The latest episode of Nashville starts with a face slap and ends with a gunshot, and in between there's a whole lot of sexual tension, a little blackmail and the reunion we've all been waiting for.
Another network might have The Slap, but that's nothing compared to the wallop Rayna gave Deacon at the end of the last episode when he finally revealed his cancer diagnosis. So resounding it was that the hit lingered until the beginning of this episode, in fact. Her tearful apology is followed by the assurance that they're in this ordeal together. That notion is rejected by Deacon faster than a dodgy liver and he tells her he can't go through it with her at his side, but not before throwing a few of the choices she made without him involved (marrying Teddy, keeping Maddie's paternity from him, etc.) right back in her face. He tells her she's just going to have to accept it. He does know this is Rayna, right? It's not long before he's telling her nothing matters and she's turning one of his guitars into kindling. He breaks her heart by not answering her when she asks him, "Do you not believe in us enough?" Rayna is, naturally, not going down without a fight. "You might die, but if you do I would rather have us be together the way we were always meant to be, for as long as possible." OK, not exactly what you'd want in a Hallmark card, but…. First the goosebumps, then the fireworks as the two of them make up with some hot post-guitar-smashing sex.
Jeff and Layla meet up at Merchant's restaurant for Layla's interview with a "well-respected blogger." (Seriously, that's a thing?) Adele, the blogger, immediately gets on Layla's nerves, since it's clear she and Jeff have some history. He wants Layla to focus on the interview but she immediately wants to know if the two of them have slept together. Focus is not one of Layla's strong points. Noting that Layla reminds her of "a young Alanis [Morrissette]," Adele teases Jeff about his "Ironic" singing skills as the two reminisce like they've fallen into a 1995 time warp. That's enough for Layla, who storms off, but Jeff assures her that even though he and Adele were "satisfying each other's needs" by sleeping together on occasion, it didn't mean anything. Later, Jeff tells Layla he's no good with intimacy and in a post-coital conversation (that was quick), Layla tells him she wants to stick to their artist-manager relationship and forget about the intimacy.
Meanwhile, Kevin and Will are making beautiful music together in the recording studio. Which is to say Kevin's playing guitar and Will is singing. According to the lyrics, he's "a broken guitar working on a broken song," but the whole thing sounds pretty sweet, and more than a little sad, too. Just as the song ends, Luke interrupts and compliments their efforts, but Kevin's benign gesture, putting his arm around Will's shoulder, is shrugged off. (Cooties? Allergic to flannel?) Luke asks them to write another one, this time a good, old-fashioned love song. No problem, says the out-and-proud gay man. Uh, big problem, says the moody closet case. Will decides he can write the song all on his own. Of course, he fails miserably at it and goes to Layla for advice, which is kind of like going to Freddy Krueger for gardening tips. His next stop is back to Kevin's office to apologize and to come out to him (without actually coming out to him).
Luke and Sadie have an awkward moment when they run into each other in the studio. He's surprised she's there since she was just on Good Morning America, where she shared all the dirty details about her abusive ex-husband. She tells him how sorry she was about how things ended for him with Rayna. Then… crickets (and not the kind that played with Buddy Holly). When Sadie later walks in on Luke's recording session, he stops singing and before long she suggests turning his song into a vocal collaboration. And even though their two voices work so well together on the song, Sadie declines his offer to sing it on his album. Luke gets it, but to thank her he suggests they get a cup of coffee together. We can see where this is headed – she should have just sung on the album instead.
Mayor Teddy is sitting at a diner reading the newspaper (does this guy ever work?) when a mysterious guy named Albert shows up. The Mayor wants Albert to look into the shady goings-on at the address of the prosti… escor… woman who lives there that he's never seen before in his life. And just like that, Albert is gone. Teddy meets Natasha and tells her the FBI has her under surveillance, but that there's nothing he can do about it. She suggests maybe he could cough up about $200,000 so she can go into hiding. So, where does Teddy go to get his hands on that kind of cash? To Jeff, of course, who politely declines the offer. Teddy continues to work all the angles but we're a little too bored to care what he's up to at this point. Have you seen the traffic problems in this town, Mr. Mayor, or do you just use your car for clandestine meetings?
The Triple Xs (Avery, Gunnar and Scarlett) are on the bus headed to a gig opening for Rascal Flatts in Chicago. Avery is playing worried dad, doing FaceTime with Juliette. It could be the shiny phone screen but Juliette is definitely glowing. Scarlett, however, is worried about reliving the nightmare of her last live performance in the Windy City, where she served up some deep-dish crazy, hiding underneath a piano, reduced to a crying mess. Gunnar, who remains curious about Juliette's doctor friend and what kind of house calls he's making, takes his mind off that by trying to get her to help him set up the band's Twitter account with pictures, which gives him the opportunity to wisely remind her, "No one takes you seriously when you're just an egg." Scarlett is admiring her roses from Dr. Caleb when the exes come into the room and Gunnar starts reading Twitter posts from some of their followers, including one from a meanie who suggests they might want to have a shrink handy in case Scarlett wigs out again. "Have you seen her profile pic? Probably a Chihuahua in a bow tie," he says. (Note to self: change profile pic). Rather than look for the nearest piano to crawl under, Scarlett goes to Twitter to respond. #badideascarlett Just before the Xs go on stage, Gunnar and Scarlett share a sweet moment – which we know because when Avery asks about it, neither of them can deny it quickly enough. Once they hit the stage, Scarlett owns the song, which is a good thing since it's titled "My Song." Scarlett is thrilled to see Dr. Caleb backstage. Gunnar is not. #sadgunnarface. Avery lays it on the line with Gunnar and tells him if he wants to get back together with her, he needs to make his move.
As the episode ends, Gunnar goes to Scarlett's hotel room, which is empty since Scarlett has gone to Caleb's room (and not to check the Triple X's Twitter feed). Avery calls Juliette for more FaceTime and sings a lullaby for her and their baby. Rayna and Deacon greet Maddie and Daphne and share their news (good and bad). And Luke and Sadie say goodbye with a handshake at the entrance to a parking garage. When was the last time anything good on TV happened in a parking garage, especially after someone declines an offer to be walked to their car? Next thing you know, Pete shows up, Sadie grabs her gun and shoots at close range. Call us crazy, but we still think this is all Luke's fault somehow.