I regret to inform you that the bright ray of hope that was Glenn’s bald head… has been crushed by the weight of that infernal carpet once more. I know. We’ll get through it together, Fug Nation. I promise you this.

Juliette is out on tour again, pregnant but in skintight dresses that they have to shoot pretty carefully because Hayden Panettiere is WAY further along than her character is. And in fact, shouldn’t she be due pretty soon? This show is going to be a HUGE MESS without her. They’d better give Rayna some layers really quickly, or else make Sadie Stone crazy interesting.

Anyway, Juliette bursts into her dressing room and frowns about how her dress is super itchy against her bump, which, if it existed, would result in her never wearing that dress in the first place. Confusion. But, that’s not the point. This is all an excuse for her to realize that a little birdie has overheard her:

Zoey, a.k.a., Suddenly Stupid. Juliette is understandably startled to see one of her backup singers sniffing around the clothes in her dressing room, and Zoey babbles that she was just passing by but got distracted by all this nice stuff. This is the DUMBEST way for them to do this. Even Contrivance just crawled into a bottle of whiskey and wrote a song of apology to us all.  Zoey could’ve been walking past the open door, she could have been bringing Juliette a sycophantic snack, she could’ve dropped by to ask her a question about song lyrics at the wrong time… She could even have snuck in to use the bathroom because the main one is broken. Anything except, “I was just walking past and decided to go into your room to manhandle your rack.” DON’T SHOP ON YOUR BOSS’S RACK. A great piece of advice however one chooses to interpret it.

The old Juliette Barnes would’ve fired her before that absurd explanation even tripped out of her mouth. The new hormonal Juliette Barnes ALSO probably would have fired her and then locked her in there until she signed a non-disclosure agreement, but I guess she’s too busy worrying that Zoey might reveal her secret to Avery and ruin things for her, so she simply settles for THREATENING to fire Zoey. BUT BUT BUT when was the list time Juliette Barnes thought about ANYTHING before she did it? Why is she starting now?

Then again, maybe she isn’t thinking:

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Emily needles her and needles her about telling Avery, so Juliette goes ahead and TEXTS IT TO HIM in the most terse way possible. The only thing that would’ve been better is if she’d texted, “Your sperm demolishes latex.” But, I actually laughed out loud, because THAT is the deranged, impulsive, bratty, awesome Juliette who carries this show and who had better pre-tape a LOT of stuff for them to use while pretending she’s Skyping (a la Jaime King during her Hart of Dixie mat leave) or else this show is going to die.

Also, I’m sad to see that Avery didn’t change her name in his phone to EVIL CHEATING HARPY. It seems like he would’ve done that.

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Avery is of course picking up garbage by the side of the road for his community service when he receives this news. He gets his phone confiscated and can’t reply and is losing his mind, although he MAY at least have taken a shower, which is comforting.

Speaking of making Sadie Stone interesting… so far, no dice. I can’t get a read on how famous she’s supposed to be already, and as much as I adore Laura Benanti and she brings EVERYTHING to the table, all Sadie does is gush about how Rayna is a super awesome stellar ladystar who can do it all. The show already genuflects to Rayna; we don’t need a character doing it too. Also, I enjoy that Rayna has not checked in on Scarlett at all to see how her former artist is doing.

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The answer, by the way, is average. Remember when her boss wanted her to write upbeat songs, and then she decided she needed to write songs about outsiders? Well, she served up a TOTAL winner of a dirge that’s all about drinking with strangers, although she’s also apparently selling stuff like crazy, so she can go to the knitting store and buy some fresh hair. She is disturbed this week because Nashville cannot fathom what to do with her at present, so the show has stuck her in a story where there’s an Inspirational And Surprisingly Talented Homeless Man sitting outside her garret window. When she brings him food, he croons her some lyrics that break her block, and we all learn a little something special about the true power of sandwiches. If that’s Scarlett’s only true purpose this season, then well, at least it was in service of a valuable life lesson.

Zoey FaceTimes with Gunnar, and complains that she feels sort of shunted off during this tour; her friends from home came to see her, and sent a photo, and all you could see was Zoey’s shoe. Perhaps Zoey missed the memo that the arena concerts are mostly for references, and are not about YOU. They are about the headliner. It is not your concert, fool. Another reason to get out of Juliette’s wardrobe rack.

Gunnar, you’ll be thrilled to note, has finally padded his studio walls. I know this was keeping all of you awake at night. It seemed wrong that Glenn had so much padding on his head while Gunnar’s studio had none; now,they are equals.

A few things happen on Luke’s tour: Oliver Hudson is crabby that Luke hasn’t put out a new album, and Oliver spots Will giggling it up with his trainer. Oliver becomes nervous, so he takes Will for a walk and explains to him that non-disclosure agreements are handy little ways to make sure one’s extracurricular friends remain a secret. He doesn’t reveal that Layla told him anything, but Will is pretty freaked out, because Will thought his closet had a really good deadbolt on it.

So he goes to Luke for advice on getting Close Friends to sign NDAs. Luke is like, “Wrong person to ask,” but tells Will, “If it’s not love, it’s business.” I also just need to point out that they’re doing a terrible job making Luke Wheeler seem like an international country-music sensation and heartthrob. He looks more like Rayna’s mechanic cousin.

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Oliver Hudson is also stressing out because, reflected in the window up there, Layla Grant is singing her little heart out at her producer, who is smiling along. Oliver snaps that he cannot flirt with her, and the producer sighs that he just feels sorry for her, and also, it’s taken forever to get THIS far with her new song because she’s kind of a dud emotionally. This leads to Layla and Oliver having an argument in which she reminds him that it’s hard to sing about the brightness of young love when she’s bearding somebody, and he dares her to produce better material than this herself because he doubts she has actual feelings.

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And when she struggles, she ends up hurling something at the mirror and slicing open her hand. Then she stares numbly at the blood. Either she is about to write a hit song, or she’s about to become a Lifetime biopic.

Gunnar’s lame friend Kylie from His Past — his first love — is leaving town. Even though she just got to town, I think. She claims she’s been Internet-dating some dude in Oklahoma, so whatever, she’s going to move to Tulsa for him, because that’s totally how Internet dating works. Especially when you have a kid. Oh, and by the way…

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… she has a kid who is EXACTLY the right age to be Gunnar’s, even though she swears to Gunnar that it’s not his. The child is named Micah. The child looks like neither actor nor actress. And I decided somewhere in here that this girl found out Gunnar got rich as a songwriter and is going to fleece him by pretending her kid is his, just because otherwise we are going to have to deal with this boy AND Alexa Vega long-term and I’m not sure I can do that. Her reaction to Gunnar asking Micah’s age was a subtle whirl around and then wide-eyed gasp. Which, granted, he couldn’t see, so if she were scamming him then she probably wouldn’t have reacted that way solely for her OWN benefit. Unless she’s Method.

Daphne guilts Rayna into a family trip to the set of some commercial she’s doing with Luke, then finds out she won’t get to be in the commercial with them, and complains that they’re not getting any quality time together. She announces she hates Rayna and flounces out, which bothers nobody except Rayna. Luke’s child is so unpleasant that Luke buys him off with expensive headphones (and his daughter is at some b.s. dance thing because they probably want to stunt-cast her somehow and so let’s not bother until she’s needed), and Maddie is fifteen, so she’s as moody and frustrating to be around as her sweater.

When Rayna chats with Luke about it later, she’s just so crushed about being out on tour and missing all her time with her girls, and their milestones. The thing is, this never bothered her before. It never bothered her at ALL, in fact, until today, when one of her daughters got upset and called her out on it. She was never a mopey sad clown last season when the tour started. She was, to my knowledge, not a mopey sad clown on any of her other tours in her two-decade career. This is not her first rodeo.There is no way. Not even if they want to pretend this is her first tour since Daphne was born, because I don’t believe that. At all. It’s just strange the way they act like all this is happening to Rayna for the first time in her life, when she’s a total veteran of the industry and did NOT get where she is by staying in Nashville and refusing to travel.

Luke blows it off, all, “Eh, whatever, she’ll get used to the things we have to do to have our careers,” and Rayna is pouty that she doesn’t want Daphne to get used to it. Ultimately I suspect Rayna will get out of this relationship that way. They won’t have her do anything interesting or controversial; she will, instead, realize that Luke is career-driven and content to give his kids things instead of personal time, and that she doesn’t want to be part of that kind of family, and will extract herself respectfully and in the dullest and least emotionally resonating way possible.

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Teddy is in the best relationship of his life. Oliver Hudson will never be in love with Deacon, and will never fake a pregnancy and then a miscarriage using a tub of pork blood. He MIGHT get himself shot, though, so Teddy should watch out for that.

Oliver correctly senses that Teddy misses his girls, and is sad that he’s Boring Parent while she gets to be Fun Mom. Oh, suck it up, Teddy. Do you know how infrequently there is ever a Fun Mom? It’s ALWAYS Fun Dad. Anyhoo, Oliver convinces Teddy to come be Fun Bachelor with him at a slick Nashville party, and then prove to his girls that he can be just as cool as Rayna is. This is the kind of shit that ends in someone getting an ill-advised earring and leather pants.

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Will comes back to his room after a workout, and makes out hardcore with Hot Trainer. Right before they get into it, though, he asks Hot Trainer to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Will tries to be really casual about it, but the trainer bristles. In fact, he’s POSITIVELY WOUNDED that Will would want to keep this a secret rather than DARE TO FEEL. Has he not been paying attention? Will is married. Nothing about this situation screams, “Here is a man who is totally ready to embrace himself.” But, Trainer is all indignant and “Good day sir I SAID GOOD DAY” about it. He hurls the NDA in the trash. He doesn’t stand for baloney.

Deacon has turned into a really old man. All he does is lie around making grumpy comments about pop culture and Kids Today — especially when Pam glances at Twitter and there’s a photo of Rayna’s new family. Deacon storms out of there in a snit at the universe because his is a pain one-hundred-forty characters can only begin to graze. He should write a song entirely in couplets that are 140 characters ONLY. I’m surprised someone hasn’t done that yet. KANYE WHERE ARE YOU.

Anyway, Deacon’s boring snit is only so that he can catch Will’s trainer leaving in a manly huff, as Will gazes after him, sweaty and panting and frothing with lust and frustration. Many glances are exchanged. Words are not.

Avery, however, has WORDS for Juliette. Once he’s sprung from community service, he rages on over to Juliette’s trailer, because apparently it’s THAT EASY to get right onto a movie set — especially when you smell like roadside trash and have the eyes of a man who’s consumed only bourbon and beer for the past two weeks. She won’t grant him passage and the door is locked, so Avery starts shrieking about how tacky and cowardly it is to text him that she’s having his child and then ignore him. He is correct. Juliette and Glenn look sad rather than panicked, when in fact they should be freaking out about security and also the fact that the light in her oven is about to get turned on for all to see its contents.

Also, what the hell city was their tour in? Zoey was homesick for Gunnar, and yet all of a sudden, Juliette is back in Nashville’s environs and/or somewhere Avery can get to her quickly. It’s… convenient.

Glenn, with all the cranial armor $5 can buy, faces off against Avery. He sputters that Avery needs to pull his shit together, because Juliette came from chaos and was then a prisoner of it, and he’ll be damned if he lets that happen to his semi-grandchild too. Glenn is ALSO right, but this show is also magical at having Juliette be pretty firmly in the wrong here — she cheated on Avery, she repeatedly didn’t tell him he was the father, and then she texted it to him out of the blue and ignored him — and yet still be the sympathetic party. All credit to Hayden. I am not kidding when I say that when she goes on leave to have her own baby, this show will be up Fecal River without any boating equipment.

This is Juliette’s subtle expression of nerves when confronted with shooting her first love scene, which is also a nude-adjacent scene. She starts freaking out about how she’s going to be shot — will it be in profile, et cetera. We’re supposed to think she is nervous about the bump being exposed, but she had planned to tell everyone she gained weight to play Patsy Cline, and she clearly isn’t showing significantly yet if she’s in skintight dresses on stage, so this show is very confused about where she is in this thing right now. Also, even with Derek Hough stepping in and gallantly suggesting sexier camera angles that will somehow protect her modesty — “Your secret’s safe with me,” he says — Juliette does still have to straddle him and disrobe, so everyone’s going to see all of her everything ANYWAY, so I don’t get how his suggestions help anything. She’s still naked. Shouldn’t she be lying on her BACK if she’s that worried about what her stomach is doing? Be useful, Derek.

Also, it’s the CREW, and the gossips, I think she’s the most worried about here, rather than the movie itself. Because by the time it comes out, either her secret will be blown to smithereens or no one will have been the wiser. It’s one of those stories that may seem like a EUREKA moment on paper, where Derek gets to try and save the day, and then you watch it and it’s like, “This blocking makes NO SENSE.”

In other news, tabloids are mean:

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Doesn’t she look ripped straight out of Chilton? Maybe Rory Gilmore should counsel her.

So, after a milquetoast maternal moment with Daphne, now Rayna gets to talk to Maddie. Some people photographed them all on Family Bowling Night, but they politely waved them off and asked for family time, and what do you know, that worked. But Maddie is worried because the tabloids are around a lot more now, and they all think she’s ugly because she wears a school uniform — the very uniform that she will recycle for a Halloween costume in ten years and pull dozens of dudes who are hot for naughty schoolgirls. Rayna does not tell her that (probably for the best). Instead, Rayna says something about how, yeah, it’s mean, and Maddie should just stay strong — it’s VERY Tyra Banksian of her — and be the best version of herself, rather than whoever the tabloids think she should be. Sometimes I wish Rayna could just throw the magazine down and be like, “These idiots are raging dicksmacks. Don’t let the dicksmacks win.”

Poor Will. He went cruising for some cheap love in a local park, and got mugged and beaten instead. When he staggers out of his cab, Deacon sneaks over to the driver and gets the scoop on where Will was picked up, then goes to check on Will. And of course Will tells him a cheerful lie about what happened. Essentially, between this scene and the next – in which Luke yells at Will for looking like beer-battered crap –Deacon makes it clear that he understands and isn’t going to say anything, but that Will needs to be really careful where he goes because Deacon has seen some friends over the years get pretty messed up for less. And that Deacon is there to talk if Will needs him. I want Deacon to befriend Will. I want Deacon to befriend everyone. I want Deacon to go make up with Juliette and be her baby’s other de facto grandfather. He and Glenn can snuggle it at the Christening and maybe he can counsel that toupee right off Glenn’s shy little head. It’ll be beautiful.

Instead, Juliette is discovering the unusual agony of button-down shirts. Zoey walks in and instead of yelling at her, Juliette just shrugs and asks for confirmation that her boobs look absurd in this. Then she relents and asks Zoey how Avery is, and Zoey answers honestly: not good. They’re nice to each other, but almost more because Juliette seems too exhausted to be sassy. And the moment is interrupted when Derek Hough comes in and says he popped by to hang out, because he likes Juliette’s company more than most people’s. I can’t tell if he’s implying he wants to Get With The Pregnant Lady or if he’s just being nice, but she appreciates his overture of friendship, and we officially have a roadblock in place for Avery.

Avery, by the way, went to Gunnar for advice, which only made Gunnar hightail it to Kylie and ask once and for all if Micah is his. She hesitates and then says yes. Something tells me Scarlett is going to have Get-A-Grip Feelings about this, of which we will understand only about two-thirds (Clare Bowen does such a good job with her accent that it’s almost TOO good). SOMEBODY needs to meet Kylie and side-eye her a little, and In The Human Skein I Trust. That is, assuming Scarlett isn’t too busy with her Magical Homeless Man of Poetic Wisdom. Hey, remember when she and Maddie pretended to bond? Good, because I don’t think they do.

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When the girls get home, Teddy takes them on a spa day that involves Maddie dyeing her hair blonde, or getting highlights, or something. She calls it being the best version of herself. Rayna does not like that her words are being frosted and thrown back at her.

She is also, as she sits in her gilded shirt and pants, really suddenly very sad that she’s missing out on all these milestone due to the totally unforeseen fact of being absent. I genuinely think she’s only mad because she is being a control freak.

However, her rings are good, so I’m going to give the a pass on the pearl-clutching. Hair can be changed back, Rayna. It’s not the end of the world. And Baby’s First Dye Job isn’t necessarily the milestone you really need to worry about, in general. Skip Prom, and then we’ll talk.

Rayna calls Teddy to yell at him, but he blows her off to flirt with some woman Oliver Hudson procured for him at this slickster party. She says something lame and encouraging to Teddy about him understanding his daughters’ needs, and Oliver vomits up something gross about how women love power, and miraculously NOBODY smacks him across his smug face for it. Instead, Teddy basically chortles and laps up all the adulation, because he is super love-starved. I really, really hope this leads to Teddy, The Man-Whore Mayor of Nashville. I also wish he were the mayor of Memphis, for alliterative reasons, but we can’t always get what we want.


On-stage, Juliette starts to get dizzy in the middle of a song, so she walks off-stage and collapses into Derek Hough’s arms. “I can’t breathe,” she says, panicking.

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Zoey notices this, so she picks up Juliette’s cue and starts singing the rest of the song, as if Juliette just went out for a costume change. It was probably the best, most quick-thinking option, but it also caresses the dark part of Zoey’s soul that wants all the attention…

… and you can bet your bump that Juliette was NOT PLEASED that Zoey’s head on the JumboTron was the last thing she saw before fainting dead away. Them’s fightin’ frown lines, Zoey.

Wait a second. I have another question. Isn’t this tour supposed to be in conjunction with Rayna? Where is SHE in all of this? Are we still on Red Lipstick White Lies, or did they split off from each other because Juliette’s reputation might tank Rayna’s new album? Why is it SO FREAKING HARD to keep track of where these two characters — whose push-pull is SUPPOSED to be at the heart of the show — are in relation to one another? This show, man. It was a good enough episode, but it never seems to take any steps forward without a few in the opposite direction. And it may never recover from the loss of T. Bone Burnett. Somebody please find the money and smooch some booty and get that dude back in your composer’s booth, or… you know, wherever. Bring back the music, sir.

Tags: Nashville