Rayna, Sister Tandy, and The Girls are taking a limo ride though Times Square. They are in town for a concert date, and happen to pass by a giant Rayna billboard. Remember when she did that photo shoot for the makeup campaign or whatever? I guess it’s for that. Rayna seems to barely remember herself, because she’s mostly a Real Mom Who Happens to be a Celebrity. Just like you, the viewer! Except the celebrity part.
Eldest daughter Maddie wants to be a professional musician now, though her younger sister Daphne thinks it’s because she wants to be famous. Rayna doesn’t care either way, because she does not want her kids to have a career in the entertainment industry. Everyone on the Nashville crew quietly side-eyes the parents of the actual child actors currently on set. Maddie asks why she gave her a guitar, Daphne asks why she didn’t get jack shit, and they both ask for craft services and I am asking ABC to give these kids a spin-off!
Rayna’s concert! Maddie is all “I wish I looked like her instead of my dad,” but she says it to Deacon, who actually is her dad, and he says she looks like her mom. My grandma texted me right after this and asked if Deacon knows if he’s her father because “If so, this relationship is kind of creepy.” WITH YOU, GRANDMA. Rayna is all sad that her ex-lover has a girlfriend and a dog while all she has are her beautiful daughters and millions of dollars.
Backstage, the girls are very excited to see Juliette. They want to sing just like her, and she tells them to go after what you want and don’t take no for an answer, even from their mom. When she speaks to Rayna soon after, she tells her the girls are lucky to have a mom watching out for them, since she didn’t. Juliette is going to be a politician and take over the world. Rayna the Bummer cuts the kids' backstage party short and hustles them back to the hotel.
She’s sad for the eldest, but Tandy tells her the girls (and she) “idolize” Rayna. That her telling the girls "no" is what her own father sounded like to her. Tandy’s aunt ploy works, kinda, and Rayna lets the girls perform for soundcheck. Obviously they are presh and it sounds good but she wants them to “develop their talent” (the girls' actual parents didn’t seem to care) and, like, not sign to her vanity label. The End.
Teddy and Lamar
Gross Peggy has been studying up on her TV mistress tropes and arrives at the Jaymes-Conrad home wearing naught but an overlong trench coat, heels, and pearls. Quelle horreur! Please do not sit on any of the furniture, children live in that house. Teddy, being gross, is way into it, of course.
Meanwhile (?), at The Hermitage Hotel, Lamar intrudes on Coleman and blah blah blah land deal stadium whatever blah blah blah. He also tells Coleman to be prepared for what a disappointment Teddy is, and talks to Some Guy about a confirmation about who leaked Teddy and Rayna’s divorce details to the tabloids.
Lamar ambushes Peggy at the house. He should murder her with his bare hands because she’s terrible and I’ve seen Deadwood, I know Powers Boothe has it in him, but instead he tells her that her job is to get Teddy to change his mind about the stadium site — otherwise he will tell Teddy that she was the one who went running to the tabloids. Peggy follows Lamar’s orders, and tries to convince Teddy blah blah stadium land growth blah blah. She also says “he is the most influential power broker in town,” which is a sentence that is only written for characters to say, not something any actual human being has ever thought of and spoken aloud.
THEN LAMAR HAS A HEART ATTACK OR SOMETHING OH SHIT TUNE IN NEXT WEEK
Juliette has brought (ex-)Junkie Mom Jolene and Sober Buddy Dante with her up to New York: her mom thinks NYC is cleaner than what she expected, because just like me, she can only visualize New York through the lens of 1970s cinema. She wants to go to see a Broadway show (they should go see Movin’ Out with Lamar after he recovers from his heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack) with Juliette, but Juliette would rather pawn her off onto her assistant. Juliette spots the billboard, apparently directly across from her 10th floor Times Square penthouse, and is none too happy.
She’s so unhappy, she can’t even concentrate on her lame hotel room meditation with Random Handsome Fellow of Questionable Professionalism and her mom. She wants a billboard, she wants sponsors. Dante tells her that you have to accept the things you can’t change, but this is something she can change. He preps her for a meeting with Marshall from the label (contained. poised. adult. calvin klein.) who agrees to set her up to pitch herself to an electronics company.
She wants Dante (again, he is the former cokehead who lost it all but now hangs out with her family to keep them from fighting/drinking) to come to the meeting with her. She’s seen him come alive when he talks business! In fact, Juliette thinks she needs Dante more than her mother does. She and Dante move papers around a desk and Jolene is sent packing off to a crew AA meeting. Hey, I want a handsome private sponsor/businessman, too. I often need someone to play video games with or do my shopping for me. Is Juliette’s storyline slowly morphing into Entourage?
Juliette nails her meeting, dressed up like a fancy business lady and making self-deprecating jokes. Quiet moral support rando Dante just sits there, and Juliette basically says “Twitter Facebook fans and followers, I’d like your money please.” She got their millions, congrats. She runs off to tell her mom, who is upset that her daughter cares more about a cell phone endorsement deal than anything else, including her.
During Juliette’s segment of the concert, she demonstrates how deft she is at manipulating children by encouraging them to preorder her new album. Good call, electronics company. She also dedicates a song to momma. Tear.
She talks to Dante later about why Rayna’s billboard bothers her so much. She believes it’s important because it means success, which means love. She kisses him, but he says they can’t, it’s complicated. For a split second I thought he might be gay, which would be nice. It would be nice for this show to indicate there are gay people in the country music industry, or even just in the South. But nope, that’s not what he meant by complicated because he goes for it anyway. Then they do it on some red vinyl coffee table thing, and I pity the housekeeper who has to Windex up their butt prints.
I was texting with a friend after the show (I text a lot), and she wanted me to call out Deacon for “trying to feed that dog a stick and the dog was like, ‘Chill it with the stick, dude.’” Indeed! While Deacon was prodding his dog in the face with a sharp piece of wood, it was revealed that he’s been dating Stacy, aka Dr. Dog, for a little while now. He asks her to go on tour with him, like immediately. She does, because apparently you can be like a freelance vet in this world.
Up in New York, he and Dr. Dog are greeted by Tandy, who mistakes the adult woman for his niece, Scarlett. Ha, whoops! She corrects her and says that she is actually Deacon’s girlfriend, and there’s a guitar chord playing right over that that reminds me of Clarissa Explains It All. He shows Dr. Dog around backstage, and introduces her to Juliette. Juliette provides every instance of body language and doublespeak that a new girlfriend does not want to hear from a new boyfriend’s female acquaintance. It is awkward. It is even more awkward when Rayna does the same thing.
Obviously Dr. Dog feels insecure about all of these ghouls who keep popping up to remind her they used to have sex with her boyfriend. That they are superstar celebrities and she has probably had ferret poop in her hands is just salt in the wound. She says Deacon should have explained his relationships better. But it’s okay, he says it’s all history! So much history, in fact, that he wants to quit the tour and head back to Nashville. He can do stuff there! Like poke his dog with a stick. Good luck with that, to all involved.
Scarlett and Gunnar
There was another character I thought might be gay for a moment, the new upstairs cowboy Texan neighbor who introduces himself to a kissy-wissy touchy-feely Scarlett and Gunnar. Gunnar asks if he’s a cowboy or a musician, but actually he’s just a really big Paula Cole fan. Scarlett invites him to “supper” and he drops off some of their misdirected mail, including her solo artist contract from Rayna’s label.
And haaaaaa apparently she and Gunnar have been a couple for about a month and she never told him about this? Cool relationship! Good teamwork! Gunnar, you might want to live the rest of your life only asking direct yes or no questions of Scarlett, like “Are you literate?” “Can you prove it?” and “Is that your real hair?”
The poor neighbor comes over and is treated some awkward domestic ish. Scarlett is making dinner, the boys are playing gee-tar around the fire and she is asked to fetch the food, essentially. The boys are talking football and Titans and Longhorns and she is staring off into the middle distance, like a taxidermy moose head in a disappointing Wisconsin restaurant. I’d feel sorry for her if I didn’t know she loved this weird throwback gender role stuff, and that cowboy neighbor has basically walked unsuspecting right into her idea of foreplay. Dan Savage does not approve.
So Gunnar has made a friend, and Scarlett is sad. She excuses herself for bedtime (cool host, too) and Cowboy Curtis asks why she’s got a deal and he doesn’t, since they live and write and work and sleep together and everything. Gunnar tells the truth about the whole pesky murdered brother/one day drinking binge thing. It’s somehow even less compelling to hear about as it was to watch.
Scarlett, the long-sleeved dress the weird Christian girl in your class wore to prom, tells Gunnar she is not signing the contract. She says everything is because of him and she only wrote dumb poems and she won’t do anything alone. Scarlett is a perpetual victim, an idiot, a lingering fart in the wind, every bad decision you ever made as a teenager, and a banjo player all in one.
But whatever, Gunnar’s all “I love you and am proud of you and I can’t emphasize this enough, I am not Avery, so you go ahead and sign the papers.” She tells him she loves him too, and will sign the contract basically because he told her to. Does this girl not have, like, a mother or girlfriend to run these life decisions by? I mean really. She’s going to find herself accidentally married to some abusive Russian oligarch one of these days.
After wrapping up his General Sherman Tours Atlanta roleplaying game, noted loser Avery Barker has made it back to Nashville. That ambitious assistant from the publishing company who briefly dated Gunnar whose name I refuse to look up meets up with him, though it looks as if he stalked her outside of work? He’s been working on some stuff, but is in breach of contract thanks to all that childish contracting breaching. She still calls him “crazy talented” (at being The Worst) and tells him to get a new deal or give back the advance.
Back at The 5 Spot! He is SHUT DOWN by their booking guy, because of the venue’s ongoing relationship with Marilyn, his former manager/publicist/side piece/whatever. Since Avery has now been blacklisted from the only club in town, he resorts to downtown busking. He’s not very successful, but the bum across the street who’ll eat anything for a nickel is raking it in. Avery glares at the bum (“Hungry Joe,” the kids call him) as his old friend JT (“Good luck in Atlanta, douche!”) saunters up. Precious handsome JT has to head back to Ohio to work for his dad and suggests Avery go home, too. No can do, Avery has hurt feelings because his dad called him “a waste.” Avery’s father is prescient and wise. JT gives him the card of a roadie business (is that how roadies are born?) and heads across the street with five cents and shoelace for Hungry Joe.
Later that night, Avery takes a cab from his roach motel to downtown. Why? Because he’s going to head up to New York and roadie, that’s why! HMMM what tour is about to be short one guitarist and who is the biggest, most ambitious glommer in the world? Too bad he never made it to New York, though, because Avery made the mistake of calling a cab driven by a serial killer. His body is unceremoniously dumped in the Cumberland, and his guitar is fed to Hungry Joe, much to the delight of tourists from around the world.