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And, we’re back in Nashville! Rayna’s trying to drop her girls off at school but they’re stuck in traffic? Why? Turns out Juliette Barnes is shooting a video for “Telescope.” It’s a shallow sassy pop country number and the video features dancers and choreography. Juliette spends time signing autographs for the hordes of screaming teenage fans and overhears a camera guy who’s dismissive of the song. Juliette tells her manager to fire him. She’s angry that people think all she can do is sing poppy songs that appeal to preteens, and asks her manager if he’s moved to get Deacon as her bandleader. She says she’s doing her part, he has to do his. Juliette’s a misunderstood pop tart with real substance, ya’ll!
Meanwhile Rayna meets with her manager Buddy and her mentor/legendary songwriter/producer Watty White, who tell her that her arena tour isn’t going to work and with her singles not charting and the label unlikely to put any more promo behind it, ticket sales aren’t suddenly going to pick up. Watty’s suggestion? That Rayna get back to how she started out, when she and Deacon would perform songs they wrote together in small venues. Watty was inspired by seeing Scarlett and Gunnar’s chemistry at the Bluebird when they sang “If I Didn’t Know Better.” Rayna protests that setup only worked when she and Deacon were in love. Hey, bet you can’t guess where this is going!
But she’s sold on the idea when we see her back home, telling Teddy about it. Teddy sounds thrilled with the idea of Rayna touring with Deacon alone, only not. Rayna’s not backing off the idea though. They discuss his campaign, which Rayna is clearly not still comfortable with. Teddy mentions an upcoming “vulnerability” study for the campaign where a couple experts will go through their past and make sure there isn’t anything that could hurt his campaign.
Back at the Bluebird, Watty compliments Scarlett and Gunnar on their song and their chemistry. He asks how long they’ve been writing together, and Scarlett once again protests she’s not a songwriter. Watty offers to produce 3 demos of songs those 2 wrote together. They sheepishly thank him, and Scarlett awkwardly excuses herself. Watty tells Gunnar he’ll get to where he wants to be but he’ll get there a lot faster with Scarlett.
Meanwhile, Juliette wants to finish writing the song she started with Deacon at her mansion in between makeout sessions. Rayna walks in, and a passive aggressive conversation about tour size and “real” music ensues. Juliette tells Deacon her offer stands if he changes his mind about the tour. Rayna can’t believe her nerve.
Now we’re home with Avery and Scarlett. Avery takes a call and slumps down into a sofa after a manager who was going to check out his gig at the 5 Spot bailed. Scarlett was about to tell him about Watty White’s offer but decides it’s not a good time.
Back outside of a rehearsal studio Deacon confirms he got a formal offer to join Juliette’s tour after Rayna asks him about it. He tells Rayna he isn’t going to do it. But Juliette drives by in her pickup truck and says she wants to finish writing that song with Deacon. Rayna sees them drive off. Ruh roh!
Juliette drives Deacon to private property….hers. Tammy Wynette used to own it, she tells Deacon. She wants to build a place there one day, a place where she can be herself. Deacon asks who she is now. Juliette tells him she’s what her manager thinks will sell. Deacon says there’s no shame in that but Juliette says there’s no shame in wanting more. She pulls out a guitar case with a vintage 1938 acoustic guitar inside it. Deacon loves it. Making out commences.
Rayna visits with Coleman Carlisle to apologize and try to find out what her dad’s agenda is. Coleman mentions the baseball stadium, and jokes ruefully that after all this time, Lamar Wyatt’s started treating Coleman just like he treats family. Not a good thing, just ask Rayna!
Scarlett’s been stalling over the Watty White opportunity, so Gunnar, who works the soundboard at the Bluebird, brings it up again. Scarlett evades the question and invites Gunnar to Avery’s gig at the 5 Spot
Rayna shows up at a political fundraiser for Teddy. Some high society women fangirl over her and one tells Rayna she should release a new album. Awkward, because Rayna has a new album out. Another wants to know if it’s on sale at Starbucks. Rayna excuses herself, and runs right into daddy Lamar, who wants to know why Rayna visited with Coleman. They snarl at each other a little bit.
Meanwhile Deacon and Juliette are writing “Undermine.” Deacon is impressed by Juliette’s songwriting skills. They go skinnydipping to celebrate.
The vulnerability experts want to dig into Teddy’s past. Teddy was a real estate investor. In that role he once sat on a Music City board tied to the Cumberland Plaza Development, a possible conflict of interest that Teddy describes as common. The vulnerability experts note that he resigned from the board just when the Cumberland Plaza Development deal went buzz. Teddy gets defensive and says the 2 had nothing to do with each other. He resents thehese experts implying otherwise but they tell him they weren’t implying anything. Surrrre.
Avery is performing at a packed 5 Spot and the crowd, which includes Scarlett, is loving it. Gunnar, who showed up, is a little confused. A girl in attendance congratulates Avery in front of Scarlett just as Gunnar walks up. She outs Scarlett and Gunnar’s cowriting collaboration, which Scarlett apparently neglected to mention to Avery. Avery is naturally jealous and wants to know what else is going on between them. Scarlett’s flustered and lets Watty White’s offer slip and Avery can’t hide his discouragement that his girlfriend who’s hardly even tried to write songs got the attention of a legend. He can hardly even fake encourage Scarlett.
Lamar meets up with Coleman. Coleman stands up to Lamar. I don’t know what the purpose of that meeting was for them, but I guess it’s meant to tell us that Lamar and Coleman have a history and Coleman isn’t going to just back down.
Cut to tour rehearsals for Deacon and Rayna. The easy banter’s flowing, until Juliette gifts Deacon that amazing acoustic guitar that just happens to be delivered while he’s with Rayna. Mission accomplished because Deacon and Rayna have a big fight. Rayna thinks Deacon’s fixing to leave, Deacon wonders why she’s never bothered to attend his Bluebird gigs, and she walks out on him.
Meanwhile Juliette’s mad that Deacon hasn’t even acknowledged her gift by calling. Juliette’s manager is excited about the preview of her new video for “Telescope.” She hates the preview and asks how she’s supposed to get Deacon to join her tour if she’s releasing stuff like this. Her manager wants her to focus on the preteen fans who love her style. She kicks him out. Later that evening, she records Undermine in her home studio while we see Rayna struggle with the “vulnerability” experts. They want to know about her relationship with Deacon. She dated Deacon for 11 years but started seeing Teddy while she was still emotionally “entangled” with Deacon. She says her romantic relationship with Deacon ended when he entered rehab for substance abuse. Rayna paid for his treatment. The vulnerability experts want to know if their romantic relationship continued while Deacon was in rehab. From the way Rayna’s hedging her denial, we’re supposed to think it did, and probably connect the dots to Maddie. Rayna and Teddy got married while Deacon was still in rehab.
As a side note, it’s a little awkward for Big Machine to push “Telescope” as a single to country radio when it’s clearly being presented as inferior on the show. I’d say Big Machine’s trying to tell country radio something, except this is the label responsible for promoting “Truck Yeah” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to country radio.
Scarlett walks into a motel bar where Gunnar’s covering a Ray Price and Rusty Gabbard song called “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me By Your Side)” to a mostly empty venue. He’s dressed in pretty cheesy wardrobe. She tells Gunnar that she can’t do those demos with Watty. Gunnar asks the obvious question of whether she’s really meant to be with Avery if she has to hold herself back. Nobody saw this development coming from the premiere, except for everybody.
Now in a better mood, Juliette is now driving a convertible and sporting a baseball cap and downhome wardrobe. She gives Deacon her demo of “Undermine.” She brings up the guitar (because Deacon isn’t man enough to), and Deacon says he can’t accept it. Juliette says he has to because she wants him to play it on that song. She tells Deacon something about him makes her want to grow up. He’s listening.
Back at the James/Conrad mansion, Teddy thanks Rayna for what she’s going through for him and tells her he wants to support her to, implying he’s OK with her going back out on the road with Deacon.
Meanwhile Lamar and Tandy consult with the vulnerability experts. They say they went all the way back through Teddy’s history and the only questionable area is the Cumberland Plaza Development deal that went bust. They’re pretty sure Teddy’s hiding something. Lamar says it’s good Teddy had the sense not to tell them and that a mayor with secrets is easier to control. Cut to Teddy burning some papers. Question: the vulnerability experts picked up on Teddy’s issue but not Rayna’s? Lamar’s already aware of the latter but, it goes to show these “experts” are plot devices more than characters.
Deacon is playing at the Bluebird again. Juliette is there too. Anybody wonder how she’s able to go to the Bluebird (twice that we’ve seen) without being mobbed? Even if it isn’t her crowd, that seems strange. But wait, what’s this? Rayna shows up too. Deacon announces to the crowd that a beautiful and talented friend of his is here and he wants to bring her up to perform. Juliette’s all ready to go, except it’s Rayna he brings up. Burn!
Rayna and Deacon perform “No One Will Ever Love You,” a song they wrote more than 20 years ago together (it’s written in real life by Steve McEwan and John Paul White of The Civil Wars) and exchange longing glances for their whole performance. Juliette stays for the whole song, but leaves afterwards angry and crying. Scarlett tells Gunnar she’s changed her mind, and they should do those demos. After their performance, Rayna and Deacon sit in his car, and she says she wishes they hadn’t sung that particular song. He asks what they do now, and a very emotional Rayna quickly leaves his car. She goes back home and hugs Teddy, telling him she loves him. Just like that, she’s fallen in love with Deacon all over again. Kind of too soon in this show if you ask me but, that’s just me.
That’s it for episode 2! Stay tuned for episode 3, where the plot thickens!
What did you think about tonight’s episode?
To DOWNLOAD “Little Lie”, written and performed by Lindi Ortega from ITunes click HERE
To DOWNLOAD “Twist Of Barbwire,” written by Elvis Costello and performed by Jonathan Jackson from ITunes click HERE
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