‘Nashville’ Season 5, Episode 12 Recap: Everyone’s Back in the Saddle
As Nashville makes its return from its mid-season break, Episode 12 of the show’s fifth season — “Back in the Saddle” — is more than aptly titled. The storyline picks up 10 weeks after the stirring Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) tribute at the CMT Music Awards, with the fictional country music stars in the Nashville universe trying to put their lives back together after losing their matriarch.
In Episode 12's very first scene, the reviews are rolling in for Juliette Barnes’ (Hayden Panettiere) new gospel album, recorded alongside Hallie Jordan (Rhiannon Giddens) and her church choir. Unfortunately for Juliette, the critics aren’t particularly impressed with her return to music; one particularly harsh review describes the effort as a “treacly mess” ... Ouch.
As much as fans have been awaiting Juliette’s triumphant return to the stage, the major question looming in Episode 12 relates to a cliffhanger from the Season 5 mid-season finale: In that episode’s final minutes, Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) revealed that she is pregnant ... but isn’t quite sure who the father is; now, she’s heading into the doctor’s office to take a paternity test. Fortunately, the baby’s father's identity is revealed before the end of this episode — viewers will be spared a torturous, drawn-out debate over the paternity test's results -- but not just yet.
Over at the home that Rayna left behind, things aren’t going so well: Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Rayna’s bereaved widower, gets a call from Daphne Conrad’s principal, who tells him that Daphne’s (Maisy Stella) grades have fallen off so severely that she could end up having to repeat the seventh grade. It’s clear that Daphne is struggling after the loss of her mother, and Deacon is struggling to fill in as her parent. He offers to help her with a history project, a hint that there’s going to be a lot of bonding between these two over the next several episodes.
The next day, though, when Daphne is supposed to be turning in the replica of Amelia Earhart’s plane that she built with Deacon, she instead decides to skip school. While wandering down the street, she encounters a girl around her age who offers to read her palm. When the two teens get catcalled by a group of creeps on the street, the palm reader -- whom viewers will later learn is named Liv -- tosses a soda can at one of the catcallers' heads, and the girls dart off into an alley. Liv takes Daphne to her crash space inside an abandoned building; she is homeless, squatting alongside a bunch of other young people whom she describes as “the people nobody cares about.”
When Daphne gets busted while skipping school, the principal calls Deacon, who heads out to look for her. Upon arriving back at home, after Maddie lets him know that Daphne's returned, it's clear that there’s more going on than a little grief. The next day, Daphne heads to a psychologist, who says that she is showing signs of major depression.
Despite Daphne’s first hints at rebellion, elder Conrad daughter Maddie (Lennon Stella) seems to have gotten it together: She’s in the studio working on new music, and Juliette pops in for a listen — and to give feedback. A little raw from the criticism of her new album, Juliette tells Maddie that her song needs more work, that it isn’t a single just yet ... but Maddie, ever her mother’s daughter, pushes back against Juliette’s proposed changes.
Undeterred, Juliette heads home and makes a few changes to Maddie's song; she then returns it to Maddie and practically forces her to record it. After listening to both versions, Maddie still prefers the original, and seems a little skeptical of Juliette’s advice. Later, Maddie takes the song to her boyfriend Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones), who (oops!) admits that he prefers Juliette’s version upon a blind listen.
Back at Highway 65, the record label that Rayna helmed before her death, Deacon, Rayna's former manager Bucky Dawes (David Alford) and label investor Zach Welles (Cameron Scroggins) are having a meeting: Zach is talking about “disrupting the music industry,” while Bucky and Deacon are just trying to keep the label afloat. Zach takes Deacon to get coffee, thinking that he’s going to be more “receptive to new ideas” than Bucky; unfortunately, that new idea is firing Bucky, which doesn’t sit well with Deacon.
Okay, but what about Scarlett and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), her duo partner and potential baby daddy? Even when the two are performing together after Scarlett takes that paternity test, their chemistry is still smoldering; offstage, though, Gunnar and Scarlett are trying to navigate what life is going to be like when those results come back. As they wait the week it’s going to take to find out one way or the other, Gunnar clearly becomes more and more attached to being a dad -- he even reads a few baby books!
Unfortunately, it isn’t meant to be: When Gunnar and Scarlett open the envelope containing the results, they quickly learn that there’s no possibility that Gunnar is the father ... which means that Damien George (Christian Coulson), the hunky video producer that came between the Exes earlier this season, is likely Scarlett’s child’s father. After hearing the news, Gunnar unloads on Avery Barley (Jonathan Jackson), who essentially tells Gunnar that he needs to man up and figure out whether or not he wants to stay with Scarlett.
Gunnar, of course, does. Later in Episode 12, viewers see Gunnar rushing to Scarlett’s home, where he tells her that he can’t take losing her. Perhaps not surprisingly, Scarlett doesn’t make a decision one way or the other, which means that this never-ending romantic rollercoaster is likely to continue throughout the season.
But for new couple Zach and Will Lexington (Chris Carmack), things are heating up: Will is a little skeptical that a Forbes list billionaire such as Zach would be into him, but the feisty tech exec is obviously smitten. Zach watches Will play for a packed house — he kills the crowd and occasionally makes eyes at Zach -- and it's clear that Will has come a long way from his closeted days, both in terms of his personal growth and his growth as an artist.
By the end of Episode 12, Nashies get a look at what the rest of Season 5 is going to look like: Pretty much every character on the show is trying to move on after Rayna’s death, whether it’s Maddie trying to get her career off the ground or Juliette trying to revive hers. This fact is most profound, however, inside Rayna’s home, now only occupied by Deacon, Maddie, and Daphne. In the final scenes, the trio is in the kitchen, making Rayna's “silly noodle casserole” -- everything isn’t okay just yet, but it looks like it soon will be.
Country Stars Who Have Acted in TV Shows and Movies