The sheer volume of woes floating around Music City in this week’s Nashville could fill a Lucinda Williams box set.
To wit: Rayna has a hard time figuring out how to keep her label financially solvent. Deacon has a hard time being away from his lawyer girlfriend Megan, who in turn has a hard time staying faithful. Avery has a hard time with the idea that his girlfriend makes a ton more money than he does. And Will has… let’s call it a difficult time between the sheets with a laid-low Layla.
Read on as we review the major developments that take place in “Guilty Street.”
IN OTHER NEWS, AVERY, THE SKY IS BLUE AND WATER IS WET | All the major mainstream labels want to sign Juliette, and their attempts to ply her take the form of fruit baskets and diamond earrings. Still, the country record companies are keeping their distance, which bothers Ms. Barnes.
Avery seems to suddenly realize that Juliette is a gazillionaire, and that knowledge galls him for the entire episode. (Dude, that jet of hers doesn’t run on rainbows and unicorn pellets, you know what I’m saying?) He makes a point of asking her out to dinner, but then gets nervous (when she orders a lot of fancy food) and angry (when she reassures him that she’ll pay the bill). Fortunately, Jeff’s there to distract both of them; when he sends a $10,000 bottle of Champagne to the table, Juliette takes great pleasure in shaking it up and popping it so it flows all over him and his date. “Enjoy every penny,” she snarks.
JEFF DOUBLES DOWN | But the Smirky Turtle won’t be denied, so he later shows up at Juliete’s house to offer her a pretty sweet deal: If she re-signs with Edgehill, he’ll not only publicly eat chicken-fried crow and help Nashville warm up to her again, he’ll throw in her own imprint and a $250,000 production contract for Avery. Juliette thinks it’s a great idea, but her enthusiasm cools when Avery reminds her (in Season-1-Avery insufferable fashion, I might add) that Jeff doesn’t respect her and never will.
At the last moment, Juliette decides to tear up the agreement – news that makes Avery happy. His opinion of her, she says, “matters a whole lot more” than anyone else’s. And while yes, I’m happy these two worked it out, I see Avery succumbing to the same affliction we’ve seen hit Gunnar and Deacon in the past: The now-I’m-awesome, now-I’m-not syndrome. I understand that people don’t always react the way we’d want them to, but I always find the big swings between devotion and d-baggery rather jarring. We don’t need guys like Deacon and Avery to be saints, Nashville, but they’d ring more realistic if their sins were more evenly distributed (or at least alluded to) throughout the season.
IS HIGHWAY 65 ROADKILL? | When her fledgling label starts bouncing checks all over town, Rayna corners chief financial officer Tandy and yells a lot – then eventually kinda fires her after up-and-comers The Cadillac Three are scared away by H65’s bad financial buzz. Meanwhile, Scarlett and Liam continue to canoodle (and make a great song with “Come Find Me”) but get caught by an unamused Rayna.
Scarlett sees no problem with mixing business and hipster-shagging, citing Liam’s ability to bring out the best in her. “Yeah, he’s a great producer,” Rayna agrees flatly, Connie Britton reading the line as though Ray’s thinking, “He once ‘produced’ me five times in one night.” Later, the First Lady of Country Music has a message for the bearded one: Get outta town.
I get Rayna wanting to protect Scarlett as an artist, but her argument – that Deacon’s niece is “just a kid” – is irksome. Scarlett’s an adult, no? A naïve, fashion-challenged, gotta-be-taking-HGH-to-grow-that-hair adult, but an adult nonetheless… and perfectly capable of making the same terrible decisions about love that Rayna makes on a weekly basis. Regardless, Rayna fires Liam and orders him to dump Scarlett, which he does by ignoring her calls and taking off to Tokyo.
WHILE THE DEKE’S AWAY… | Deacon hits the road, playing some out-of-town bars where he repeatedly turns down booze and continually ices his sore wrist. When he calls Megan for a little comfort, she’s so engrossed in work that she barely hears and/or returns his “I love you.”
At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Virginia, Deacon runs into Ruth, a back-up singer who toured with him and Rayna back in the day. (Side note: Please get me some of whatever Charlotte Ross is drinking/smearing on her skin/sacrificing to the gods, because that woman looks amazing. So natural and pretty.) They have a good time reminiscing over coffee, but he gently turns down her offer to bed at her place. He’s got someone at home, you see. Funny story…
Because at that moment, Megan and Teddy are answering the age-old question: If two characters we don’t really care about bump uglies in a car overlooking Nashville, do they make a sound? Sure, he’s distraught and drunk because he discovered Peggy faked the miscarriage. But you can’t convince me these two wouldn’t have found some reason to do this at some other time otherwise. And when Deke returns home, the lady lawyer pleads the fifth and holds her tongue about her pro-boner work.
THE OL’ COLLEGE TRY| Will’s career is doing well; his single is the most requested song on a local radio station, and he uses every public opportunity to help “girlfriend” Layla promote her struggling album. The singer turns one radio interview, in particular, into an opportunity to plug Layla hard. And that’s probably because he’s not (wait for it) plugging Layla hard.
Their awkward-looking romps in his bed might as well be accompanied by funeral dirges, a situation made even worse when she announces that before he swiftly de-Taylored her, she was planning on saving herself for marriage. She turns on the sex kitten act for a moment, asking what he likes, but because she’s probably not going to grow a beard and some other necessary equipment in the next few minutes, Will instead contents himself with reaching for the remote and turning on the television.
YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING | At the end of the episode, Juliette visits Rayna at work with a question: “Do you respect me?” I had to laugh at Ray’s response: “In what context?” Let’s shorthand it: Ju needs a Nashville label, and Rayna needs a star. “I think I might be able to help you with that,” the redhead says. Careful what you wish for there, Rayna!
Now it’s your turn. Are you willing to put up with the fighting-band storyline if it means more great jams like the one Gunnar, Avery and Zoey sing in this episode? How long, do you think, before Deacon finds out about Megan’s hookup? And if he’s going to be around, can Luke sing a little more? Sound off in the comments!Follow @kimroots