Welcome back to Nashville! Rayna and Manager Bucky is showing off her new (empty) office space for Highway 65 Records to a journalist. Maybe it’s just me but introducing a journalist to a big, empty space feels like the wrong message to convey to a journalist? Anyway the nosy journalist keeps circling back to Rayna’s engagement to Luke. Manager Bucky reminds the journalist that Rayna just scored her 5th #1 album (on the country charts, probably – side note, in the real world that would be an historical 1st for a solo female act). Rayna doesn’t want to discuss her personal life, but the journalist is worried any feature won’t get good magazine positioning.
Meanwhile Deacon is at home, staring off into space. Scarlett tries to perk him up a little and reminds him that Maddie is coming over today. He’s happy she’s back, even though he all but calls her a nag for trying to snap him out of his funk. Scarlett has brought him coffee, and tells him Gunnar was very persuasive. Deacon is surprised to discover they’re still talking but she doesn’t want to talk about that.
Over at Gunnar’s, Gunnar and Zoe are having a morning snuggle, and he wants her to move in with him. He argues it’s pointless for Zoe to pay for an apartment she’ll hard be in between touring and staying with him when she’s home. She says she’ll think about it.
Juliette is all moody (BECAUSE SHE’S PREGNANT AND THIS IS HOW THE WRITERS SUBTLY REMIND YOU OF THAT FACT) about music and fashion as her stylist, whose job it is to make her look like Patsy Cline, works to find the right look for her. “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet” is a “huge hit” at country radio per PA Emily, so I guess we’re just ignoring the whole “Juliette is a country pariah who screwed up the launch of her new music by jumping the gun with her Highway 65 Records signing announcement” storyline of last season? A doctor’s office calls for Juliette.
Rayna and Tandy are at Lamar’s place, reminiscing about their childhood in this place. They are there, it seems, to gather up the belongings of their parents. Rayna wants the portrait of their mother & some of her jewelry, but nothing of Lamar’s. Tandy has some news she wants to delivery to Rayna…apparently about not needing that office space at Highway 65, but before she’s done sugercoating the coming news with a recap of what Rayna’s accomplished recently (including 60 sold out tour dates), Rayna gets a phone call about her album being bumped to #2. By whom?
Cut to Will at rehearsal. Layla arrives with cameras in tow, and stiffly delivers the news that reality show producer Gina wanted her to tell Will – his album is #1 on the charts. The reality show producers obviously wanted a cuddly celebration, but Will turns around and high fives his guitarist (Ed Eason, real life guitarist in Carrie Underwood’s band) and Layla’s in no mood for…any kind of contact, really. He asks the camera crew for a minute and he and Layla go off and argue (well, it’s not much of an argument because Will really has no defense) about the lie she is having to go along with at this time. Her frustration extends to her current career prospects, and despite her skepticism, Will wants to help her there.
Juliette has told nobody she’s pregnant, and is convinced the baby could only be Jeff Fordham’s because that’s the only time she’s had unprotected sex in the past month. It’s heavily implied that she intends to terminate the pregnancy.
Jeff Fordham is at a board meeting, bragging about his recent #1 album with Will Lexington and talking up Edgehill’s prospects. But some of his overlords at Benton Media are not happy, because in his time as label head he’s lost both Rayna and Juliette, seen dismal numbers for his 1st 2 quarters, and hasn’t yet made money off a Luke Wheeler album. Jeff Fordham’s overlords tell him that Carrie & Miranda are selling out arenas as fast as Kenny, Brad, and Luke Wheeler and Edgehill cannot only be a label with male acts. This is sadly hilarious because MCA Nashville (one of the UMG Nashville labels) currently has NO female acts on its roster – country radio’s resistance to non-established female voices has led to fewer major label signings of female acts. But hey, I like this alterna-universe where the suits care equally about breaking female acts as they do male ones. The Benton Media overlords threaten to fold Fordham’s division of the label unless his numbers turn around. Jeff says he’s trying to get a Luke Wheeler album out next quarter.
Back at Rayna’s, she’s venting about how her stadium launch and her deal with the superstore for those cards with downloads of her album only got her a week at #1 on the country album chart. Manager Bucky says Rayna’ll get a mini-bump from her upcoming GMA mini-festival, and Tandy tells her her album’s projected to sell 450k total, which is solid. Rayna is borderline horrified because that’s now even a gold record, and she’s used to going platinum – her last platinum album was in 2008 (Little Bits Of Heaven). Manager Bucky talks about the music business being a totally different place today than it was 3 years ago, never mind 6 years ago, and blames the consumer’s short attention span. Tandy tells Rayna that her projected sales are good in this market, and Rayna says they’re not, and they’re not good for her label. Manager Bucky says they can get Rayna out there more, since there are tons of press requests, but Rayna knows all they want to talk about is her engagement with Luke, which is off limits as far she’s concerned. Manager Bucky tells her Will was able to knock her out of the top spot by doing the reality show, being active on social media, and making every detail of his life fair game. Rayna retorts that’s not her, and Manager Bucky tells her the rules are different now, that what got her here is not the same thing as what will keep her here.
Deacon and Maddie are shopping for a dresser – and the shopping is not going well, mostly due to Maddie being in an extremely sulky mood. Everything in her life sucks right now, betwee
Juliette is running through her Patsy Cline lines with Emily. She notices Avery’s boots, and that sets her off. She’s determined to purge herself of all things Avery Barkley. Um….?
Avery is at the Bluebird, and new waitress Nadine is flirting with him. Zoe interrupts them to vent about the whole Gunnar/Scarlett situation – she doesn’t want to be the psycho girlfriend but she feels weird about the whole road trip thing and now Gunnar’s move-in request and thinks she should talk to Scarlett. Avery says if she wants to talk to Scarlett, she should talk to Scarlett. Zoe thanks him for absorbing her ramblings, and takes off. Nadine is pleased to find out Zoe is not Avery’s girlfriend. If they hook up, we’re also going to find out Avery’s the father of Juliette’s child. Because that’s just how this show (and most soap operas) works.
Will and Jeff are having a celebratory drink after his #1 album. Will pushes for Jeff to re-start promotion of Layla’s album and advocates for Jeff to get Layla an audition for the Patsy Cline movie every female in town’s been trying out for. Jeff wants Will to focus on himself and work on promoting his album, but Will suggests he should want to keep his #1 artist happy (isn’t Luke Wheeler technically Jeff’s #1 artist?).
Scarlett visits Gunnar’s place to see Zoe after a few rounds of phonetag with Zoe. But of course Zoe’s asleep, so it’s Gunnar Scarlett winds up talking to. Gunnar shows her around his new place, including his nice studio. Very obvious Zoe’s going to walk in on a tender scene. Gunnar says he needs help with a song he’s writing because he’s stuck on lyrics.
Deacon is trying to assemble a dresser for Maddie. He calls her out on her crappy attitude. It eventually degenerates into Maddie laying into Deacon for not fighting hard enough for Rayna. Deacon finally tells her he did propose, and Rayna said no.
Back at Gunnar’s, he’s performing “When You Close Your Eyes,” cowritten by Nicole Johnson, Michael Logen, and Sarah Emily Parrish, and Scarlett soon picks up harmonies. And sure enough, Zoe spots them and walks off.
To DOWNLOAD “When You Open Your Eyes,” cowritten by Nicole Johnson, Michael Logen, and Sarah Emily Parrish and performed by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen click HERE.
BONUS: Check out an acoustic performance of “When You Open Your Eyes” by co writers
Nicole Johnson, Michael Logen, and Sarah Emily Parrish.
BONUS: Check out the Nashville: On The Record feature for “When You Close Your Eyes” featuring actors Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio and songwriters Nicole Johnson, Michael Logen, and Sarah Emily Parrish.
Luke is driving Rayna over to what appears to be Lamar’s place, and they’re talking about her album sales. Luke joshes Rayna about not having to worry about money and how she could sit at home and just be Mrs. Luke Wheeler. Um, terrible joke much? He acknowledges that’s not what she wants, just asks if it isn’t nice to know that between Lamar’s estate and their marriage, taking a step back is an option. Well, at least the show is finally acknowledging that Lamar’s estate helps Rayna’s financial cause.
We cut back to Deacon’s, where Maddie has shut the door on Deacon for reasons that aren’t totally clear. She finally opens the door. Deacon apologizes for telling her about his failed proposal and comforts Maddie, telling her they have to respect Rayna’s decision. Maddie speaks for the show’s main shipper fandom when she says she wanted it to be Deacon so badly, and Deacon, with tears in his eyes, says he did too. He says on the bright side, he can’t imagine Luke wanting him on tour anymore so he’ll be home with more time to spend with Maddie.
Jeff Fordham is making some kind of demands on some put-upon person on the other end of the phone with Layla trailing behind, asking for audition tips. After making it clear that he couldn’t care less about what she does, Jeff greets Sadie Stone (Laura Benanti!!!!!), who makes her 1st appearance on the show. Remembering his overlord’s demand that he develop female talent, he flatters and woos Sadie with appreciation for her #3 and rising single and the fact that her label deal’s up (reality check: if her label deal were up, Sadie Stone probably wouldn’t have a bulleted #3 record because her label would probably hold back promotion until she signed a new deal with them). Layla glowers in the background – she’s got to have a win sometime soon, doesn’t she?
Juliette is in the audition room, now attired in a black wig with a classic hairdo and a prim blue dress. She nails her audition, in a scene where Patsy asserts her determination to sing and to keep singing instead of only settling into a role of housewife and mother.
We are now back at Lamar’s, where Rayna is going through her mother’s jewelry and telling Luke about her mother. Luke says it must have been incredible growing up with the wealth she did. Rayna says it was overrated. Luke says he’s tried to provide this life for his kids but couldn’t imagine it for himself. We find out Luke grew up with a horse groomsman for a father – his dad loved those horses but “could never imagine owning one.” Luke says he knows the rich and poor are all equal in the eyes of God but in this world, rich is much better. Rayna says it sounds like he grew up with a lot of love in his family though, and he says he did. He tries to get Rayna to admit a little bit of feeling for her father, but she denies it. He says he heard Lamar was a GREAT man for Nashville, and Rayna wryly says the city got the best side of him. Luke asks if that’s why Rayna never hired nannies for her girls, and Rayna says she learned from her father that if you put too much distance between yourself and the things that mean the most, you forget what they are.
Scarlett is all involved in finishing and fixing “When You Close Your Eyes” right now, and it’s just like old times for Scarlett and Gunnar. Gunnar says their publisher is going to be thrilled to have another song with both their names on it, and this freaks out Scarlett. She says she doesn’t need a cowrite and despite Gunnar’s protestations that she made half a song a full song, she runs off.
Rayna is now in Lamar’s old dressing room, and notices he had one of her old platinum record plaques on the wall.
Zoe is struggling through choreography for Juliette’s tour, and the director tells her to get it together. Turns out Juliette has canceled for the day – the director warns Zoe that if she keeps wasting people’s time when Juliette is there, she’ll be gone.
Juliette is exiting her audition with full compliments from the producers just as Jeff and Layla walk in. Layla goes inside the audition room, leaving Jeff to needle Juliette about her costuming and weight gain.
Rayna asks Tandy if she knew Lamar had Rayna’s 1st platinum record in his dressing room, and Tandy says she did – that Lamar was really proud of it. Rayna admits she got her ambition from Lamar.
Luke is on stage rehearsing Rodney Crowell’s “Good Woman – Good To Me,” and puts on an extra good show when he sees Deacon has arrived. He thanks Deacon for coming, and Deacon notes he had no choice seeing as Luke has all his guitars. Luke wants to discuss some things about the next leg of their tour. Deacon is shocked he’s not fired. Luke says he’s tired of Deacon throwing away all his chances at a solo career. Deacon tries to quit, and Luke tells him his contract doesn’t allow that. Luke says this isn’t personal – it’s business, and having Deacon on the tour is good business. He seems awfully chipper about it, too. I don’t suppose this is to prevent Deacon from running off and joining Rayna’s tour?
To DOWNLOAD “Good Woman – Good To Me,” written by the great Rodney Crowell and performed by Will Chase, click HERE.
Back at Casa James, Rayna is talking to Maddie & Daphne about adding 40 more dates to her tour, and how she’ll be able to come home less because in between tour dates, she’ll have to do more radio interviews and press. Neither daughter is particularly happy, but Rayna says they’ll be spending more time with Teddy (and Deacon, as Maddie reminds Rayna), as well as here with Rayna and Luke when they’re home. She thinks it’s going to be like this for the next year or so. Daphne is supportive. Maddie mostly rolls her eyes. Rayna promises that after the tour is done, she’ll be home working on a new album and her label, so things’ll be more normal. Maddie points out that bringing in new husband Luke into the family will not be normal. Rayna asks if she wants to talk about it. With obvious insincerity, Maddie declines to discuss further after saying she thinks it’s a great idea. When her mother tries to prolong the conversation, Maddie cuts her short, telling her to “take yes for an answer” before walking away. Heh.
Back at Gunnar’s, the couple has a tender moment when Zoe says not seeing Gunnar as much as she’d like is taking a toll on her, and says she’d like to move in with him.
Jeff Fordham is demanding numbers from another poor soul on the phone while his overeager assistant asks how Layla’s audition went – he said it was terrible as expected. Apparently Will called asking about it, and Jeff says he can hear all about it from his wife. Meanwhile, Jeff is preparing a full court press to win Sadie Stone over to his label.
Layla has summoned Will for some exterior shots for their reality show. Before the camera crew arrives, Will inquires about her audition, and she says nothing’s going to come of it. He says maybe if Jeff pushes a little, and Layla says he’s not. But then Layla’s eyes harden, and with an impressively steely demeanor through her tears, she informs Will that he owes her everything, and she owns him. She demands the opportunity to go on tour with him, and when Will hems and haws about complications, Layla tells him that’s not her problem. She’s decided she doesn’t need Jeff Fordham when she has Will, and she tells Will that not only does she not forgive him, she hates him and will not let him get in the way of what she wants.
Juliette drops off Avery’s things outside of his place with no intention of seeing him, but somehow he heard her in his tipsy/drunken stupor. They fight, blame each other, and declare themselves to be definitely done.
Rayna is now planning to spend a week in New York/New Jersey doing press, and Luke is supportive, though of course he’s going to miss her. They talk about the whole branding and promotion deal these days. Luke has his face on BBQ sauce he’s never tasted, but he sees that as a means to an end – getting the life he wants. He separates the Luke Wheeler brand from the real Luke Wheeler, and talks about how much bigger the brand is thanks to his relationship with Rayna. Rayna says it’s crazy how much attention they’re getting, with everybody wanting an exclusive on their wedding date, their honeymoon. She says they haven’t even set a date yet…which kind of seems like a hanging invitation to discuss the issue. But Luke doesn’t pick that up. Instead he says if she wants, they can say no to all of it and go live in a cabin in Montana. Rayna says she doesn’t want that, and Luke agrees that he doesn’t either. Luke says that once that machine gets going, it doesn’t stop, and asks if Rayna’s OK with that. She says she is.
Scarlett goes to see Gunnar and apologize for running off the other day. She explains that she’s got some stuff to work through and needs to figure out her own voice before she writes with anybody else at this time. He says he’s thinking of slowing down himself to spend more time with Zoe before she leaves on tour. Some longing hanging in the air here, and Scarlett thanks Gunnar for bringing her back to Nashville.
Maddie is admiring her new dresser at Deacon’s, and excitedly tells him about how she’ll be able to spend more time with him in the coming year thanks to Rayna’s tour. That’s when he has to tell her that in fact, he has to head back on the road himself. Maddie feels betrayed all over again, and says everybody’s leaving. Deacon tries to explain, but Maddie doesn’t want to talk. She just wants to play, though she’ll play now with tears in her eyes.
Over in the new office space for Highway 65, Tandy finally tells Rayna that she has to resign as Highway 65 Chief Financial Officer, that the music business is Rayna’s thing that she loves so much. Tandy wants to love what she does as much as Rayna loves the music business. So Tandy explains to an understanding Rayna that she’s moving to San Francisco to work for a non-profit. She tearfully tells Rayna she’s spent so much time being Lamar Wyatt’s daughter and Rayna James’s sister that she needs to spend a little time being Tandy Hampton and sees if she likes it. And so the show writes off Judith Hoag (probably for lack of immediate storyline). At least the door is open for her return. Tandy and Rayna embrace.
Nadine is still making herself available to Avery, commenting on how competing with Juliette as an ex is tough. Avery says it isn’t, and proceeds to make out with her. Yep, Juliette’s baby is going to be his.
As Juliette waits for her appointment at the doctor’s office, a chanting crowd greets Rayna at Good Morning America. Luke Bryan crashes Rayna’s announcement, and jokes about her being engaged to “the other Luke.” After Rayna announces her tour extension and urges people to check her out on socal media to find out dates, GMA’s Amy Robach asks about her engagement to Luke. Rayna pauses, and reveals that Luke was joking about his trick knee when he whispered in her ear prior to his proposal. She says Luke’s proposal was a dream she didn’t even know she had coming true, and everybody is satisfied with the revelation. As the doctor tells a tearful Juliette that she is nearly 8 weeks along, not 4 as Juliette thought, Rayna performs her single “This Time” on GMA. Juliette realizes her baby is not Jeff’s, but Avery’s. And…that’s all for this week! Come back next week for more drama, won’t you?
EXTRA SPOILERY BONUS: Check out a live performance of a duet to be featured in an upcoming episode between Chris Carmack (Will) and Aubrey Peeples (Layla), performed at the Opry. The song is called “If Your Heart Can Handle It,” and it’s cowrittten by by Dean Alexander and Jaida Dreyer: