Anyone who’s ever been through intense physical therapy knows the journey getting back to full strength is a mother, and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is struggling hard. With all the stubbornness of Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump,” the former pop country darling who’s used to singing and dancing all day, is grappling with her new handicapped status. On Thursday night ‘s (Jan 19,) episode, “Leap of Faith,” Juliette falls out her wheelchair and as Avery (Jonathon Jackson) instinctively goes to help her up, she screams,”I’ll do it myself!”
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It’s difficult for Juliette to admit she actually needs Avery’s help. She can’t stand the fact that without him, she can barely take of herself — let alone their baby, who is still named “Cadence.” But Avery, who’s been the moral compass of the show ever since his character did a full 180 from the narcissistic douchebag he was back in Season 1, keeps impressing upon Juliette that he wants to be there for her and that it’s not a nuisance — when you love somebody that much, it’s exactly what you want to be doing.
Juliette just wants to click her heels and be better already. She’s trying to bump up the speed of her recovery by skipping psychotherapy, and of course that quickly blows up in her face. As singer and oracle Taylor Swift famously tells us, “Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes.” Taking shortcuts, only focusing on getting outwardly better, will only make the journey back to full health take even longer.
Avery is being the perfect angel of a caretaker, and it makes sense when he isn’t quick to accept Juliette’s invitation for sex after their heart-to-heart. He “needs time” to process everything, as he hasn’t forgotten their rocky status before the crash happened. But then it makes zero sense that less than five minutes later, he’s all over her in the bedroom. Is that all the time he needed? He is a warm-blooded male, so maybe — or maybe the writers forgot to put the initial scene in which he refuses Juliette in the beginning of the episode. Whatever. Avery and Juliette will be just fine, and there are more pressing things to discuss.
Like who is Rayna’s (Connie Britton) stalker? And why are she and Deacon (Charles Esten) being so nonchalant about these creepy hand-delivered letters? After all Rayna’s been through, it’s hard to imagine they aren’t already talking to the police or hiring personal security. As the threat escalates, she and Deacon talk it over with Bucky (David Alford), who agrees that it’s nothing to worry about.
Hey guys? This is definitely something to worry about. The fact that you’re cool knowing an obsessed lunatic is dropping off packages to the house where your kids sleep makes us question your sanity. Rayna and Deacon spend more time worrying about whether or not billionaire Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins) is the right guy to bail out their record label, or who is in charge during a given conversation: It’s no wonder Highway 65 is always going broke.
There’s definitely a chink in Zach’s seemingly perfect armor, but it has yet to be revealed. The show wants us to believe he could be Rayna’s stalker — in this episode alone it’s repeated at least four times that “something is off” with Zach, and we’ve been led since the beginning to question Zach’s unbridled excitement to be working with an artist he’s musically been in love with since he was kid — and it wouldn’t take much more to bring us around. After all, the other stalker candidates aren’t working with billions of dollars, for example: A show so obsessed with commercialization and the ironies of money and corruption couldn’t imagine someone scarier than an obsessive fan with limitless funds.
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The writers are also leaving bread crumbs for us to think the perpetrator is Randall St. Clair, Rayna’s new social media assistant. He’s a much more obvious pick. First of all, his name is way too ridiculous to be real, and he’s clearly got a few screws loose. For some reason, Randall secretly stole Rayna’s paper clip holder after everyone left the office: He’s got serious Rayna fever, but he’s also impeccable at his job. So he could just be your average tech guy with zero real life social skills.
However, our best guess is that the stalker will turn out to be neither of these guys. It makes sense for it be someone from Rayna’s past, like a former scorned artist, or maybe an ex-lover. It could turn out to be that crazed fan who emitted super eerie vibes when asking to take a photo with Rayna in last week’s episode. Whoever it is, Rayna needs to get her guard up and take precautions. Just imagine what Tami Taylor would think!
“Nashville” airs on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.