As the storylines in the Nashville universe throttle along, Episode 8 brings more uncertainty than ever for the characters and their tenuous relationships, but especially for Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), whose stalker crisis finally (and dramatically) comes to a head.

Episode 8 opens up with yet another incident involving Rayna’s stalker, Carl Hockney, who just made bail and was released from jail following that time he violated his restraining order and visited Rayna’s daughter, Daphne Conrad (Maisy Stella), at school. The security team is back, and so is Carl, who shows up at Rayna’s home and stays just far away enough from the front door that he isn’t violating any laws. Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), of course, wants to go kick Carl’s ass but manages to avoid confronting him — for now.

Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who has fully immersed herself in religion, attends Bible study with Hallie Jordan (Rhiannon Giddens), and tells Hallie that she wants to work with her and the church’s choir to record the gospel album that is to be her big comeback following her plane crash. It’s obvious that Hallie feels a little uncomfortable with making that ask to the people at her church, but she agrees to let Juliette plead her case. Juliette also seems convinced that she’s going to make Hallie famous by pushing Rayna to sign her at Highway 65, whether or not she actually decides to record the gospel album. When Juliette asks the church choir if they want to be involved, they're not exactly thrilled at the idea of being Juliette’s backup singers, nor with the fact that she doesn’t have a long history of listening to gospel music or attending church; but, of course, Juliette pushes back, which causes the exact kind of discord that made Hallie apprehensive in the first place.

The drama that Episode 7 promised with that series of texts from brooding film director Damien George (Christian Coulson) to Scarlett O’ Connor (Clare Bowen) as she made up with Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) comes to a head when, after consulting with Deacon, Scarlett tells Gunnar that she doesn’t want to be in a relationship with him (or anyone) at the moment -- a decision he obviously isn’t happy about. Scarlett also tells Gunnar that she has been numbed by the constant, unrelenting upheaval between the two and wants to explore her feelings for Damien; it's unclear whether or not the Exes have a future together, both personally and professionally.

As has been hinted at in previous episodes, Daphne is growing up, and in Episode 8, she experiences one of the most embarrassing things about being a teenage girl: getting your period at school. Daphne calls her sister Maddie (Lennon Stella) for help in dealing with her newfound womanhood ... and Maddie passes on the responsibility to Rayna, leaving Daphne, understandably, mortified; somehow, she manages to make it through the rest of the school day.

Also back in the studio during this episode is Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), who’s trying to find his way back to music after taking a long break to care for both his daughter Cadence and, of course, post-plane crash Juliette. Juliette visits him at the studio as he’s recording with the band, and later tells Avery that his music needs to do a little “maturing.” Considering that Avery is probably the most mature character on Nashville, he doesn’t take too kindly to that feedback; clearly, Juliette is feeling a little too confident in her abilities to offer perspective after her near-death experience.

But then comes redemption ... sort of: Juliette visits Hallie and the choir to offer a teary mea culpa, and she stresses that she wants to honor the history of Black gospel music and her newfound commitment to God, and tells them that she plans to stick around the church whether they decide to make the album with her or not. The choir ultimately agrees to help her out.

And despite telling Gunnar that she had no intention of hooking up with Damien, Scarlett finds herself in a hotel room with the hunky director just after dumping her bandmate. But because she is Scarlett, the most indecisive person on the planet, she tries to leave Damien to go back to trying to figure out her feelings. If the past is any indication, that clarity will probably never, ever come.

Meanwhile, the romance between Maddie and Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones) begins to heat up: Maddie shakes off the security detail that her mother has insisted follow the girls everywhere to attend a show that Clayton is performing at a Nashville club. However, Rayna herself follows Maddie there, and perhaps in an attempt to keep Clayton on her team, tells the budding musician that he should visit Highway 65 to talk business.

But then, when Rayna returns to her office at Highway 65, following a security sweep of the building, stalker Carl makes his boldest move yet: He walks into Rayna’s office with one of his creepy letters and a very, very large knife. Rayna is obviously terrified, but also sort of trapped. Carl tells Rayna that he isn’t going to hurt her, and she goes into survival mode as she tries to keep him calm and keep herself safe. Carl tries to explain himself, insisting that he just wants to talk to her about the deep connection that the two of them share -- and Rayna points out that the only thing that’s connecting them is the fact that he’s holding her hostage. But Carl says that Rayna has been speaking to him through the radio, which is even scarier considering that he’s growing more and more agitated as he speaks (nothing more reassuring than someone holding you hostage and screaming “I’m not threatening you!” while irrationally professing their love, right?).

Things get really, really real when Rayna begins to tell Carl about the abuse she endured at the hands of her father, whom viewers might remember from a few seasons back. Rayna is spilling her guts, telling Carl about Deacon being abused as a child even, in a desperate attempt to connect. It probably shouldn’t be surprising that a goddess like Rayna would even be able to talk her way out of an interaction with a man with a knife, but she manages to call 911 as she attempts to psychoanalyze Carl. When he realizes that the phone call has been placed, though, Carl pulls out the knife and threatens to kill Rayna. She runs, Carl follows her, a security guard points a gun at Carl, and Carl grabs Rayna and holds the knife to her throat.

Thankfully, Carl eventually cracks and is arrested, and Rayna's unharmed (at least physically) -- but because this is Nashville, all that drama's not enough. The car that is transporting Rayna back to her home gets into a crash at an intersection mere seconds before the credits roll.

Nashies, you'll have to keep biting your nails until next week.

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