“Nashville” returned with plenty of pop in action and fulfilled passion since its spring return, with the wedding that fans have longed for as deeply as the leading characters, but even that fateful day had twists to keep the storylines tantalizing through the end of the current season. Those twists are still twirling in this week’s March 30 13th episode for Season 4, “If I Could Do It All Again,” but some of the best hatched plans have unexpected pitfalls, and choices offered mean picking the lesser of evils. The drama’s faithful following is still waiting for official assurance of Season 5, and what’s already a done deal is that new show runners, Marshall Herskowitz and Edwards Zwick, creators of the long-running, “thirtysomething” will do something different if future seasons happen. Never dismay, there’s still life and good music to live for with these players in Music City!
When the storyline last left Vita Martin (Jeananne Goosen), she was permanent on Frankie’s (Mark Collie) permanent poo-poo list, with Rayna and Deacon (Connie Britton and Charles Esten) still pulling strings for her, and pulling for her to make a new start in life. The call came that $500 was gone from the till, and she was the obvious thief, still, Rayna and Deacon didn’t want to leave it at that, going the extra mile to track her down, but she’s nowhere to be found, and not making contact. Luke (Will Chase) is all smiles and everything is upbeat when he and Riff Bell (Steve Kazee) make the press conference announcement of their tour, with Luke defending that audiences want “authenticity instead of Autotune,” with a preview show at the Beverly to show that Riff still has it after years of absence from the stage, but rehearsals prove that he needs all the mechanical and any other kind of help that he can get. Gunnar and Scarlett (Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen) get news that their album is a green light all the way, but Scarlett wants an equitable artistic partnership, and Gunnar’s choice for the first single is commercial, but not what she would wish for in introducing their music to the world. Avery (Jonathan Jackson) meets a single mom, Sienna (Meg Steedle) at the park, and feels instantly alive and understood, far beyond what he has felt for the last many months with Juliette. Layla (Aubrey Peeples) is gushing “I love him,” to Bucky (David Alford) and anyone who’ll listen, naming him as the best producer in Nashville. Vita finally returns communication to Rayna, and declares, “I’m not a thief,” so her allies come to her defense again, restoring her job. Frankie doesn’t budge, and gives no welcome back to work. Vita performs the wrenching rendition of her song “This Old Guitar,” and kudos to actress Goosen, she gives a dynamite performance, with utterly soulful vocals. The song gives Rayna more reason to want to redeem the street-living singer.
Will (Chris Carmack) still feeling conflicted and dejected over the state of his career since his public announcement of his sexuality, has an offer to sign with Three Dollar Vinyl, a socially conscious label featuring artists from the LGBT community, but the artist development director wooing him to sign knows nothing of his work, his songs, or his style– only that he will be the label’s first country artist. Will balks, not wanting to be “a gay artist,” but rather “an artist who happens to be gay.” Colt (Keann Johnson) brings flowers when he comes to meet Maddie (Lennon Stella), saying his grandfather advised that actions speak louder than words. Things get off to a good start for the young sweethearts, but it doesn’t stay that way long. Riff wrangles with Luke’s band, blaming his awful vocals on them. It’s so bad that his manager tells him to offer that Riff lip-synch through the whole tour. Luke goes to his friend in a “come to Jesus” “Nashville” moment, and he admits that he’s beyond rusty after all these years, but he’s willing to work with the band, and wants to come through for Luke. Avery and Sienna make a dinner date at her house, and Avery shares his excitement at the studio with Layla, falling in dismay that someone else has taken the spark so quickly that she wanted to start. Rayna is moved with compassion by Vita’s history in the foster care system, and being separated from her sister. Colt expresses his contentment living with his grandfather, and being away from the music world. Maddie senses the distance. Maddie’s new more than best friend, Cash (Jessy Schram) really sells her song at a performance, and Maddie dreams of being like her. A passionate kiss closes the evening for Avery and Sienna. Goodbye comes in a rush for Maddie and Colt, with no “next time” plans. Frankie pressures Vita until she confesses to taking the money.
Deacon tells Rayna about the Vita disaster. Maddie and Colt are gripped in a huge conflict, as he insists that what really matters is “helping people,” and not completely allowing music to take over life, which hurts Maddie deeply as she remembers his support through all of her musical breakthroughs. Daphne (Maisy Stella) feels shut out by her sister, and replaced by Cash, especially when no one gives a single listen to her song idea, after she hears Maddie and Cash collaborating. Layla is playing diva at the studio, demanding “chilled” drinks, acting out her disappointment on her failed plan. Vita explains to Rayna that the stolen money was for her sister “in trouble,” not the kind of loan you can arrange. She asks Rayna to extend more money, just for this situation to resolve, but Rayna retorts that “I can’t risk it.” Layla refuses to cooperate even for her album photos, and Glenn (Ed Amatrudo) intervenes, accusing her of having a “Juliette attitude” and reminding her that expecting another person to fill the loss of another is no way to heal. She softens, and says “kick me” if he sees her behaving like Juliette again.
Gunnar and Scarlett discuss issues with the single, and come to consensus, letting go on the commercialism. Putting on his best face, Luke says that Riff is ready for the Beverly show, but Deacon has a backup plan with Maddie if needed. Fortunately, Riff nails his set, settling into old performing at last like his old boots. Avery feels at ease and understood with Sienna, like he has not felt for months, but because of that, he talks endlessly about his life with Juliette, so much so that Sienna reminds him that he is not ready for new relationship, no matter how he wants “to come out of this.” Riff calls Deacon to the stage, and that moment drives Frankie to the back office, going for his bottle, because he also hears all the comments from the crowd, giving Deacon credit for “turning the place around.” Riff and Luke end the night with a friends’ embrace, but Riff declines Luke’s invitation for a drink, saying he has to go to his family. Luke tries to call Colt. Calling Cash in desperation, Maddie regrets her breakup with Colt, while he considers going into the Army on a late-night walk, looking in at a recruitment poster.
Sticking to their agreement, Gunnar and Scarlett renegotiate a 50/50 deal on their songs and songwriting as part of their record deal, wielding some power for new “Nashville” rising stars. The final moments show Rayna coming up on an accident scene that involves Vita’s car, her beloved old guitar in the street. Once again, suspense leaves everyone hanging until next week, but one thing is sure. Hayden Panettiere is back as Juliette Barnes next week, and already generating a great buzz. Now, if only the matter of being “on the bubble” can be settled.