This episode felt a little perkier, thanks to the full-time return of Juliette, and the fact that lots of people who are NOT Juliette had actual adult conversations in mature ways — which is, as you know, my kryptonite.
But first, a beef:
Juliette has named her baby Cadence — whoever guessed “Harmony” in the comments last week was not far off, although I also don’t believe IN A MILLION YEARS that Juliette pulled that one out at the hospital. I sincerely doubt she’d be singing a lullaby with Avery and then think, “What wonderful cadence we have HEY WAIT BINGO.”
Anyway, Cadence is clearly fussy, and Juliette and Avery have been home for three weeks, and she’s starting to lose it. But Avery has band commitments — I guess Sadie Stone’s album was his only job, and now that she left to go have feelings on another TV show, he has to focus on The Triple (E)X(e)s. Juliette is bumming out, etc. But the part that really chaps my knee pits is: Hayden Panettiere and Jonathan Jackson take turns trying to soothe Cadence, and they do so by bouncing her up and down like you would not believe. BOTH of these people are parents in real life now; did NOBODY teach them not to do that? My mom volunteers in the mother and baby ward of her local hospital, and the nurse there begs new parents not to bounce their babies by cracking an egg into a mason jar and then jiggling it very lightly and saying, “See how that messes up the yolk? That is YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN PLEASE DON’T DO THAT EVER.” I’m sure it’s apt that nobody should be taking parenting tips from Juliette Barnes, but still.
Rayna is in this groovy sweater when her daughters tell Deacon that he should just move in already. Rayna’s sweater agrees. Rayna’s sweater is getting its freak on and happy about it.
Dr. Doogie, Child M.D., catches Scarlett watching her duet with Gunnar again. She claims it was just casual, and that he has nothing to worry about; they snuggle. They are cute together. Dr. Doogie doesn’t seem to be super worried about Deacon’s cancer right now. I am super worried about how, where, and when Dr. Doogie got his medical degree, given that he’s only just learning his times tables in elementary school.
Gunnar and his Stank Top — a tank top that looks as if it’s been on the wearer for a few days — are also watching the video, but for lusty and depressed reasons. He and Will commiserate: They are both totally into their workmates right now and it’s going nowhere for them, because Scarlett is getting a pelvic from a doctor and Will is almost done writing songs with Hot Kevin. I enjoy these two as friends, because I like Will, and it’s great seeing him grow enough that he can have frank conversations about his crushes.
Rayna, meanwhile, is giving Maddie the eye because Maddie is being evasive still with her and Deacon. Turns out the reason for that is, Rayna is the VERY LAST PERSON on the UNIVERSE to realize that Maddie and Colt — Luke’s son, who is suddenly not a douchey DJ/wannabe club kid anymore — are studying the contours of each other’s mouths:
This accidental discovery sets Rayna’s teeth on edge:
But she goes to Luke and they have a completely rational conversation, in which Rayna learns Maddie has been spending a ton of time at the ranch and Luke thought she knew about it, and Rayna accepts this explanation and they jointly resolve to discuss the issue with their children without hurling any accusations about absentee parenting. It’s so freaking SANE, it almost makes me like Luke.
Also sane, but of the “in” variety: Juliette.
I love you, Hayden Panettiere. This show is ENDLESSLY better with your facial expressions. Juliette is of course completely unraveling because Cadence is tricky and she’s feeling antsy to get back to work. Her solution: promising the producers of the Patsy Cline movie a song for the end credits, which she therefore needs to write in twenty-four hours. I find that questionable because she also has no idea when the movie is coming out, and those producers are not going to put that tight a time limit on Juliette Barnes writing an Oscar-eligible song for it if they don’t even have a RELEASE DATE yet. Still, anything that causes Juliette to grimace and jab things with a fork is worth the contrivance.
Emily, maybe you could HELP instead of just wincing. I kind of like this actress, though — she gives off the impression that she is constantly trying not to crack up at Hayden Panettiere, and that is also what I would be doing in her shoes.
Meet Jade St. John, a pink-haired Christina Aguilera, who is everyone’s favorite pop star right now or something. Layla has decided she needs to “open for her opener,” because it’ll give her the right cred, and sets Oliver Hudson on the trail. Jade and Oliver, of course, turn out to have A Dramatic Past — the full details of which we don’t have yet, but they do drop the nugget that Oliver and Jade were engaged, and he alleges that she dumped him to trade up, which is honestly not that irrational of her given that he’s pretty gross. But maybe she MADE him gross. She grossed him right up with her LIES.
Jade agrees to let Layla open for her if he can finagle her an introduction to Luke Wheeler. (Evidently, she used to be into country until Oliver convinced her to go pop, which should sound familiar to Layla.) Luke refuses to do it, because He’s Just Not That Into Her, but Oliver guilts Jade into doing it anyway. BECAUSE OF THE LIES.
Avery, Gunnar, and Scarlett have an interview about their band, at which the dude can’t stop raving about how The Double (E)X(e)s did when Avery had to attend to his wife’s crowning. This causes friction for Avery, who feels ignored; Scarlett, who is still pissed at Gunnar and Protesting Mayhap Too Much about keeping it professional; and Gunnar, who is trying to insist casually that he and Scarlett have unmissable and enduring chemistry. To try and sell them as a trio in this article, they decide to play an impromptu show, which means Avery can’t help Juliette write her twenty-four hour Patsy Cline song.
This meets with the expected reaction:
How I have missed her aneurysms.
Will is having Sensitive Beer Hour with Gunnar, because he wanted to tell Hot Kevin that he’s so precious to him — but it came out as, “Our song isn’t that good after all and we might need a few more days of work.” Gunnar convinces him that inviting Kevin to the Triple (E)X(e)s show would make his intentions clear, while also not raising any eyebrows among other attendees. So Will brings some apology whiskey to Kevin and delivers THE MOST OBVIOUS “Gee, hang on, here’s an idea!” invitation in history.
Kevin doesn’t seem to pick up on the vibe, which makes me worry he is not actually that bright, because Will’s move was as smooth as sandpaper.
So, there’s a whole scene I forgot to grab, because I’m terrible, in which Juliette calls Deacon over to help her write a song. But he isn’t really that helpful or focused, so Juliette tears into him, and he of course doesn’t want to tell her that the reason he’s only scratching the surface is that deep dark depressing introspection isn’t on his menu, right now due to the dying he’s pretending he isn’t doing. He storms out angrily and bursts into Rayna’s home and vents that everything is terrible and he can’t move in and he doesn’t want to have to confront his certain doom all the time — but Maddie’s evasiveness makes it impossible for him to forget, and yada yada yada, Deacon is not exactly possessed of an even emotional keel. Rayna is very patient with his tantrum, mostly because she knows it will blow over, the way everything has to on a show that wants to save the trauma for the inevitable End of Season Health Crisis.
Rayna then has her crabby man friend babysit their daughter so she can go watch Layla sing while dressed as a chair from a decorative arts exhibit. Layla confesses that she got the gig because Oliver Hudson is her manager, and while Rayna expresses SEVERE DISPLEASURE at this turn of events, she also hugs Layla and tells her that she’ll be there for her and then sends her out to sing. It’s kind of an “I hate him and let me know when this all collapses on top of you and you want to murder” speech.
And then, Gunnar lets his East Nashville flag fly.
For some reason, he’s decided that his best weapon against Dr. Embryo’s clean-cut youthful adorableness is to wear John Popper’s hat. It is NOT, I predict, going to be the hook that brings Scarlett back. He and Dr. Tot make awkward conversation for a second before Scarlett spirits her date away to introduce him to “some people” who she just made up or possibly might be the sprites who live in her hair extensions.
“No big, I’mma just go clean the spit valves on my soprano sax.”
Deacon ably parents Maddie out of her snit, and when he calls to let Rayna know, she ungrounds Maddie and lets her come out to Jude St. John’s show — where she canoodles with Colt, and all is well, and then Deacon takes Luke Wheeler aside to tell him about the cancer. He also thanks Luke for offering Maddie a stable and safe place to land during all this emotional turmoil, and Luke basically looks like someone smacked him:
He seems really sad about it, and then offers Deacon his hand and wishes for him to beat the disease. MATURITY: IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
Rayna does take a moment to tell Oliver that she hopes he crashes and burns, which feels right. He is dismissive of her, which ALSO feels right.
I really did NOT care for Xtina’s song “The Real Thing,” but the two very cuddly aquatic creatures on her video screens suggest that she is living every week like it’s Shark Week. Tracy Jordan would be proud. Her outfit is typically terrible — it’s like lingerie for the robot apocalypse — but the pink hair suits her surprisingly well, and after the show, she gets the attention of Luke Wheeler.
He’s charming and she isn’t the very worst actress, but for some reason the idea of these two having any kind of romantic scenes on the show just makes me laugh. It would be like Blake Shelton hooking up with Katy Perry. It just… I guess the only way we know oil and water don’t mix is because someone tried it one day, right? And today is their day.
Layla notices Oliver Hudson staring at this, and realizes that he and Jade clearly have a Tormented Past. She sweetly laces her fingers with his and thanks him for the favor, which she just realized must have been extremely hard for him, and he acknowledges this without actually acknowledging it. And they don’t make out. Maturity really IS what’s for dinner. Somebody cut me a slab.
Will is delighted to see Kevin — a beam of light actually falls on his cute face — but then he incinerates with jealousy when Kevin talks to other people instead of rushing to his side. They reunite later after Will’s tantrum, and Will confesses that he’s been acting like a turd because he has a mad crush and didn’t want their collaboration to end.
And, what do you know, honesty works. We’ve already been through a relationship where one half was out and proud, and the other half was Will, but presumably this is the one that will blow his cover and/or convince him to come out of the closet. That HAS to be happening soon, right? Tick tock.
And this fool raids his discretionary fund to pay Natasha $500k to skip town, at her increasingly shrill and urgent bidding. She gets all wobbly and tells him he’s just a really sincerely super guy, and he is dumb as a box of hair, so he doesn’t see the inevitable coming…
… which is that she was wearing an FBI wire, and Teddy is floating up Excrement River with a hole in his canoe.
Avery comes home from his concert to find that Juliette has hired a nanny. This leads to a HUGE FIGHT wherein he is irritated that she did it without consulting him, and she doesn’t understand what his problem is, because this means they can both work. Avery comes off like something of an idiot here, because he knows how hectic and miserable it has been. When both parents work, you need help. Period. What sends him over the edge is that apparently she’s a live-in — and, fair enough; he also didn’t MEET HER before Juliette hired her, but dude, the baby is quiet and she seems very kind, so maybe just see where this goes.
Instead, he brings the baby to his meeting the next day with Gunnar and Scarlett, and tells them he has to quit the band. Scarlett and her overalls CANNOT BELIEVE THIS because now she is totally going to rage-kiss Gunnar and taint her relationship with the very doctor who is supposed to replace Deacon’s liver someday after he learns what a liver even is.
Juliette, though, is on a plane to LA to pitch her new song to the producers. And she is feeling FANTASTIC about this whole thing, in a way that made me think, “Bless you, Juliette Barnes, you selfish creature, WELCOME BACK NEVER LEAVE US AGAIN.” (Even though she didn’t really ever TOTALLY leave, thanks to savvy scheduling.) I thought they were going down a postpartum depression road with her, but I guess it’ll be the Battle of the Sexes instead. Maybe they’ll give AVERY PPD because he is bummed about giving up his music again for the eleven-thousandth time. In the sane world the would just get the damn sitter and live their lives — they can afford it, they both want to work; there is no shame in day care so why should there be shame in a nanny? But this is TV, so there needs to be conflict. As long as this conflict doesn’t lead to another breakup, though, because we worked very hard — yes, WE, it was the force of our collective will — to get them back together and I am not ready to open up the box and let the bird fly free. Bull true.