I am not sure how much longer we will keep covering this show, because NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Although I suppose things are THREATENING to happen. It’s like that time we were in North Carolina and we knew the hurricane was coming, and we basically spent twenty-four agonizing hours watching it slooooooooowly come toward us.
Scarlett’s hair, though, is supremely stressed-out.
At least it looks soft and healthy. But it’s also all, “TOO MANY FEELINGS. NO TIME FOR BRAIDS.” Her sweater is also all atwitter. Why? Because her mother is nigh, and she hasn’t told Deacon yet that she even called her.
So when this happens, Deacon is not best pleased, although it’s immediately apparently Scarlett hasn’t actually TOLD her mother that Deacon is dying. She basically dragged her mama there under the false pretense that she and Deacon want to smooth over their family problems and make everything right again. This seems cowardly at best and cruel at worst, neither of which I think Scarlett is. But then again, Mama doesn’t bring out the best in her spawn, and the last time they hung out Scarlett ended up in rehab. However, since then, Mama has gone coat-shopping and done pretty well for herself, so maybe she’s ready to pay it forward and give someone a deal on her liver.
Juliette’s only story this week is: She’s bored, no one wants to work with her right now, her voice isn’t its usual robust self, and she’s hormonal. In the end, Avery is like, “Relax, it’ll be fine,” and she cuddles a bag of caramels and believes him. It is going to be a long, bleak winter. Hayden hasn’t even gone on her full maternity leave yet, and already the show is barren without much of her. Imagine when she’s gone completely. PLEASE, let someone else get interesting. I wonder if this is precisely why they hired Laura Benanti, in fact. Not that she wouldn’t be an asset on her own, but it feels like they bided their time and peppered her in lightly, and then will hand the show over to her briefly while Hayden is out.
I am still wholly doubtful of Rayna’s abilities as a label chief, but she did at least secure some branded mugs. If there’s anything the dot-com bust taught us, it’s that throwing your money at swag is a fantastic idea. You don’t need CLIENTS. You need TCHOTCHKES.
And she has a mural. She has TWO ARTISTS ON HER ROSTER but she has a hand-painted Highway 65 wall behind her. Listen, Rayna, you have to pay for your aborted wedding AND your endless supply of blouses. How are you going to achieve that? Are you thinking of the blouses? Are you?
These two continue to sing beautifully at all times, and with the quality and regularity of their performances, the idea that Rayna and Teddy AREN’T regularly discussing what’s going to happen when they get offered a record deal is quite frankly absurd. Also, Rayna is a terrible business person. She should have finagled a way to sign her kids to an exclusive deal that puts off their debut for a few years but also takes them off the market. I’m not sure if that’s allowed, but given that she’s also their mother, she could make it up AND then make them sign it, and then at least if they do decide to get into the biz she’d be the one calling the shots and watching out for them. Rayna apparently needs to hire ME. Although I’m deeply concerned that my checks wouldn’t clear.
Oliver Hudson is interfering with the school recording studio — sponsored by Edgehill, which explains his presence around young girls all the time — by trying to get Maddie to take more solos, and showing Teddy how things sound when you take out Daphne. He starts to plant the seed with Teddy that, while Daphne is assuredly too young, Maddie is ready now. He also continues to play every scene as if he’s considering slipping hate-tongue to whomever he is opposite — in this case, Teddy.
I mean, it’s going to slither out of there any second now and drag itself up Teddy’s neck. “I want to sign your children, but I might also want to floss my teeth with your hair.”
Long story short: Gunnar finds a way to connect with Micah AND get him to stop being a dink.
When Mama finds out the truth about Deacon’s liver, she very nearly storms out of there again, because she feels so manipulated. And the thing is, I hear her, but: The whole reason they don’t want you around in the first place is because you actively begrudge your brother his life and your liver, so… maybe this family unit isn’t going to happen for you. Oh, but they talk her into getting the blood tests done, which gives us one more shot at this whippersnapper:
Dr. Soothie is like, “Listen, you totally interrupted my rug time, but here’s the scoop: I’ll tell you pretty soon if your liver is compatible. First it’s snack time and then I get ten minutes of recess in the dress-up box.” Here is my question: Did nobody know Mama’s blood type? Is it not in medical records anywhere? Did she not know it (not that far-fetched given that she doesn’t seem the type to learn it out of consideration for Scarlett or anyone else who might want to know)? Is there a compatibility issue beyond just her blood type that would require her to get the tests? Does Dr. Snuggly even know his alphabet, to read the results?
Bucky has informed Rayna that she is losing this breakup. Luke keeps doing free concerts everywhere and basically turning this entire thing into a keg party, and Rayna is holed up inside her house doing nothing with anyone and polishing all the wax fruit on her kitchen island. So she arranges for a “surprise” Bluebird performance with Pam Tillis, who pops in to give Connie Britton a hug before she takes a cell phone call, because even Pam Tillis has more going on in her life than Rayna does.
And Rayna catches sight of this great faked photo on the wall of her heyday with Deacon, which sparks lots of Memories about all of the trials and tribulations of their lives together…
… EXCEPT, the show doesn’t want to shoot more flashbacks, and/or use any more money on truly horrible anti-aging special effects, so she ONLY looks back on things that have happened during the run of the show. It begins with this shot from the second episode, and continues into the car accident and … well, it’s a really short montage, anyhow, and does absolutely nothing to touch at the depth of their multi-decade pain — it doesn’t even use any of the Olden Days fights they already aired — but it’s enough to send Rayna over the edge. She runs to her car and starts weeping, and Sadie has to pop by and check on her and then agrees to sing with Pam Tillis in Rayna’s place. (Don’t get excited: We don’t see any of it, if it happens. Pam Tillis was good for two lines and THAT’S IT.) Never mind that it was supposed to be a surprise performance by Rayna, so NOBODY had to fill in for her, because if she didn’t show up then it would just be exactly what Pam Tillis’s fans came for: Pam Tillis singing. Why is everyone marginalizing Pam Tillis? Her name anagrams to ‘Tis All Imp, so maybe that’s a clue. Maybe she’s TROUBLE.
Mama has an Organ Donation Literature Reading Cardigan, which is like a wine cardigan except it’s harder to lift your glass to your mouth without the stem getting caught on the sleeve. This turns into her and Deacon and, eventually, Scarlett, singing a song written by the family matriarch eons ago that they all remember. It’s a regular jam session while they cook dinner, and the only thing that could ruin this tender family moment is finding out that Mama is not an organ donor. Which is exactly what happens. Man, Dr. Toddler, like his same-age friends, has no respect for occasion. He just does whatever he wants, pees all over everyone’s couches, and nibbles on their TV stands.
Maddie is upset because Rayna isn’t speaking to Deacon, and Deacon cancelled all her guitar lessons and won’t return her calls, and now Rayna won’t explain to Maddie just where the hell things stand with anything. It’s frustrating to me that Deacon would avoid Maddie liker his, because while I know he doesn’t want to lie to her and he wants to wait until he knows the prognosis to lower the boom, I also think ignoring her is worse. Rayna’s words of comfort to Maddie are, “He’s an alcoholic,” and to add that alcoholics run away from their feelings even when they’re currently sober. I have mixed feelings about how Rayna is handling this, because I think Real Talk with Maddie about Deacon’s disease is probably a good idea, and she certainly doesn’t want to blow smoke up Maddie’s ass. But it feels AWFULLY like airing her own dirty laundry to tell Maddie that, essentially, Deacon is probably avoiding her because he’s a sadsack drunk emotional coward. Even if that’s precisely what he’s doing. Another answer might have been, “History tells me he must be going through something, and I’ll check in with him, but history also tells me that he won’t disappear forever and we know he’s totally devoted to you, and you can’t take this personally.” I don’t know. I’m glad I’m not the parent in this situation. If I was, I actually wouldn’t be in this conversation at all, ebacuse I’d have spent every waking hour at Deacon’s being like, “Can we get back together now? THANKS.”
Scarlett is ANGRY. She has twisted her hair into ropes of RAGE because, when she called Dr. Kiddo to ask what the next step was, he asked why Mama decided not to donate. So she IS a match, and now she’s trying to skip town before anyone finds out. TOO LATE. This leads to Scarlett exploding on her mother about what a rotten person she is, and how she never does anything for other people, and this is the one gift she could give Scarlett… you can imagine. And her mother is of course secretly upset that Scarlett loves Deacon more than her, and outwardly rails at Deacon about how unfair it is that she’s expected to sacrifice her body and her job and her time to fix a problem he brought upon himself. That is certainly an understandable bitterness, but it’s not like Deacon chose to be an alcoholic. He might have made bad choices AS an alcoholic, but I generally think that if he had been capable of leading his life a different way, he would have. And letting him die just because she doesn’t think it’s nice that he needs to borrow a piece of one of her organs… well, that is come ice-cold sauce to drizzle on his rare meat.
Deacon is frustrated but understanding and patient about it, because Deacon is the angel cowboy who suffers. Scarlett, on the other hand, sits around sobbing. Where is her grief sweater? A job for which any of her sweaters would qualify, actually. It just needs to be big and comfortable and have pockets for Kleenex, a flask, and illicit snacks.
Sadie cancels on showing up to Rayna’s rescheduled Bluebird show because she has another black eye. We don’t know where she ran into her ex again, but in my head, what happened was that she got up on stage with Pam Tillis and then her ex-husband skulked in, and then beat her up out back. Avery wouldn’t have been there to intercede and save her because he’s marooned on Planet Juliette until we get to the episodes where Hayden Panettiere is on leave.
And then we get to the plot twist: When Teddy refuses to sign Maddie’s record deal, citing the fact that Ranya’s head would explode, Oliver Hudson leans in really close and says that he’ll expose Teddy’s proclivity for prostitutes. And then is all, “You have a real pretty mouth.”
Teddy resents this threat to his family and his mayoral job, but might be intrigued by the mouth thing.