As Nashville reaches its 100-episode milestone, the show is tackling heavy issues and laying the groundwork for what's to come in its final eight episodes.

Episode 14 of Season 5 starts off with Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) trying desperately to rebuild her career. In talking with her manager Glenn (Ed Amatrudo), she mentions that she’s looking to make a new album -- the kind of record that is going to be a “mind-blower.” Unfortunately, as Glenn points out, Juliette is now competing with an increasingly large crop of female singers (real-world stars Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Kelsea Ballerini all get name-checked), which isn’t going to make it easy to find the perfect tracks for her next effort.

And, of course, the tension between Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) has only intensified. Early in this episode, the two are eating breakfast at Gunnar’s home when Damien George (Christian Coulson), the father of Scarlett’s child, unexpectedly stops by and whisks them away to a fancy mansion near Nashville. He tells Scarlett and Gunnar that he’s put in an offer on the home, and that he wants to co-parent with them. Not surprisingly, the two -- especially Gunnar -- are pretty skeptical of how that’s going to all work out.

Damien's presence is a constant source of strife between Scarlett and Gunnar during this week's episode: Scarlett can’t seem to make her mind up, mainly because Damien is trying to convince her that he’s in love and wants to have a family together. Gunnar, meanwhile, isn’t quite sure how he fits into the picture with a woman who’s giving birth to a child that isn’t his. It’s clear that Gunnar loves Scarlett — he’s got the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with her indecisiveness — but one has to wonder exactly how much longer this up-and-down romance can continue before it fizzles out (or just really begins to annoy the people watching the show).

At Highway 65, Bucky Dawes (David Alford) is packing up his office and preparing for the next chapter in his life without Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton). Before he goes, he gets a call from the Bluebird Cafe, asking Deacon to appear in a writers' round the following night. Deacon wavers, but after a Rayna-inspired pep talk from Bucky, he eventually decides to go ... and it's at that writers' round that viewers meet Nashville’s newest character, Jessie Caine (Kaitlin Doubleday). Not much is revealed about her story, but there’s plenty of insinuation about a rough divorce, which likely means drama ahead for the mysterious Jessie.

Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella), who is going by the name Maddie Jaymes, is finally getting her first taste of a solo career: While hanging out with her friend and fellow songwriter Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones), she gets a phone call from her sister Daphne (Maisy Stella), who tells her that the song she recorded in Episode 13 is playing on the radio ... but when the song starts to generate some buzz and Maddie goes to a radio station for an interview, the DJ only wants to talk about Rayna. It’s an emotional moment, especially when the DJ asks Maddie how she expects to fill the “boots” her mother left behind; Maddie simply replies, “I can’t.”

Maddie is also the focal point of Episode 14's most tense scenes: While she and Clayton are driving home, the two are pulled over for allegedly rolling through a stop sign. Clayton, who is no doubt aware of the consequences that interactions with the police can have for black men, does everything possible to keep himself safe (for example, telling the officer when he’s reaching for his driver’s license and registration) -- but Maddie, a young and privileged white girl, begins to argue with the officer and starts to film the encounter, asking if Clayton is being targeted because he is black.

The interaction culminates with both Clayton and Maddie being handcuffed and arrested for arguing with the police; a crowd has formed near the scene, and cell phone videos are rolling. Deacon picks Maddie and Clayton up from the police station, and Clayton is visibly shaken -- and, because this is the age of the internet, video of Maddie and Clayton’s arrest goes viral. The hate mail soon begins to roll in -- people call Maddie a spoiled brat who is rude to police, among other things -- and Deacon instructs everyone in the house to shut off their phones. Later, Clayton tells Maddie that he needs a little space from her after the incident, saying that they live in different worlds.

Meanwhile, Juliette is damned and determined to get her career back on track, except that, when she visits a songwriter she worked with before, he gives her a track to hand over to Maddie Jaymes, and says it’s a hit. The song is a little more pop-driven than what Juliette has worked on before, but she’s desperate to produce a “mind-blower” of a new album, so even though she visits Maddie in the aftermath of the arrest, Juliette decides to keep the song for herself and tells the songwriter that Maddie turned it down.

After a couple of drama-packed weeks for the younger Conrad sister, Episode 14 is decidedly calmer for Daphne. Liv, the homeless teen that Daphne befriended a few episodes back, is still living at home with Daphne, Deacon and Maddie, but Deacon insists that the arrangement isn’t going to be permanent. Still, he seems to be warming up to Liv at least a little bit: He decides to let the girls stay home alone when he plays the Bluebird instead of forcing them to come or hiring a babysitter.

Fortunately, Episode 14 culminates with Scarlett finally making a decision (sort of) on who she wants to be with: After meeting Damien and expressing how she feels about him, she reminds him that he’s just not a family man. Damien is, at first, insistent that he can try to settle down, but he ultimately agrees that Scarlett is right -- and yet Scarlett is, for whatever reason, upset when Damien makes that admission. Perhaps she thought that he’d fight harder? Or maybe as Gunnar said, it's just impossible to make that girl happy.

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