In an effort to make the viewers of Nashville identify with the citizens of Nashville, Nashville opens AGAIN with “Wrong Song” this week. The oversaturation is so real you can taste it! At least now it’s being performed out on the fabled dueling divas tour. Not three seconds go by and there’s already strife between the ladies as Rayna and Liam totally edge Juliette out of their back-to-back eyes-only-for-each-other stage presence. Juliette’s nostrils flare dangerously, but her solid gold fringed “dress” distracts the audience, so all is well!
After the show the whole gang piles onto Juliette’s jet to fly back to Tennessee for a party in their honor. The major takeaways here are the overwhelming sexual tension between Rayna and Liam and the fact that Juliette’s and Rayna’s managers might be the same person. Are they actually different actors? I can usually tell them apart based on who’s making knowingly snarky jokes and who’s in a frazzled state of being yelled at, but otherwise indistinguishable. Oh, also Ming-Na – aka the voice of Mulan! – wants to woo Rayna to her record label, and we’re treated to the all-time best bitchily comic sequence of Juliette pitching a hissy and Rayna’s contingent openly mocking her. Flawless.
Next we visit Scarlett and Gunnar, who are singing some song about natural selection. Darwin with the shout-out! The two are also drinking and bantering, which bodes well. Like me, they’ve apparently forgotten exactly what it was they were fighting about, and all for the better!
Things are less pleasant for Deacon, who’s heard absolutely screaming at someone on the phone. The uniform volume of this scene makes the finer points hard to discern, but basically someone wrote an article about him leaving The Revel Kings that implies Deacon is off the wagon while also minimizing the reasons for his departure. I’m guessing that lady he slept with is the one who wrote it, because why else did we meet her? Altogether, the piece doesn’t seem too unfortunate, but Deacon just keeps SCREAMING about it, so that must be subjective. While he insists he hasn’t had a drink in 12 years, we sense his resolve is seriously wavering.
The Mystery Machine lands, and Rayna goes home to decamp with her family. Mommy’s home! The girls are happy; Teddy is icy; and thus sets the tone for this plotline tonight. Rayna and Teddy will have another heart-to-heart later, but the result is always the same: they’re standing by each other, for the moment, but their hearts just aren’t quite in it. Look for this one to burn slow.
Rayna may be having the better homecoming, though, since Juliette’s back to appear at her mother’s hearing. And if you wondered how she felt about it, please see her eyes rollin’ ALL over the courthouse. We’re reminded that Deacon still has a vested interest in Juliette and her mother when he shows up as a potential character witness. The article withstanding, he suggests that Juliette take his place, and everyone is like, “YEAH!” but Juliette is like “Aww, hell no.”
The James/Conrad household does put up a good fight in the “never a dull moment” area: During her few hours at home, Rayna is visited by Ming Na, who makes her inevitable pitch. Ming Na plays Rayna like a fiddle, but we see as always that Rayna’s a smart woman who’s been around the block; she knows all these games. They’re both mothers and breadwinners, Ming Na gets her. Sure. She talks about the hard decision to cut and run, and while she’s talking about Edgehill, Rayna’s thinking about Teddy. The angel and devil are poised on Rayna’s shoulders, but it’s unclear which is which; by episode’s end, she’ll have chosen for better or worse.
It’s a down-home reunion, with Nashville’s Least Popular – Avery Barkley – back in town, too. He’s playing a local festival that Scarlett attends semi-incognito, pouting. She’s not the only one licking her wounds, though, and runs into JT in the crowd. They resolve to “get outta here”, which sounds like sexy-times but will actually lead to them forming a superb new band out of Avery’s left-behinds, Gunnar, and Scarlett. Proposed kickass band name for them: The Screw Avery Barkley Band. Just saying.
Begrudgingly in front of the judge, Juliette drily attests that there’s nobody who hopes her mother’s sobriety sticks more than her, which isn’t so much a testimony as a shrug. The ordeal was hard for her, and I think even saying what she said cost her something in self-preservation. She opens up to Deacon, the only person she can do so with, about feeling ostracized on her tour. She invites him again to join her band, but he resists – for the moment. He will come to the party though, and bring her mama as his plus-one! Yaaaaaaayyy, said no one ever.
After the casual, easy energy of Juliette and Deacon, we pan quickly to the now-strained interaction between him and Rayna. She’s worried about him; he’s angry that she still doesn’t want him. We get some more back-story on these two: how many times Deacon went through rehab before it stuck and how Rayna went and married Teddy while he was in the program one of those times. They both have legitimate points and valid feelings, and most of all a lot of passion (even in their pain) which is glaringly absent from all their other relationships. Nothing is resolved, and you get the feeling it never will be with these two (and simultaneously understand why they have strung each other along this long.)
After the tears, we blow off steam at the #1 party for “Wrong Song”, but maybe there’s not enough booze there because the thing is still rife with drama. First off, there is a massive poster featuring a giant Rayna in the foreground with Juliette Stillwatered in the back. The mayor attends the party, too, but his wife is catchin’ eyes from Liam over his shoulder. Avery tries to introduce himself to Juliette and gets hilariously rebuffed, cementing his status as the punching bag of the show. Mama Barnes is scolded for… basically being entirely pleasant and decorous, because Juliette’s in a huff (damn, even Mayor Teddy publicly dissed her!) and Deacon stood her up; tough life. Edgehill head Marshall outs Liam for having a secret deal on the side if he brings Rayna onto his label! And most importantly, the ladies’ managers are shown standing next to each other, simultaneously revealing that they are separate human beings and utterly identical.
Hearing about Liam’s shady dealings is the last straw for Rayna. He’s been making snide comments about her marriage and career all night, and while at first they were kind of hot, they’ve definitely slid over the line. He realizes it too late and tries to make nice, but Rayna is a wise woman and walks away from him and from their partnership. In a sly play on the flirtatious look Liam was casting Rayna earlier over Teddy’s shoulder, Teddy now throws the discarded producer mad shade. Burn!
While Rayna is burning bridges, Juliette’s mending some. Shocking role reversal! The younger starlet comes to Deacon’s rescue before he can hit rock bottom. The guy’s already trashed his house and smashed his guitar, but he hasn’t fallen off that shaky wagon yet. Get back on the road, keep playing music, do what you love and stay clean, Juliette tells him. It’s not a bad idea. Turning a mirror on her, he asks why she can’t focus all that concern and caring on her mother. Little J takes his words to heart and opens hers; she and Mama speak candidly to each other and finally connect. Juliette’s famous façade even breaks, and the two honestly start anew. It’s a beautiful moment, and I can’t wait to see how it changes the Juliette we know.
Back with our indie contingent, there’s a little trouble and a lot of Lumineers-esque joy. Gunnar breaks the cardinal rule of never answering unknown numbers and learns to his dismay that his brother never showed up at the halfway house; Jason is now a fugitive, and Gunnar is his unwitting accomplice. At least Jason dropped off the guitar he lifted off baby bro, though that coworker at the Bluebird delivers it inexplicably late so that Gunnar can’t go after him. Whatever, it’s best not to think about such things, and after a brief tiff with Scarlett, he joins the band!
The Screw Avery Barkley Band plays their first rehearsal in a garage charmingly lit by Christmas lights, and everyone is wearing cozy sweaters and Gunnar has on an adorable vest. It’s instant magic! And who should drive along in his big fancy car all alone but Avery Barkley himself. It’s lonely at the top, ain’t it?
The longest (right?!) day is done, and it’s time to head back out on the road. The family bids Rayna farewell at the airport, perfectly positioning them to see Deacon run through on his way to the jet! He’s joining Juliette’s band, which is great for him and puts Little J back on top, but promises to thoroughly rock the foundations of the Conrad-James clan. Need proof? Scenes for next week show the past lovers thisclose to kissing in an elevator! Ruh-roh.
Why is Rayna’s last name James, Teddy’s Conrad, and her dad’s Wyatt? Is James her mom’s maiden name or something? It makes referencing this family as a whole very difficult, but I guess also reflects its disjointed nature.
Best line of the night goes to Scarlett when JT says, “Know what we should do [about Avery]?” over red solo cups: “Wrap ‘im in a tarp, drop ‘im in a river?”
Who else thought when Avery was driving his fancy convertible and compulsively fiddling with the radio that he was about to get hit by a truck?
Now Rayna wants her own label? Was that even an option? Why doesn’t everyone just do that?
Catch up with last week’s recap: Jailbirds and Songbirds
And tune in two weeks from now to hear Gunnar say “movin’ in on my woman” in all seriousness.