You know you’re in a bad way on Nashville when Jeff freaking Fordham, last seen dodging his girlfriend as she wielded a nine iron, looks askance at your life choices.
Yet sadly, that’s the state in which Juliette finds herself in this week’s episode, as the blonde bombed-shell heads home to Nashville unsure whether her husband and baby will take her calls, much less take her back. And things look really good for the Barnes-Barkley family… until they really don’t.
Lest you think the hour is a downer, let’s talk some high points: Rayna signs a major name to her label (at the expense of an artist she already has), Scarlett decides that home and Caleb are more important than touring and potential fame (though Hot Doc later outs himself as not the most supportive of boyfriends) and Beverly fully wakes up and stays awake (just long enough to make us feel bad when she flatlines again at the end of the episode).
OK, so maybe this isn’t the most uplifting of episodes. Er, Layla sings a pretty song? Gunnar achieves maximum altitude with his rockabilly ‘do? That’s all I got, folks. Read on as we review “‘Til the Pain Outweighs the Shame.”
ROADKILL ON HIGHWAY 65 | Guilt is still leading Deacon to spend his nights at the hospital rather than worshipping at the Sacred Temple of Our Redheaded Priestess, where he belongs. Rayna says she misses him. “I miss you, too, baby,” he replies all low-like, pulling her close, and it’s totally normal to have your insides turned to melted butter by a fictional character, right?
Deacon leaves anyway, just in time for Rayna to get to a meeting where a potential Highway 65 artist drops his record deal like a leaky Hot Pocket right outta the microwave: As politely as possible, he makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be associated with a vanity label that can’t hold onto its artists.
It doesn’t help that the one artist Rayna has who’s actually working on music and not causing trouble by freaking out over a photo shoot (more on that later) is also the one she keeps skipping out on. Poor Layla gets stiffed by Ms. Jaymes not once but twice in the episode, the second time at a tastemakers concert at The Bluebird. (Side note: Layla kills it with her soft-n-sad girl rock. “Makes No Sense At All” is a really lovely tune — not that Jeff hears it, so tied up with Juliette’s nonsense is he this whole episode.) Chin up, Lay: At least you’ve got an enthusiastic fan/potential manager in Glenn, who shows up for your set, gives you a heartfelt compliment, leaves you with his card and probably won’t try to bone you. Bonus: Having him represent you will make Juliette so mad.
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO DRINKS BACK | Then again, Ms. Barnes is drunk so often lately, I wonder if she’d even notice. Jeff counsels Juliette to make things right with Avery, because they’re heading back to Nashville for her album release party, and it’ll look weird if her family’s not there to celebrate the occasion. But when Avery brings Cadence to their house — following Jeff’s advice to touch base with his spiraling wife — it’s full of inebriated idiots and he’s pissed.
“Is this who you are now?” he demands as she hastily kicks everyone out. She tearfully apologizes that all of her success “doesn’t mean anything without you,” and Hayden Panettiere kills it as she hesitantly asks to hold her own daughter. You break my heart girl, you really do. Meanwhile, little Cadence’s face is all, “Who dis?”
Things go fine right through Ju’s party, at which Cadence screams through her mom’s live number — Avery, take that baby outside! — and Juliette is flummoxed by a diaper blowout. Stars, they’re just like us! She winds up leaving the party without telling her hubby (something about him assuming he was going on tour with her might’ve been to blame), ditching her cell at home and having Jeff get her a new number that no one (read: Avery) has. Not good, Jujubean. Not good at all. Also? That must’ve been one hellacious diaper.
IN WHICH RAYNA GETS HER MEN | After Maddie and Daphne perform a song by their favorite, recently broken-up band Boulevard at the school talent show, Rayna is hot to sign the band’s lead singer, Markus Keen. Bucky says the guy’s an alt-rocker who’ll want nothing to do with country; plus, he’s got so many people, getting a meeting with him is near impossible. Oh yeah? Next morning, Rayna sidles into the seat next to Keen’s on a flight and by the point the drinks cart has come around a couple times, she’s got a verbal agreement that he’ll join Highway 65.
She’s elated; Bucky, less so: Keen wants complete creative control and his asking price basically will clean out all the money left from Juliette’s departure. (Man-scarves and guyliner don’t come cheap, y’all.) But Rayna’s got no reservations. “Make that deal, Bucky,” she says, then arrives home pleasantly surprised to find Deacon in her bedroom. They purr at each other a little bit, he pushes her back onto the bed and you’d best light a candle, because I do believe services at the temple are about to start up again. Hallelujah!
ELSEWHERE IN MUSIC CITY | Luke hires a public relations consultant to advise him, and he heeds her counsel and drops Will from Wheelin’ Dealin’ Records. “It ain’t personal,” Luke says. Maybe not, but I’m fairly certain it’s not legal, either.
In other news, I’m not going to deal with Gunnar’s ridiculousness over some tour art that he thinks makes him and Scarlett look like a couple, but I will point out that Hot Doc doesn’t seem to have much confidence in Scarlett’s ability to make a career of singing and songwriting. But all of this is moot, however, because The Exes’ tour seems inconsequential when Beverly’s heart stops while Scar is in her room at the end of the episode. Good thing you made those apologies earlier, Bev, because it looks like you may not get another shot.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!