Nashville S5E20 Recap: A Force to be Reckoned With

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Nashville S5E20 Recap: A Force to be Reckoned With

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Russ Martin

Created date

July 27, 2017

For all the success of The Exes, we rarely see either “ex” drink in the allure of their own celebrity. Rock stars those two are not; at least not off the stage. That changes this week for Gunnar as he makes his prodigal’s return to Aurora, Texas.

As he pulls into the town he grew up in, Gunnar yanks off his sunglasses with a little extra swagger. He’s returning changed, yes, but even better, he’s returning famous.

The trip may start as a visit to his cigarette smoking grandmother, but it takes a swift detour when Kelly Walker spots him at the gas station.

Once the pretty girl he watched from across a classroom, Kelly sums up Gunnar’s return perfectly: “In this town, you might as well be Tim McGraw“

Kelly invites him to pour one out for their misspent youth and they end up breaking into their now defunct and dilapidated high school. It would be easy to write Kelly off as the kind of girl who never gave Gunnar the time of day until he returned as Gunnar of The Exes, but it’s more complicated than that. They do more than reminisce or hop straight into bed. They show each other emotional vulnerability, which Gunnar definitely needs right now.

Gunnar and Scarlett’s relationship is in a decidedly off-again phase, devolving into a series of muted phone calls during which they stop, start, then stop again, then make an excuse to hang up. Their relationship couldn’t be more confusing than it is at this moment. It’s always confusing, but right now neither has any grasp on what they want from the other.

All of this pushes Gunnar to stick around Aurora, delaying his trip to spend time with Kelly. And eventually he gets to experience a rite of passage for any teenage loner who makes it big: kissing the prettiest girl from his high school.

The real kicker comes after the kiss: Kelly’s married. To her high school sweetheart, the meathead she dated when Gunnar had a crush on her.

This was a fling that was never meant to be, but did she really have to be married? The revelation casts such a dark shadow on what could have been a romantic experience. Still, it keeps Gunnar in town and that leads him to an important place.

Before he leaves Aurora, he pays another visit to his grandmother, who took him in after his parents died, but dissuaded him from from music, ignored him, and showed him a serious lack of love.

He gives her a speech he’s clearly been reciting over and over to himself for years: “I felt like if I walked out of that house and never came back you wouldn’t even notice, let alone miss me... it’s hard to believe in yourself when no one else ever did.”

Then he sits down and plays her something he wrote. Maybe it’s too late for her truly hear it, but it’s a damn good song.

When couples say they need time apart, that’s almost unfailingly code for a prolonged but unavoidable breakup. With Gunnar and Scarlett, that actually might not be the case. While Gunnar is dealing with his own stuff out in Texas, Scarlett is going through some real growth back in Nashville.

She can’t stop freaking out about things that go bump in the night and ends up seeking comfort and safety at Deacon’s. It’s there Maddie makes the very good suggestion for Scarlett to take a self-defence class (when did she become grounded and wise?).  

Scarlett gets some pretty aggressive advice from the instructor: “You must fight, you must win. You strike first and you do not stop until the person is on the ground or unconscious.”

She's a little soft for class at first, but after a heart to heart with the instructor, she’s able to let her aggression out. It’s the perfect thing for her. Scarlett traps all her feelings inside. She never allows herself to express her anger and it’s high time she let some of it out.

When she finally does, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Another force to be reckoned with? Maddie, who, for all her wise suggestions for Scarlett, is harbouring a whole lot of anger when it comes to Juliette. Plenty of pettiness, too.

When both ladies get nominated for an American Music Award, Juliette tries to make nice in public with an empty congratulations tweet, but Maddie’s already mastered the art of the clap back. She retorts with one hell of a subtweet: “Thanks @JulietteBarnes I wrote it myself.”

Total aside: why does Juliette get @JulietteBarnes while Maddie’s stuck with @MaddieJaymesMusic?

Neither here nor there. Maddie makes a shady move, but it’s not the shadiest one she could make. Maddie’s still protecting Juliette. She could easily call up the press and go public with the fact Juliette stole her brand new hit from her.

She just might yet. As we close this week, we get a glimpse at both women at a press conference for the AMAs. When Juliette arrives, Maddie slings daggers with just a look.

First drink tossing, now so-good-it’s-dangerous cut-eye? You’d think her mother was Joan Collins, not Rayna James.

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hayden panettiere
lennon stella
clare bowen