Nashville” had the unmistakable feel of love in the air on the January 18 third episode of Season 6, “Jump Then Fall.” True love is never a feeling-- it is a choice. Being courageous enough to make that choice at any stage in life takes courage. A unique brand of courage is needed if someone has already been blessed by deep love, or spurned by unrequited love. The “Nashville” characters are caught up in all aspects of the whirlwind of love, but letting the heart be the sole guide in the journey can get treacherous.

Earlier than expected

Maddie (Lennon Stella) is touched and flattered by Jonah Ford’s (Nic Luken) affections for her, but she's already been through some too grown up experiences of losing her virginity, being in the fishbowl of fame during a relationship, and loving a very talented yet troubled artist.

She hesitates about making the jump into what she knows can become another “tabloid” love affair, but she can't resist Jonah’s charm nor his genuine side not seen in public. He invites her into his inner circle of friends after Maddie joins him in the recording studio. Friends like Twig (Dylan Arnold) relate stories that show a very nerdy and real Jonah.

Neither Deacon (Charles Esten) nor Jessie (Kaitlin Doubleday) know how to define their relationship yet, but they know that they don't want to let it go. When Daphne (Maisy Stella) and her friend, Luisa, spot them together at a casual time of just touching base, the conscientious dad feels compelled to introduce Jessie, and the look on his daughter's face goes deeper then daggers.

Deacon later divulges the relationship fully to both her and Maddie.

Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) is more and more enthralled by Darius (Josh Stamberg) and his community of devotees. Hoping to assuage some of Avery's (Jonathan Jackson) reservations, she urges him to come with her to tour the compound and meet the man changing her life in person.

Avery obliges and does his best to learn about “coherent philosophy” that Darius cannot even define for himself, despite his protest that he doesn't want to be called a guru.

Pins and needles

Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins) surprises Deacon with the news that he's running for Senate in California, but will still financially provide sustenance for Highway 65.

Will (Chris Carmack) comes by to talk with Zach, seeking “some kind of closure” to their relationship. He doesn't find it because Zach admits that he's not good at forgiveness. The encounter still leaves Will hurting, and he turns to his recent source of chemical comfort, injecting human growth hormone and steroids, and heads to the gym. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) interrupts an injection but doesn't intervene further at the time.

The scenes with the once more searching Will are reminiscent of when his character first came to Nashville and his sessions with a personal trainer. “Nashville” should be saluted for recruiting real artists as actors, and for this realistic portrayal of gay characters. Let's hope that Will comes to the realization that he is worthy of genuine love in a mutual relationship, and doesn't need to fall back on “one night stands” with admirers from the gym.

His lack of performance concerns him enough to visit the doctor, who uncovers his hormone and steroid use, and tells him that he has to stop.

Jessie puts off Deacon over the phone, but when it comes to her door in person, they both realize that they have something worth holding onto for the journey. Scarlett (Clare Bowen) feels drawn to a news story on a therapeutic horse ranch, and that's a touching outlet to let her take life by the reins again. Jonah convinces Maddie that he will do everything possible to make their relationship “normal” and not in the spotlight. He arranges a charming date at a senior center bingo game.

One of the most moving elements in this “Nashville” offering is Maisy Stella’s authentic performance as hurting Daphne Conrad, who realizes that her mother is “gone” in seeing Deacon with a new woman at his side.

She does want him to be happy, but she cannot deny the sting of the pain of loss. A moving performance of the song “Come and Find Me” crowns the emotional montage.

Another emotional moment comes when Juliette spontaneously breaks into a lullaby, “I Always Will,” while on a build with Darius’ community. Juliette is still a broken little girl inside, no matter her exterior glitz and gunpowder. She is singing to her daughter and to herself. If she can realize that she is worthy of love, worthy of right decisions and peace, even if the guide getting her there is not worthy, the experience will be worth it.