Longtime “Nashville” fans have, undoubtedly, noticed that one major character has been absent from the drama’s storylines since the midseason return for the final episodes. In this week's 11th episode in Season 6, “No Place That Far,” Juliette is back, and finally taking charge of her own destiny. From the very first season of “Nashville,” back in 2012, Hayden Panettiere brought the indelible fire and the hidden pain to the character of Juliette Barnes. Fans have followed the character’s rise, from youthful ingénue to deserving diva, in Country Music and have witnessed many of the self-destructive tendencies, that follow children of addicts, play out.

Deep down, Juliette only wants to be loved and to feel “good enough” to have the life she so desires, beyond her career. Her yearning to fill that void led her further away than ever, through Season 6, as she became involved with the Center for Coherent Philosophy and its Svengali leader, Darius (Josh Stamberg). The mentor of the misguided group, disguised as an outreach of social good and self-discovery, preyed upon all the need and wounding from Juliette’s past. Juliette left Nashville, her husband, and child to travel to Bolivia to fulfill a mission with “the Movement.” She had been completely under the influence of his “teachings” until now when an incident of maltreatment makes her realize that she is part of a cult.

What Juliette doesn't know is that her husband, Avery (Jonathan Jackson), is developing feelings for the conniving Alannah (Rainee Blake), who really is out to use whatever means possible to advance her own career and romantic whims. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery have already nearly come to blows over the sticky situation, but this time, bandmate Will (Chris Carmack) plays intermediary to mend friendships.

Maddie (Lennon Stella) finds herself unexpectedly caught in the middle romantically, too, when Twig (Dylan Arnold) tries to reveal his true feelings. There are big doses of heavy drama packed into less than an hour in this “Nashville” trip.

Taking a stand

Juliette comes to project supervisors, fuming with anger because a female co-worker was not given a break, through 12-hour shifts, despite two requests.

Juliette demands that Darius is informed of the incident. Naturally, in that conversation, he feigns being fully committed to “getting to the bottom of this,” and Juliette says she will help, and that she intends to go home. Because the devotees of the center definitely frown on any of their practices being made public, the supervisors lean on Juliette, revisiting all of her past problems, and then assigning Rosa, portrayed by acclaimed Argentinian actress, Mia Maestro, to be the full-time babysitter over the whistle-blowing member.

In the night, Juliette becomes violently ill, and she knows that this can only be a sign that she is pregnant. She tells Rosa that she must tell Avery and that she cannot have her baby as part of the Movement.

Rosa sneaks in a pregnancy test, confirming Juliette's assumption, and she tells Juliette that she has a young son that she has not seen in a very long time. He is somewhere within the compound.

Juliette devises a plan with Rosa to make a getaway, and she wants Rosa to come with her. Rosa agrees to help, using her charms on a very smitten security guard to secure the key to the office. Juliette creates a “dummy” to make it seem as though she is in bed. She breaks the lock on a file cabinet to get her folder, filled with all kinds of publicity to indicate that her celebrity status was very coveted by the group. At the last minute, Rosa tells Juliette she cannot go with her. Juliette still pledges to “get your son back,” before jumping out of a window and walking down a road.

Being desperate and frightened, Julia accepts a ride from seemingly local man to the airport. Only time will tell if he can be trusted.

Caution while moving up

Alannah interrupts what is supposed to be band practice, and tensions are at the breaking point between Avery and Gunnar. Will tries to help each friend see the other’s side, and it should be easy, because the exact scenario unfolded with Scarlett when Avery was her first beau, and Gunnar stole her away, even though he is chronically unfaithful. That was the inspiration for their band, the Exes, that has morphed again to the more lighthearted Last Highway. With Will’s intervention, Gunnar and Avery settle things over a beer.

Alannah tells Avery that she has signed as a solo artist with Brad Maitland and Shiny New Records.

Avery tells her that regardless of what happens with the band, their relationship doesn't have to change, describing that they can be “messes” together. Juliette will definitely have a different opinion on that, and Alannah hasn't ever gone up against anyone like Juliette before. Jessie (Kaitlin Doubleday) also pays a visit to Alannah at work, urging her to be careful with Brad. The singer thinks she's equipped to handle Maitland. “Nashville” movers and shakers can be very deceiving.

True love

Maddie calls Twig to come over and listen to an unfinished song that she has written for Jonah. He tells her that he loves the song, and something more. He awkwardly spills his emotions for Maddie and tries to show her his feelings with a kiss, but she balks, saying “I'm in love with Jonah.” Twig knows that Jonah is secretly still with his former girlfriend and that Maddie is just being strung along.

Still, he can't bring himself to burst her bubble or break her heart. The two have a conversation about whether being friends is enough for Twig. Despite his longing, being friends is better than being nothing to Maddie, and it's clear that she's going to need the faithfulness of a good friend in the future.

The weeks to come are sure to be heart-pounding, so set aside Thursdays for “Nashville,” and the drama’s well-deserved final bow.