Welcome back to Nashville, where Juliette is trying to shower away the shame of her tryst with Jeff Fordham, Lady Macbeth-like. Meanwhile Rayna’s leading a meeting with broadcasters trying to rally support for her single. One broadcaster talks about Rayna’s livestream piggybacking off Luke Wheeler’s tour being a big hit, and tells her while they all love her, listeners are holding her association with Juliette against her. This just doesn’t feel realistic at all, because the number of fans tuned into those kind of business assocations isn’t likely to be high enough to influence airplay. But whatever. Radio people think “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet” was Juliette’s “Not Ready To Make Nice,” which was also misinterpreted as a message to country fans to go to hell. Rayna is defending it as a great song when Manager Bucky interrupts her with news that Luke, who’s out on a “morale tour” for the troops in Afghanistan, was hurt when the convoy of private contractors escorting him hit an IED. I was afraid they were going to throw the USO organization and its security measures under the bus so I guess if this has to be a plot point, this was an OK way to handle it. Anyway, Luke is being transported from a hospital in Germany to the US. A teary eyed Rayna is heading straight to New York to meet him.
Over at Deacon’s, Deacon brings Scarlett some tea. She’s poring over her old journals, and tells Deacon she doesn’t know what to do with herself now. He suggests she pick back up where she left off.
Meanwhile Will and Gunnar’s place has been taken over by this reality show they’ve agreed to do (without Brent’s advice, by the way…where is he? Isn’t he supposed to be Layla’s manager and wouldn’t he have advised against this?). Will is getting makeup applied and wants to confirm this show won’t make him look like a jackass, while a groggy Gunnar and Zoe (who haven’t moved, I guess?) are lightly annoyed by all the fuss. Gunnar demurs from signing the release, saying he doesn’t want to be part of the reality show because he doesn’t find “much reality in reality shows.” You don’t say! He gets a phone call with an opportunity to meet with Juliette Barnes, and Zoe doesn’t understand his hesitation until Gunnar tells her what he saw between Juliette and Jeff. They discuss telling Avery, and for some reason, that’s a question mark.
Teddy is at Rayna’s to pick up the girls. Rayna says Luke is going to be fine and she’ll only be away 1 night. Maddie angles to stay with Deacon that night instead, assuring Teddy that she loves him but just wants to spend more time with Deacon. Apparently they’ve discussed the possibility of a sleepover before. Teddy obviously isn’t that open to the idea that particular night and Rayna says it’s a conversation they need to have but not now. But Teddy reluctantly gives Maddie permission. Rayna asks Teddy if he’s really OK with this and Teddy says “As much as I can be.” It’s too bad the show hasn’t let us in on these family conversations, because this all feels like it’s coming out of nowhere.
Juliette is getting ready for her day when Avery walks in. He tells her he was there last night too, waiting, until he finally gave up. Juliette makes some vague excuse about how it took forever to get out of the party. Avery sweetly tries to apologize for not considering Juliette’s feelings because he was so focused on Scarlett’s recovery. He reassures Juliette that Scarlett’s his ex-girlfriend and that Juliette is the one he loves. Juliette is dying inside knowing what she screwed up, and though she smiles and accepts Avery’s gesture, she also gives him the friendly brush off, and Avery notices. Juliette says she has meetings, and the 2 of them are fine.
Rayna has arrived in New York, where Luke is being treated. This scene is more or less a giant excuse to see Will Chase shirtless, which is fine with me. Luke tells Rayna it was the 1st vehicle in the convoy that hit the IED, with 2 fatalities, and that he was in the 2nd, hurt only when his vehicle swerved to avoid the 1st. He’s determined to go back for his tour eventually, but admits the incident shook him up in ways he wouldn’t have expected. Something about all this feels very anti-climactic, and I have a feeling the actors, Connie Britton in particular, was urged to play it that way.
Reality show producer Gina is urging Will and Layla to just be as they are normally as they get ready to shoot their 1st scenes. Somehow I feel like this isn’t a very realistic depiction of how reality show producers befriend and coach the people they’re filming. But Will kicks off filming by performing a new song dedicated to his new wife, a pretty, heartfelt (well…) ballad called “Then I Was Loved By You.” Reality show producer Gina is pleased by her new goldmine.
To DOWNLOAD “Then I Was Loved By You,” cowritten by Kalisa Ewing and Casey Wood and performed by Chris Carmack, click HERE.
Over at the Bluebird, Avery approaches Zoe for advice on his girl problems. Zoe is even more squirrely and obvious than Juliette, and suggests he talk to Gunnar. Scarlett saves her by walking in just then, asking if she can stay with Zoe that night because Maddie will be staying with Deacon and she doesn’t want to step in on their time. Zoe’s excited, and ready to break out the karaoke machine. Scarlett’s not interested in singing, so Zoe agrees to movies instead. Scarlett absent mindedly starts playing with salt and pepper shakers and loading trays. Avery says her hands want to work at the Bluebird again. Scarlett wonders if she could maybe fill in from time to time. She tells Zoe she just wants things to get back to normal, whatever that is.
Juliette is with Manager Glenn, and they finish a meeting with a songwriter who seems to understand what Juliette is looking to do in this new phase of her career. Juliette’s generally down and tired, weighed down by her guilty conscience. Manager Glenn offers to cancel the rest of her meetings because Juliette can just write with Avery, but the very mention of Avery’s name makes Juliette want to soldier through the rest of her meetings. Next up is Gunnar, whom Juliette immediately recognizes though they haven’t ever officially met. Gunnar tells Manager Glenn he was in a band with her boyfriend Avery, and awkwardly talks about what a great guy Avery is. Juliette agrees, and Juliette is talking about his current chart success with Jeff Fordham walks in, all smarmy and sleazy as usual. Juliette asks for a moment with him.
To dilute the oiliness of the previous scene, we cut to a sweet scene at Deacon’s, where Maddie is doing her homework. Deacon wants to know what subject it is, and when Maddie tells him it’s Algebra 2, he jokes he didn’t realize there was a sequel. Ha! Deacon says he would’ve loved to have a mom and dad to make him do homework he didn’t want to do. Maddie wants to know about his childhood, and Deacon says he never had much of one.
Rayna is helping a still shirtless Luke Wheeler get dressed while a local news broadcast covers the incident where he got hurt. Luke is beating himself up about not giving the troops the show he promised, a show that was supposed to be simulcast all over the world, and the ever-enterprising Rayna suggests they go to Fort Campbell and stage a show there for the simulcast. Luke isn’t sure it could be made to happen on such short notice, but Rayna’s all enthusiasm, promising to get it together. Luke is happy with the idea.
And now back to Jeff and Juliette, where Jeff first goes for the intense “I can’t stop thinking about you,” except he of course doesn’t mean it, and he’s really about trying to poach Juliette back onto his label. Juliette is all about brave rejection and protecting her artistry right now, but it’s a matter of time before Jeff starts blackmailing her, right? Manager Glenn interrupts asking Juliette is she’s interested in joining Rayna’s Ft. Campbell show for the troops in 2 days, and Juliette says she’s in.
Back at Deacon’s, he gives Maddie the good news that Luke is being discharged from the hospital, and that Rayna and Luke will stop by Ft. Campbell before returning home to Nashville. Maddie finds a signed Merle Haggard print, and is impressed Deacon knows Merle. She says she sometimes wishes she’d grown up with Deacon even if he and her mom weren’t together. Deacon tells her that both Rayna and she deserved better than him back then, and besides, he was barely around. Maddie asks if he remembers where he was the day she was born. Deacon gives a vague answer about being on the road, which seems to be enough for Maddie.
Luke and Rayna are doing a meet & greet at Ft. Campbell and all is going well until he spots Juliette. He’s not happy about her being there and thinks she can’t be trusted not to misbehave. Rayna gives her a vote of confidence, saying the troops will love her and won’t care about recent events (so country fans excoriated Juliette for alleged remarks about God but the troops won’t. This alterna-universe makes no sense). Luke is still against her performing when it turns out Juliette has overheard their conversation. Luke is upfront that he would rather she not participate in this show. Juliette says if he doesn’t want her there, she won’t be and walks away.
Will and Layla are shooting the marital homecoming, groom carries bride over the threshold scene for their show, and the producer stops it saying the kisses feel canned. Will says that’s because they’ve shot it 10 times already. The producer wants them to get into the bedroom and do whatever they need to do to make it right. Will says he’s had enough of this for the day and walks out.
Rayna tries to talk to grumpy Luke about what happened with Juliette, and he questions whether this whole event is really for him and the troops or whether it’s for Rayna’s label. Rayna defends herself, reminding Luke he’s not the only one who cares about the troops and their families, and telling him this show is his, so he can do with it what he wants. When a military representative wants to go over the list of performers, Rayna directs her to Luke, and continues the theme of the last few scenes by walking out.
Juliette is with P.A. Emily and Manager Glenn, when they ask her if she wants to leave. Juliette spots service members milling around, and says Luke can stop her from performing on stage but he can’t stop her from hanging out with the troops. She greets several veterans, and when asked why she’s there, she tells one that her dad was a Blackhawk pilot who died in a training exercise when she was 4. She has beautiful memories of him, and says she always felt safe when he was around. She appreciates the service and sacrifice of our armed forces especially much because of her dad. The show writers have conveniently stationed Luke out of sight but within earshot for all this, so we know he will have a change of heart.
Deacon is at an AA meeting, talking about all the names people have called him. Most of them negative, but lately, he’s been called dad. He talks about Maddie asking him where she was when she was born. He admits to the meeting that when he found out about Rayna having a child with another man, he fell off the wagon, and the truth is he has no idea where he was when Maddie was born. But he doesn’t want to tell her that. This is weird to me…Maddie is aware of his substance abuse issues, right? The truth is he missed out on nearly everything in her childhood, and he regrets it all. Why not tell her that?
Will is blowing off steam at the gym by lifting weights, fast and hard. A hot buff guy tells him he’ll hurt himself, and needs to focus on getting the form right. They joke around a little, and Will appears to be attracted to him. Hot buff guy is named Tony, and he’s a personal trainer. He gives Will his card. Will declines his services for now, but on this show, we know that’s a “for now.”
Will drives up on a golf cart to apologize to Juliette. He admits that he jumped to conclusions about her, and asks if she will perform for the troops after all. She wonders if this is something Rayna’s making him do, and Will says it’s all him. In fact, he wants to sing *with* her!
Avery and Gunnar are having a dude’s night, during which Gunnar starts to tell Avery what he saw. They’re interrupted by Zoe, who reveals she has a new gig as a backup singer for Juliette Barnes. Look, I know Nashville’s a small town, but it ain’t that small. Zoe says she’s cutting Gunnar and Avery’s dude night short because she wants to celebrate. Gunnar tells Avery Juliette looked lost without him. That’s true, but this isn’t going to stop Avery from thinking Gunnar lied to him when he inevitably finds out about Juliette and Jeff, and that Gunnar and Zoe knew. In the meantime though, they’re both about protecting their careers.
Scarlett is filling in at the Bluebird, and introduces herself to a newbie. When she goes out to serve a party, they recognize her, and say it’s a shame she’s gone back to waitressing, because she’s a really talented musician. Scarlett smiles it all off graciously.
Rayna and Luke return to her place, and start rehashing their long day before Rayna asks Luke what’s wrong and why he was picking fights with her today and pushing her away. Luke owns up to being a jerk and apologizes. He talks about how he felt when he heard the IED go off, feeling like his life was going to end. He says he didn’t see his life flash before his eyes, but he saw his kids and he saw Rayna. He explains he’s edgy about it because he loves Rayna and isn’t sure she feels the same. In the first unstilted moment of this scene, Rayna assures him she does love him. But the writers definitely don’t want us to feel happy or convinced by any of this.
The next day, we’re at the Fort Campbell concert, and Luke and Rayna greet the troops and their family before introducing First Lady Michelle Obama, who appears via satellite to thank the servicemen, servicewomen and their families for their service and sacrifice before throwing it back to Luke & Rayna for more music. While she talks, Daphne asks Teddy if this is how it’s going to be, the 2 of them together, Maddie off with Deacon. Teddy reassures her, and says even though it’s weird and tough to understand now, they’ll always be the Conrad sisters. Luke starts to introduce Juliette, who is sidestage with Rayna, and tells Rayna to hang onto Luke, because he’s 1 of the very few good guys out there. Luke talks about how Juliette understands the sacrifice military families make and says most of all, she loves and wants to honor the troops. With that, they launch into a duet version of “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet,” which actually works as an anthemic rallying cry for the troops.
To DOWNLOAD “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet,” cowritten by Trent Dabbs and Caitlyn Smith and performed by Hayden Panettiere and Will Chase, click HERE.
Meanwhile, Will and Layla are having awkward moments on the couch, and Will’s already had it with all the cameras set up in their home. He rips the one that’s right in front of them off its socket.
As Juliette and Luke perform, Deacon goes over to see Rayna, who thanks him for watching Maddie these past few days. Deacon says she’s had a lot of questions, and it’s raised a lot of stuff for him that he wants to hash out with Rayna. Rayna agrees they should talk sometime, and Deacon thinks that time is now. Rayna heaves a heavy sigh. Deacon says he said he’d never forgive Rayna for not telling him about Maddie, but he now gets that Rayna was just protecting her little girl. Rayna’s moved, and thanks him. Emotionally, this scene works and yet, I’m not convinced by the writing. I just don’t think it’s that simple.
Juliette and Luke finish off a successful performance, and Juliette bounds off the stage to see that Avery showed up. She didn’t invite him (hello, red flag!) but is happy he’s there. Juliette is thrilled by how much the troops loved their song. Avery’s glad she called it their song, and says he’s not sure what more he can do but apologize, because he feels like she’s slipping away. She embraces and kisses him, saying that’s not going to happen, but the tears in her eyes make it clear she hasn’t forgotten the trouble she’s in.
Zoe comes by Deacon’s to drop off a pillow Scarlett left at her place. Zoe asks if Scarlett wants to carpool to the Bluebird tonight, but Scarlett says she’s not taking the shift tonight. We know why, though she doesn’t quite get around to explaining it to Zoe. Zoe shares news of her new backup singing gig, and wonders if Scarlett’s OK with who it’s for. Scarlett is thrilled for her, and says if Zoe’s going to be out of town, that makes it easier for Scarlett to leave Nashville. She just doesn’t think there’s anything left for her in this town, and wants to start over fresh somewhere else. Austin, maybe, since there are rumors Nashville has been scouting locations there (though IMO that’s mostly public negotiating for a better incentive package from Tennessee)?
Will has locked himself in the bathroom, trying to cool down by splashing his face with water. A tearful Layla knocks and ask if he’s OK. Will says he’ll be a minute, and winds up calling personal trainer Tony to schedule private session.
Back at Ft. Campbell, Rayna introduces our very own Kellie Pickler, who performs her latest single, “Closer To Nowhere.” Nice spot for the song! While she sings, Deacon goes over to see Teddy. Now, these two still haven’t talked about Teddy sleeping with Megan, but like many things, the show has apparently decided that we’re going to forget about all that. Deacon asks Teddy to tell him about the night Maddie was born. He credits Teddy for raising “a hell of a girl” and just wants to know what he missed. Teddy hesitates, and then complies. You can tell both men are moved by the moment, and it really works to capture Deacon’s regret but also the process of him understanding how Teddy feels as a father. What are the chances it represents real progress in the co-parenting situation? We’re at the writers’s mercy.
Juliette is still grinning away until Jeff Fordham arrives to wipe the smile off her face. He’s still angling to get Juliette back on her label, and implicitly threatens to go to Avery with the truth. Yup, that was predictable.
Rayna introduces Maddie and Daphne, and is talking about singing “A Life That’s Good” when Maddie asks Rayna to invite Deacon to sing with them. Rayna agrees and introduces Deacon as the songwriter. They sing, and Teddy and Luke both glower in the crowd. No doubt that’s a thread that continues into next week, so join us then, won’t you?
To DOWNLOAD The Music Of ‘Nashville’: Original Soundtrack, Season 2, Volume 2, click HERE.