Here is how I feel about this episode.
So much squandered potential. And when you’re a show that was a MAJOR longshot to even GET a third season, you should find all the stops and not so much pull them out as EXPLODE THEM. For about the first six episodes. Just go Full Nutballs so that people actually start having conversations about your show that are not, “Is Nashville still on?” And dazzle them with good music. Lively music. Thus, nothing by Rayna.
Speaking of “nothing” and “Rayna”:
Rayna is showing a reporter the empty cavity that is Highway 65 Records, and I mean that in terms of its new office, although that might also apply to its artist roster and level of creative energy. WHY would you bring a journalist into this hideous space? There are ceiling tiles missing, and there’s no way she’s keeping that carpet. Would she? No. Not for an office. That is Bedroom Carpet. And as such, the reporter only wants to know saucy tidbits about her and Luke Wheeler, because seriously, no one anywhere gives even one-eighth of a rat’s ass about Highway 65.
Also, it stuns me that Rayna is so surprised that all people want to know is about her engagement to the King of Country Music. There are times when I genuinely think she’s been living under a rock. Rayna can be a little out of touch, sure — that’s fine and makes actual sense. She has to learn to roll with the times. But she should be savvy and scrappy, not drippy and stupid. She’s not naive. This whole wide-eyed “I just don’t understand why everyone cares so much” shtick is ridiculous, especially for a woman who found herself on the tabloids in season one because she got divorced. Tami Taylor would give this woman THE most invigorating Get-A-Grip-Friend pep talk, y’all.
What an uplifting show these two would make.
I think that is Amanda from Project Runway (I may have accidentally blown off this season; was this a prize?). She is trying to style Juliette for her dramatic audition for the Patsy Cline biopic, because we had to do this plot point twice, I guess. Juliette is in full crank mode because “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet” came on the radio and she doesn’t want to hear it, because she wrote it with Avery, and they are currently hurling fresh earth atop the coffin in which their relationship buried itself. Also, she gets confirmation that she’s pregnant, and it makes her shame-spiral because the only person she had unprotected sex with was Oliver Hudson. She is Rosemary, and is the tree growing the fruit of the devil.
Speaking of whom: Oliver Hudson is skiing rapidly down Brokehack Mountain, because he lost two major artists — Rayna and Juliette — and Luke Wheeler isn’t doing much new and everyone thinks he has issues with women because the only singer he is pushing right now is Will Lexington. He really needs someone to take him to task. Someone who will storm in and tell Oliver that when it comes to his job, he is New Jack Shitty. Someone who will point to Mr. Hudson and growl that when it comes to managing a label, he is Mario Van Feebles. Someone who is a badassssss. If only such a person existed.
I am mostly just showing you this next photo because it’s for everyone’s Connie Britton In Skinnies And Stilettos inspiration boards.
Rayna has just found out that her album was only No. 1 for a week, before Will’s bumped it down to No. 2. She does a lot of whining about BACK IN MY DAY and ALL MY RECORDS GO PLATINUM and WHAT AM I GOING TO DOOOO because apparently “Have successful album” was the ONLY item on her Highway 65 business-plan checklist. That might even be the first five items on it. “Sign other artists” is barely even on there.
Maddie, meanwhile, is having a total teenage moment with Deacon. She’s being a total brat about everything, all because she thinks he didn’t fight hard enough for Rayna. When he blurts out that he did, in fact, propose, there is a momentary detente. “I wanted it to be you,” she sniffles. “Me too,” says Deacon and the entire audience. I still can’t believe Rayna didn’t sign Deacon to her label. Things could have been deliciously awkward for both of them in a storyline-generating way. (The fact that she didn’t sign him OR Gunnar/Avery just points to how she is the worst at this.)
Oliver takes Will out to celebrate being No. 1, but Will’s mind is on Layla, and the fact that her career is in ashes. So he essentially orders Oliver to push her album and get her an audition for the Patsy Cline movie, and Oliver agrees, because Mario van Peevish has come to town with blood on his mind. Fear the Peebs. He’s like The Reaper but in a better suit, and with a name that’s more fun to say.
Scarlett hasn’t worn a cardigan yet. DOES SHE HAVE AMNESIA?
Gunnar shows off his new house, complete with recording studio in the back shed. (It could just be a garage, but I want it to be The Champagne of Sheds.) It’s weird to me that he fully furnished it but never finished painting (or even put soundproofing on the walls). Gunnar might be less bright than his hair is tall. Anyway, these two end up finishing a song together, and of course a jealous Zoey spies on them through the window. Zoey is getting ready to go out on tour with Juliette, but is freaking out about Gunnar driving all the way to Mississippi with Scarlett to convince her not to move (Scarlett had actually come by to see her). Zoey decides to accept Gunnar’s earlier offer to move in, because she is Clamping Down On That. I don’t entirely blame her. Gunnar also wants to keep writing with Scarlett, but she freaks out, and then comes by later to apologize for having the coping skills of a newborn gazelle. But she still can’t write with him. She has to figure out who she is. This sounds like an exciting and rewarding story arc that’s just going to dump us right back here in about six episodes’ time.
Layla looks totally cute at her Patsy Cline audition, but Oliver won’t give her the time of day — up to and including actively wooing another artist in front of her.
Hooray for Laura Benanti. I love her, and I hope she brings oomph to the show. (You might remember her as one of the only good things about NBC’s live Sound of Music, aside from Audra McDonald, and also from things like Eli Stone and Go On and whatnot.) She’s also madly entertaining on Twitter, if you’re so inclined. Which you should be. She is on my “Who can come have cocktails with me and Christine Baranski?” list.
This is Hayden Panettiere as Juliette as Patsy Cline. The Antichrist and his ex-protegee run into her on the way out, and Oliver makes fun of her for being so keen as to come in full garb. This just stokes her fires of self-loathing, so when the producers all but promise her the part — even as Layla goes in for her audition — and they ask if she has anything they need to schedule around, she chirps, “No.” Because she’s made up her mind, and she’s NOT keeping her baby. Question: Wouldn’t it have been cool if she’d gone to Deacon about this at some point? I miss them. Why is it that this show puts characters on particular islands and then only lowers the drawbridge between them every ten episodes?
Luke and Rayna pop by Powers Boothe’s unplugged power booth to claim any of his stuff she might want. He notes that she could just relax and be Mrs. Luke Wheeler and not work at all if she wants, and Rayna laughs that off immediately (which he seems to be fine with), and then there’s a brief discussion of his poor working-class background and her rich, coddled one that involved lots of squabbling with her father. Luke’s whole “I will do anything for a dollar” approach — including putting his face on a BBQ sauce he’s never tasted — is, he claims, because the public face he’s selling is not the person he is in private. I’m assuming we are spending time on this because it’s going to become an issue between them, and/or lead to Rayna making some questionable marketing decision that include a special edition Bartles & Rayna Jaymes wine cooler, Glade Air Fresheners in Spring Rayna scent, and a strain of marijuana for sale at medical dispensaries called Highway 65.
Rayna does find this framed copy of her first record, and realizes that she can’t divorce herself from Powers Boothe entirely because she inherited his ambition. And also probably a whole forkload of his fortune, so don’t look a gift booth in the outlet, Rayna.
Luke Wheeler’s shirt seems to have sparkles on the sleeves. It could not be uglier, nor a worse stereotype of Rich Male Country Singers. Blake Shelton would, I think, rather tattoo Christina Aguilera’s name onto his nethers. Deacon drops by Luke’s rehearsal to get back all his guitars, which were going to be out with them on tour, but HARK, Luke is not kicking Deacon off the tour. Deacon wonders if this is punishment, but Luke points out that it’s just good business. This is probably true. Might as well rip off the Band-Aid, Deacon. Maybe if he hangs out with lovesick Luke, FaceTime-ing Rayna while they’re each on tour, he will become immune to it all. Kind of like how I’ve heard cat allergies can go away if you just totally immerse yourself in them and then are patient for about nine months.
I am honestly not sure the deal is with Layla’s shirt. Is it… see-through in one specific part? Is it randomly peach on the back?
It LOOKS normal from this angle, so… maybe it’s a metaphor. Layla, in wardrobe as in life, has no idea what’s going on when she’s not looking. Here, right before the reality crew shows up to film them, she growls at Will that her audition was awful (which Oliver Hudson also said, earlier, but surely they didn’t throw her into that scene for no reason, right?) and she has nothing going for her AT ALL and so she’s decided she needs to start taking advantage of her No. 1 artist husband. Ergo, Layla will be putting Will’s junk in a vise, and in turn he will be turning the screws on everyone else, all to make her happen so that she doesn’t tell the world he’s gay. Right now I think Will and Juliette are the most interesting people on this show, so let’s throw THEM in some scenes together.
Although, she and Jonathan Jackson have a really nice chemistry, even when they’re screaming — as they are here, when Juliette dropped off a box of Avery’s stuff, and the two of them got into one of those petty He Said, She Said, foot-stomper arguments about which one of them is the worst. And Juliette… I mean, she has a point that he threw himself into Scarlett for a hot second and then also ignored her salting her wounds to make him understand her mistake, but none of that adds up to “Coatroom sex with walking excrement.” YOU are in the wrong here, Juliette.
I enjoy that this composition makes Avery look like he’s about to murder this girl and then shove her into his locker. She’s a new waitress at The Bluebird, and she hits on him HARD, and so he hooks up with her in the wake of talking to Juliette. If Juliette finds out, she might end up murdered and shoved into the locker anyway.
The show can’t think of anywhere else to go with Tandy, and has to pay for Laura Benanti, so Tandy quits Highway 65 to go work at a karma-healing non-profit in California. She makes no mention of the millions upon millions of her personal fortune she sank into the label, beaus nobody cares that much and the producers just want to sweep her off the canvas. I would like to point out that Bucky might be very sad, and I hope that the two of them had an OUTRAGEOUSLY kinky tryst before she caught her flight.
Then Rayna goes on GMA, where Amy Robach wears fugtrocious shoes with a clear plastic bridge. Rayna is dressed the way she always is, and it just occured to me that — being as she’s the Faith Hill type in this show — if ABC proper had still owned the former Monday Night Football, they’d totally have made Rayna James the gimmick voice of “Are You Ready For Some Football?” Even on Nashville, if not on the actual broadcast. And then she’d get a scene where Al Michaels talks about what a big fan he is, and she’s like, “MIRACLE ON ICE AND STUFF,” and it’s uncomfortable.
But we need to pause and luxuriate in her hair. THAT is some major hair. It’s the best it’s been all season — lo these two episodes — and I think it actually just made my cholesterol go down and moisturized my elbows. It’s that magical.
Oh, and Juliette finds out she’s eight weeks along, not four, which means it has to be Avery’s baby after all. This throws a wrench in the works, because now it’s a thing made out of love, and… listen, Hayden is going to pop at any minute, so we all knew Juliette was keeping this baby. I’m just glad it’s going to belong to a character I don’t want to tie up with duct tape and drop on the front stoop of one Wario van Peebles (that’s what you call it when Mario VP gets cranky and underhanded). Hopefully this will lead to scenes between her and Rayna, also, that don’t feel detached and dismissive as they have of late. CROSS SOME STREAMS, PEOPLE. It’s go time.