Rayna & Juliette are performing “Wrong Song” live in Dallas, having fun on stage. Well, Rayna and Liam are having fun on stage, anyway. Rayna runs her fingers through guitarist/producer Liam’s hair. Juliette is angry Rayna and Liam are acting like she doesn’t exist. Manager Glenn promises he’ll talk to the necessary people about that before sheepishly telling Juliette they are giving Rayna a ride back to Nashville for the label party.
Rayna is giddy as she comes off stage and Manager Bucky greets her. So does Calista Reeve of Countless Records, who tells Rayna this is the best show she’s seen since Rayna’s show at MSG in 2009. She knows Liam, wants to talk with Rayna about her future. Wrong Song has gone to #1. Rayna has to head back to Nashville so her conversation with Calista has to wait but Calista is going to chat with Manager Bucky. Meanwhile Rayna and Liam are still excited about the show, and seem awfully close, even kind of leaning in for a maybe kiss before Manager Bucky interrupts.
Scarlett and Gunnar are singing “One Works Better” when Gunnar’s guitar goes out of tune. Scarlett wants to know where his Gibson went, but Gunnar sheepishly says he lent it to someone who lent it to someone. They talk about hoping somebody will actually cut on of their songs, and Scarlett suggests they perform it themselves, like at Winterfest, which is coming up. Gunnar is hesitant, says it’s not Scarlett’s scene. Why? Well, Avery will be playing there.
Marilyn has brought Avery a $1k Belmont gig. Avery is going to attend the Edgehill party, where Marilyn is going to introduce him to people he needs to know. Marilyn wants to give him a career, as opposed to Dominic who gave him a car. Didn’t Avery already sign a contract with him? Avery shows all the signs of a guy who is letting a little success go to his head.
On her private jet. Juliette wants her bean dip. Rayna & Liam are condescending. They chat with Manager Bucky about Countless’s interest, which is for the next 5 records after Rayna’s next one with Edgehill. Juliette’s assistant reveals that Juliette’s mother Jolene has a court hearing, while Manager Bucky starts reading aloud from a magazine about Deacon’s split with the Revel Kings. Because it’s most likely they’d find this out from a magazine and not the internet. OK!
Deacon is yelling at Carmen by phone for misrepresenting his parting with the Rebel Kings as caused by him falling off the bandwagon. Sy apparently gave quotes reinforcing that position. Deacon didn’t comment on the story for Scarlett’s sake but he reveals why he left the band (Sy trying to force himself on Scarlett). Too late for the magazine story of course. He hangs up on Carmen.
At Casa James/Conrad, Rayna is making breakfast for the girls after sleeping in the guest room. Teddy wants to talk about their marriage. He wants to know if they are even trying to fix their marriage or not. Rayna wants more time for clarity. Meanwhile Calista has sent over a model plane, a nice watch, and a nice note about being serious about talking.
Juliette is in court for her mother’s hearing. If Jolene pleads guilty and completes rehab then she won’t go back to jail. Deacon doesn’t think she should testify after Carmen’s article, so Juliette has to.
After school and soccer practice, the James/Conrad family is back home and Calista has come for a visit. Rayna and Calista bond over being mothers and the major breadwinners. Liam sent over their demos without telling Rayna, and Calista thinks they show Rayna needs a new label home to reinvent herself rather than risk being stuck in duets with “prefab prima donnas” like Juliette. This woman speaks a language Rayna likes! Calista used to be at Capitol so she says she understands how hard it is to break away from what you’ve known. Calista wants to be Rayna’s partner and nurture her artistic makeover, and says Marshall is strictly a business man with no ear for music.
Avery is playing Belmont’s Winter Fest (and the banner behind him didn’t change), singing “Keep Asking Why”. Scarlett and JT find each other at the gig and leave.
DOWNLOAD “Keep Asking Why,” cowritten by Kate York and Erin McCarley and performed by Jonathan Jackson HERE.
At the hearing, the lawyer is making the case for Jolene’s. It is now Juliette’s turn to speak – Deacon tells her to speak from the heart. Juliette says she’s glad her mother is getting help and there’s nobody who wants this recovery to stick more than she does. Not exactly a glowing endorsement.
Deacon sarcastically compliments Juliette’s speech. Juliette says it was all that she had. Deacon congratulates her on “Wrong Song” going #1. Juliette says he should congratulate Rayna because people are acting like Rayna practically did this by herself. Deacon says he knows that’s not true. Juliette invites him out on tour again but Deacon says he thinks he should lay low. The judge has decided not to let up on Jolene’s sentence and insist that she finish out rehab. But since Jolene is still free for the day Deacon invites Jolene to the #1 party (despite Juliette’s concerns).
Calista has submitted a really difficult to top deal. Rayna is concerned about things moving too fast. Liam just wants to help. Liam snarks that Edgehill is like her marriage, she has to fantasize about somebody else to get through it.
JT and Scarlett are grousing about Avery’s success. Apparently Avery has the #1 most requested song at Belmont. JT invites Scarlett & Gunnar to join Avery’s old band, playing Scarlett & Gunnar’s songs. Scarlett wants to talk to Gunnar about it.
Rayna is visiting Deacon, where he is putting his home on sale. Rayna wants to know if he’s spoken to Coleman lately. Rayna wants to make sure Deacon hasn’t fallen off the wagon though she doesn’t believe the article. Deacon is dismissive. Rayna didn’t wait for Deacon to make it through rehab before marrying Teddy. Rayna didn’t know that the 5th time in rehab would take. Deacon says she lost faith in him, Rayna denies it. Deacon basically tells her to go away and stop trying to be a part of his life.
At the Edgehill #1 party, Rayna is enjoying the attention of gushy media bantering about the number of #1 hits she’s had while Juliette dutifully poses for photographers. Juliette is miffed at the celebratory banner that has Rayna larger and in the foreground of the picture. A blogger (played by real life After Midnite host Blair Garner) asks her if it was intimidating to write with the queen of country. Juliette snarks that it was a thrill to see Rayna contribute a bridge to the song before Manager Glenn rushes the blogger away to meet with label head Marshall Evans.
At the Bluebird, Gunnar takes a call from Jason’s parole officer, who informs him Jason never showed up at the halfway house and wants to know if Gunnar knows anything. Gunnar says he doesn’t, and the officer asks if they stopped at any pawn shops on the way to the halfway house. Gunnar figures that’s where his guitar went, but doesn’t offer any information that might help locate his now fugitive brother. Scarlett walks in and tells Gunnar she has a proposition for him.
Back at the #1 party, Rayna is chatting with Chris Young and Brantley Gilbert who ask how her album is going. She says it’s coming along before interrupting the conversation to greet Teddy while Liam watches. Meanwhile Juliette watches her mother overindulging in hors d’oeuvres and snaps at Manager Glenn about Deacon’s whereabouts (not explained: how Jolene got into the party if she was supposed to go as Deacon’s +1 and he’s not there). Avery tries to chat with Juliette, who ignores him while Marilyn laughs. Marilyn says she is trying to introduce Avery to the right people but Avery thinks he can skip that step and mingle with the stars.
Deacon is sulking at home. Juliette calls and Deacon doesn’t take the call. He starts calling Coleman but hangs up before the conversation starts.
At the Bluebird, Gunnar is hesitant about joining Avery’s old band. Gunnar needs to think about it. Scarlett tries to be supportive but Gunnar says he has a lot on his mind and tells her she wouldn’t understand. He lays into her about being all bouncy and not understanding that he has serious issues to deal with. He snarks about how maybe Deacon can play with JT & the band. That stings and Scarlett walks out as Gunnar fails to chase her down. Another Bluebird employee tells Gunnar that Jason dropped off his guitar, and Gunnar now has his Gibson back.
Back at the Edgehill party, Teddy presents the #1 award to Rayna (and Juliette, but mostly Rayna). Later, as Juliette continues to watch her mother, Avery again tries to talk to her with some halting talk about the burdens of being a star. Juliette ignores him and snatches away Jolene, who has introduced herself to Rayna. Juliette yells at her mother for ruining everything.
Marshall approaches Rayna and Liam, thanks her for 2 million downloads. He knows about Calista’s offer, and it turns out Liam gets his own imprint if he brings Rayna. Rayna is angry her partner didn’t reveal that little tidbit. Marshall leaves Rayna and Liam to work out that bombshell. Liam tries to take credit for Rayna’s resurgence, and Rayna tells him she made a comeback because they were partners. Partners aren’t supposed to lie to each other, and he makes a crack about how she should tell her husband that. Rayna ends her partnership with Liam, saying she actually can walk away from him. Teddy sees the argument, and is clearly suspicious as to what’s going on.
Back at Casa James/Conrad, Teddy wants to know if there was something going on with Liam. Rayna says there isn’t and says it’s another man lying to her. They trade barbs where Rayna says she’s paying for this house and Teddy says he’s raising their kids. Teddy wants to know if he’ll ever be done apologizing. This argument turns into a heart to heart. Teddy says it’s hard watching everybody trying to win Rayna over when all he wants to do is win Rayna back. Rayna says it’s complicated. Teddy talks about how when he met Rayna, she was destroyed after putting Deacon in rehab for the 5th time, and he remembers her saying that all she wanted was somebody who was solid, who had his life together. At the time, Teddy did. He says he lost his way when things fell apart financially, that he made the wrong choice for the right reason – trying to be the man she wanted him to be. He wonders if Rayna and him getting together was also the wrong choice, right reason.
Scarlett arrives to JT & the band in Scarlett’s garage, and makes excuses for Gunnar. Except Gunnar is already there, and has taught the guys “One Works Better.” Scarlett notices he has his Gibson guitar back, and wishes they could talk about it but Gunnar just wants to play.
Juliette storms into Deacon’s place. He has trashed the place. Juliette tells him he needs to do what he loves, join her, she’s got band members who meet twice a week. Deacon admits he got sober for Rayna and stayed sober hoping for something that’ll never be. Juliette tells him Rayna’s the opposite of what he needs. Deacon wants to know why Juliette can’t channel her concern for her own recovering mother.
Back at Juliette’s loft, Juliette and Jolene have a heart to heart. Juliette regrets not telling the judge how proud she is of her mother. Jolene tells Juliette how awed she is to see Juliette standing as Rayna’s equal despite where she came from. Jolene doesn’t want to say she’s proud because she doesn’t want to seem like she’s taking credit, and she’s never said anything because she didn’t think it would mean anything to Juliette. A weeping Juliette says it means something.
Avery is driving around town in his fancy car trying to find himself on the radio. He does but before he can get too self satisfied he drives by Scarlett and Gunnar playing with JT & the band in Scarlett’s garage.
Teddy and the girls are seeing Rayna off. Rayna tells the girls to look after their father. With the girls out of earshot, Rayna assures Teddy that they’re married whether she’s at home or on the road. She also tells him that she chose him and it wasn’t the wrong choice. She says now they’re just at the point of choosing what their future will be. Teddy appreciates that, and they share a poignant hug.
On Juliette’s plane, Manager Bucky tells Rayna that Marshall and Calista keep calling. Rayna tells Bucky to tell Marshall that she wants her own label and she’ll renew her deal with Edgehill if he gives her on. No Calista “for now”. Juliette board the plane and there’s some of the usual sniping. She says they are waiting on one more before they head to Kansas City. Sure enough, Deacon runs through the gate while Teddy looks on (and looks ill) with the girls. He is joining Juliette’s band.
DOWNLOAD “One Works Better,” written Rosi Golan, Natalie Hemby, Tofer Brown, and Kate York and performed by Clare Bowen HERE.
BONUS: Songwriters Rosi Golan, Natalie Hemby, Tofer Brown, and Kate York perform and discussion “One Works Better,” with commentary from Callie Khouri, Clare Bowen, and Sam Palladio:
Check out archives of songwriters performing the songs of Nashville at ABC.com.