scarlett feels a sense of home at the Bluebird, and asks to return to waitressing part-time for fun. Maddie is lapping up time with her dad, who is confounded that Algebra II even made it “as a sequel.” While talking about the changes in modern education, she asks questions about where Deacon was when she was born. He answers, “on the road,” with vagueness that belies the truth, but the pain in his eyes tells it. “Did you ever think about marrying my mom?” Maddie probes, and Deacon does some soul-searching to help him stand tall. “Your mama deserved better, and you did, too,” comes the reply.
Juliette brushes off Jeff’s offer of a return to Edgehill, showing there is clearly no passion personally artistically existing between them. She accepts instantly an invitation from Rayna to play at a charity show in Fort Campbell to be live for troops and families there, and broadcast to Afghanistan, to help Luke make up for his canceled performances. Will and Layla are struggling with camera angles for their “natural” kissing, and Will cracks, canceling shooting for the day, and retreating to the bathroom, where he makes a desperate call for a “private session” with Tony (Cory M. Grant), who he just met at the gym. He can’t run from his reality, but he still refuses to let anyone else see it. Luke and Rayna come to near blows over Juliette performing, and Rayna finally pulls herself off responsibility for the lineup, leaving it to Luke, but saying that the troops don’t care about Juliette’s past, and calling him “just mean” over the issue. When he watches her later interacting with disabled troops, he reconsiders and invites Juliette back for a duet performance. She agrees, not to help Luke, but knowing she can deliver. At his AA meeting, Deacon tells the story of Maddie’s question, and confesses “I was on the road to hell” and knowing he has to make some amends from the heart. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) is confused about whether to share what he knows with Avery, particularly because he has a songwriting deal in the works with Juliette, and Zoey (Chaley Rose) is circulating herself as a backup singer again. When Avery asks her guidance over Juliette’s cold shoulder, she tells him to talk it over with. Gunnar. Just as Gunnar and Avery find a moment to get to the heart of that matter, Zoey comes in, celebrating news that she’s just been hired as Juliette’s backup singer, and she takes Gunnar away, so no disparaging words will be said.
Scarlett tries to cope with customer comments through her first waitressing night, all asking about the meltdown seen around the world on video. Luke tells Rayna that at the time of his life or death situation of the attack, “I saw my kids, and I saw you.” He questions whether she feels the same love that he does, and she responds, “I’m all in.” First Lady, Michelle Obama, makes an appearance via satellite at the show, and so does Kellie Pickler, to support the troops, offering thanks, and Juliette and Luke are in rare form, singing “Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave,” after which, Jeff is still making overtures. Deacon comes to Rayna with a deep apology for his attitude over her marrying Teddy, and Maddie’s birth, admitting “you were protecting our little girl.” The healing looks come almost immediately. Avery comes to the performance to stand with Juliette, and she tries to assure him with a kiss that all is good, but the feeling isn’t there. Jeff threatens whether Avery would accept her “truth” so well. She smiles, but dread and doubt instantly overtake her. When Zoey tell Scarlett about her job with Juliette, Scarlett is thrilled, and makes an announcement of her own– she’s leaving Nashville. Deacon seeks out Teddy for the story of Maddie’s birth, and Teddy offers willingly. Deacon gives him credit for raising a beautiful daughter.
To close the show, Rayna, her daughters, and Deacon join in singing “A Life That’s Good” in a moving moment that shows Teddy and the troops’ families looking on.
Next week, a surprise proposal is just one of the roller coaster, emotion-rousing moments that come in the season finale!