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Look for cameos tonight by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, the great Pam Tillis, and rising country star Kip Moore!
Back in Nashville, Juliette and Jolene are in the Mall at Green Hills shopping, and Juliette is manager-free. Juliette’s P.A. reminds her that Deacon’s birthday is coming up Monday. Juliette doesn’t know how old he is going to be but Jolene wants to throw him a party. Juliette starts to scoff at the idea but then realizes she likes it.
Rayna visits Teddy at the office, and informs him that their daughter overheard him talking to Peggy so that little deception is over. Rayna says she explained to Maddie as best she could, and Teddy promises to talk to her. Rayna tells him to keep his girlfriend away from their children. So…nothing about his past denials, nothing about the fact that Peggy is herself still married? OK.
Over at Scarlett and Gunnar’s, brother Jason critiques the bagging of the groceries Scarlett brought home. Jason is looking for a job but lacks ID because he is on the run, not only from the law but also some people he crossed in jail. We hear about Jason & Gunnar’s history bagging groceries.
Back at Juliette, her PA tells her they already have two dozen affirmative RSVPs for Deacon, among them Watty White. Juliette knows Deacon hates parties but is convinced that’s because nobody’s ever thrown him a good one. What could possible go wrong here? Meanwhile Jolene’s addiction counselor Dundee arrives for a family session. Juliette begs off because of party planning. Jolene is disappointed but understanding, and Dundee is understanding. Jolene goes off giggling with Dundee.
Rayna and Tandy are grocery shopping. Tandy asks about the Deacon factor, and Rayna shushes her. Rayna tells her she knows she has to talk to Deacon but she hasn’t, because her focus has to be the girls. Maddie and Daphne are also at the grocery store, reading tabloid coverage of Rayna’s divorce from Teddy. The divorce wasn’t supposed to be public yet, but the tabloid story claims Rayna has been having affairs with Liam and Deacon. As if Rayna’s publicist wouldn’t have given her a heads up. Rayna suddenly notices all her fellow shoppers staring at her, and decides to make her escape from the grocery story with the girls while Tandy pays for the groceries. Back at Casa James, we learn the tabloid has pictures of Rayna in somewhat compromising positions but Rayna insists the story is false. Maddie points out the tabloid was right about the divorce and Teddy. Deacon texts Rayna, and Rayna tells Tandy she has to see him in person. Tandy tells Rayna to be careful.
Back at Scarlett and Gunnar’s, Scarlett has writer’s block and is scrubbing the floors. Scarlett and her chores addiction is a recurring element on this show. She asks Gunnar to see if Jason has any laundry. Gunnar picks up a pair of Jason’s worn jeans and out falls a loaded pistol that Gunnar had no idea Jason owned. They both get their fingerprints all over the pistol, and Gunnar leaves, telling Scarlett he is going to take care of it. Gunnar meets Jason at Riverfront Park. Jason tells him he needs the gun because though he wants to forget about the past, the past won’t forget about him. Gunnar tosses the pistol into the water. Jason gets angry and tells Gunnar he owes him 8 years and the life he was supposed to lead. Gunnar spits back that he is done bailing Jason out.
It’s dark out now, and Scarlett is taking out the trash. Juliette drops by and asks Scarlett for her help luring Deacon to his surprise party. Scarlett says Deacon is a little funny about parties and that Deacon usually spends his birthday watching “Old Yeller.” But Juliette is not taking no for an answer. The party will be at the Bluebird. Scarlett says Deacon would probably show up if she told him that she and Gunnar would be playing there. Juliette says that’s great, that Scarlett should pick their favorite song and sing it. She tells Scarlett they can say they opened for Juliette Barnes.
Coleman and Deacon have met up at a diner to catch up. Deacon asks Coleman what his plans are now, and Coleman is vague. They banter about Deacon spending his birthday watching “Old Yeller”….again. Coleman finally brings up Rayna and Teddy’s divorce. Deacon tells him he found the same way the rest of the world did.
Meanwhile Rayna and Manager Bucky are meeting with some kind of image consultant or PR person, who wants to know if Rayna slept with Liam and if there is a sex tape. Rayna is offended and says she isn’t going to answer those questions. The consultant tells her to make sure she isn’t photographed with any man other than her father. Manager Bucky pipes up and says that means he should change the affirmative RSVP he gave to Juliette for Deacon’s party to a no for Rayna. Rayna didn’t even know about the party, and cracks about it being a public screening of “Old Yeller.” The consultant says whatever it is, Rayna is not allowed to go.
Juliette is singing “We Are Water” to a track. Dundee walks in, and when Juliette notices, she stops singing. Dundee compliments her on the song, and asks why she asked her mom to stay with her if Juliette didn’t want to be part of the recovery process. Juliette tries to smart aleck her way out of it but Dundee tells her he wasn’t able to get clean until his family got involved. He tells her she seems more interested in the party she’s throwing. Right on cue, Juliette’s PA interrupts with the tabloid cover about Rayna’s divorce. Dundee shakes his head and walks off. Juliette says Rayna’s probably not coming to “her” party anymore. Her PA reminds her it’s Deacon’s party.
To DOWNLOAD “We Are Water,” written by Patty Griffin and covered by Hayden Panettiere, click HERE.
From his office, Teddy calls Peggy and leaves a message saying his people are telling him to distance himself from her, which he doesn’t want and hopes she doesn’t either. Seriously, where’s her husband in this?? Teddy tells her he will figure something out.
Tandy has joined Rayna at Maddie and Daphne’s ballet practice, where Rayna is feeling self-conscious. Another mom comes over and expresses her sympathies for the end of Rayna’s marriage. She tells Rayna not to let the gossip get her down because people have always talked about her guitar player, and a little more gossip can hardly make a difference. Rayna laughs because she has to, and she and Tandy snipe about the woman’s own affair(s?). The girls come up to hug Aunt Tandy after practice. Maddie has a kiss for Aunt Taddy but not her mom, which makes Daphne snark “Teenagers.” As the foursome exits the ballet studio, paparazzi are there to greet them. Daphne is scared, and the four ladies load into the SUV and make their escape.
Avery is buying a nice expensive guitar from Gruhn Guitars, where the clerk compliments him on his new sound and its success. Watty White walks in and compliments Avery on his guitar choice. Avery re-introduces himself, and asks if he can ask the legend for some advice. Avery’s not sure he should be pursuing the sound his new producer is pushing on him. Watty White tells him there is no “should” in music.
Rayna is back at home playing on the piano. Tandy compliments her on the song, and suggests they go out. Rayna says she doesn’t think they can, so she plans to hole up and write until the storm passes. Tandy offers to pick up the girls from school. Rayna is grateful. The phone is still ringing off the hook, and Tandy says she’s going to get Rayna a new phone number.
Deacon is watching “Old Yeller” at home when Scarlett visits him with a cupcake. She turns the cupcake into a frosting sandwich, which impresses Deacon. Deacon invites her to watch “Old Yeller” with him, but she says she has to go rehearse for her Bluebird performance with Gunnar. She hints to Deacon that he hasn’t seem them perform yet. Deacon says he should come by and watch them tonight. Scarlett perks up and says she’ll see him at 8.
Mayor Teddy is giving a press conference in which he says the photographs of Rayna were taken out of context and that neither he nor his wife had been unfaithful despite their civil divorce. He announces 2 new appointments, including Peggy Cantor as a financial consultant for special projects. Rayna, who is watching, is shaking her head. Lamar comes to visit. Daphne is happy to see him, and after hugging his granddaughter he says he needs to speak with her mother. Rayna thinks he is going to lay into her, but he has come to say he is sorry. He thought Teddy needed a win and that it would make their family stronger. Lamar wants to know if Rayna is going to fight, file a lawsuit or anything. Rayna says she is going to lay low until the media moves on and she can walk out of the house again. Lamar tells her that she did nothing wrong and to pay no mind to the judgments of other people. Rayna seems to appreciate his pep talk, and almost seems to want to hug her father.
At the Bluebird, Scarlett and Gunnar are hanging out outside in the back, talking about how they’re about to perform for some huge names in country music. Gunnar is semi-distracted by the call he got from Jason after 2 days. He didn’t pick up. Deacon shows up, and after some banter, they walk into the Bluebird, Deacon leading the way. And it’s a surprise party! Deacon doesn’t seem to mind. He takes congratulations and thanks from Kip Moore, Juliette, Jolene, and Pam Tillis, who tells Erin McCarley that Juliette is nicer than Pam had heard she was. Juliette introduces Scarlett and Gunnar, who perform “I Will Fall,” while Deacon, Juliette, Vince Gill, Dan Auerback, Kate York, Pam Tillis, and others look on impressed. Avery shows up at the Bluebird thinking it’s open mic night, but isn’t allowed in by the bouncer because his name isn’t on the list for the private event. He looks in the window and sees Scarlett and Gunnar performing.
Lamar visits Teddy at the mayor’s office. Teddy thanks Lamar for his help, and asks what he can do for him. Lamar tells him he should have treated Rayna better. Teddy tells him he did his best for 13 years and it wasn’t good enough, and says that he isn’t going to discuss his personal life with Lamar now. Lamar hands over a list of “suggested” (ahem) appointments, including and especially Hank Tulley for deputy mayor. Teddy says he will consider the names, and Lamar menacingly says Teddy should do more than just consider them. Teddy snarls at Lamar that he took an oath to serve the people. Lamar snarks that an oath is quite a lot like a vow. We know where this is headed, right? Teddy is going to want Coleman for deputy mayor, Lamar isn’t going to like it one bit, and the Cumberland deal is going to come up again. Just me guessing.
At Casa James, Rayna calls Watty White and asks him to come over and listen to something before he heads over to Deacon’s party. He does, and then they drive on over together to the Bluebird, where the paparazzi await. Rayna proudly walks through the horde, and enters the Bluebird, where Deacon spots her immediately. They have a friendly exchange. Dan Auerback tells Rayna that at least she looks great in the tabloid photos.
Gunnar is happily manning the mixing boards when the police come in and tell him he needs to come with them. He complies.
Vince Gill is chatting with Watty White and Rayna about how he can’t believe Deacon is celebrating his birthday. They are still talking about his legendary “Old Yeller” habit. Juliette greets Watty and Vince and thanks them for coming. Her sugary sweetness develops an edge when she greets Rayna and tells her she’s surprised she came. Rayna tells her this is a lovely party. Juliette tells her she needs to get a new publicist. Rayna says she would like to sing. Juliette says she’ll be singing too, so, they’ll see if there’s time. Juliette has Deacon up for a speech when while the waiters are handing out champagne. Jolene accepts a glass, and downs the whole thing as fast as she can. Uh oh. Deacon thanks his friends for making him feel so appreciated and jokes that they should never do it again.
Peggy visits Teddy at his office. She is pleased with his appointment, and locks the door behind her for a celebration.
Juliette’s PA has to flag Juliette because Jolene is fall-down drunk. Juliette doesn’t understand what happened because her mother was fine, and Deacon explains that this stuff has a way of happening just when you think everything’s fine. Deacon says they should just get Jolene home. Juliette says she will do it, she wants Deacon to stay at his party. She says she’d really wanted to sing for him, and Deacon tells her she sings for him all the time. Juliette is honest and says she wanted to sing at the Bluebird (and for that crowd, no doubt). Instead, it’ll be Rayna who takes the stage with Watty, Pam Tillis, and Kate York. She dedicates “Stronger” to Deacon. It’s not exactly the kind of song that’s going to stop the rumors but the point is, Rayna no longer cares. Although, is it really a great idea to sing a song that repeats the line “pour me something stronger” to a recovering addict? While Rayna sings, we see Juliette tucking her mom into bed without yelling at her, and Scarlett noticing that Gunnar’s nowhere to be found. She texts Gunnar to ask where he is. Juliette gets up to leave, and Jolene apologizes to Juliette for ruining her party. When Juliette says Deacon loved his party, Jolene says she meant Juliette’s 9 year birthday party. Juliette caresses her mom’s hair, and seems forgiving, at least for now.
To DOWNLOAD “Stronger Than Me,” cowritten by Kate York and Sarah Buxton and performed by Connie Britton, click HERE.
BONUS: Check out video of co-writer Kate York performing and discussing “Stronger Than Me,” which she cowrote with Sarah Buxton
Gunnar has been brought in by police to identify his brother’s body. We don’t see much of Jason, only a black eye. But Gunnar has a full view and chokes up and starts sobbing when he sees Jason. It’s a tough scene.
Dundee has answered Juliette’s call. Juliette tells him that Jolene is sleeping off her night, and he asks if they can talk. He asks Juliette why it was so important for her to throw Deacon this party. Juliette doesn’t answer. Then Dundee asks what happened at her 9th birthday party. Juliette smiles wanly and says it sounds like Jolene’s already told him about it, but Dundee wants to hear her side. Juliette tells him she’d never had a birthday party before, and her mom had rented out Dewey’s Ice Cream Parlor for it. Three days before the party, Jolene walked in high and said they had to cancel the party because they couldn’t afford it. Jolene had spent all the money on drugs. A young Juliette left for a couple hours, and when she returned, her mother was passed out, holding a lit cigarette that had set a tiny patch of carpet on fire. Juliette thought about leaving again and had conflicting feelings to say the least but she put out the fire. Juliette asks Dundee if he can really help them. Dundee says he can.
Back at the Bluebird, the place is clearing out. Rayna asks Deacon if he had a good time and he says he did. Deacon tells her he wishes she had told him about the divorce, and Rayna apologizes. She said her life kind of blew up that night in Chicago. She didn’t want to drag Deacon into it. Deacon asks how she’s doing. Rayna says she’s trying to figure it all out. Deacon says it all made for a pretty song. Rayna puts her hand on his and says she wants to do right by him.
The next morning, Juliette’s PA is waiting at Deacon’s doorstop with a large box. Deacon addresses her by name! She has a name, and it’s Emily. Deacon thanks her for everything she did for the party. Juliette has sent over a gift. It’s an adorable pup! Deacon said at his party he loves “Old Yeller” so much because it is a story about the unconditional love between a man and his dog. Well, Juliette was listening. In her card, she tells Deacon the pup is welcome on the road. Aw!
Teddy has invited Coleman to his office. Yeah, we know where this is headed. Coleman expresses his sympathies over Teddy & Rayna’s divorce, but says that if Teddy is here to get Coleman to pick sides, Coleman is Team Rayna. Teddy doesn’t seem to mind. He apologizes to Coleman for the campaign, and tells him that with the benefit of hindsight and having seen firsthand how Lamar operates, Teddy wants no part of it. He offers the deputy mayor position to Coleman. Coleman is shocked but when Teddy extends his hand, Coleman shakes his hand. We have a deal!
Scarlett is waiting back at the place she shares with Gunnar. She’s been calling him since last night. Gunnar tells her the police found Jason in an alley last night, beaten to death. Gunnar is completely overcome with guilt. He and Scarlett end the episode by making out, undressing, and hooking up.
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