As the popularity of
That's what Deacon, Maddie and Daphne learn after a visit to a local eatery where they encounter one Diane Harrison, whose creepy sympathy routine barely disguises the fact that she appears to want to violate several health codes with the grieving widower right there on the restaurant floor. Later, when Diane delivers an unsolicited pot pie to their door, his daughters think it's hilarious – both painfully aware that sometimes a baked dish isn't just a baked dish. Daphne and Maddie are settling in to watch a movie on TV when Daphne says one of the smartest things we've heard her utter in five seasons: "I refuse to watch Love, Actually ever again. Come on!"
When Deacon gets a call from singer Jessie Caine, he ignores it but privately listens to her message, which is basically a lengthy sales pitch on signing her to Highway 65, along with an invite to see her perform the following night. He runs into her at the label and Zach tells him he invited her to talk about joining the roster. Deacon is uneasy and also not interested in the gossip that she was married to record executive Brad Maitland (look for Big Little Lies actor Jeff Nordling to debut in that role soon), and that she had an affair, after which he kicked her out. Zach also says he heard rumors of a breakdown and that she abandoned her child. Deacon, who has had enough of the gossip-mongering, is really not interested in seeing her live but Zach says 43 percent of success is talent and the rest is how you feel when you watch that person. Deacon relents, but only a little bit, saying he's "82 percent happy to meet with her." We are 97 percent sure this is a bad idea.
He does meet up with her, for a marathon coffee-drinking/psychotherapy session during which they both bare their souls. She reveals a lot of the backstory on her ex that will no doubt come into play in later episodes, the most disturbing allegation being that he would routinely make her son cry on purpose (and not by showing him Love, Actually). Later, Deacon calls to tell her he's happy to hear more songs but he's still not sure he wants to go see her play live because things are "a little weird right now." They, of course, get even weirder when she realizes that he thinks she's after him. She doth protest a bit too much, perhaps, while trying to convince him that she's not looking for a relationship anytime soon, if ever. And if you're keeping track, add wine to the list of beverages in the episode. By the looks of it, she's about to start guzzling straight from the bottle. Deacon does show up at her gig, but finds he's still mired in grief and not ready to let go of Rayna just yet. (We feel ya, Deacon.)
Deacon also dines with the label's social-media guru/spin doctor Alyssa, who tells him she just "wants to get a lay of the land." She is quite possibly the singular woman he has encountered in weeks who is only interested in that particular kind of lay, which would put her at the top of our list of potential post-Rayna relationships if she wasn't so utterly void of drama (and personality). She does make her first major faux-pas by ordering a couple of martinis for herself and the recovering alcoholic, but also wisely observes that, "I now understand why every woman over the age of 33 gets goo-goo-eyed when I tell them I'm working with you." This might also have been a clever reference to Nashville's classic Goo-Goo Clusters candy.
Alyssa also meets up with Scarlett, whose relationship with her fans has taken a hit since they learned that the no-good hussy slept around on Gunnar, the love of her life, co-mingling with that evil foreigner, Damien, and that's she now impregnated with his demon spawn, forever tarnishing the "Scunnar" portmanteau. It's here in the episode where things start to go dangerously off the rails. Gossip-spreading Mackenzie Rhodes has unleashed a firestorm by branding Scarlett with a letter ("C" for cheater), and Scarlett's fans, especially one troubled young girl named Nadine, are not taking it well at all. In a later scene, when Scarlett gathers with fans to encourage them to open up and share their own humiliating stories of bullying, lack of self-worth, body image issues, etc., it all comes off like a group-therapy session with rejects from the
Meanwhile, Will is in
After all his friends gather to watch Will's commercial, Zach tries to assure Will of his faithfulness by calling a clearly distraught Jeff (on speakerphone) and demanding that he never contact him again, so that Will knows he's serious about their relationship. But, don't despair, Jeff, Scarlett O'Connor has a swell support group you can join. Look for their next meeting at a hip new coffee bar near you… but we'd suggest sticking to decaf.