Episode 20, which returned after nearly a month of the show being off-air, showed most explicitly the aftermath of Scarlett having a breakdown on stage. Rushed off stage by Avery and whisked back home by Juliette (who is terrified about what the press will say, of course), the heavily sedated Scarlett is surrounded by people trying to help her, but who are all deeply affected by what has happened. Beverly, distraught, is trying to take over; Deacon pushes her away and Rayna takes control, the latter pair fighting through the stress, blaming each other. When Scarlett wakes up she has a panic attack because she believes her mother has had her condemned, and she runs out screaming and shaking, with only Rayna able to console her. She is angry, moody, snappy when in the hospital, refusing to believe she had anything more than a hiccup on stage, before being shocked after watching the video.
Crashing at Deacon’s place, Beverly and he vent their frustrations at each other, and we begin to see the picture of their life. With an alcoholic, violent father and an unhelpful mother, Beverly made the decision to marry some low life and get pregnant, very soon after Deacon moved to Nashville. She attributes the failure of her life to him, angry at the situation and perhaps, through regret, has chosen to remember things in a different way. Rayna is also wondering what to do. Clashing with both Deacon and Beverly over Scarlett, she realizes that Scarlett is family, and that she should do what is right by her instead of what would be good for Highway 65, despite the tabloid fodder she could exploit. Asking her whether she really wants this, Scarlett is honest and replies no, prompting Rayna to release her from her contract. All through this Beverly is trying to mollycoddle her daughter, telling her she is sick and that she needs to stay in the hospital and get better. Determined Scarlett refuses and signs herself out, wanting to get on with her life and not let her mother be the imprint she has to live by.
Before this, however, Zoey is worried about her former best friend and deliberates about whether she should go visit, eventually making the right decision and going to comfort Scarlett, who is very pleased to see her. Gunnar, meanwhile, is less passionate in his worry, or at least appears so. When Jeff invites him to play golf to offer him a record + publishing deal and Gunnar faces him with a few home truths, Jeff refers to Scarlett as a loony, and, deeply offended, Gunnar rejects him. He then goes home to write a beautiful tribute song to his ex-girlfriend. At the same time, Will and Layla are trying to decide whether to do a reality TV show, with the latter pushing it and the former unsure. Jeff insinuating that it’s not a good idea because he’s a closet gay, however, prompts Will to say yes to it because he wants to prove the label head wrong.
Juliette is furious at Rayna for dismissing her from looking after Scarlett, and goes off on one of her diva fits that includes being jealous of Avery caring about his former girlfriend and lashing out at him. He storms off to sleep at his own place, but when she goes to see him, he’s not there and the bed hasn’t been slept in. It turns out he’s slept at the hospital, by Scarlett’s bed, and a revealing, heartfelt conversation between them is overheard by Juliette when she goes looking for him. She retaliates by getting dressed up and going on a night out by herself. Unfortunately, Jeff is also at the same party, being ignored and rejected by everybody, and a poor plot decision results in the two sleeping together, at the party. Gunnar sees them coming back in, looking dishevelled. Woops.
Episode 21 airs on May 7 at 10/9c on ABC.