Fair warning: I did not do a great job screen-grabbing this episode. But I got the most important part, and let’s just skip to it right now:
Deacon. In glasses. And that sweater. PAYING BILLS. I just… it’s so much hot sensibleness in one shot. I just want to go over there and make us both soup. As foreplay, obviously, but soup will totally be consumed.
This isn’t a bad sight either:
Will is doing the least creative photoshoot ever for his new album/single/whatever. Luke Wheeler is apparently as devoid of creativity as he is of Rayna’s love. Here, Will finds out that Oliver Hudson is no longer on Team Wheeler, and that Luke — in an effort to elicit songs that dig deeper — wants to pair him up professionally with a local hitmaker named Kevin who just so happens to be openly gay. This sends him into a tailspin about whether Luke Knows Anything, and what it might do to his image to hang out with some “swishy gay dude,” which delightfully prompts Gunnar to be like, “ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW.” I love Gunnar as Will’s Get-A-Grip Friend. He correctly instructs Will to suck it up and stop being paranoid and a dink, but mostly, I suspect the issue is that Will is afraid that in the scramble to write more personal songs, Kevin will learn too much about how the sausage gets made.
Juliette is not featured here, so I’m guessing around this time Hayden Panettiere was snuggling with her new baby. Avery’s entire plot here is that a) he’s tired because Juliette is too pregnant to sleep, and b) he’s about to have four episodes of HP’s maternity leave on his hands, so he’s free to join SAG again — which is great timing, because Rascal Flatts needs an opener for its opener, and Manager Scott Reeves called Gunnar to see if they could pinch hit. By the way, even SAG agrees that SAG is a stupid band name. So Gunnar’s plot is that the band is a fulfillment of what he came to Nashville for, and that he is the only one of the three of them who hasn’t played in a major arena. Ergo, he becomes a crazy person trying to come up with a better name, papering his house and his office and his notebook with Post-Its. They are all terrible and random combinations of words, like “Liquid Sister,” which made me laugh out loud; later he and Avery try saying whatever word comes to mind, which leads to such gems as “Whiskey Frog” and “Highway Cheese.” It will please Fug Nation — which I believe suggested this AGES AGO — that the one they choose is The Exes. Well, actually, they go with The Triple Exes, but still. (Scarlett: “As long as it’s not Two Guys And Their Crazy Ex-Girlfriend…”)
I can only assume this blouse means it was Laundry Day at Chez Jaymes.
Scarlett and Dr. Pampers go out on their date, but she spends the entire time both acting like she’s never seen a restaurant before in her life, and nattering about cancer and the American Medical Journal and different ginsengs. So at the end, she gets a firm handshake from him as opposed to an invitation to come back to his place and watch Pajanimals.
Oliver Hudson doesn’t want to let anyone know he and Layla are together — professionally or any other way — and so he sends her into meetings with Bucky with a script and no backup. When she gets railroaded by Bucky’s lame plan for her album, Oliver is annoyed, they fight, and then the two of them have hate sex. Just the way he likes it. He’s genuinely turned on when she’s all, “You work for ME now.” And after, they kind of cuddle on the couch while watching the news, and Oliver gets the idea to upload her single to iTunes and leak it to some indie bloggers. Apparently it’s super easy to do that in one’s boxers, so get ready, Fug Nation. I’m going to upload my song “Where The F Are My Keys I Have To Goooooo Am I Taking Crazy Pills” momentarily.
I love you, Deacon. Here, have some corn and potato chowder. I don’t do chicken noodle.
Scarlett stomps in, cranky about having ruined her date with a lot of polysyllabic shop talk. She appears to have broken into a high school gym and used the class rope to accessorize her head. She lets Deacon HAVE IT: She complains, quite rightly, that she’s crumpling under the weight of both his secret and the fitness apparatus she sewed to her hair. Because Deacon won’t let her share it, the only people she can talk to are Deacon — who shuts her down — and Dr. Luvs, who doesn’t want to share his mushy peas with a girl who can’t stop blabbing about liver cancer. It’s hard to see Deacon taking it on the chin while looking so brainy and cute, but perhaps I can make him some erotic chili to relax him.
And don’t worry about Dr. Diaper Creme. Scarlett gracefully explains herself and then invites him to her gig with her two ex-boyfriends. He’s super excited because his Fisher Price xylophone will fit right in with the gang.
Will shows up to work with Hot Songwriter Kevin and has the worst, most standoffish attitude. Hot Kevin is of course totally cool and patient about it, for as long as he can be, and then finally assumes Will is being a dillweed because he’s a homophobe. Will insists he isn’t, and this leads to them bonding about having unsupportive dads, a story Will manages to tell without the salient point that he was kicked out for being a man-eater. This results in songwriting gold and a new friendship is forged, which I hope will lead to a lot of boinking, because if ANYONE needs a nice and stable relationship it’s Will. I hope Kevin convinces Will to come out through song.
This show comes alive when Deacon and Rayna do things together. It’s Rayna’s tenth anniversary of her Grand Ole Opry induction, and for the big celebration, Maddie and Daphne get to sing on-stage with Deacon on guitar. He nearly didn’t come, but of course couldn’t resist, and the genuine joy on Chip Esten’s face when he gets to hug these girls is so great. I know all of these people have families of their own, but I REALLY prefer a world in which Rayna and Deacon and the Stellas live happily ever after as a unit.
JUMP HIS BONES RAYNA BEFORE THEY ARE DEAD.
Teddy shows up and does some press with Lorrie Morgan. He is 5’11” in real life and I was under the impression that Lorrie Morgan is super petite, so maybe she’s wearing ENORMOUS platforms? Anyway, of COURSE, Hooker Natasha has come there to find him because apparently the Opry has terrible security and anyone can get backstage. And thus Teddy finds out that she’s noticed a police van surveilling her house, and that it was there the night he came to her and explicitly discussed their indiscretions. The noose, it is tightening, and not in a Christian Grey kind of way.
Bucky is mildly annoyed that Layla went rogue, but it worked, so he can’t be too upset. He tells her they’ll come up with a better plan now. So basically, Highway 65 is stodgy and the worst. Good to know.
You just know someone in the audience is grumbling, “It’s your tenth anniversary and you couldn’t dress up a LITTLE?”
I love when they use actual Nashville locations, though. Deacon and Rayna sing a song that’s clearly about their tortured love affair, and it’s soft and gentle and twangy and wonderful, and there are lots of cutaways to people in the crowd crying. It is a miracle how much these two can pour into a performance, and once again, you see and hear and feel every single completed minute of their history in the way they look at each other and the way they sing. For all this shows flaws, Rayna and Deacon on stage together is never one of them.
I mean. Chip Esten rules. The other thing, actually, is that these two never look like they’re lip synching. Courtney Love on Empire could not have been less convincing with her “performance” of a song she’d clearly pre-recorded, but these two make it completely organic. So they have that to contend with, AND Deacon is looking at her with longing and sorrow and even a note of apology. I love him. SOUP FOR YOU, Deacon.
This is the worst shot ever of Luke and the kid. Cole! That’s the one I forgot. God bless Cole. Anyhoo, Cole wanted to go and support Maddie, and Luke agreed to take him and swallow his pride, but he can’t quite keep the tears back when he watches Rayna sing with the person who is her actual real George McFly. Later, Cole asks Luke if he can move back home, to be with both him and Maddie, and Luke agrees. Poor Sage. Nobody cares where SHE is.
When Scarlett brings Dr. Huggies in to meet the guys, he says, “So you’re the exes,” and that’s how the band name is born. They hit the stage for a joyful performance, meaning we’re three for three in this hour on the musical moments — they were all really good (Maddie and Daphne being the first; seriously, it’s insane to me that Rayna isn’t flooded with calls about signing them, because she’s sung around town with them enough that the entire city would be salivating). And Scarlett apparently kept one of her corsets around from her touring days. I genuinely don’t believe she’d have anything in her wardrobe like that if left to her own devices, but I also can’t figure out why she didn’t burn everything from her drug-addled mental breakdown days.
When The Triple Exes are invited along to Rascal Flatts’s next tour dates, everyone is delighted, and Scarlett makes out with Dr. Underage. Gunnar seems to be experiencing a twinge in his nethers at the sight of it. Oh, Gunnar. Let your nethers experience new people.
Sadie, by the way, has been off preparing for an interview on GMA, where she knows and resents that they want to ask her about the lawsuit ex just settled. But then she watches a news report about a fatal domestic violence situation, and decides to Stand Up To Assholes. So she goes onto GMA with the ridiculously awesome Robin Roberts, and confesses to being a victim of abuse. And I know it can’t be considered defamation if it’s true, and at least she DOES have a restraining order on file with a photo of her black eye…
… but something tells me Shadowy Pete will not stand for this public shaming.
Deacon, meanwhile, bolts after his emotionally charged performance with Rayna, leaving her with a raging case of emotional blue balls. She figures out that he went to his cabin…
… and drops by to tell him that it tore her up when he vanished like that, and that she wants to vault over all the other steps they should take: “Babe, don’t leave me again,” she pleads. At which point Deacon hits her with, “I’m sick.” Rayna thinks he means his alcoholism and tells him not to say that, and that they can do this together. “I’m SICK. I have cancer,” he says. “Cirrhosis of the liver went undiagnosed and turned into cancer. You always said my drinking would kill me–” And her dawning horror intensifies until she, at that moment, SLAPS HIM ACROSS THE FACE (which I understand, sort of, and Deacon seems to as well; he both sounds sort of glib, and because all his drinking IS killing him and she knew it would and she told him and of COURSE she’s angry at the universe for that) and then bursts into tears.
ME TOO, Ray. Me too. There is no soup I can make that will help.