Welcome back to Nashville! We rejoin the show with Luke leading Jade St. John through a tour of the Country Music Hall Of Fame, as Jade professes to be a huge country music geek. She namechecks Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, and of course Loretta Lynn. As Luke stops to admire Webb Pierce’s car exhibit, Jade drags him over to his own exhibit, which features Luke sporting quite the cheesy mullet. They share a laugh, and when Luke asks why she really brought him there, Jade talks about how she really wants to make a country album and how her label isn’t crazy about the idea. She asks Luke if he would duet with her to help her make her case. Luke gently says he’s too busy between starting his own label and launching his new album, but invites a disappointed Jade to accompany him to the big music education benefit going on that night, where she can network and maybe find another duet partner. Jade agrees.
Over at rehearsals for said benefit (Note By Note), Rayna, Maddie, Daphne, and Deacon are jamming out to “This Time,” cowritten in real life by Allison Moorer and Jeffrey Steele. As the rehearsal wraps, Deacon is coughing up a storm. A concerned Rayna hopes he won’t miss the benefit tonight, and Deacon reassures her that he won’t. Which means he will.
Juliette and Manager Glenn return home from L.A., and Avery and his mom Sandra are there waiting. Juliette totally and callously forgot that Sandra was there despite Avery telling her, but she’s pleased to see her. How long will Sandra be there? Until he and Juliette have agreed on a more permanent childcare situation, which Juliette correctly interprets to mean it’s going to be a while. Sandra is thrilled to care for her grandchild, and Juliette is barely interested in giving baby Cadence a hug after 3 days away. Besides, she wants to get ready for that night’s big charity benefit, where Avery is supposed to join her. She invites Sandra, and is excited about singing because Rayna is scheduled to win a bid for a “command performance” that results in a Juliette singing. So Juliette thinks this is kind of her comeback, but Avery is still rightfully concerned about their lack of communication regarding Cadence. He’s even considering staying home from the benefit, which doesn’t phase Juliette.
Will and Kevin have apparently spent the last 4 days trysting in each other’s homes, so that’s going well. Will sheepishly says he does have to go out into the real world that night because of that fundraiser. Turns out, Kevin is a mentor for the program. But he had already invited a date a month ago. Will is disappointed, but covers that he understands that they’re not exclusive.
Scarlett and Gunnar are auditioning a possible 3rd member, and while Gunnar is all smiles for the latest tryout, Scarlett complains (after the auditioner is out of earshot) that he smells like “wet cardboard” and “mumbled everything.” Gunnar complains that Scarlett’s done nothing by express petty dissatisfaction with everybody they’ve considered. Scarlett isn’t backing down though, and as Gunnar tries to argue with her, she walks out, speculating that maybe they should stop trying to make their band happen.
Jump forward to the red carpet for the Note By Note fundraiser (with Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” playing in the background), where Juliette is happily posing for the cameras (without Avery?) and glibly answering questions about how wonderful motherhood is. She is none too happy, though, to see the photographers make a beeline for Jade St. John, who arrives with Luke. Reporters immediately want to know if they’re together, and Luke says they’re just friends, but puts his arm around Jade just as he spots Rayna, Deacon, Maddie, & Daphne arriving, saying they are both strong supporters of music in education.
Mayor Teddy greets Rayna, Deacon, and the girls, especially the girls. Turns out Rayna’s agreed to let the girls set at the mayor’s table, and they giddily go off to check out guitars, with Deacon following. That leaves Teddy and Rayna, so Teddy takes the opportunity to thank Rayna for letting the girls sit as his table and also for singing that night. He also assures her that though the past few months have been challenging, he’s put it all behind him and is moving forward. That pretty much means he’s going to get arrested at the fundraiser, right? Rayna nods and says she’s glad to hear he’s doing well though it’s in the tone of somebody who’s not totally convinced. She congratulates him on a big night. Deacon comes over and warns Teddy that Daphne may have bid on a pony. Teddy laughs and goes off to see what she’s doing. Rayna and Deacon head over to do the red carpet, but then Deacon gets a phone call. Turns out, there’s a liver donor who’s a match for him. Rayna immediately informs the girls and Teddy, and says she and Deacon are headed to the hospital right away. Maddie insists on going, and though a little disappointed, Teddy is understanding. But Daphne’s face drops as her sister, mom and Deacon head off. Teddy asks if she’s OK. She was really looking forward to singing, and now she can’t.
Scarlett’s car battery has died again, and an amused Gunnar offers to help. He takes the opportunity to apologize for the awkwardness he’s responsible for, and promises he won’t instigate anymore if they continue. He wants to put their music 1st, and reminds Scarlett they make great music together. But before Scarlett can reply, she gets word about Deacon’s surgery and freaks out. Gunnar is naturally confused, and Scarlett promises to fill him in if he gives her a ride.
Back at the fundraiser, Juliette and Manager Glenn greet Bucky, who informs them that Rayna had to leave. Juliette asks if he wants her to take over, and Bucky says they considered that but Mayor Teddy has other plans (?). Bucky assures her that they’re still going to win the auction so she performs. Juliette is suitably pleased when Layla and Jeff walk up and greet Bucky. Jeff obnoxiously asks Juliette when she’s going to have the baby, and Layla smacks him in the stomach before telling Juliette she looks amazing. Juliette says she knows. They’re all going to be sitting at the same Highway 65 table, so it should be good times! Juliette realizes she’s going to need a few drinks (not nursing, I guess?). Jeff and Layla notice Jade and Luke, and Layla asks Jeff if he knew she would be there. Jeff did not. Layla comments that her set opening for Jade got good reviews from The Tennessean and The Nashville Scene, and that Jeff should see if there’s a more permanent spot for her on the tour. Jeff says no, saying a one-off was fine but associating on a more long-term basis with pop when she’s rebranding is a bad idea. Layla’s not buying it.
Deacon, Rayna, and Maddie are doing paperwork and learning what’s going to happen in the next few hours as far as the transplant. The surgeon is en route to the hospital where the donor’s liver will be harvested. Deacon has to do some preliminary tests and bloodwork. The whole process will take at least a few hours, maybe longer. Gunnar drops off Scarlett and wishes Deacon the best. Scarlett thanks him and exits his car. She’s greeted by Blandly Cute Young Dr. Boyfriend Caleb, who says the match couldn’t be more perfect. Scarlett excitedly kisses him as Gunnar glowers in the background.
Back over to the Note By Note benefit, where Will is looking around the room, and when Luke teases him about who he’s looking for, Will covers and says he was looking for Luke. Will compliments Luke on the table he snagged. Luke introduces Will to Jade, who says she’s a big fan. Teddy calls Luke away for a moment, and lets him know that Rayna won’t be able to perform that night, and he can’t say why. Luke says he knows about Deacon. They agree that while Deacon’s been a thorn in both their sides, they wouldn’t wish what he’s going through on anybody, and Teddy gives Luke the good news that a liver donor has been found, and that Rayna and Maddie are with Deacon. Luke says he knows this has been tough on Maddie, and Teddy says it’s been tough on both girls, which brings him to another favor he’d like to ask of Luke…
Meanwhile, Jade asks Will if he’s part of the mayor’s mentoring program, and Will is about to say his boyfriend is a mentor for the program before covering and saying a friend of his is. Layla hops over to their table and greets Will, but is all about chatting up Jade. Will asks the ladies if they’d like some drinks, and they send him off for white wine. Layla thanks Jade for the opportunity to open for her, and Jade jokes that she was hoping Layla would suck if only to prove Jeff wrong. They banter about Jeff, while Juliette snarkily asks Bucky what possessed them to sign “that copycat.” Bucky says Layla’s grown since her American Hitmaker days, and with the fanbase Jeff is helping her build, they have pretty high expectations for her album. That reminds Juliette that she wants to get back to working on hers. “Baby’s out, I’m back to work,” she says.
Cut to Avery cleaning up and grousing to his mother about how he quit the band and feels like he’s sacrificed everything for their baby but is alone in this. His mother, surprisingly and refreshingly, reminds him this was probably how Juliette felt when he was out touring while she was pregnant. Avery rhetorically asks whether they’re not supposed to put the baby 1st. His mother says they are, but the baby can’t take care of them back and they have to lean on each other. Avery can choose to lay blame or he can try to fix the problem with Juliette, his mother says. Well, this is some nice perspective.
Will has brought shots for the table, and Jeff, Luke, and Kevin are there to partake. Jeff says he and Luke were just talking about Kevin and Will, which freaks will out a little bit. But Luke is talking about the great demos and Will’s promise as a songwriter. He toasts to Luke and Kevin’s great future together, and Jeff looks quite pointedly at Will. Kevin’s date Brad walks up and admires their seating location while putting his arm around Kevin. Will glowers.
It’s a cheery scene where Deacon, Maddie, Rayna and Scarlett are joking about mobile games when Dr. Caleb walks in with worrying news. Deacon has a fever, and they have to figure out why. If it’s something minor, there’s no problem, but if it’s pneumonia, then there’s a risk Deacon will reject the liver and the surgeons won’t proceed, which means that the liver will go to the next candidate. The new uncertainty devastates everybody. Dr. Caleb is not about giving false hope, but he tries to assure everybody that they’re going to work through this as fast as possible. As he leaves the room, Scarlett chases him and begs him to pull some strings. Dr. Caleb, quite reasonably, explains that he can’t do that, because he’s not on the surgical team and besides that, everybody’s equally deserving of that next chance. But Scarlett’s not in the mood for rational talk.
Layla and Jade are bantering about their respective pageant pasts when grumpy Jeff strolls up wanting Layla to accompany him to meet Clear Channel Iheartmedia EVP & General Manager, National Programming Clay Hunnicutt. Layla and Jade banter about Jeff’s bossiness, and Jade tells Jeff she gets what he sees in Layla, because she reminds her a lot of herself. Well, that’s self-centered. The benefit is starting, and Layla forces Jeff to join them at the table for now since it’d be rude to move. Teddy is emceeing the event (the bigger platform to get arrested on, amirite?) and welcomes everybody, noting that in an hour, an auction will begin, featuring among other things the chance to bid on a “command performance” by anybody there. Juliette is all smiles over this. She’s totally not going to get it though, right? Teddy continues by thanking Luke Wheeler for stepping in at the last minute to perform. He takes the stage, and says he’s going to invite a special guest to sing, not only because she’s part of the Note By Note program, but also because she’s a buddy of his. And he invites up a delighted Daphne. This is sweet because Daphne quite openly adored him while he and Rayna were together. They launched into John Hiatt’s “Have A Little Faith In Me,” with Luke on harmonies & response vocals. This gets a smile out of everybody in the room, and an especially proud one from Teddy.
To DOWNLOAD “Have A Little Faith In Me,” written by John Hiatt and performed by Will Chase and Maisy Stella, click HERE!
As they perform, Rayna finds Maddie in the hospital chapel. Maddie would love some reassurance from Rayna that Deacon won’t die if this surgery doesn’t happen. Rayna is not about making false promises though, and asks instead if Maddie wants to pray. They do, together.
Daphne gets in some big notes to Luke’s especial delight, and they finish their performance to big applause. Daphne’s pretty happy, and both Teddy and Luke are happy to see her happy. After her performance, Juliette heads off to the ladies room, which is where Layla ends up too. Juliette starts with the putdowns, telling Layla to take her time with her album because Juliette is getting right back into things and label priority-wise, the line starts behind her. Layla is not one to back down though, and passive-aggressively remarks that nobody’s really heard from her in a while. But Juliette comes back by reminding Layla she’s got a big movie coming out, whereas Layla is just a reality show alum singing Juliette’s sloppy 2nds. Having walked into the restroom unnoticed, Jade steps in to defend Layla, saying she just opened for her and that she’s the real deal. Juliette dismisses Jade and walks out. Layla vents to Jade that touring with Juliette was “hell,” and you can see the wheels in Jade’s head start to turn. I think we have a rival for the command performance, do we not?
Gunnar drops by Deacon’s hospital room. Turns out he got Scarlett’s battery fixed and was just dropping off her car keys. He takes the opportunity to express his sympathies to Deacon, and congratulate him on the good news about his liver transplant. Deacon says it may not be happening, and as hard as this is on Rayna, Maddie, and Scarlett, he’s feeling foolish for believing it could happen. He compares his situation to Charlie Brown and the football. Gunnar asks if that isn’t what everybody loves about Charlie Brown though – that no matter how many times he falls flat on his back, he never gives up hope and belief. That touches Deacon.
It’s time for the “command performance” auction, and Juliette is delighted to see Avery arrive in time. Bucky gets the bidding go with a $25k offer for Juliette. The camera cuts to Will, and I guess Luke is not bidding for him? But there is a rival, and as you might have guessed, Jade bids $50k for Layla. The back & forth escalates quickly to Jade’s $200k for Layla. Bucky says he’s maxed out their budget, but at Juliette’s bidding, Avery bids $225k. And she’s starting feel smug about her victory when Jade bids $500k, and wins the auction for Layla. Luke is delighted by Jade’s gumption, Jeff is kind of resigned, and Layla is flattered. Teddy thanks a happy Jade, and invites Layla to the stage. We don’t get to see her perform, though, we only see her exiting the stage after a well-received performance that has Juliette ready to exit the benefit with Avery. Jade congratulates Layla, and invites her to be the primary opener for her on the rest of her tour. Layla is flattered. Juliette and Avery are walking by, and Jade says to Juliette that she has to admit, Layla’s performance was worth every penny. And this leads to a typically nasty public smackdown from Juliette, who goes in on Jade’s “country Barbie” jacket and tells her she can hold onto Luke Wheeler’s hand like it’s a golden ticket, but this is Nashville, and no matter how much money Jade spends, she doesn’t belong here. Jade seems cowed, which is weird for somebody who was presented as extremely successful and head of her own empire. Avery is embarrassed for Juliette and suggests they leave immediately, Layla is not impressed, and Luke is concerned about Jade’s feelings.
Rayna and Deacon are giggling over something on Rayna’s phone when Scarlett walks in. Deacon hands her her car keys and tells her Gunnar is a good dude. Scarlett asks if there’s news, and there isn’t. She flounces into a chair with a heavy sigh, and Deacon knows there’s more on her mind than his health. Finally Scarlett asks Rayna and Deacon how they kept making music together despite their complicated romantic history. Rayna says the complications are kind of what made the music great. Deacon says he stayed with Rayna for the sake of the great music, despite having a hard time with her being married to Teddy. He thinks Gunnar understands that it’s about the music. Dr. Caleb walks in and asks Deacon how he’s feeling. “Like kicking a football,” Deacon says. Awh. Dr. Caleb then delivers the good news that Deacon has a totally manageable sinus infection, and has been cleared for surgery. Tears of joy ensue.
Luke finds Jade in a hallway wiping away tears. He tries to play off Juliette’s jibes as her being “high strung,” but Jade admits Juliette may have been right, she may have been trying to buy her way into town. Luke says he promised Jade a good night, and he’s going to take her somewhere that will restore her faith in country music.
Meanwhile Layla debating with herself whether she should call or text Jade, whether she’ll take back the opening slot offer, and Jeff is just having none of it. He tells Layla she’s not going on the tour anyway. Layla says he needs to get over his history with Jade because it’s affecting his judgment. This is a huge opportunity. Jeff knows – it’d be big exposure and lots of money for both of them. But he tells Layla that Jade uses people until she doesn’t need them anymore, and then throws them away. He claims he’s protecting Layla (but really, he’s protecting himself – looks like Rayna’s digs got to him!). He opens the door for Layla, but Layla rolls her eyes and walks off, saying she’ll find her own ride.
Avery did not speak to Juliette the whole ride home, and finally Juliette has had enough as they re-enter their home. He asks her to keep her voice down, reminding them about their daughter. Avery’s frustrated that she’s shut him out, that she’s made decisions about going to L.A., stopping nursing, and so on without him, and he says he can’t do this alone. Which is why she hired a nanny, Juliette says, but Avery fired her (and it’s not like Avery was consulted on the hire in the 1st place). Avery can’t figure out what’s going on with her, because she picked a fight with a complete stranger at a music in schools benefit, forgetting that the benefit was not in fact about her comeback but about kids. By now he’s raised his voice into a considerable volume, and Baby Cadence is crying.
Layla drops by Will’s table to ask for a ride. He thought she was getting a ride from Jeff, and wonders why she’s still hanging out with him. Layla says he’s her manager and it’s complicated (really? Didn’t she uncomplicate things by telling Jeff he would *only* be her manager from now on?). Will says as far as he can tell, Jeff’s not that complicated – he only cares about people when they make him money. Layla’s not so sure about that. She thanks Will for the offer of a ride, and says she’ll just get a cab.
Teddy’s tucking Daphne into bed, and she thinks they’re pretty lucky to have each other. Teddy agrees. Daphne wants to know if he thinks Rayna would let her stay at Teddy’s for a while. Teddy doesn’t think there’s any chance of it, but Daphne says it just doesn’t feel like home over at Rayna’s anymore, plus Teddy’s her only dad. Well, finally we get a little acknowledgment that Daphne might feel a little left out in the Rayna-Deacon-Maddie lovefest! About time. Teddy smiles and says he’ll ask Rayna after Deacon’s out of the woods, but not in a way that makes it seem like he’s kidding himself. Ugh – these sweet daddy-daughter moments as father are clearly setting him up for somethin’ bad, aren’t they? Matter of time.
Luke has taken Jade to the Bluebird, and she’s kind of giddy about it. She’s played stadiums with all the smoke & mirrors, but doesn’t think she’d ever be able to handle an intimate setting like this. Which means she’s going to! The great Buddy Miller’s at the mic, and he acknowledges Jade’s presence there. And sure enough, he invites Jade to sing. Jade asks Luke if this is his doing. He tells her nobody’s going to accuse her of trying to buy her way in country music there, but they’ll sure let her know if she’s earned it.
Avery is rocking baby Cadence back to sleep when Juliette walks in. She muses about how great he is with her. She hates fighting, as does Avery. He just needs for Juliette to let him in. She wants to, she tells him, she just doesn’t really understand what’s happening. It’s such a big change – going from her Opry induction and playing a country music icon in a movie to a place where it all seems to have gone away. Avery assures her it’ll all come back, it’ll just take time. But Juliette’s worried it may never come back, that she’ll be irrelevant at 25. Avery promises that she’ll always be the unforgettable Juliette Barnes, and someday soon she’ll start to feel like it as well. Juliette appreciates the comforting words, even if she doesn’t look convinced.
Back to the Bluebird, where Jade introduces an old song by a new friend of hers. Luke is again delighted to hear her sing that old hit “Shotgun,” a soulful romantic ballad cowritten in real life by Audra Mae and Sean McConnell. The song is about partnership and sharing of responsibility, with a hook goes “love is taking turns, riding shotgun,” and Buddy Miller sings harmony vocals. Vocal restraint suits Christina Aguilera, it must be said. As Jade sings, we see footage of Rayna accompanying him as far as she’s allowed to go, all smiles for him as he heads off into surgery, and teary after he’s wheeled into the OR. Will goes to pick up his car keys, and spots Kevin and Brad driving off together. Deacon is administered anathesia & he’s off to sleep.
To DOWNLOAD “Shotgun,” written by Audra Mae and Sean McConnell and performed by Christina Aguilera, click HERE!
As Jade ends her performance to big applause, Dr. Caleb approaches Rayna, Maddie, and Scarlett, and they all rise to hear the news. He says they’ve got a problem. We’ll find out…after the break! Deacon comes to, and asks how he did. But he didn’t get the surgery, because it turned out the would-be donor had cancerous lesions on his lungs. Rayna bravely asserts that they found 1 donor, and they’ll find another. Dr. Caleb says they have to hope.
Luke is walking Jade back to her hotel room, and she thanks him for the experience. She has never felt that connected to an audience before. Luke says that was all her, and tells her she doesn’t need a duet with anybody to prove she can do country. Jade wryly suggests he head to L.A. with her to tell her label. He says that’s tempting, so I guess we’re going there with these 2. Luke asks if she really sang “Shotgun” at her 8th grade talent show. Jade says it wasn’t a pretty picture, she had braces and an asymmetrical haircut. Luke jokes that it couldn’t have been worse than his 1st album cover, but Jade claims she had a poster of that on her bedroom wall, that she used to kiss at night. Luke suggests that the real thing could kiss her now, and Jade is all about that. She invites him into her hotel room.
Jeff is sulking into a drink when Layla finds him, snarking that she appreciates that he has a favorite bar, because it makes him easy to find. She orders a drink on his tab. She tells Jeff she’s going on tour with Jade. Of course she is, says Jeff sarcastically, why would she listen to him? Layla tells Jeff she heard every word he said, that he was willing to walk away from money out of concern for her. Yet she’s ignoring his advice. Layla says she’s ignoring his concern. She’s figured out that Jeff is really afraid she’ll turn into Jade and leave him, and she tells Jeff that she is not Jade and she won’t. She doesn’t want to pursue her career without Jeff, and doesn’t think she can. And then she starts kissing him! Nooooo…why, Layla, why? This would end terribly even if not for their troubled history. Why the sudden reversal? Writers, what are you doing???? Jeff kisses her back, and so now manager and artist are making out publicly.
Will goes over to see Kevin. He apologizes for interrupting his date but says there’s something he needs to get off his chest. Sweetly, Will confesses that he’s never felt this way before, but it didn’t feel right seeing Kevin at the benefit with somebody else, and what would make him happy is if it could just be the 2 of them while Will figures this out. Kevin’s fine with that, and a happy Will backs off to let him continue his date. Kevin says Chad (not Brad) is not there, that Kevin couldn’t wait for the evening to be over with him. He invites Will in, and Will eagerly accepts.
Scarlett calls Gunnar from the hospital and lets him know that the surgery didn’t happen. Gunnar is sorry to hear that, but Scarlett really called to talk about their band. She doesn’t want to give up on it, and she doesn’t think they’ll be able to replace Avery. So she’d like for them to continue as a duo, because the music they’ve made together is pretty special. Gunnar is thrilled. As Scarlett’s having this conversation, Dr. Caleb approaches, and she tells Gunnar she’ll call him the next day as Caleb sits down. Not that she’s hiding any of this from Caleb. She apologizes to Caleb for their fight – she knows he’s a good doctor for Caleb precisely because of how seriously he takes his work. Caleb is sorry too, and acknowledges it has been a long, stressful day for all of them. He offers Scarlett a ride home, and Scarlett says her car’s here because Gunnar took care of it. Dr. Caleb has the look of somebody who has to be understanding of a rejection (just wait, Dr. Caleb, it’s a matter of time), but Scarlett asks if she can meet him at his place. Dr. Caleb breaks out a smile (enjoy it while it lasts!).
Maddie goes to see Deacon, who is being discharged (this soon after anathesia?). She sits down next to Deacon, and rails against the injustice of his situation – he stopped drinking years ago, why is it happening now. This is intercut with footage of Rayna in the hospital chapel, praying to God to forgive her her offenses and to help her to be strong for a man and a little girl who need her, to help her not feel so alone. And as she prays, we see Juliette wide awake as Avery sleeps, not quite settled in her mind. And that’s it for this week. Teddy escapes, unarrested, but how long could that possibly last? Come back again next week and maybe we’ll see then.
Also featured in this episode as background music, a song called “Smallest Town On Earth,” cowritten by Erin Enderlin, Josh Grider, and Scott Stepakoff. Check out Josh Grider’s performance of the song here: