Rayna James Family Fun Band
It’s a family gathering at the cemetery, like you do, to celebrate the birthday of “Mamaw,” who died long before any grandchildren were born to call her such a thing. Maddie, eldest child and heir, has sidled away from the matriarchal moon circle. Rayna thinks Maddie’s behavior is unacceptable, but she would like both of her daughters to be her dates for the fancy symphony gala. “Big whoop,” says the teen. Then the women chant, turn three circles counter-clockwise, drink to the memory of Gaia, Lilith, Mother Mary, and dead grandma, and fly away on their brooms.
Turns out the 13-year-old thinks old person black tie galas at the symphony suck. She’s just awkward teen-ing all over the place, spilling her angst hormones everywhere. The 13-year-old in a ball gown makes a bitchface over caviar, and the waiter makes a mental note to finally read that copy of Das Kapital he stole from the library. You know what else sucks about this ball? Teddy is there, with crazy Peggy, whom he recently proposed to. Oh, and also Teddy is thinking about running for Congress. But who cares.
Lamar gives a speech about how much his dead wife loved the symphony that Nashville didn’t have back when she died in ’82, but Tandy just glares at him: Turns out she has hired a PI (and met with the PI on a bridge, for that is Nashville’s favorite place to divulge secrets) and learned that Lamar could have possibly been involved in his wife’s death because of how far away Louisville is, or something. The police never questioned him about it.
The remaining family goes to take a picture with the portrait of the dead woman, presumably because her spirit has been captured in the painting thanks to all that witchcraft. Maddie, being so 13 and so annoying, doesn’t want to participate. Luckily (?) she spots her dad, currently the favorite parent, and gives him a hug. Until she spots the ring Peggy is wearing around her neck like a cheerleader on prom night. Her father is no longer the favorite parent.
Maddie runs away, in a ballgown, downtown. The family shambles about trying to find her, and everyone takes turns yelling at Peggy for butting her face into business. Maddie has turned off her cellphone, like a genius, except for that one minute when called Juliette Barnes to pick her up from a gas station that I think is waaaaay down Charlotte Avenue. That would be an hour and a half walk, minimum, thus giving Maddie the Avery Barkley Award for Walking in Dumb Directions. Maddie chills at Juliette’s place and talks about how much she loves her as a performer, even more than her friends love Teen sensation. Juliette, no dummy, sussed out that Deacon is Maddie’s father thanks to Maddie’s terrible goals and dreams, and calls Rayna to come pick this kid up. Loving mother Rayna arrives to collect her offspring, and Juliette makes sadfaces about the fact that she has no loving mother.
Back at home, Rayna is sharing some memories with Maddie about her alcoholic musician father. Now that Rayna has decided to treat Maddie a little more like a grownup (even though all of Maddie’s petulant actions proved that, if anything, she needs to be less trusted), maybe they can start talking shit about Peggy together. Deacon calls Rayna’s phone to check on Maddie, but Maddie answers. They blather for moment and then hang up. She calls him “dad” after the hangup. Poor Maddie, with the two loving parents and third loving parent and loving sister and all that money.
The two sisters sing one of Deacon’s songs, later. The youngest daughter holds the CD like any kind of 9-year-old and is like “what is this witchery” and Rayna hovers in the doorway, silently crying. Oh, and Tandy threatens her father at the fancy ball with vague hints that she knows something, and then sells him out to the feds about financial misdeeds. That’s what he gets! But now Nashville will never get that riverfront baseball stadium. Who is the real victim? (The viewer.)
Juliette, our knight in shimmering armor, has just received sex presents from random billionaire. A car is a pretty good sex present! Manager Glenn chats with her for a while about Rayna’s busted throat, but Juliette ain’t care. She says Rayna can lip-sync, because she has an album to promote and will not be held back by her touring partner, #sorrynotsorry. Soon enough, touring partner Rayna shows up to hold her back: She’s dropping out of the tour so she can take care of her shitshow family.
Long story short: Her manager wants her to do old songs. She wants to do new songs. She tries to do old songs but hates it. Part of the reason she hates it, I think, is because all of her backup dancers are taller than her. Who hires backup dancers taller than the star? Then they mention some guy who has just been signed to Edgehill, but then they stop mentioning him. So she asks Teen sensation (Layla, I guess) to open the tour for her. Layla can take the tween crowd and Juliette can sing about being 24-years-old. And she sends the sex car back. (I will take the sex car.)
East Nashville Pipe Dream Team
Handsome Will, that man with a jaw as square as Scarlett, is getting his pitcher taken at what looks like an Edgehill free-for-all photo shoot. The whole gang is there! Teen sensation! Scarlett! Assorted photography people! The label wants Will to record Gunnar’s song so they can release it as his first single - but Will wants to get Gunnar’s okay. He takes his sexy photos. Teen sensation takes her sexy photos. But you know who cannot take sexy photos? Scarlett. Scarlett cannot. She gets weirded out when a (female) assistant fixes her boobs and can’t take direction like “turn left.” A regular Zoolander, this one.
Zoe (welcome to episode four!) is singing a pretty gospel song at a pretty church. Scarlett, a Zeta Tau Alpha Spring Break ’99 T-shirt currently being used as a dust rag in an unhappy home, participates in Nashville's favorite pastime and silently watches her sing from the doorway. Applause! She is good. Scarlett says Zooey’s signing reminded her of being in her (Zoë’s) father’s church. (Was it a black church? I would love to see Scarlett in black church.) Scarlett then whines about how they’re making her do weird stuff to be a famous singer, like take pictures, when everyone knows that pictures steal your soul unless you kiss a raven’s feather thrice and say a prayer to Isis. (Though Scarlett grew up in a black church, she is currently a member of Rayna’s coven.)
The two ladies are soon watching movies reminiscing about the distant past of I guess like two years ago. We learn, and this is important, that Zoey slept with a man by the name of “Sticky Ricky.” Feel free to take a break after reading the name “Sticky Ricky,” by the wall. Call your mom, smoke a cigarette, reassess your life. Sticky Ricky. Here we are. “Why’d you keep it a secret?” asks the girl who has never had sex with anyone by the moniker “Sticky Ricky.” There was “Unsavory Avery,” yes, but that doesn’t make you want to vomit as soon as you see the words. Sticky Ricky. I’ll be damned. The woman who had sex with a guy who is known as “Sticky Ricky” thinks Scarlett kind of sucks, sometimes, so there’s that.
Zoé takes Scarlett out for some shots. A man at the bar is taking a picture of Scarlett because he saw her perform at the Opry, but the attention is making her uncomfortable; she politely asks him to stop, on account of she left her raven feather at home. She’s happy to give him an autograph, though. M-O-O-N, that spells Scarlett! Because Scarlett hates being looked at, she signed up herself and Zoso up for some karaoke. They sing “Come See About Me.” It is good.
Concurrently, Will, the most responsible adult human on this show (who is also living a professional and quasi-personal lie about his sexuality), goes to visit Gunnar during his Bluebird shift. Gunnar, who, let’s not forget, is a turd now, turds it up real hard on Will. He mocks Will’s persona of being more performer than artist, and Will asks, “You’re a songwriter, aren’t you supposed to make money off your songs?” The answer, according to Nashville is NO. Between Gunnar and Juliette, if we’ve learned anything from this show it’s that songwriters hate getting paid and getting exposure.
Oh, and Avery is the new bar back.
Soon enough, Gunnar’s in the bar, singing his song alone, to a crowd of no one, like a loser. Let’s all point and laugh. (The Bluebird really needs to have one night a week with Apollo Theater rules, e.g., BOOING.) Who’s that watching from the doorway, creeping on the show? Just Avery, throwing down some hot advice Gunnar’s way, like “add steel” and “add piano” and “don’t give the song away.” Gunnar asks if Avery thinks it’s going to be a hit; hey, let’s count how many hits Avery has in order to judge his expertise in this matter: zero. Zero hits.
Taking advice from his former romantic rival and coworker of one day, Gunnar has decided to tell Will that he can’t cut the song — because Gunnar wants to record and release it himself! Since it’ll be such a hit. Will calls him “short-sighted” (correct) and “jealous” (also correct). Can’t wait to see these boners duke it out over this song in the weeks to come. (I can wait.)
Deacon and the Big Fancy Lawyer, Esq.
Who here cannot raise their hand when asked, “Hands up who’s had to go apologize to a lawyer?” Well, probably all of us, but not Deacon. He wants to thank his court appointed-attorney and pay for her services, since he’s not indigent, just an exceptionally bad decision-maker. He doesn’t get why she helped him, since she’s a “big fancy lawyer,” he Mayberries at her. “Buy me dinner,” she says. Lady. Don’t.
He can’t cut his food. He eats like a dog. He may have a civil suit against the city; not interested, he said. “I’ve never met a moron quite as handsome as you,” she implies. It’s a long story as to why she would defend someone like him ... well, not that long. Her husband was murdered (bummer) and she got to know his teenage assassin in order to forgive him. “Yeah, anyway,” she literally says after sharing the murder story, that is how she does court-appointed work.
Back at Deacon’s house they’re sharing their shortcomings with one another. She’s a workaholic. He’s an alcoholic. So much in common! “You’re a bad, bad man” she says to Deacon and they kiss, because that is what every successful, professional widow in her 30s is on the lookout for. Then Rayna shows up, right in the middle of the makeout sesh. “Where is Maddie?” “Why would Maddie be here?” “She’s been playing your album nonstop.” Of course. The lawyer slunk out during this little aside, but now she’s back? Guess she went to pee. Using her magic lawyer powers, she now knows that he’s Maddie’s father. More and more people sure are learning about this devastating secret, huh? I wonder if that will be a problem in episodes to come.