Rayna’s in the studio, listening to Scarlett’s new songs with Liam and ignoring calls from Teddy. She calls the songs amazing. Beautiful. Raw. Emotional. “It feels like it’s right in my ear.” I would be concerned if she felt those sound waves right in her eye, but I think I get what she means. Teddy couldn’t wait for her to answer her phone, so he pops by the house later on to tell her Lamar is dead of a heart attack. What? Lamar had a heart? They convene a quick family meeting to let the girls in on the latest gossip. “Does this mean he’s in heaven?” they asks. “Eh, sure, why not,” lies Rayna.
Tandy comes over. “Hot news, dad’s dead,” is what Rayna basically says to her. Tandy cries. Rayna does not understand why Tandy is sad. Rayna is feeling no feelings. You know, I wonder if maybe, just maybe, that by the end of the episode, Rayna will feel feelings about her father’s death? Like, I wonder if she’ll spend almost the whole episode with a straight face and barely repressed anger and then, when the hour’s almost up, she’ll let it go and Allow Herself To Feel. Is that a thing that happens in televised drama? Shot in the dark. Maybe she really feels nothing and this is the new normal for her life!
Across the county, Teddy gives a press conference to the 800 members of the Nashville press corps, all of whom are wearing suits and business clothes. Deacon’s Lawyer Girlfriend listens in. Okay, her name is Megan. I had to look it up. This show’s got a backbench deeper than (note to self: think of witty Parliamentary metaphor). She compliments him on his speech. He thanks her for her support. There are romance guitars playing, so prepare yourself now for that inevitability. (Oh and later he admits to her he basically let Lamar die. Smart mayor.)
At Rayna’s home, Bucky pops by to contribute to her countertop of bereavement casseroles. Too bad Rayna hasn’t had carbs in 10 years, it looks like quite a bounty. Going over funeral plans, he asks her if she’s “gonna do a song.” She says no. Because that is a CRAZY question, right? Am I right in thinking that’s crazy? Especially in how casually it was asked — like, “Oh, are you gonna wear the grey dress to cousin Elsa’s wedding?” Jesus, Bucky.
Speaking of what to wear, Tandy brings over some suits she thinks would look good in the ground with Lamar. Rayna ain’t care. She’s making all of the arrangements, sure, but she’d prefer he be in a pine box far away from their mother. Tandy says she wanted Lamar punished for his sins, yes, but not dead. (Would LEGIT like to know Tandy’s opinion on the death penalty. I bet she is for it.)
And the hits keep coming: Deacon is here now to pay his respects. Maddie gave him the news, and he wants to make sure Rayna (not his daughter) is doing okay. She tells him about wishing Lamar dead and then he suddenly became dead. She tells him about Lamar’s involvement in her mother’s death. Deacon puts his face in his hands, which is the only logical reaction to hearing such news. Rayna is mad that she’s in a family full of liars. “Sometimes people do the wrong things for the right reasons,” Deacon says. Ehhh ... not really? Great advice.
The whole gang’s at Lamar’s funeral, and it is very funeral-ish. All that's missing is a version of "Candle in the Wind" with lyrics about riverfront development and municipal bond issues. After it’s over, Rayna pours herself a drink after looking at all of the photos of her lying, murderous family. Including Daddy, a man so evil Vince Gill didn't go to his memorial. She throws the drink against the wall. She starts smashing stuff everywhere, smash smash smash. She collapses to the floor and starts to cry. Look who got her feelings back!
She’s listening to her new track — she loves it! It’s better than perfect! It’s the best music ever, and is very important music, and captures the bold yet delicate spirit of Juliette Barnes herself, and distills her essence down to a three-minute pop country song. We are meant to assume from this that Avery is a good producer. And Avery has good news for her: Ken Inman (fake person) of The New York Times (real paper) wrote a glowing review of her Opry induction. She’s less than impressed, though: “You do know you’re the only person in Nashville who reads The New York Times.” (This blog is written by a local, so I know that’s not true).
Manager Glenn busts in on some post-Times-reading sex (it just occurs to me that Avery must have a subscription) to tell her that he also read the (after)glowing article — AND that super-producer Howie … V? I think they’re saying Howie V. Anyway, he read it too, and has won loads of VMAs (ooh legit) and is sending a jet to fly her out to L.A. as we speak.
And oh, Howie. I don’t like this Howie. In fact, I dislike him so much, I choose to believe that it is actually Howie D, former Backstreet Boy, who has had massive success in the producing game after his boy band life. Pretend that Howie D is the special guest star this episode and notice how it improves one thousand percent. He wants big, he wants bold, he wants someone to “Make sure Sasha and Malia get those Rihanna tickets,” and it’s like, 1) uh, someone will make sure they get the tickets, do not worry, and 2) there’s about zero chance that the First Kidz could go to a Rihanna concert, at least publicly. Rihanna is all about smoking weed and taking sexxxy Instragram pics. That’s just terrible PR for the White House. Should have said, I don’t know, Selina Gomez. ANYWAY. Former Backstreet Boy Howie D wants to get Juliette in the studio to make loud, big music.
And it happens pretty much immediately. There are 24 guitar players, a harp, the London Symphony Orchestra, Liberace on grand piano, backup singers on the shoulders of other backup singers, all live. It looks expensive. Glenn is wearing his concerned face. Howie D tells her she should think bigger than Nashville, and in fact, she should move to L.A.! Juliette makes a joke about too much driving in Los Angeles (compared, of course, to Nashville’s phenomenal walkability and public transportation). Howie D wants to strip the twang (sounds painful) and is already working on getting her noticed by the big labels and maybe even a Rolling Stone cover. Glenn wears his hesitant face.
Goth Juliette is taking some photos for her New Sound, and it looks like she put on Scarlett’s hair and fell face first into cheap lace found on a teenage bride’s dress. Glenn has decided to go, after hearing her new sound but also after being #disrespected by Howie D sending him on coffee errands. She’s too big for him now, she’s come so far, he doesn’t want to be dead weight. He gets choked up with feelings and walks away. A single tear rolls down her beautiful cheek.
She plays the new version of the song for Avery. He thinks it’s huge and epic and that she should be happy. After she looks over the photos of herself in fright wig and lace face, Glenn is summoned back. He is the only person who has ever stood by her, and never would have thrown her on sets that looked like Katy Perry’s at the Grammys. All is forgiven! Besides, she thinks Avery’s version is better. It’s got GRIT.
(This show hates all music except a very specific genre of country music.)
Deacon and the Kewl Kidz
Deacon’s having a little trouble putting a band together to play a dive bar. What, Murfreesboro again? He busts in on a sing-along Gunnar, Zoey and Avery are up on, and he loves them and they love him and so they agree to be his band. Gunnar wonders if Zoey wants to since it’s a “real gig.” (He’s her boyfriend still, right?) Anyway, there’s no bass player in the crowd, but they’ll find one.
Everyone hates the bass player.
The club pushed his show back and they’re not going to be on stage until after midnight. Deacon ain’t feelin’ #respected and wants to bail, because he is a grown man and a professional. The young people convince him to cool his jets; they want to play. The club “empties” to about 40 people, and they enjoy the show. Cheers! Drinks raised! Success!
Later at the Bluebird, Deacon thanks Gunnar, Avery and Zoey (aka the staff) for helping him out and invites them up on stage. Scarlett walks by the window just in time to see the heartwarming tableau that she is not part of: I was going to say like Ebenezer Scrooge, but it’s really more like the Little Match Girl. (Nineteenth century Christmases were dark, dark times.) Anyway, Deacon is happy that it’s about the music with these people. “It’s about making that sweet, sweet sound.” Someone wrote that. An actor had to say it. The kids perform their song at the Bluebird. They decide to start a band. Looking forward to the “auditioning bass players from Craigslist” episode.
Scarlett, a child’s drawing of a daisy left trampled underfoot in a sandbox, is sharing drinks with Liam. He’s whining about how loooonely he is on the road, going to Japan and Prague and Ireland and it’s just so sad. He sounds like a band’s second album (you know, the one when they start to complain about fans and success). He says that he’s trying to “hide from his own music,” and Scarlett nods as if that’s something another human being should understand.
Walking in the rain, she thanks him for showing her his lyrics, because he is not just a sophomore album, he is a literal college sophomore, hanging out on the quad getting super-deep with his thoughts and feelings and hair. He goes in for a kiss and is denied.
Back at Deacon’s/her house, she says a quick hello to Megan the Lawyer Girlfriend. She’s hardly seen Deacon, they’re like “shifts passing in the night,” a regular Sam and Ralph, those two. Megan tells Scarlett about Deacon playing at the Bluebird again. Scarlett was not informed of this, and she takes it as a massive personal affront.
She slept in the studio since she was so down about the outside-looking-in-the-Bluebird experience. She tells Liam that she’s not okay; everyone in her life is away from her. He tells her not to worry about the two of them being professional with one another, because they’re both adults and nothing actually happened. So now she goes in to kiss him and is denied. Then she’s like “why?” and he’s like “oh okay.”
It is kind of funny though how everyone is happier without her.