Previously on Nashville: Scarlett and Gunnar gave an awkward interview to Rolling Stone about how they’re exes; Juliette got nominated for an Oscar, but was sad that Avery chose Layla; Maddie got emancipated; and Deacon punched Frankie in his obnoxious face and got himself hit with a restraining order.
Rayna’s on tour in Atlanta, according to the title cards, singing a song about being strong. What do you think that’s about? I hate when they make you work to figure out the song’s relevance!
Montage time. Deacon’s doing community service; Daphne’s hugging a crying Rayna on the plane; Deacon’s arriving home to an empty house; Maddie and Cash are at a photo shoot, where Cash tells Maddie how to be sexy and “work it” (gross); Daphne, at Rayna’s concert with Tandy (we’re playing fast and loose with the timeline in this montage!), gets a text from Maddie saying she’s sorry, but ignores it.
Cash tells Maddie that she has lots of interest, and Maddie is worried about doing a showcase with so little time to rehearse. So, I guess they’re planning a showcase! Cash spins Maddie’s nervousness to be the fault of Rayna’s supposed undermining, and with beautiful irony thereby convinces Maddie not to listen to her own instincts.
Juliette’s on the red carpet for some Shenandoah Girl event, with Emily in tow. She whines, “I hate coming to things like this by myself. No offense.” Wow. Emily has literally been downgraded from “everyone’s slave” to “actually nobody.” She chirpily says it’s no problem, and comforts Juliette that it’s only been a week since she found out about Avery and Layla and that she’ll be OK. Juliette is not having it.
Backstage at the Autumn Chase tour, Scarlett’s writing poetry in her notebook but at Gunnar. Noel immediately picks up on this, and Scarlett admits that they “bring out the worst in each other.” Then Gunnar, angrily, brings over a little tablet on which he’s found the Rolling Stone article. For some reason it doesn’t focus on all of the drama the reporter witnessed, just on Scarlett’s empowerment. Gunnar complains he looks like a backup singer. Scarlett apologizes and says she didn’t do it on purpose, and Gunnar, acting more like a reasonable human than usual, says he’s not saying she did anything. He asks Noel to fix it. Scarlett apologizes again, grabbing his hand. Gunnar doesn’t look too upset. Yet.
Luke looks down from his window at a group of very stupid protesters, complaining that they can’t even come up with a rhyming way to be mean [Janes: Well seriously, “Shame on Luke Wheeler”? What the hell kind of chant is that?]. He says he can’t let Cynthia Davis (the fake Ann Coulter from last week) have the last word. Just then Will calls and complains that Cynthia’s show has been calling him for three days straight. Will says he’s just going to ignore her.
Then he hangs up and sees Avery’s back with Cadence. Will gets the absolute cutest smile on his face and takes her in his arms like the adorable father figure he is. The cuteness is interrupted by yet another call, not from Cynthia Davis from this time, but from Will’s Aunt Betty. “Someone has died and/or had a heart attack and is on their deathbed, requiring you to go home for a reckoning,” Aunt Betty announces. Presumably.
In the back of a limo, Layla quizzes Glenn on the buzz about her album. He has to admit that they’re thinking sales of thirty thousand. She’s horrified. Glenn says that they’re going to have to build the buzz gradually because people think they know her from the two reality shows. “So you’re saying I’ve already had my fifteen minutes?” she says bitterly. He says something comforting about how they’ll rebuild her reputation, but Layla does not look comforted.
Rayna’s in a hotel room talking to Deacon on the phone. He’s begging her to tell him what to do to make things right, and she says something that sounds like a dumping in the works: “I don’t even know what life looks like without Maddie in it, or what our relationship looks like. I can’t figure out how to work through this.” He apologizes, but she says she wants to talk to him tomorrow. Tandy remarks snottily that she’s glad Deacon’s staying at “his” place while handing Rayna a giant glass of red wine.
Bucky calls to ruin Rayna’s evening further, telling her that Maddie has a showcase even though she’s only been emancipated for like five minutes. For some reason this seems to be very shocking to everyone. Also, a label called Lennox Hill is coming, which makes Rayna all kinds of nervous. How many record labels have to have the word “Hill” in them? Rayna asks him to get a jet ready for them. She hangs up and tells Tandy dramatically that they’re going back to Nashville. I’m sorry, what? Is she supposed to be on tour? How can she just go to Nashville without… oh never mind, I don’t care.
At Juliette’s house, she and Glenn and Emily are planning for some event revolving around Shenandoah Girl. “Who knew an Oscar nomination could be such a pain in the ass,” grumps Juliette, who’s determined to get no enjoyment out of life until Avery stops, er, getting enjoyment out of Layla. Glenn and Emily laugh at her, which seems like tempting fate to me. Glenn even jokes about coordinating his outfit to her dress, which just gets more grouchiness from Juliette. But he manages to rouse her out of her funk in the best possible way: he gets a phone alert about Maddie’s showcase, which both he and Juliette are also convinced is a terrible idea. Juliette looks worried, forgetting for a moment that she is the center of the universe.
Gunnar’s checking out of the hotel when Autumn comes along to simper in his direction and tease him about not being part of the Exes. He says that Scarlett didn’t want this to happen, but Autumn says, “Cute little blonde singers tend to get pushed up to the front.” Somehow Gunnar doesn’t see the blatant manipulation that’s happening here. Then Autumn asks him to write with her, and though he’s hesitant because he usually writes with Scarlett, a well-placed arm touch makes short work of his scruples.
Scarlett sees this from a distance, but she’s busy putting out a different fire: Deacon calling her to complain about Rayna. Scarlett advises him to apologize, and he insists he has, and that he’s shown her how sorry he is by scrubbing all that graffiti off the buildings. Scarlett, bless her, says, “I say this with love, but court-mandated community service does not exactly drive your point home.” Scarlett is now officially awesome. Deacon sighs. She asks if he’s apologized to Frankie and Deacon yells that it’s Frankie’s fault he’s in trouble. “OK, see, that right there doesn’t sound like somebody who’s sorry. In fact it sounds like you’re really not sorry,” Scarlett eye-rolls. I never thought I’d say this, but I love you, Scarlett. She points out that he put a man in the hospital and that he has to be really sorry for people to believe it. Deacon hangs up with a grudging “I love you,” looking mad to be called out on his bad behavior by a weird hippie.
Avery’s performing at the Bluebird. And while I love his slow emo ballads, I very much do not like this weird up-tempo song. Layla shows up to support him, and gets recognized, which gives her a big old grin. Avery makes sexy eye contact with her while he sings, and she dances cutely from side to side. After the song, they go out to the back alley and she tells him he was amazing, then pulls him into a big kiss. It’s all very romantic until it’s interrupted by the click of someone’s giant camera. “Why was he taking pictures, is he paparazzi?” Avery muses ungrammatically as the guy runs away. “I don’t know,” says Layla. Like, no, I’m sure it was just a fan who happened to bring a camera the size of a small dog to the Bluebird.
Rayna’s meeting with some dude from a record label named Tupelo Creek. At least it’s not Tupelo Hill. She asks if he wants to sign Maddie, and he, misunderstanding, promises not to. But she corrects him that she wants him to sign her, because of Lennox Hill. He gives a big sigh: “Lennox Hill is in the mix?” We still have no idea what’s wrong with Lennox Hill, but from the reactions they’re getting I’m guessing they are sex traffickers and/or Voldemort.
Meanwhile, Juliette has met up with Maddie for some big-sisterly advice. She grabs her hands, asking if she’s OK. Maddie natters on about how emancipated she is, just like Juliette! Juliette points out that Maddie actually has a family, and Maddie rolls her eyes like the oblivious brat she is. “It’s not too late to change your mind, you can always go back,” Juliette says softly. But Maddie says she doesn’t want to. So Juliette says she’ll just have to help Maddie out as much as she can. She is going to loan her her “lucky charm”!
Cut to… oh wait. We cut to Will. When was the last time on this show that someone referred to another character by an epithet instead of their name, and the next cut wasn’t to the exact person they were talking about? Anyway, Will’s standing on the brown-and-green lawn of a very cute red-roofed farmhouse. The Sad Chords of You Can’t Go Home Again plunk in the background as he enters, and fingers a photograph. Then, his father comes in. Will laments that he was in the photograph and they cut him out. Completely unembarrassed, his father agrees and elaborates that they also burned every picture of him. Wow, that’s a lot of effort to go to to express your homophobia. I bet Mr. Lexington would have never been so lazy as to have a non-rhyming protest sign. Anyway, he scolds Will that his mother died of a broken heart because she spent every day after he left staring at her Bible. Wow, this family sounds FUN. Will points out that he didn’t leave, he was kicked out. The father actually agrees to let Will stay the night (I guess southern hospitality really is a strong tradition!) but insists he can’t come to the funeral because his mother deserves peace. This dude is the worst! He’s worse than Cynthia!
Noel finds Gunnar and tells him the article can’t be changed, but Rolling Stone will switch out the photo, and that all press is good press. Speaking of which, a headphone company who’s doing a series of ads featuring female artists wants to use Scarlett in a commercial. She says that’s crazy because they’re a duo, but Gunnar says—sounding reasonably genuine, whereas the old Gunnar would have been saying it with petulant passive aggression—that she should do it. After he walks away she tells Noah they’re in a weird place and she needs to think about it.
Meanwhile, Juliette is doing something incredibly human: lying in bed with her legs flopping every which way, eating ice cream and online shopping. She finds a picture of Avery kissing Layla—and next to it, a picture of her face when she’s apparently mid-tantrum. It is not a pretty look. She screams for Emily to get her a date for tomorrow’s event. Emily rushes in and then makes a hilarious grimace when she sees the unflattering picture of Juliette. Juliette flops back on the bed, moaning.
Avery and Layla are looking at the article too. “How did these hit the internet so fast?” Avery asks. Does he… not know what the internet is? Layla’s reaction is also pretty funny: “I never realized how weird I look when I’m kissing someone,” she says and makes a “yuck” face. Avery doesn’t like being called Juliette’s baby daddy. Layla tells him to calm down and says she’ll call Glenn, see if he can do something. Avery says you can’t take pictures off the internet once they’re there, so I guess he has at least some understanding of the concept. Layla, who’s noticeably not upset about the pictures, manages to turn the whole thing into a dramatic fight about how he’s embarrassed to be seen with her and storms out.
Will’s hanging out alone in his parents’ house and thumbing through the Bible that his mother supposedly read every night, when he finds an old picture of herself and him at the beach tucked in between the pages. Aww!
Daphne comes down to breakfast to find only Tandy and neither of her parents. Tandy tries to comfort-slash-bribe her with mani-pedis and a girls’ day. Daphne takes it semi-well, but when she leaves to get ready Tandy calls Rayna to ask where she is. And oh man. The answer is so bad. Rayna is stalking Maddie and Cash on their way into the showcase. Tandy points out there’s a restraining order. “There is no way any judge or anybody else is going to stop me from taking care of my daughter,” insists Rayna. Um, Rayna? There’s a little thing called jail that might stop you. Just ask Deacon, I hear he’s familiar with the concept. Unfortunately, Tandy can’t convince Rayna of how crazy she’s being, so Rayna watches creepily as Maddie and Cash walk into the building together. This is not going to end well.
Inside, Glenn greets Maddie and she gives him a big hug. Cash snots, “Sorry, I’m confused, I didn’t see your name on the invite list.” Maddie explains that Juliette “loaned” him to her. Cash protests that they already have an entertainment lawyer named Ty, and Glenn and Ty have to explain patiently to both of them that lawyers and managers are actually not the same. Glenn papers over the awkwardness by jollying, “And since my services are free, you can’t beat the price!” At which point Cash has to give in and shake hands and pretend to be cool with this. Maddie grins like everyone is best friends, completely unaware of the power play that just went on right in front of her.
Deacon shows up at the Beverly, and Frankie, who has pretty nasty bruising on his nose, points out that there’s a restraining order. [Janes: Apparently, restraining orders are just friendly guidelines on this show.] Deacon does his best to apologize: he only mentions that it’s partly Frankie’s fault once, and he says that he understands Frankie wants to protect his daughter. But Frankie isn’t having it. When Deacon points out that they’re partners and they can’t just draw a line down the middle of the Beverly, he says that Deacon would just cross any line they drew anyway. Which is uncharacteristically perspicacious of him. Then he says he wants to buy Deacon out and rename the bar, and if Deacon doesn’t sign, Frankie’s going to sue. Wow, I hate to say that I’m on Frankie’s side of anything, but if he’s gonna rename the Beverly, I guess I am. But what exactly is he threatening to sue for? “This guy bailed out the bar that I had driven into financial ruin and then had the audacity to ask to rename it as a condition of said bailout”? I can’t exactly see getting massive damages for that.
Autumn and Gunnar are writing, and it’s getting tense. When he digs in his heels on some finer point of the music, she tells him, “Have a Snickers, Marsha,” which is apparently a reference to a bonkers Snickers commercial where Steve Buscemi plays Jan Brady. Way to show your age there, Autumn. Anyway, she throws him a strawberry from the stash of fancy catered food that every starlet seems to keep on permanent display in her suite, and then sits next to him so she can seductively chew her own strawberry while saying mean things about Scarlett getting all the attention. But Gunnar still has enough of a grip on reality to realize that Scarlett isn’t seeking out this kind of attention, so Autumn swiftly pivots and says that even if it’s not Scarlett’s fault, he’s the “driving force” of the band and should get recognition for his amazing talent. It’s utterly gross. But of course Gunnar is way too flattered to see through it.
Will arrives in the middle of his mom’s funeral and walks right up to the front. You go, Will! His dad looks PEEVED, though. His nice aunt is finishing up a eulogy and she nods and says hi to Will on her way back to her seat. So Will gets up to say his own eulogy. Pretty much all he says is, “I love you, Mom,” before he breaks down crying and goes back to his seat. Aww.
Avery comes over to Layla’s and asks to talk. He launches into an apology for overreacting, and tries to explain that he just doesn’t like being in a celebrity couple. She points out that she also knows what that’s like: “I’m the ‘how do robots make voices?’ girl.” She says it will suck less if they’re going through it together. They both laugh, and Avery seems to be won over—but he doesn’t want them to be given a cute nickname. Layla jokes that that’s the only perk of being in a celebrity couple. Fight over!
Juliette’s at an event with a fake date who looks like a poor man’s Jason Street. Suddenly she’s interrupted by Kesha, in the most pointless cameo since Sutton Foster spent fifteen seconds giving testimony on The Good Wife. She and Juliette hug, and she explains she’s with Noah, Juliette’s co-star from Shenandoah Girl. She calls him over, they say hi, and then Kesha sees a different friend and drags him away. She doesn’t even sing later! IT’S SO WEIRD.
[Janes: To be fair, is she even allowed to sing on the show with the Dr. Luke debacle? Nashville seems like the kind of show that might bring her on to show their support for her career.]
Tandy comes in to see Daphne. Daphne, who’s already been through so much, is then forced to listen to a very boring story about two sisters, one of whom runs away. Surprise! It’s actually about Tandy and Rayna. And Tandy explains that she wanted to be the strong, good daughter, but that she wanted to cry every day. Daphne tears up and says she wants to help Rayna feel better but all Rayna cares about is Maddie. Tandy assures her that Rayna loves her, but Daphne bursts out, “Then where is she? Why isn’t she here with me?” Tandy makes an awkward “good point” face.
Speaking of Rayna, she’s sneaking into the showcase! Oh no. Cash is introducing Maddie, with “Maddie Jaymes” (not Conrad!) plastered up on the screen behind her. Maddie comes up and sings her “I’m a wild girl” song. Then Cash pops up next to Rayna like a snake lifting its head to strike, and says, “I never was good at math. How far is 100 feet again?” Rayna says she couldn’t miss her daughter’s performance, and Cash says that Maddie’s not Rayna’s daughter. “Ooh, apparently you’re not good at biology either,” Rayna retorts. Hee. She points out that Maddie’s using her last name which was clearly Cash’s idea, to capitalize on Rayna’s fame. Cash threatens to call the cops, and Rayna just refuses to be scared and tells Cash she has her eye on her. Then she leaves, with Cash looking a bit red about the eyes. Maddie, meanwhile, is basically making out with her microphone as she sings and it is very upsetting.
Juliette stands alone at the bar chewing angrily on martini olives when Noah asks her to dance. He tells her he and Kesha (who’s offscreen) are just friends. “At least you had a friend. My choices were my assistant and my manager,” Juliette jokes. [Janes: Poor Emily and Glenn.] She complains that men only want to date her as a celebrity, and now she’s a mom, “which men don’t seem to find sexy for some reason,” she says while gnawing on a toothpick. Well, that is sexy. Or at least it works for Noah, who pulls her onto the dance floor.
Luke’s burning the midnight oil in his office while Kenneth describes all of his losses since he started going to bat for Will. He says that Will is taking Luke down with him, and that Luke has to cut him loose. Luke takes off his glasses and drops a truth bomb: “I’m on the right side of history here. And the only thing I hate more than a bigot is a coward. So yeah, it is time to cut somebody loose, but it ain’t Will. Goodbye, Ken.” That was AWESOME. I mean, sure, Ken is saying exactly the kind of stuff that Luke was thinking all of six weeks ago, but still.
Will’s standing outside brooding by the car when his dad comes over to thank him for being respectful. Will calls him out on the hypocrisy of that, when Daddy Dearest didn’t even let his own son know his mother had died. The dad starts in on blaming Will for his mother’s death, but finally Will loses his patience and tells his dad about the picture. He says it’s his dad’s fault she died, because he “threw away her son.” Go Will!
Backstage while Autumn is giving her concert, Scarlett asks Gunnar if they can talk. But Autumn interrupts with her usual obnoxious timing and calls Gunnar up on stage with her to sing the song they wrote. Scarlett is alarmed that he’s been writing with Autumn, but she tells him to go out onstage like Autumn wants: “Gotta keep the boss happy, right?” Gunnar isn’t sure, but he pretty much has to go out there when Autumn keeps calling for him.
Someone, leaving the funeral reception, calls Will a homo. Classy thing to do at a guy’s mom’s funeral. Mr. Lexington yells at the guy. Well, that was a fast turnaround. He gives Will the picture of himself and his mom and goes into the house, leaving Will looking stricken.
After the showcase, Cash’s lawyer announces to the little group that there’s a lot of interest, especially Tupelo Creek, which Glenn says is a great label with an honest reputation. Cash purses her lips and protests that the head of Tupelo Creek worked with Rayna and they might still be “tight.” Maddie thinks this is a good point. On the one hand, Cash is super annoying for instilling all this paranoia into Maddie. On the other hand, she’s kind of right, since Rayna is doing this to keep control of Maddie. Glenn, rightfully, points out that everyone in Nashville knows Rayna. Cash says that means they should leave Nashville, and oh guess what! She has an idea for who to sign with: Lennox Hill, the same label that makes literally everyone else react with a horrified gasp. Maddie’s gaze bounces back and forth as Glenn argues that Cash is taking Maddie away from her support system, and Cash argues that she needs a clean break.
At an AA support group, Deacon listens to an optimistic speech and then loses his shit, announcing to everyone that AA promised him that things would get better when he got sober and instead everything is terrible, so clearly hope is a lie. Always finding someone to blame, that Deacon! The Minor Chords of Impending Off-Wagon-Falling play as he leaves the meeting.
Juliette and Noah are slow-dancing when Noah admits he paid off Juliette’s date to leave. She finds this amusing and not creepy, and tells him she’s having fun, thanks for supporting her last year, etc. etc. He admits he has a crush on her, and she immediately invites him to her room upstairs. Get yours, Juliette!
Rayna arrives home and tells Tandy that Maddie signed with a label in New York and is leaving Nashville. Really? They negotiated a contract and signed all in one night after the showcase? Did they have a whole team of lawyers and paralegals and execs standing by? Tandy promises Rayna it’s not the end of the story, and that there’s a whole lot of road up ahead of us. Rayna cries and says, “But the show was cancelled, so actually the story is over and there’s only like six inches of road ahead.” OK, she doesn’t say that. But it’s true. Anyway, Tandy promises that just like she and Rayna found their way back to each other, Rayna and Maddie will.
Back at the Autumn tour, Scarlett does a driveby conversation with Noel, telling him she’ll do the commercial.
Avery and Layla are making out in her bed, and Layla won’t let Avery extract himself until her phone rings. “Saved by the bell,” Avery jokes and springs up. Bad sign when you have to actually escape your girlfriend’s clutches, literally. Layla greets Glenn chirpily, and he announces that he found out the paparazzi who snapped Avery and Layla kissing was tipped off. By a woman’s voice. Layla plays it totally cool, like, “Oh, that’s really weird.” Glenn prods her further, saying that now she’s getting lots of interview requests. “It’s almost like we planned it,” he says. Layla, tough as nails, just says, “Good night, Glenn.” Then she hangs up and gives herself an evil little smile in the mirror like the delicious scheming villain she is. I LOVE it.
Up in Juliette’s hotel room, Juliette and Noah have wasted no time getting down to business, and now they’re checking out the media reports of their dancing together on one of those handy-dandy tablets everyone on this show has. He kisses her and says he wants to see where this goes. She’s a little nervous, but she says she’s just surprised. Low self-esteem is a weird mode for Juliette, I must say.
Avery is checking out the same media report, sitting on the steps of the Bro Castle. He does not look pleased. Luckily he’s with that uncomplicated angel, Layla!
The next morning, Rayna is cooking pancakes when Daphne comes down for breakfast. Rayna’s hair looks like a Tresemme ad even though she’s still in PJs. Just the magic of being Connie Britton, I guess. She sits down with Daphne for a Real Talk, saying that Daphne doesn’t have to be strong. Daphne says she hates seeing Rayna sad. She promises not to be sad forever and that they’ll all get through this. “Deacon too?” Daphne asks. Rayna says yes, Deacon too. Daphne says she hates Maddie, but Rayna gently says that “We can still love somebody even when we’re angry at them.” I almost cried at this speech because I’m a huge softie.
Deacon’s sitting in his old apartment, staring at a paper-bag-wrapped bottle of something that I’m sure is delicious. He’s in the process of opening it when—saved by the bell! Again!—Rayna calls. His hand shakes as he considers hanging up and going for the sauce instead. But he resists temptation long enough to pick up, and puts down the bottle. Yay! (Not so much that I was really concerned about the wellbeing of Deacon, who seriously needs taking down a peg or two, but because another relapse storyline sounds booo-ring.)