Nashville Recap: 4×02 “Till the Pain Outwears The Shame”

Somehow, my fingers nearly gave out trying to type everything that happened in this episode, and yet at the end, with a couple exceptions, most characters were in the exact same place. How did that happen?

Previously on Nashville: Scarlett had a boyfriend whom she “loved” but wasn’t “in love with” but made out with Gunnar (no mention of the whole I-love-you exchange from last episode); Will came out; Avery wondered if Juliette was happier without them; Juliette dropped some truth on Rayna (that her label is a joke) and on Layla (that Jeff would obviously choose Juliette first); and Beverly gave Deacon her liver.

Evening at Chez James. Maddie and Daphne are adorably singing along with the radio, which they have cranked way up in their bedroom. Rayna wants them to go to bed, but they are in dramatic teenaged mourning for the band they’re listening to, Boulevard, which has just broken up due to creative differences. They are planning to learn a Boulevard song for the talent show tomorrow, in tribute, but Rayna insists they go to bed.

Abuzz with gossip, Rayna goes to the kitchen and finds Deacon packing up to head to the hospital. Something might happen, he protests. Rayna, who I feel like is all about fulfilling obligations to the bare minimum and no more, says he’s been there for three nights in a row and he’s got to spend a night at home. “She’s still there, and still ‘cause of me,” Deacon says. I like to think I’d be that person who doesn’t just take someone’s liver and then, when they have one of those surprise aneurysms that are so common on TV, decide after a few months of hospital visits that I need to be gentler on myself and live my life and leave them to rot of bedsores. Rayna thinks Deacon should do exactly this, but he insists on leaving, after an exchange of I love yous.

Live with Kelly and Michael. Cheering brings us into the scene; Kelly and Michael announce their guest, whose movie is #1 in America. Layla is watching this while on the phone with Jeff, asking for reassurance as usual. Jeff can’t make it to some meeting with Rayna and Bucky but assures her, while eating a delicious-looking petit-four off of a luscious catering spread, “It’s just business, babe. It’s not like I’m having fun here.” He reveals that he’s fired Patrick, who I guess was just there to cover Oliver Hudson’s not being able to film for whatever reason, and that he wants to get her away from Highway 65. Layla, with the painful naivete that always inevitably leads to her looking like a kicked puppy by the end of the episode, is convinced that she should stay and soak up all the attention she’s convinced she’s now going to get from the star-less Highway 65.

Meanwhile, Juliette bursts into tears the moment a cute picture of her, Avery, and Cadence is displayed on the show. Avery, who’s also watching, on his couch with Cadence sitting adorably on his lap and playing with her feet, sort of perks up. Kelly and Michael exposit helpfully that Juliette’s record release party is in Nashville and so she’ll definitely see her family, right? She laughs at herself for crying, saying she just misses them so much. “Think she means it?” asks Will. Avery can’t tell, and Will helpfully uses this moment to segue awkwardly into his own story about how he has a meeting with Luke tomorrow to find out his fate at Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records.

Next we see Luke himself, trailing a crowd of excited paparazzi, as well as a very insistent woman named Gabriella who’s lecturing him on how country isn’t ready for a gay star. She says that he pays her for her opinion and that he’s uniquely positioned in the market. He wonders why she refers to him as “Luke Wheeler” in the third person, and why, if he’s uniquely positioned, he can’t be the one to open doors for Will. He invites her to Juliette’s release party to see how well Will will be treated. “What you image types don’t know is that small town doesn’t always mean small-minded,” he insists confidently, thereby ensuring some outbreak of homophobia will be summoned by the anti-hubris forces of TV to prove him wrong.

Over at Highway 65, Rayna and Bucky excitedly greet an old friend, calling him “Mr. Cole,” and delight that he’s coming aboard to make his next gold record. But he, guilty-faced, says that he admires her, but he needs to put the brakes on this deal because it’s too much of a risk. Bucky and Rayna have opposite reactions: Bucky argues passionately for Highway 65, saying that they have the best royalty split and no 360 deal, and nearly swept the CMAs. Rayna, usually a saleswoman so passionate as to border on the aggressive, basically rolls over and gives up, saying that she doesn’t want to force him into anything against his will. He says sorry and that he meant no offense. “Some taken,” she responds gently.

Photo Shoot with the Exes. They pose with their backs to each other, several feet apart, as their manager exults that their pics will look great on the EP and the “merch.” Gunnar bitterly asks, “You sure you can handle being on a T-shirt with me?” There ensues some “cutting” banter. The photographers ask them to get closer. Scarlett nervously faces Gunnar, but bolts as soon as her phone rings. It turns out they want to take Bev’s breathing tube out today. Gunnar actually has a genuine smile on his face as he says “That’s fantastic,” but Scarlett runs off.

Juliette’s Escape Plane. Jeff interrupts her drinking with Trashy Blonde Friend (her name is apparently Lindsay, but I think this name suits better). He’s concerned that the tabloids are buzzing about Juliette’s not having seen Avery, and now that they’re going to be in Nashville, she has to be seen with them. “Pretty sure Avery hates my guts,” Juliette says. She doesn’t want to talk about it with Jeff, so she asks TBF for another drink instead. “Cheers,” she says bleakly, and we’re off to credits.

Back at Highway 65 to Nowhere, Bucky and Rayna are commiserating in her office. Rayna defeatedly says that she has been so focused on Deacon and the transplant and the girls that she’s dropped the ball, and no one will take them seriously. Bucky does an amazing job of reminding her that she can’t just give up when she has a commitment: “I take it seriously, and so does every person who works here.” He has something brewing with Layla and the Bluebird, and says he’s trying to get “tastemakers” to show up. “I believe in this company, Ray. I believe in you.” He thinks both Layla and the Exes will be huge. Rayna is worried about keeping the label relevant by signing a big name so she can keep encouraging Layla. But then she finds out about Beverly’s breathing tube, and has to apologize to Layla on her way out, breathlessly announcing she’ll see her tomorrow. So much for encouraging Layla, and not being distracted by Deacon!

Layla asks Bucky what Rayna meant. He tells her she has a solo gig tomorrow night at the Bluebird, and assures her they have big plans for her. The happy, hopeful smile on her face is so heartbreaking. She’s like a little bird who’s lost its mama, and will trust basically everyone no matter how many times she gets kicked in the face.

A non-Caleb doctor apparently works at the hospital where Beverly is, and is warning Deacon about disorientation. “How’d you get out before me?” asks Beverly. Deacon smiles and says he’s been praying for this moment. Best of all, Rayna shows up and gets a genuinely sweet smile from Beverly after only a moment’s suspense.

Wheelin’ Dealin’. Luke has turned on the charm for his meeting with Will: hugging him hello, saying it’s a shame he can’t be out there on tour yet, getting Will to actually apologize for coming out. Luke doesn’t have a decision for him yet, but says that since he’s still a Wheelin’ Dealin’ artist he should come to Juliette’s launch party. Promising that it will be just industry types—no press—he says, “Trust me, you’re going to be among friends.”

It’s a sunny day at Bro Castle, where Avery answers the door to find Jeff on the porch. “Stand there much longer and you’re going to get hit,” he says immediately. The slimy Jeff is not at all intimidated by this, and insists he’s not the wedge between Avery and his wife, which of course gets him rather ineffectually shoved by Avery. Finally he calms Avery enough to say that he’s worried about Juliette. “Bullcrap!” yells Avery. This is one of those times they should really just employ a  bleep. “I’m concerned,” Jeff amends, although these are basically the same, no? He insists Juliette’s been out of touch because she thinks Avery hates her, that she’s desperate to see him and the baby but doesn’t know how to tell him. The giant vein in Avery’s forehead goes from anger to sadness.

Juliette, meanwhile, arrives home to her silent house, with some sort of assistant carrying her other bag. He asks her if she needs anything else, and says it must be nice to be home. She doesn’t even turn to look at him, just stands there alone.

Outside Beverly’s hospital room, Deacon and Rayna talk about the girls’ talent show. She says she has to go but the girls will understand his missing it. He thanks her for helping him through these months, and she smiles warmly at him and says she’s happy to see him happy. The golden sun is on them, and Beverly’s angelic face on her pillow is framed between their bodies. Watching for the first time, I immediately turned to JD and said, “She’s definitely going to die suddenly as they make out right now.” But Beverly survives this scene intact, as Deacon and Rayna discuss how when Bev’s back up on her feet they’ll get married, and all the biggest stars will sign with Highway 65. “Just gotta keep the faith, baby,” says Deacon. “That’s what brought Bev back.”

“I like him better.”

Scarlett’s catching up with her mom, and Beverly brings her closer to ask if she’s still with the doctor. They’re living together, Scarlett says. “I like him better,” says Beverly, beckoning her closer. “Better than who?” asks Scarlett.

Gunnar, of course, who’s busy staring at the photos his manager sent. Scarlett and he are standing pressed up together, chest to chest. “I didn’t realize you two were so … close,” says Will, passing by the laptop. “We weren’t, they just photoshopped it,” says Gunnar, showing him the original, with Scarlett at the other end of the room practically, her back to Gunnar. “Sex sells,” says Will phlegmatically, but Gunnar, who’s afraid Scarlett’s going to flip out, doesn’t want to sell a lie. “I’m not gonna take the hit for making the Exes look like the… Sexes.” Even Sam Palladio looks embarrassed to be uttering these words. Is it such a terrible joke that it goes back around to being hilarious? Maybe on like the fifth viewing of this episode.

Juliette’s House of Mirth. Avery arrives to a darkened, blue-lit, chaotic scene, with lots of dancing and drinking. He’s carrying Cadence in a baby carrier, which looks painful and inconvenient, and which he uses the entire episode. Juliette catches sight of him and looks panicked, while he looks disappointed. Jonathan Jackson is ridiculously good at making his character look like he’s in passionate, tragic throes of emotional distress. Which is good, because the show puts him through passionate, tragic emotional distress approximately five times per episode.

After the commercial break, we find Juliette kicking everyone imperiously out of her house. Avery starts in on her, deservedly: “This is what you do? Invite a bunch of strangers over to our house? Is this who you are now? … I believed it! Juliette, when I saw you on that interview, you said you missed us, I believed it!” She desperately asks him to stay and let her explain, because she loves him.

“Can I hold her?”

Beverly’s Bedside. Deacon is reminiscing about an old, shitty guitar they used to have. Scarlett gets called away to meet with her band manager, and kisses her mother’s forehead. Caleb comes in and says the labs look great, no sign of any rejection – I guess he’s talking to Deacon? When he finds out Scarlett has a band meeting, he offers her a ride. She refuses at first, but he guilts her: “Unless you don’t want me to come.” Her polite sweetness comes out and she says it would be nice.

Rayna is at Maddie and Daphne’s talent show. They introduce themselves as the Conrad Sisters, and sing a cover of a Boulevard song, written by Marcus Keane, the singer. It’s an amazing song, and they sing it beautifully—I love when these girls sing. “He’s rockin’, I’m rollin’, he’s beautiful and I’m broken. I should have known better…”  Everyone is cheering, and Rayna, videotaping it, looks inspired. I have horrible visions of her using her children to revamp Highway 65’s brand after all of her objections, but luckily, she has a much more absurd and amazing idea in mind.

The Conrad sisters singing

The Conrad sisters singing

Back at Juliette’s House of Mirth, Juliette and Avery are getting into it. “In a moment of weakness I put my career first and I have been paying the price ever since,” Juliette says tearily. He lists her recent successes and says he doubts that’s a real punishment. She insists, “It doesn’t mean anything without you.” She wants to be a good wife and mother, but doesn’t know how. (My theory: I believe her when she says the latter; that it doesn’t mean anything without him, I think, is convenient bullshit she’s saying because she feels so guilty in the moment. For Juliette, the career versus family question is much more complicated than that. More later.) Cadence starts wailing just as Avery is obviously about to start crying or kissing Juliette. When he picks her up, he lectures Juliette that he’s scared too, but he pushes through it. Juliette asks, looking vulnerable and scared, “Can I hold her?” When she takes Cadence she talks to her in a high, sweet, baby-talk voice, and marvels over her little hands. Avery is definitely melting.

The Exes have a band meeting. Gunnar opens bitterly, with, “Oh, you brought your boyfriend to the band meeting.” Scarlett is in some sort of denial mode where she is treating everything about the Exes like it’s the tiniest deal in the world. (I have literally no idea what Beverly’s declaration that she likes Caleb has to do with this: does it push Scarlett towards Caleb? If so, what was up with not wanting him to give her a ride before? This whole seesaw is utterly opaque to me.) Anyway, when Scarlett sees the photos, she’s like, “That is some serious Photoshop…” but interrupts Gunnar’s Protesting Too Much with, “It’s silly, it’s just marketing though.” She casually confirms that neither she nor Caleb is bothered by it. When their manager announces that they will now have fifty tour dates, Scarlett is fine with this too. But Caleb does look a little dismayed. The manager looks at Gunnar all, WTF dude. Gunnar is all innocent: “What?”

On the phone, Rayna tells Bucky her new idea: that they should sign Marcus Keane, late of Boulevard. “There’s out of the box and then there’s out of your mind,” Bucky says. We’re really laying on the silly puns with a trowel this week! But Rayna is set on it. He doesn’t even think he can get past the gatekeepers, since Marcus is in such high demand, but apparently it’s totally easy for him to find out where Marcus is going at every moment of the day and put Rayna in that same place. In order to carry out this totally realistic and legal plan, Rayna will have to miss Layla’s performance.

Her daughters come out and she congratulates them warmly. Daphne leaves momentarily to go to the bathroom, where she overhears people making fun of her, saying they should be ashamed to show their faces and that Daphne’s necklace is probably stolen. One girl declares she’d leave the country. “Or at least not go up on stage acting all proud of their name. ‘We’re the Conrad sisters!’” the second girl mimics in a mean voice. Poor Daphne. She leans against the stall, stricken. I guess this is the first time she has considered that her father really is guilty, but forget about having a criminal dad, it SUCKS to hear people talk shit about you in your middle school bathroom.

Cadence’s bedroom, where Juliette is putting her down to sleep. There is a giant stuffed giraffe in the corner of this room, about twice as tall as the diminutive Hayden Panettiere. If she doesn’t grow up motherless, this kid is going to be so spoiled. She and Avery exchange very sweet words about how beautiful she is. “She takes after her mother,” Avery says with a sweet smile. Juliette disagrees, and says Avery is a beautiful man that she doesn’t deserve. Avery asks her just to accept that she has it. “I never stopped loving you, not for one second,” Juliette says. They kiss, first gently and then moving in.

Deacon wakes up to yet another morning by Beverly’s hospital bed. She teases him that his snoring woke her up, which he denies doing. He tells her he’s looking for someone to watch the girls since Rayna is out of town on “important business,” otherwise known as stalking, but Beverly urges him to go take care of them. She says she could hear his voice and his singing while she was recovering, and knows he hasn’t left her side. “If you really want to do something for me, give me your house and paint my bedroom yellow.” He promises her his house, but no painting, and they bid each other sweetly goodbye. Pro tip: if you’re ever ill or recovering in a hospital, try not to have any really sweet, meaningful, or cathartic conversations with relatives. According to extensive scientific research I’ve done while sitting on my butt watching television shows, this act is associated with an 80% increase in fatal outcomes.

One big happy family

One big happy family

Avery, Cadence, and Juliette pose on the red carpet. Asked to comment on not being seen with her family, Juliette fobs it off: it’s hard being out on the road, but that’s why they’re with her tonight, to spend as much time together as they can. Avery cheerfully adds that “the baby and I might just tag along for the rest of the tour.” Juliette looks panicked but holds her camera-ready smile. We hear a reporter yelling, “Avery, what about your own career?” as she ushers them off the red carpet before Avery can say anything else.

On the same red carpet, Luke greets Gabriella. She calls him out on not having Will Lexington here. He protests that Will is here, but not everyone has to greet the press. She approves of his duplicity, and they call each other “country boy” and “city girl” and make various silly, generic flirtatious comments before linking up arms and going inside.

Backstage at the Bluebird. Layla peers out at her empty “Reserved” table with her giant sad-puppy eyes. She gets happy when she sees Bucky, who is bringing flowers from Rayna, who’s sorry she can’t be here due to her pressing business. Layla was prepared for this by a phone call from Rayna earlier, but then Bucky says that same business might call him away early as well, and her face falls so hard. Oh, ouch. She has to admit to Bucky that Jeff’s not here either; he’s at Juliette’s launch party. She puts on a good face for Bucky, but looks very pouty when he leaves. What a terrible feeling.

LAX. Rayna just happens to be seated on a plane next to Marcus Keane, who is played by Riley Smith—an actor who I’m irrationally attached to because he was, technically, the first person that appeared as my laptop background in seventh grade when it became A Thing to put actors we had a crush on as our laptop backgrounds. My seventh grade class all loved Riley because of his starring role in Motocrossed, the Disney Channel Original Movie adaptation of Twelfth Night. To tell the full truth, someone put him on my desktop as a prank, and my first choice at the time would have been Robert Downey Jr., but even so, I feel like Riley and I have a special connection. Hi, Riley.

Anyway, so Rayna says hello to him. They’re on their way to New York. For meetings, Marcus Keane says. “Same,” Rayna says craftily.

“Mississippi Flood” is playing at Juliette’s launch party. Will enters looking horribly nervous, but Luke greets him warmly and introduces him to the same “Mr. Cole” that just turned Rayna down, as well as another woman, both of whom are apparently legends. Mr. Cole says, “Brave thing you did, opening up like that, son.” Luke leaves Will to hang out with the legends, and Will asks a passing waitress for a round of bourbon “for myself and my friends.” Like Layla, his smile is both vulnerable and very hopeful.

Rayna and Marcus are chatting on the darkened plane. Marcus turns out to be kind of emo and “woe is me” about the whole Boulevard thing. Everything was overproduced and he felt detached from the music that he made. She asks what he wants and he says that she’s the first person to ask him that. He’s got this, to me, very adolescent concern with authenticity and is anyone listening to me. And Rayna plays on this quite masterfully; she seems to be back on her selling game, albeit in a somewhat icky way. She says she thinks his next thing should be country.

Onstage at the launch party, Luke is announcing that Juliette’s record, which dropped this morning, is now number one on both pop and country charts. He welcomes her to the stage. Once again, like last week, she’s wearing a long-sleeved black dress that sort of looks like something Beverly would wear when showing up drunk to a funeral: a dress for a fifty-year-old woman who still thinks she’s Juliette’s age, not a dress for a woman who’s actually Juliette’s age. On the other hand, Cadence looks unbelievably precious, with a set of giant noise-protecting headphones around her tiny baby skull as Avery holds her in his arms. She’s making that pouting, trembling-lip face that babies get right before they start to squall.

Juliette thanks everyone, “and above all, my two number ones, my wonderful husband Avery and our beautiful baby girl Cadence. This one’s for you.” She sings a song that starts, “You’re scared to death pretty baby, cause you might be fallin’.” As she sings, Jeff comes up to Avery and slickly says he’s glad Avery took his advice. Avery’s basically like, fuck off, and Cadence starts to cry for realsies. Avery calls her a good judge of character, so Jeff turns tail. Juliette gives a great performance, but her smile falters every time she looks at Cadence, who’s full-on howling through most of the song.

As she sings, Cole and Will agree that she’s great. But Cole hastily pushes off a camera, saying, “No pictures tonight.” Will looks hurt, and Cole feels guilty, so he puts his hand on Will’s shoulder and says something friendly as he leaves. Will looks so sad now. “Still think I’m wrong?” Gabriella leans over to say to Luke, since somehow they managed to catch that whole exchange while listening to Juliette perform at full concert volume, I guess? Luke does not think Gabriella is wrong. Poor Will.

Scarlett is sitting by Beverly’s bed, scribbling. She’s working on a song. “Like the one you wrote about me?” Beverly says, and I brace myself for more of her narcissistic, blamey drama. But instead, she says “Lord knows, I gave you enough material. That was the thing that hurt so much. Hearing you sing it, just knowing it was all true.” Scarlett demurs, but Bev insists on apologizing for not being the mother Scarlett deserved. Scarlett bursts into tears and rushes over to embrace her. Remember that scientific tip I shared earlier?

Juliette finishes her performance and goes offstage, pushing Jeff away as he says he wants pictures of her with VIPs. “That’s enough fussin’,” she croons sweetly as she takes Cadence. Avery says she needs a diaper change. Cut to Juliette in the bathroom, struggling painfully with the task. She can’t even get the box of wipes open. “If she could stop squirming so much…. oh my GOD, it’s all the way up her back!” I try not to imagine what she means by ‘it.’ Avery wants to help, saying she’s just out of practice, but she says she’s got it. He says he knows she does, but he can help so she can mingle: she’ll be able to “master the art of diapering” when they’re out on tour. “Right. That. OK,” Juliette mutters. As Avery bends over Cadence, she backs away, her face a grimacing mask of terror and disgust.

Rayna’s still pitching Marcus. “When you clear away all that distortion, all that noise, it’s a great opportunity for an artist like you to really be heard.” He says he’s desperate to be heard. See? He’s kind of emo, right? She insists that country is the new rock and roll from a business perspective, What if some publishing dude were just like, “Hey, Stephen King, I know you’re really good at scary stories, but  I’ve heard that S&M softcore erotica for ladies is really in right now, so I think you should come over to my publishing house.” I just don’t see how that would actually work. But I’m on board with Riley Smith, so… go for it, Nashville.

Layla is singing, and her table is empty. But her song is very moving and beautiful. Her face and smile go from sweet to bitter to sad in flickering moments. But Glenn is there (unfortunately, I have a pathological inability to tell Glenn and Bucky apart, but JD confirmed this was in fact Glenn after I spent awhile being confused) in the background, looking very impressed.

Hospital montage! Under Layla’s lovely voice, Caleb brings coffee to Scarlett, and Scarlett looks pensively at her mother. She leaves a voicemail for Gunnar: “Hey, iss me. I was jess thinkin’ that mebbe fifty tyoo-er dates is too many.” After that she looks weird: kind of scared, but resigned. I’m still utterly confused about what things are affecting her motivations and her random changes in temperature towards Gunnar. WHAT DOES THE COFFEE HAVE TO DO WITH THIS? I’m not used to being so confused by TV shows. Is Nashville too deep for me? A terrifying thought.

Avery is looking for Juliette, and asks a lonely Will, who’s nursing a drink at his own table. Will shakes his head. Left alone again, he doffs his hat and marches away, a lonely cowboy.

Now Layla finishes her song: “You’re the ledge that’s gonna be my fall.” Everyone is cheering, and Glenn still looks intrigued, but of course Layla is not pleased.

Flight over, Rayna and Marcus kiss cheeks and say they’ll talk soon. At Rayna’s request, Bucky has assembled a team of lawyers in the office of Highway 65, but they want a ton of money: “basically all we got from Juliette’s buyout.” He’s wary of the gamble, but Rayna wants to go for it. I do not think this will end well.

Avery comes into the house calling for Juliette, with Cadence still in her car seat. He calls her—and follows the sound of her phone into the darkened bedroom. Sure enough, her abandoned phone is in the trash can, and his cheery photo is lighting up its screen. He looks really sad, but not exactly surprised.

Layla, all alone

Layla, all alone

Outside the Bluebird, Layla calls Jeff and asks where he is. He slimes that something came up, but he got her a town car. That’s actually a step above what I’d expect from Jeff. Good job being not entirely evil, Jeff. Layla is sad she didn’t get to see him, but he’s already on Juliette’s plane, which is lit in blue neon. “I know, it’s crazy. As is my client,” he says oh so cleverly. She complains about no one being there to see her show, and for once Jeff gets to honestly play the hero as he says, “No one cares more about your career than me.” That’s… true. Low bar, since literally no one cares about her career, but true.

Here’s one person who actually cares: Glenn. He tells Layla she was amazing. She seems disbelieving at first, but then smiles at him—and he says if the fact that she has a manager ever changes, he’d like to be her first call. Interesting! I’d be glad Glenn’s back because he’s a swell guy and everything, but I really hate when I’m watching one of his scenes and trying to figure out, Is this Bucky?

Jeff shoos everyone away from Juliette. “You’re my manager, not my bartender,” Juliette slurs. She’s in bad shape, slumped sideways in her seat, her eyes barely open. She stares insolently at him as he says that over-imbibing can hurt her voice. But at least he’s brought her a present: a brand new phone that he promises will be activated when they land in St. Paul. “With the new number nobody else has?” she exposits awkwardly, like we couldn’t figure out that was what she was doing. Finally, she says the worst part: “You got all your red carpet pictures, right?” It sounds like she just went back with Avery to get the pictures! But from watching that scene in the bathroom at her launch party, I actually don’t think so. I think she almost got up the nerve to be a parent, then chickened out when she realized how hard it would be, and how much Avery was already depending on her to be reliable since he was going to go on her tour, and how much Cadence, obviously, would depend on her. And now she’s denying that she ever actually gave a shit about Avery in order to not have to admit to Jeff that she fucked up again. But maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the whole thing will turn out to have been a ruse.

Gunnar comes in to Caleb’s office and asks to see him. This business needn’t concern the little lady: Gunnar just wants Caleb to back off because he assumes Scarlett isn’t capable of deciding the tour was too much on her own. He’s apologizing for the pictures again, and assures Caleb that he respects his relationship. Caleb calmly goes, “Oh, you think I’m threatened by you? Because I’m not.” Typical nice-guy Caleb. Only then he utterly breaks his facade and announces that Scarlett must have changed her mind because she didn’t want to spend so much time chasing a fantasy. He uses his ultra-logical voice to explain condescendingly to Gunnar that “the odds of a successful music career are pretty slim. Even you have to admit to that.” Gunnar, selfishly, looks triumphant even as he also looks scornful. “You know what, I may not be the man for Scarlett, but neither are you,” he says.  I hope Caleb goes full on evil. That would be SO interesting.

Will has apparently forgotten last night: he comes in to see Luke with a giant, expectant smile. This makes Luke’s job all the harder as he lets Will down, saying he has to drop him from the label. “And Will, you gotta know it ain’t personal. You gotta know that I mean it when I say I think your songs are great.” But it turns out Luke is offering to sing them on his own album, because they deserve to be heard. Luke gives Will a tiny, guilty smile, hoping that this will earn him forgiveness. Will says thanks and gets up, obviously not into this. Luke calls his name—but then chickens out and says, “Tell Kevin I said hello.” Oh, Luke. You will regret this all your life.

Gabriella however, is all smiles. She comes in as soon as Luke’s alone, like the evil henchwoman she is, and tells Luke it was the smart move. Luke says it was hard, and she says it’s OK because it was to protect his brand. People who say “brand” like it’s a real thing are dangerous.

Rayna finds Deacon in their bedroom and is surprised, but he says Beverly is doing well. He’s also impressed with the news about Highway 65. He calls her hot, and then calls her sexy, and now they finally get to have a guilt-free makeout, for probably the last time in awhile, since…

Scarlett’s chattering with her mom as she sets up a bouquet for her. They’re both happy about Caleb again, and Scarlett reminisces about a childhood memory the flowers remind her of: making daisy chains together. “Do you remember that?” she asks, but when she turns towards her mother, Bev’s head has fallen to the side, her eyes open. Scarlett yells for help and cries hysterically as they work on her mother. Things aren’t looking good for Bev…

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