In real life, it's "fashion week" in Nashville. Fittingly (no pun intended), much of last night's Nashville took place in New York City, where Rayna and Juliette's Red Lips and White Lies tour resumes with a pair of shows at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. As tried-and-true tropes go, the Big Apple always proves a good catalyst for romance, and the perfect backdrop for this uncharacteristically upbeat episode.
Even Deacon is happy. A month into his relationship with country-music-loathing veterinarian Stacey, the couple has moved past the puppy love stage. Deke's still strung out on Rayna (once an addict, always an addict), but for now the methadone is working and he persuades Stacey to join him on the road, so she can take care of his dog named Sue and, of course, make Rayna jealous.
RayRay throws Stacey shade and she quickly catches on, and is none too stoked to discover Deke's complicated history with his former boss. But cooler heads prevail and Rayna eventually gives her blessing. "I really like Stacey," she tells him. "I'm happy for you." I'm so sure. For now, Deacon's relationship status leaves Rayna without a love interest. (Liam's a lost cause.)
Rayna takes Maddie and Daphne to New York and Tandy tags along. To her mother's horror, Maddie – who's taken to carrying around Rayna's hand-me-down guitar like a security blanket – says she aspires to become a professional singer. Though Rayna resists and discourages the notion of Maddie following in her footsteps at her age, she lets her daughters take the stage at sound check to "do that song [they've] been working on," implying the Lumineers' "Ho Hey." Impressive.
Talent runs in the family (Maddie is most likely Deacon's spawn, remember?), and the sisters wow the Jaymes and Barnes crews. "You lookin' for a second act for your label?" Marshall asks Rayna. He's not kidding. RayRay could easily trade in her rhinestones for the tenacity of a stage mother and make her daughters her ticket out of cash poverty.
Of course, Scarlett is still the wide-eyedest child in Nashville, and that doesn't stop Rayna from offering her a record deal. Scarlett and Gunnar, now a bona fide couple, soon find their relationship tainted by deceit when Guns sees Scarlett's Edgehill Republic contract in the mail. She's kept her deal with Rayna a secret.
At first, Gunnar's anger brings back unbearable memories of Avery's jealousy – he knows it's his own damn fault for boozin' and losin' out on the deal. He also knows that musical relationships aren't monogamous, and he swiftly makes friends with their starry-eyed, cowboy-hat-caricature, new-to-town neighbor, Will, who is, duh, a songwriter. Soon they're sangin' songs in the backyard and Will is like the brother Gunnar never . . . never mind. Nevertheless, a bromance blossoms, and Will gets comfortable enough to (rather tactlessly) ask Gunnar why Scarlett's got a contract from Rayna James and he doesn't.
Sensing the tension, Scarlett shocks Gunnar, vowing not to ink the deal because, without him, she'd still be a demure waitress/hobbyist poet who'd have never found her voice. "I won't do it without you!" she tells him. But Gunnar's no Avery (what a relief!) and he has none of it, insisting that she sign, explaining that he's not jealous – he's just angry that she hid the news from him. "I'm sure that I love you," he professes. She requites; they bone.
Love and happiness also abound for Juliette, who scores a major victory when jealousy over a towering Rayna Jaymes billboard that blocks the view from her mansion drives her to take control of her career. She pitches a cellphone provider on a multi-million-dollar corporate sponsorship deal, and prevails, landing her mug on 4,500 billboards nationwide. This doesn't impress an emotionally needy Jolene, who, along with family/substance abuse counselor Dante, accompanies mother and daughter to New York.
It's Dante who guides Juliette as she takes the reins from Marshall and makes her corporate power play. He also inspires her to warm Jolene's (and viewers') cockles and make a dedication to her mama from the Barclays stage. As I predicted a few episodes back, Dante and Juliette fall for each other. "You see me for who I really am," she tells him. They bone.
Perhaps the biggest winners of all last night were ‘Ville viewers who believe failure is the best revenge. After burning bridges with Dominic and forsaking his budding career, Avery's life is in the shitter. He's in breach of his now-worthless publishing contract, Marilyn's blacklisted him from every club in town and he's reduced to busking on Lower Broadway. Hitting rock bottom is a spiritual experience for the humbled singer. "Some kind of poetic justice," he calls it, strangely at peace with his station in life.
Former Avery Barkley Band bassist J.T. – who, sadly, is moving back to Ohio with his tail between his legs – has to see the sidewalk performance to believe it. He doesn't gloat, but instead offers Avery a lead on a roadie. And with that, Avery's off to New York. Guess which tour he's bound for.
Lamar was the only Nashvillian who didn't have a happy ending last night. Last week we learned of Teddy's plan to screw him on his deal to build a baseball stadium on his riverfront property. Not one to take a backstabbing lying down, Lamar first tries appealing to Coleman. When that doesn't work, he opts to blackmail Peggy, who, against Rayna's wishes, has taken to traipsing around the Conrad/Jaymes residence naked. Turns out Peggy tipped the tabloids to Teddy and Rayna's divorce and Lamar's got the dirt. His ultimatum: persuade Teddy to reconsider the stadium deal or face exposure. Later, the master manipulator gets one sip into his victory bourbon before collapsing of a heart attack in his Mephistophelian study. If he doesn't pull through, it'll be the biggest loss Nashville has suffered since the death of Johnny Cash.
Last week: Puppy Love