Rayna and Teddy are signing their dibborce papers and talking over custody arrangements. They “never thought it would end like this,” this meaning divorce. They thought instead they would grow old together and then one of them would die, probably after something lingering, and the survivor would experience the fun of funeral arrangements and being a widow/er. Well, dying together in a horrific accident of some kind (you know, like Rayna almost did with Deacon) is also a possibility, though it’s rare. Splitting up’s not looking so bad now, right?
Miss Rayna has other concerns, still, like getting herself out of that contract. She’s having a little brain trust meeting with Mr. Manager and decide that she needs to get in touch with Liam McGuinnis, the one-man Westlife. Scarlett, an orange in a Christmas stocking in 1935, shows up. Being the sole artist of Rayna’s Highway 65 label (...did they mean I-65? Because Highway 65, while real, is in the Midwest), she declares Scarlett to be “like family.” Well, except she’s actually family, huh Rayna, since your eldest daughter is her uncle’s child, making her Maddie’s cousin. She is your daughter’s first cousin. Rayna offers (insists upon) a makeover for Scarlett. Scarlett “reckons” it’ll be fine.
Apparently Rayna got in touch with Liam, because they meet up at a coffee shop. You can tell Liam means business, because he has shown up in his finest fedora and necklace. (“I need a necklace that will show her I mean business,” Liam said to himself in the mirror in front of necklace tree.) He extends his congratulations on her escape from death’s icy embrace, and tells her she should have come to St. Lucia. Oh yes, that was a thing. She wants to finish her record with him, she says, but he says he’s booked and walks out. Should have had another business meeting at the Ryman, huh, instead of a coffee shop? Rayna heads home and orders Business Meeting Locales for Dummies on Amazon, and Liam shows up with all her hard drives. It is, at most, two hours later. Guess he changed his mind immediately upon exiting the coffee shop! Rayna cancels her book order.
She heads over to talk to Label Boss. The stockholders are in town, see, for this big important stockholders concert, and he wants her to wow them, and finish her album in time to capitalize on “recent events” aka “that time she was nearly dead and buried.” He just asks her to go to the party and sing a song that everyone knows the words to. He is the only character who has ever been to a concert.
Rayna and Liam are listening to their old tracks and reminiscing about how amazing and talented they are. Liam wants new vocals on a particular song, but Rayna can’t do it. Not tomorrow, not ever. SHE CANNOT SING, she says. It seems that getting tubes shoved down your throat can mangle up your vocal cords. She’s been seeing a vocal therapist, but cannot sing now, cannot sing at the party, and does not in fact know if she shall ever sing again. Liam agrees to fake-delay the new album, but what does he want in return? A KISS. And to do it.
Edgehill stockholders party! Liam is wearing a scarf in a way that no person from any scarf-wearing culture has ever worn a scarf. Rayna takes to the stage, and bossman is ready for her to sing — but she invites Scarlett up instead. Bossman glares a madface; Liam beams a cleverface. “Who does this woman think she is?” label boss asks to, I don’t know, some guy. “Someone who clearly doesn’t know who you are,” the toadie replies. Anyway, then later on he basically threatens Rayna about vague suspicious secrets.
Oh no, not suspicions!
Juliette, chillin’ in the Edgehill offices, is waiting for her meeting with Label Boss. The Teen Sensation falls over herself to compliment Juliette, but Juliette is like this. Juliette is tired of this record label disrespect, and is considering switching over to Playtone. Label guy, jacket-less, tie-less, shirt unbuttoned two buttons down, tells Juliette that she needs to play the Stockholders Showcase Showdown. She refuses, due to a previous obligation: she is getting paid big cash money to play a private birthday concert in Maryland for the Wentworth family, moguls of radio, newspaper, magazine, and television. Oh shit, is it for Wendy Deng?
She and Avery are soon enough gawping at the massive home of Real Housewives of Stucco in all its nouveau riche glory. Mr. and Mrs. Wentworth appear, and Juliette is referred to as a “present,” which she takes mild affront to. Mr. Wentworth wants to sit in on the show as a surprise to his wife, and oh, hey, here’s a guitar that belonged to Hank Williams. Avery gets to tune it, but it’s like, who wants a used guitar?
During sound check (or whatever), Juliette and Avery are chatting about how “defiance is a drug,” and Avery reminds us all about how he used to suck so bad at making decisions and being a human. Prince Harry Wentworth pops up on stage and refers to Avery as her “boyfriend.” Juliette is like “oh dear me, no, that fellow is merely in my employ” and she and the billionaire laugh and laugh. Avery is :(
Wentworth Miller pops up on stage to play along with Juliette. His wife is beaming, seated in a lawn chair. Look at the rich people slumming! Country music? Lawn chairs. Of course. Is the open bar serving Jack and Coke (better be an open bar) out of Mason jars? Probably. It’s like a terrible Pintrest wedding reception and now I’m angry, worst birthday ever. Oh, and Avery is still mad at Juliette.
Post-show, Avery is trying to ignore Juliette. He thought they were friends, but he overheard her say that he was only on the payroll, and he saw the slambook, and he also heard the song she wrote called “Avery Is Not My Friend.” She calls him too sensitive, and he says that she’s a sad weirdo who doesn’t trust anyone by choice. She threatens to fire him and he was all “I knew I was a hired gun,” and it’s obvious he really didn’t know that. Poor Avery. Off he goes, hands in pockets, to kick rocks alone by the train tracks.
Juliette does feel a moment of aloneness, though, when she sees the billionaire couple snuggle together. Next thing we know she’s lost in the mansion, and Thurston Howell III offers to escort her around. He thanks her for her performance for his wife’s birthday and smashes into her face for a kiss. “You have a wife!” “You have a boyfriend!” “He’s not my boyfriend, I’m unattached.” “So am I. Seriously.” Juliette, mah gurl, pretty much #kanyeshrugs and goes for it.
Scarlett, Gunnar, and Will, and The Other Girl
Gunnar is a’practicin' his songwritin’ in the house he shares with Will. Will, dressed in a t-shirt and cowboy hat, offers some opinions on Gunnar’s song. “I can’t think why I’d want your opinion,” Gunnar, A PRICK, says. Oh, how about that big fancy record contract Will has and you do not? Good reason. Will is magnanimous, though, and besides, he has got a MAKEOVER to attend!
Unlike America’s Next Top Model, where “makeover” means completely destroying a person’s defining feature (long hair, gap in the teeth) in order to laugh at their tears, “makeover” in Nashville means “keep them looking almost exactly the same.” Will, you see, is no longer in a cowboy hat and T-shirt. He is in a nicer cowboy hat and a nicer long-sleeved shirt. Scarlett is there for her makeover, too, and she has brought Friend along. (One more episode, my dear, and I will learn your name!) Scarlett, a dog-eared copy of The Baby-sitter’s Club that your mom threw out without even asking, is pretty hesitant to try on the sexy little sparkledresses that are up for offer. (They are pretty gross.) I felt her, until she started getting gauche and talking price. Such a hayseed.
Will is flirting up a storm with pretty bartender Friend. He asks her to be his date, but she’s already going with Scarlett. Well, he’ll take Gunnar. They can all ride in the limo provided by Edgehill! Great Idea. Later, he tells Gunnar that he’d like to perform the song he’s been working on at the Stockholm Syndrome party. Gunnar is like “eh” and Will is like “isn’t the point of being a songwriter with a publishing deal trying to get artists to sing your songs” and Gunnar is like “you wouldn’t know” and it’s like, uh, he clearly does know.
Will is the smartest character on this show.
Scarlett’s makeover consisted of a short, flouncy dress, and bad lipstick. It’s the same lipstick I wore in 1998; it was a bad idea on a pale blonde then, and it’s a bad idea on a pale blonde now, only I was 14 and didn’t know better. “I had no idea you could look that good,” insults Gunnar. And oh, Gunnar is just so fabulously petulant about the rising stardom of his handsome, charismatic roommate and beautiful, talented ex-girlfriend. Will and Scarlett both kill their sets, him doing Gunnar’s song and her taking Rayna’s spot (and performing a song by Caitlin Rose). He complains to Friend about how everyone is a success but he is a boner. He pegs Will and Scarlett as “lousy dates” and has decided, since life has handed him lemons, to say “fuck the lemons” and bail.
Cold Sweat Moan Deacon wakes up looking like the most terrifying constipation-relief commercial of all time. Scarlett runs in, thinking he’s had a nightmare. Nope, just rolled over on his hand. “Why don’t you give me my Gibson,” he says, and even though I know that is how musicians refer to their gear, I can’t help but be reminded of this scene every time someone mentions a particular instrument manufacturer. That’s just how it sounds! Anyway, Deacon’s pretending to be blasé about his pain. “It’ll go away or I’ll get used to it.” (That’s how Teddy feels about the baby he thinks Peggy is still carrying.) (Zing.)
Deacon’s back at AA! And Coleman’s there! Remember Coleman? Well, he’s moving. Bye Coleman! At least he didn’t get unceremoniously off-screen fired like the Edgehill fella. All the bullshit local politics and goings-on with families that aren’t his have kept him from taking good jobs, so off he goes, presumably to be a lobbyist for some terrible industry, because that is what all former politicians do. Obviously, Deacon’s being a dick to Coleman for no real reason, and Coleman says that he needs to deal with being a father to Maddie by dealing with the horrible things his father did to him.
More whining. More talk of choices. More talk of decisions. One hot decision Deacon has made involves popping in on Mayor (cannot believe he is the mayor) Teddy to settle some things about their kid. Deacon says he’s sorry for any harm, but Teddy is the real father and that’s that. Well, Teddy says, she knows about you, and that she’s never going to stop looking to you for direction. And, haha, get this, one of them (who cares which) says “I appreciate the choices you made.” So Oprah.
Speaking of choices, Deacon decides to go to the doctor for a quick look at his arm, which is still all busted up like an old chifforobe. She baaaaaasically calls him a dumbass and he takes her up on the offer for some pain meds. He’s not backsliding, though, because he is next in the world’s most perfect wood-paneled church basement with the AA crew. He tells a very, very sad story about his abusive childhood, and how his terrible father told him that he was going to grow up to be just like him. Well, he says, I may be an alcoholic, but I’ve never hit a child. The end. He takes his seat.
I guess you don’t applaud at the end of AA horror stories. Good to know.
Dumb ol’ Teddy is meeting up with crazy ol’ Peggy, who is providing “doctor’s statements” about her pregnancy that is totally real and still happening and in no way fabricated. In the grand tradition of skeezeball politicians with secret love children, he’s only there to drop off some guilt money. By the way, Peggy is very nauseous (from pregnancy) and she thinks she has a baby boy inside of her that she will name Theodore, yes, that sure is the thing. No miscarriages here!
Teddy though, is struggling with how he’s treated Peggy. He prides himself on being a good father and he’s not doing that with this bastard lust child that he believes is currently germinating in the belly of a woman he is pretty sure is not insane. He’s not sure what to do. Peggy knows what to do! Start up the old relationship engines again, because they had something once and will have it again!
Just so we’re all clear, there’s no way this storyline ends well.