Nashville finally seems to be—forgive the pun—settling into a groove. The pacing is much quicker now, and even though some scenes do get a bit repetitive and bogged down, episodes six and seven have had a lot more forward momentum.
Rayna’s in the studio with Liam, jazzed about her new sound. So much so that she decides she’ll close the upcoming anniversary concert for her label at the legendary Ryman Auditorium with one of her new songs. She’s all sassy rebel and attitude. Well, yee haw!
Juliette, meanwhile, is jazzed about her new man. She and QB1 Sean are making out when Glenn pulls her aside to let her know Sean’s fans are holding her responsible for his poor passing. (Hey there, Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo circa 2007!). Marshall wants to see her personally. Poor Juliette. Everybody’s just pissing on her parade.
Across town, Marilyn’s promising Avery and his unbilled bandmate (seriously—doesn’t that guy get pissed that it’s only Avery’s name and face on the posters?) the moon….or at least that she’ll get them signed with a big new label. But Avery’s all mopeypants because Scarlett won’t be by his side. Unphased, Marilyn tells him just to add her to the guest list and warns him to keep his eyes on the prize.
At Edgehill Records, Marshall only wants Juliette to do one song. She protests that she’s gone multi platinum twice for them, and he says that while he can’t deny her success, her bad reputation precedes her, etc. Juliette keeps giving 'em hell until he lays the bombshell on her: she’ll close the show, but only if she duets with Rayna. Frak duetting; I think she and Rayna should start a label together.
It’s popcorn and movie night at the James/Conrad residence. Small talk about how things are going well for them both just before the other shoe drops and Coleman calls, wanting to meet Teddy privately right now. Teddy’s naively hoping for an early concession speech. And Coleman is there to discuss a withdrawal—TEDDY’S!! He shows him the Peggy pictures. Teddy says they’re meaningless. Coleman says drop out, or he’ll leak to press next week. Teddy protests there’s no affair. Coleman believes him, but doesn’t think anyone else will.
Deacon’s singing at the Bluebird again, a lonely ole tune, looking like he wants to cry. Scarlett is crying over at the bar. Gunnar leaves a nearby table with Hailey to check on her, telling her to forget about Avery. Scarlett reveals to audience they haven’t written lately because “it’s just not there.” Gunnar eventually goes back to Hailey, who is waiting patiently and asks “any luck?” Nope. He kisses her.
Teddy, Conrad, and Tansy are pow-wowing, and Conrad suggests he come clean about the affair. Even if he denies it, Teddy worries that if the Peggy friendship comes to light, they’ll find out about the credit union stuff. Conrad assures him he buried that and warnes his son-in- law to come clean to Rayna
Speaking of coming clean, Scarlett is scurrying after Deacon, cleaning up after him. Deacon says she’s driving him nuts and has to get out of the house. They both talk about missing their exes.
Deacon’s warming up at the Ryman when Rayna waltzes in with Liam in tow. They make surprisingly pleasant conversation all around until Marshall comes in and pushes Rayna to duet. She tries to say no, he threatens once more to put out a Greatest Hits CD after all. Later, Rayna is ranting to Liam about Juliette, wondering what her charms are. Aside from the obvious great rack/popular with the Teenybopper crowd insults, all he can come up with is she knows how to sell records and play the game. Not to be outdone, Rayna calls Buck and gets sassy, telling him to call Marshall. She’ll do the duet, but he has to greenlight a new album produced by Liam, and she doesn’t want to hear another threat about a greatest hits album. Liam smirks. “Manipulation,” he says approvingly. “Negotiation,” she clarifies firmly.
Juliette’s on stage, looking awed and intimidated by the majestic Ryman. Deacon comes up and joins her. She laments that everyone thinks she’s just a flash in the pan. “If you quit fighting it, there’s a lot you can learn from her,” he says kindly. But Juliette’s not giving an inch, ‘Yeah well there’s a few things she could learn from me too.” He smiles at her spirit and says quietly, “You can do this.” “I know,” she says, not really sounding like she does know. Awww! I just love these two together even if their ship has sailed.
At Chez Claybourne, Hailey comes by to pick Scarlett up and tell her she needs to get over her ex by getting under someone else. Hailey and Scarlett go to the bar, Scarlett all gussied up in heels and curled hair. Gunnar gets hearts in his eyes and then daggers when a guy asks her to dance. Hailey thinks she’s helping out, getting Gunnar his writing partner back, but his jealousy makes him hulk out when the guy kisses Scarlett and he interrupts, sending the guy running then turning on Scarlett and basically calling her “loose.” Oh Gunnar. POORLY EFFING PLAYED, BUDDY.
Back at the Ryman, the ladies are finally together, and none too happy about it. They fight about what kind of song they’ll do for at least three scenes much to the amusement/frustration of Liam and Deacon. Juliette snaps that Rayna’s wasting time, trying to relive her glory days, and Rayna snaps back that she’s just a young whippersnapper who hasn’t earned her place and that Rayna is the only reason Juliette is even there. It’s a little too much teeth there, Rayna, and Juliette walks out and Deacon sticks up for her, telling Rayna he remembers when she got started and no one gave her any respect. He literally throws a disc of “Undermine” in her face, and says she should listen to that and then tell him Juliette doesn’t have any songwriting talent.
At home, Juliette’s solving her problems the old-fashioned way, as Sean comes over for a booty call. But oh wait, QB1 throws a flag on her play. He tells her to slow down, that they should wait for another time. He’s not into casual sex. She can’t believe it, and wonders if he’s gay. Nope, he just thinks if you want it, then you gotta put a ring on it. He wants to talk, she kicks him out.
Meanwhile, a hurt, confused, probably a little drunk, Scarlett goes to Avery’s and spills about how much she’s missed him…just as Marilyn strolls into the room in just a bra and jeans. She runs out, and Avery runs after her, but his protests that they were on a break don’t hold any water as she climbs into a cab.
Teddy is either still at his father-in-laws or back for a second visit. He wants Teddy to throw Peggy under the bus and say her marriage has problems, rather than have people assuming Teddy and Rayna arehaving issues. He also suggests Teddy go to the press with news of those charges that got dropped against Coleman for “possession” of those prescription pills. Teddy recoils at the thought, but it would be the one interesting way to tie in just about everyone on the show into one plotline since the pills were originally from Jolene (involving Juliette) then passed to Deacon and then Coleman. There’d be plenty of secrets coming out in that mix to distract.
Over at Chez Barnes, Juliette opens the door to find Rayna there. She offers a truce: let’s write something together. Neither really wants to, but they know it’s the only solution. It turns to morning and the ladies are still working on lyrics, tensely but with compromise. Juliette wonders “Are the songs about Deacon for you?” She says “Not always. For you?” Juliette answers “All of em.” (Which…doesn’t make much sense since she just met him a while ago, eh?) And it’s not quite a bonding moment. Nevertheless, they go to the Ryman and slap down some paper, saying “We got a song for you, boys.”
Elsewhere at the Ryman, Marilyn’s introducing Avery to that label guy as promised. But Scarlett strolls by and Avery loses focus for a minute. Nevertheless he invites the label guy to come see him play next weekend, but the label guy’s gotta go to Atlanta …and he invites Avery to go there. FIELD TRIP!?
In the standing room only section, Scarlett approaches Gunnar with a peace offering: she wants to know if he’s available to write tomorrow. He’s all grateful and THEN she thanks him for changing her life… that night at the Bluebird (Whew, at least it’s not a thank you for the night before and being a jealous blowhard who wouldn’t let her make her own decisions and implying she was slutty.) I was almost too busy being grateful about that to catch Scarlett’s fairly revealing (if a bit sudden—they skipped a few steps here, eh?) declaration to Gunnar that, “If I’m gonna lose someone, I’m glad it’s not you.” Guess seeing Marilyn’s Victoria’s Secret collection opened her eyes a bit.
Moving right along, Sean comes to Juliette’s dressing room with an armful of beautiful roses and she’s cold for all of 10 seconds before she thaws. He gives her a very sweet, sorta too much to be believed speech about respecting her too much to sleep with her outside of marriage. He just wants to get to know her better. She tells him that if he did he wouldn’t like her much. And he sweetly kisses her and tells her “It’s too late.” It’s very nice, but…how long can the choir boy last with Juliette? Really?
Also backstage, Rayna gets some last good luck wishes from her family and senses something’s up with Teddy. He rightly says they’ll talk about it later and we finally cut to the moment we’ve been waiting for. The ladies stand in the wings hissing through gritted teeth that they can’t wait to get this over with and they’ll never have to do it again. HA. Haven’t they watched TV before? They’re a sparring buddy singer comedy waiting to happen. Rayna takes the stage and introduces Juliette as her friend and special guest and says they’ll perform a song they wrote. The music swells and it’s pretty kickin’ with some fierce guitar licks. Their actor-singer voices are honestly kinda overwhelmed by either the acoustics or the full orchestration behind them, but, of course, everyone cheers and Marshall thinks they’ve got a hit on their hands. It’s a fun song about a guy who lies and cheats and loses it all, very anti-“Stand By Your Man.” (Cut to a mournful-looking Teddy in the wings!) And there’s a bit where both Rayna and Juliette basically circle/rub up against a guitar-playing Deacon like dogs at a fire hydrant, but it’s pretty fun to see the leading ladies share center stage. It’s a nice moment, even if they are still clenching their teeth a bit, and it seems like a turning point for the show, but we’ve got some soapy loose ends to tie up next week with the winter finale before the show goes on a brief hiatus. Secrets revealed! Unexpected smooching!
“Too Many Nights on the Road”—This is the downright mournful ballad that Deacon sings at the Bluebird. You don’t hear much of it, but…yeah it’s pretty “tears in my beer”.
“Ring of Fire”—Wow. This is the most toothless cover of a Johnny Cash song ever. Lol. Scarlett gets up and sings it at the bar in this really high, sweet soprano. And while her voice is lovely it makes it sound like that burning ring of fire is really more like a cocoon of warm fuzzy blankets.
“The Wrong Song”—Rayna and Juliet’s big duet is written by Sonya Isaacs, Jimmy Yeary and Marv Green. Like I said above, their voices aren’t quite big enough to give this duet the fire it really could have, if let’s say, two powerhouses like Reba and Miranda were teaming up. But it’s fun, and the lyrics are great and fitting. Their voices blend nicely and there’s a real energy to having our two leads sharing both a stage and some tense looks. BRING ON THE CO-HEADLINING TOUR!
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.