The second episode of Nashville's third season was pretty light on music, but there was still enough drama in their lives to keep several of the show's women on edge. Well, downright cranky, actually.
As the episode opens, Rayna is at the future home of her Highway 65 label talking to a pushy reporter about this being the fifth time she has launched one of her albums at the Number One spot on the charts. Of course, all he wants to talk about are wedding plans and personal details. Rayna barely has time to celebrate her album's success, however, when she learns that Will Lexington's debut LP has taken over the top chart spot.
Deacon is severely down in the dumps, so Scarlett tries to motivate him with coffee. Unless she's loaded it up with happy pills, she's going to have a work a lot harder than that, however. The two of them talk about her move back to Nashville (her road trip with Gunnar and Avery being a highlight of last week's season premiere). She credits Gunnar with being "very persuasive." Apparently, his gift doesn't work on everyone, though, since he's having a hard time convincing Zoey to move in with him. Later, Gunnar wants Scarlett to look over some of his lyrics and as the pair makes sweet music together in his studio, Zoey is stalking, uh, watching them from outside.
Juliette, meanwhile, has already had those dreaded pregnancy hormones kicking in and is basically snapping at everyone for everything (which, come to think of it, is pretty much what she did throughout Season One before she softened up a bit. Albeit a tiny bit.) She tells the doctor she wants to "take care of it as soon as possible" since she clearly has no intention of giving birth to the spawn of Satan (Jeff Fordham).
Satan, uh, Jeff, has to face some very unhappy board members, one of whom accuses him of having problems with women, since his label is dominated by male artists and women are doing so well in country music. The dude then cites two real-life examples — Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood — to prove his rather lame point. Instead of just reiterating that Fordham is basically a sleazy, sexist, male chauvinist pig (because, hello, we know this already!), what he should have said was, "We want Edgehill to be at the forefront of a whole new movement to reintroduce female acts to country radio and put more than just a mere handful of them on top of the charts where they belong, because that's the kind of forward-thinking label we are." Sure, that wouldn't make for much of a storyline, probably, but it would have been a nice, subtle message to send to real-life radio and record execs. But, we digress…
Rayna and Tandy are visiting their parents' old house to tie up some of the loose ends of their late father's estate and, naturally, drudge up some old feelings for Rayna about her troubled relationship with the man. Later, Rayna and Luke are at the house as she goes through her mother's things, telling Luke she doesn't want anything of her daddy's. Now that the estate is being settled and Rayna stands to inherit a hefty sum, Luke tells her she has enough money – just as he does – so that she can now stay home, bake cookies, eat bon-bons and watch soap operas while she waits for her big, strong man to come home from the road and satisfy her every need. OK, he didn’t really say all that, but his tone, even though he insisted he was kidding, was still fairly condescending. He also tells her that with their status as the hot new couple, "Ruke" will present them with lots of challenges. "You are walking into hell with dynamite drawers on," he says. If she wasn't freaking out about the added scrutiny that will become part of her life with Luke, that single line should have sent Rayna – and her dynamite drawers – running from the room in a panic and headed to Deacon's. Obviously, we're still stinging a bit from last week's events, as is Maddie, who blasts Deacon for being "too pathetic" and not fighting hard enough for her mother. Deacon then goes into full-on Dad mode with her and tells her the fantasy is over because Rayna flat-out turned him down. More yelling and tears follow (and not just from us) as they share their first real daddy-daughter fight.
Avery, who is also suffering from a severe case of cranky, is back at the Bluebird where a new waitress, Nadine, flirts with him. Later, after Juliette drops off some of his stuff, the two of them have it out, going off on each other with Juliette continuing to apologize for sleeping with Jeff and Avery having none of it. Back at the Bluebird later, he reconsiders the whole Nadine thing (like we didn't see that coming) and they're soon playing tonsil hockey.
Jeff and Will meet up for some celebratory champagne and Will presses Jeff to get Layla an audition for the Patsy Cline movie (while Juliette is determined to play the title role, but more on that later). He also wants Jeff to put Layla's album back in motion. Will is being pretty demanding for a guy who just found out his album went to Number One.
Layla has also been bugging Jeff, who runs into new character Sadie Stone, who is a successful artist (and old friend of Rayna's) and also looks a lot like Broadway veteran Laura Benanti, last seen as the Baroness alongside Carrie Underwood's Maria in The Sound of Music Live!
Juliette's audition for the Patsy Cline movie was… weird, from the black wig to the strange Southern (?) accent to the tight blue dress, which Jeff so charmingly tells her shows her dedication to scoring the role since she has "put on a few pounds." Does this guy ever say anything that doesn't make our skin crawl? At first, the producers appear to have either been blown away by Juliette's performance or just as confused as we were by the whole thing. We blame Jessica Lange (and to an even greater extent Beverly D'Angelo for that. Unless you've seen Sweet Dreams or Coal Miner's Daughter that probably won't mean a thing to you. And you should see both. But, again, we digress.)
Gunnar and Scarlett have written a song together. Scarlett's low self-esteem, however, won't allow her to accept a co-writer credit for it. Can't tell you how many times that happens in real-life Nashville every day. Oh wait, yeah we can: never! Seriously, Scarlett, Nashville's libraries are full of self-help books. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
Zoe, meanwhile, is having self-worth issues thanks to Gunnar and Scarlett and her rehearsal for Juliette's tour goes badly as the woman trying to teach the back-up singers their "dance moves" gets all Debbie-Allen-in-Fame kind of pissed off at her.
Luke is also rehearsing when Deacon shows up to learn that – much to his chagrin – he wasn't fired from the tour after all. So you just know that whole thing will go well. Rayna tells Maddie and Daphne she's going to add about 40 more tour dates to her own tour schedule. Daphne is supportive. Maddie, not so much.
Zoey informs Gunnar that she'll move in with him and later, Scarlett apologizes to Gunnar about the whole songwriting fiasco, saying she wants to find her own voice before she writes with someone else. (She probably got that from a self-help book.) So things between them are good again, which no doubt spells trouble for the "Gunney" ("Zonnar"?) relationship.
No matter what, things there won't go as horrifically as the promise to now that Layla has laid down the law in her relationship with her in-name-only hubby. "I own you," she tells him. "I hate you, I do not forgive you and I'm not gonna let you get in the way of what I want." Their reality-shit-show continues as she then tells him to "smile for the cameras."
Deacon and Maddie are close to making up when she tells him she'd like to spend more time with him (presumably refurbishing old furniture) since her mom will be going out on tour. He disappoints her yet again by telling her that he's going to be going out on Luke's tour. Tandy breaks the news that she's resigning from Rayna's record label to take a job with a nonprofit company in California. (Also known as a "they had no idea what to do with my marginally interesting and woefully underused character so… bye-bye" kind of job.)
Rayna takes the stage for an appearance on Good Morning America when she's surprised by Luke. No, not Wheeler, but bona fide country superstar Luke Bryan. She's cajoled into telling the crowd all about her proposal from Luke (Wheeler not Bryan) and Luke (Bryan not Wheeler) confesses to having a serious case of ring envy.
As the episode draws to a close and Juliette prepares to "take care of" her pregnancy, she finds out she is eight weeks pregnant, not four. And we all know what that means – no Rosemary's Baby subplot in the show's future.