TV’s Queen of Country, Rayna Jaymes has been taking some cues from actual country queen (and original badass) Loretta Lynn and her 1968 single, “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath”). OK, so Rayna is nobody’s squaw, but she was definitely on the warpath this week, especially when it came to Jeff Fordham (a/k/a Sleazy Face). But she saved a little of her ire for ex-husband Teddy, too. The backdoor dealings (i.e. blackmail) that led to Rayna’s daughter, Maddie, getting signed to Edgehill Records, which, of course, happens to be the chief rival of Rayna’s Highway 65 label, didn’t sit well with Rayna, who opens a gift bag with a $40,000 diamond necklace inside and a note to Maddie from Jeff saying he’ll be “the diamond of the label.” Seriously, Jeff? You can afford a $40,000 necklace, but you can’t hire a writer to come up with a better line than that? And, while we’re at it, any record label that blows 40-Gs on a necklace must be selling a boatload of records. What is this, 1978?
Rayna barges into Jeff’s office and demands to know what’s going on, since she wasn’t in on the deal. Rayna doesn’t take the news – that Teddy gave his consent and only one parent’s permission is required – very well, so Jeff calls to have her escorted from the premises. Bad move, Jeff! Rayna’s next stop is Teddy’s office, where he tells her he’s like the cool parent Maddie can count on or something (we couldn’t quite hear it over the sound of Rayna’s brain about explode all over the room). Even if it’s true that Rayna, with her tour and her aborted wedding plans, has been otherwise occupied lately, she assures Teddy that he really messed up. And that’s before he comes clean with her about Jeff’s blackmail, the underage Layla’s almost-deadly dip in the pool, and Teddy’s dalliance with a “professional.” Teddy tells Jeff he never should’ve helped and he should be in jail instead of standing around with that smirk on his face. We couldn’t agree more, but that’s beside the point.
Rayna storms into the Edgehill conference room the next morning, where Jeff is pitching Maddie to the board and its chairman, played by BADASSSSS director/actor Mario Van Peebles, but she’s the one who’s badass here. For a while, it looked she was going to do the whole Joan Crawford “don’t fuck with me, fellas” scene from Mommie Dearest. Telling them her daughter couldn’t make it to this “little meeting,” Rayna suggests to the board that they look into Jeff’s discretionary spending “because he hasn’t used much discretion.” Jeff counters with something that basically sounds like “my label’s better than your label. Na na na na nah!” Rayna spills the beans about the pool party and says, “I’m not going to sit here and watch while he treats his female artists like that.” Mr. Chairman assures her the contract never existed and the chairman says and has some things to discuss with Jeff. When next we see Jeff, he is at Layla’s door, explaining to her that her meeting with the board that morning was cancelled because was fired. That’s one (and only one) instance where we would like to have seen Donald Trump in MVP’s place, uttering that infamous phrase and trying to outdo Jeff in the smug, self-righteous looks department.
Deacon, who has yet to learn that you should never look up medical symptoms and prognoses on the Internet, was a hot mess, what with Scarlett’s carrot juice, bee pollen smoothie and all the other health food she was pushing on him. Determined to keep his liver cancer diagnosis from Maddie, Deacon shared some Sad Face Time with her. He was also drawing up a DIY will and looking for a used liver on Craigslist. (OK, only one of those is true.) Sad Face Deacon and Maddie get together to play music and it’s too much for him to take as Maddie sings a song. She wants to know why there are tears in his eyes and he tells her “I’m probably the happiest guy you know right now.” He also tells her that he plans to stick around a while, although she has no idea he’s not talking about just going out on tour. Later, Happy Face Deacon and Scarlett share a sweet moment as he downs his bee pollen smoothie. Scarlett meanwhile has been bugging the handsome young doctor about being such a Debby Downer with her uncle and he accuses her of being a “happiness bully,” assuring her that her endless optimism can be as debilitating as Deacon’s pessimism. Clearly this guy has never read “The Secret.” He tells her to instead find a balance and says doctors always tell their patients: “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” (Had Scarlett ever seen Terms of Endearment, she would have replied, just as Shirley Maclaine did, “And they let you get away with that?”) Anyway, Scarlett and the doctor have some serious sparks flying between them.
Avery arrives home to a very demanding and stir-crazy Juliette, and he quickly tells her he can’t be her masseuse/manservant and leaves her to go to the studio with Sadie. Rayna and Bucky and the studio engineer (a/k/a Cranky Face), are all concerned about Avery being a rookie producer. But Sadie has other things to worry about – mainly her ex-husband who violates the restraining order she hit him with by showing up outside the studio. Avery tells her she needs to tell Rayna about the suit, not realizing now would be a very good time to do that since Rayna is already pissed off and could probably just snap the guy in half. But when Avery realizes the dude is outside, he goes out to confront him. Just as they’re about to scuffle, Sadie jumps in, points out the surveillance camera and tells Pete that he’s within 100 feet of her. Never mind Rayna, Sadie’s got some balls on her. She’s also ready to sing in the studio and does so beautifully. Even Cranky Face gives Avery a thumbs-up for producing a great session.
Gunnar, Will and Luke, after trying to write a song and coming up with a mean – and apparently clichéd one – (“Witch does rhyme with bitch,” Gunnar says) decide to go out for an awkward and drunken boy’s night, where Luke, who’s still trying to get over Rayna, suggests that chick-magnet Will could be his “wingman on their next tail-hunting expedition.” Gunnar, meanwhile, is trying to get over Kylie cheating on him a decade ago (OK, to be fair, he just found out, but still…) Will, who’s more uncomfortable with all this female attention than Liberace onstage at Lilith Fair, is just try to get over being groped like a piece of man meat after one of the four cheerleaders they’ve befriended at the bar pushes his hand up her skirt. Luke’s wingman takes off faster than the Concorde. The next morning, the boys all wake up together (in the same house, that is) and write a less bitchy-witchy song. As Luke sings in the background, everyone else is seen in the respective situations also having calmed down a bit.
Well, everyone except Rayna, that is. She informs Teddy that her lawyers are preparing an injunction stripping Teddy of his parental rights, seeing as how Deacon is Maddie’s biological father. Ouch! She says she has no choice because she wants the contract nullified. “You think I want to explode our family and break her heart into a million pieces?” Maddie, meanwhile, doesn’t even have a clue that she has missed out on being signed to a label and nearly owned a necklace that could choke a rhinoceros. Otherwise we surely would have seen her Angry Teenager Face.