You can’t go home again. Oh wait, never mind, you totally can go home again. In fact, you can go home and your ex-husband is there to hug you after you’ve recovered from your car crash/coma. So is your youngest daughter. But not your oldest daughter, who will greet you with a glare. Rayna talks with sister Tandy about how much she struggled after her own mother’s death, and how she can’t believe that she “almost did that” to her own kids. Look, Rayna, accidents happen. Talk to Juliette’s mom (RIP) before your blame yourself too much.
Rayna’s manager Bucky Covington arrives to tell her that Marshall got fired from Edgehill Records. Uh, bye I guess? Bummer he didn’t get to film any coma scenes. Also, that’s a thing that can happen, the president getting fired? I do not know how record labels work! Who is in charge, the Stonecutters? Anyway, Bucks Fizz has all the hot goss about the new guy, fella by the name of Jeff Fordham who is some “Harvard MBA bean counter.” He sounds terrible already! Milwaukee Bucks advises Ranya to get in there with Scarlett and Will to protect her vanity label. Normal problem.
Rayna, Scarlett and Will meet with the new boss. The new boss gives off decidedly Gob Bluth vibes, but gives positive chatter to Rayna. He dismisses Scarlett (though complimenting her dress) (it was pretty) and really lingers on the handshake with handsome closeted cowboy Will. Is he gay? He did do the typical “TV gay” thing of noting fashion and then swooping in to ogle the strong jaw. It would be way easier to know if he were gay or not if they had just cast Paul Lynde.
Time for a chat with your eldest daughter about how messed up her life is! Maddie goes on about how her mom almost died and now she has two dads and should she treat Deacon like a dad and what is she going to tell baby sister Daphne and should she just pretend like she doesn’t know anything? And that was the moment Rayna missed the chance to give perfect advice which is, yes, pretend you don’t know anything! It’s called “maturity,” Maddie. Most of adulthood is just walking around pretending that everything is fine when, in fact, everything is terrible. Read a book.
Bucking Bronco appears at the house (guess he has a key?) and informs Rayna that new label head Jeff is trying to poach Will away from her vanity label! Rayna runs down to the office to pick a fight, saying that though Will has yet to sign anything, they have a verbal agreement. Well, the label has a team of lawyers. The label ain’t care about Rayna’s new music or even Scarlett, like, as a concept. I am again reminded that I do not know how labels work because isn’t her label a subsidiary? Like, isn’t it all the same money? Someone please explain to me what is happening. Use kindergarten terms.
Afraid that 50% of her talent pool is going to bail, Rayna meets with Will in the empty Ryman Auditorium, like you do. It’s kind of like how people interviewing for janitorial positions at the White House are interviewed in the Oval Office. Standard operating procedure. Anyway, Rayna says that the label guy is just trying to flatter him, but she will flatter Will from a different angle and see how that works! Money vs. integrity? Stardom vs. long-term-career? The same questions White House janitors are asked, oddly enough. Will calls her ma’am and is adorable, and wait, didn’t he move to town like three months ago?
Rayna pencils in another awkward heart-to-heart, this time with Teddy. She’s concerned that their “playing house” is confusing to their daughters, and she can have Tandy move in to help out. Conveniently, Tandy doesn’t have a life. Teddy says that he just really misses the family, and it’s hard for him to believe that she doesn’t miss the family, too. Rayna answers with dewy-eyed grace instead of smashing a wine bottle into his skull, because what kind of question is that? The youngest child overhears this heartbreaking convo, which is yet another strike against open floor plans.
Daphne tells Maddie that their parents are re-breaking up. “It’s you and me against the world!” Maddie says. I am all for close relationships between sisters; just don’t go a’murdering, you two. Rayna peeks in but fails to, like, try and reassure her children in any way. Tandy delivers the most watered-down glass of iced tea I’ve ever seen and entreats her to go close the record deal, or whatever. Who cares.
So Rayna goes to the Edgehill party. This show always has industry parties which is very accurate. Will has signed to Edgehill instead of Rayna’s label. Connie Britton puts on her best “wut” face and it is hilarious. Will apologizes, but she says she understands that it’s just business, nothing personal. But in this instance, she is the Corleone family and he is the up-and-coming drug dealer Virgil Sollozzo. Avoid tollbooths. Will says that he is not an artist, just a guy who’s good at singing other people’s songs. GOOD FOR HIM for recognizing that! Seriously! Take the money and run! Atta boy!
So Rayna wants to leave Edgehill now. Okay.
Our girl Juliette is on Conan, and he runs through her achievements both professional and sex appeal-wise. He mentions her new album! But then he mentions her vigil for Rayna. Juliette is annoyed, because she is doing that fake smile that women do where their mouth is a rectangle. (For more information on Rectangle Smile, see any sorority group photo or Britney Spears’ face over the past seven years.) Juliette tries to bring it back to her album and promises a musical performance that we don’t even get to see.
Juliette goes to scope out the new label head, and he, being the Harvard MBA bean counter that he is, is very dismissive of her more mature sound. The tweens aren’t following her anymore, and that is bad for his bottom line. Rectangle smile. But no worries, he is a huge fan!
Juliette’s private plane, where Avery is just sitting, waiting for takeoff. It must be said, Avery is a lot less annoying now that he no longer has any goals or dreams. (Misandry!) Juliette pops on and tells him they don’t have a show or anything, they’re going to Alabama to film some stuff for a CMT special she’s doing. So he’s just, like, getting on jets with no idea of where he’s going or what he’s doing? Does he live on the plane? What if they were going overseas, does he even have a passport? How many days did he pack for?
And we are at an Alabama trailer park. Juliette’s got her Petticoat Junction braids in so you know we are about to get folksy as fuck. She’s walking and talking with TV lady when she sees a neighbor lady waving from the sidelines. Why, it’s only Miss (Somebody), who shares a tearful, huggy reunion with the superstar she cared for as a child. I gotta say, they NAILED the casting of this lady. She has the voice of at least three women I knew growing up. Miss (Somebody) has quilted a heartbreaking memory blanket of tragic baby pictures and gives it to Juliette as a gift. The quilt makes Juliette sad. She gives it to Avery and tells him to keep it but you know she’s going to get it back, and that I will weep.
Walking around the park, Juliette reminisces (painfully) about when her family, including her father, painted the trailer yellow. He made her a thing out of metal, there it is, you see, and oh yes, he is dead. He died when she was three. “When you’re a kid, you don’t see the bad, you just see a happy yellow house.” Heavy. She calls cut, and Avery, the slinker, slinks on over and asks if she wants to talk about it (it = being an orphan). She says she’s just trying to sell records but WE ALL KNOW BETTER.
Back at her house, she and Avery are watching her special. She got a text saying that she’s got the number one single on iTunes. Hooray! Her plan to rip her heart out on cable TV worked like a charm. Avery thinks they are friends, now. She goes to the Edgehill Industry Party to smug it up for the new label boss, but he is like “Oh, congrats, here is a TV person I just signed who is 19 and better than you, better watch out! Ha ha ha (but really).” The girl (second new character introduced this episode, fourth new character introduced in the past two) hops up on stage to perform a Juliette Barnes “classic” and we’re supposed to recognize that this is what Juliette did to Rayna and it is all a vicious cycle and “Sunrise Sunset.” Teen Sensation got a text saying that she has the iTunes number one and Juliette chokes on her drink.
Who is sending these texts?
Gunnar & Will
Gunnar drops off some non-burned stuff on Scarlett’s porch. They blink at one another for a while in a sort of simpleton’s morse code, and he finally asks if she wants to song-write with him. “Hm,” muses Scarlett. “No.” Good call!
Will is sangin’ at The Stage. “It is a country song,” my notes say. Descriptive! “You the man!” the crowd says, because the crowd is your dad embarrassing you in front of your boyfriend circa 2001. The Edgehill guy, having earlier met him during Rayna’s deference trip, says that Will is “the future of country music.” Will he sign/won’t he/yes he will/we’ve already covered that. My question remains, is the new label president gay? The dude that Will punched last episode is gay, and is also the PR guy for label. Or something. Is he sending those iTunes texts?
Gunnar, the new Avery, is trying to write a song. “When I wanna beer go get me one beer,” he writes, with his shoulders all scrunched up and his eyes all mashed shut. It’s gross. Will comes in, abs a-blazin’, and tries to be a friend and also confess some personal problems and Gunnar shuts him down, because now he is the crybaby. Every show needs a crybaby. (Every show does not need a crybaby.)
Oh, look who’s here, Scarlett’s Old Friend. She’s arrived to pick up some of Scarlett’s stuff because she’s a better person than you or me. We know that because Gunnar expositions that she is a preacher’s daughter (her wild side will no doubt be soon explored). She tells Gunnar that she’s sorry about his brother’s death (oh yeah) and that a broken heart is the best thing there is for a songwriter. Gunnar says “a rhyme for beer” would be better. Old Friend, not being illiterate, lists several. She goes inside and hooks up Gunnar’s internet, shows him how to navigate search engines, and bookmarks a rhyming dictionary, just in case.
Gunnar’s at The Bluebird, about to sing a new song about his biggest heartbreak ever. Will and Old Friend (last four episodes and I’ll learn your name) are there, and Will mentions that he thought Gunnar was suffering from writer’s block. Old Friend said “guess he sorted that out.” An angel’s halo pops above her head, she turns directly to the camera, and winks. Her Google lesson paid off, because Gunnar as rhymed “town” with “down” and appears to have written a song about the cardinal directions. Oh no, says Old Friend: it’s a song about his brother. That’s pretty sad!
The End! (For Gunnar.)
Deacon & Scarlett
But oh, it is not the end for us. Deacon is mooning about the place like the worst kind of poet, and Scarlett, a black-and-white photo of an antique button, asks if he’s mad at her for working with Rayna. Ha ha NOT ABOUT YOU. Let him wallow, kid. He says “there ain’t nothing about you that bothers me” and I’m like “happy to mail you a list.” He says that she gets the heart of music, but the bidness will eat her alive.
Scarlett has made a Secret Doctor’s Appointment for Deacon, and tricks him into the car with the promise of a grocery store trip, just like you trick the dog into thinking you’re going to the park but you actually go to the vet. (Ha ha remember when Deacon dated the vet?) Scarlett is getting very mad with him because he is being very annoying, and yells at him with all the power of a particularly agitated Mrs. Brisby. They pass by the roadside memorial that popped up at the accident site and it’s like, Scarlett, god, pick another route.
Deek: “How long ‘til I can play, doc?”
Doc: “Well, your nerves and tendons are busted what with that impact and probably the shrapnel and broken glass and such.”
Deek: “How can I make it stop hurting?”
Doc: “Physical therapy.”
Doc: “A cast, I guess.”
Deek: “Fine. A cast.”
Be-casted Deacon ("Have a great summer! - Scarlett") goes to the roadside memorial. He is there until dark, and it is funny. Rayna arrives, for it appears he has requested a meeting. Sometimes it feels like he died, he said, like everyone thought they were going to. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play anymore. They blah at one another, and she returns a ring. It looks like a man’s ring? Can’t tell. Obviously he throws it into the memorial pile after she walks off. I wish a fan had appeared with some balloons for the memorial at that moment.
Deacon has decided to sell his guitars, and there are like 30 of them. Is that a lot of guitars? That seems like a lot of guitars. Scarlett’s decided to GET TUFF with Deacon by saying that he’s turning into a total dick like his father (her grandpa) was. He tells her that Maddie is his daughter, and that he doesn’t have Ranya or music so she should just let him go.
Later that day (?), Scarlett, Brave Little Toaster, tells Deacon that his excuses are crap. “You didn’t lose a limb. Man up. Don’t be a coward. Thanks for letting me live here. Presumably rent-free, since we’re family.” SLAMDOOR. Deacon, realizing he was just chastised by origami, decides to do his own physical therapy (GREAT IDEA) by sawing off his cast, picking up the guitar, and trying to Lamaze his way through the pain. He'll heal a lot faster if he learns this song.