In this week’s third Nashville episode for Season 2, both Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) find themselves on the same side when it comes to despising their new label boss Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson), but departing from his company isn’t going to be so easy. Deacon (Charles Esten) is still dealing with his own demons as he faces a future as a father, and without his music or Rayna. Scarlett (Clare Bowen), Will (Chris Carmack) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) are stars on the rise, but each is finding the ride uneasy.
Deacon is disturbed by terrible dreams, and is forced to admit that the source isn’t just his arm failing to heal from the crash. He has a lot of healing on the inside to do from his own past. Rayna and Teddy (Eric Close) finalize their divorce, deciding to stay committed co-parents, as Rayna tells him “you’re a good father, and a good man” and that he deserves to be happy. Juliette and Layla (Aubrey Peeples) share another awkward encounter at Jeff’s office, flattery getting the latest starlet nowhere, with Juliette, reminding her “It’s easy when you’re singing somebody else’s hits, like karaoke.” She declines Jeff’s instruction to attend the shareholder’s showcase, saying that she has already accepted a million-dollar engagement at the birthday party of Olivia Wentworth (Brit Shaw), sponsored by her husband, Charles (Charlie Bewley). Rayna is in the unfortunate position of playing pleased to be at Jeff’s call for the concert, as he reminds her that she has to deliver the album to fulfill her contract. She makes a plan to approach her past professional and personal Svengali, Liam McGuinness, (Michiel Huisman), with whom she created musical magic before. She also persuades Scarlett to take a big share of the spotlight as her sole Highway 65 artist now.
Juliette and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) are lapping up the luxury at the Wentworth estate, as Olivia lavishes love as Juliette’s “biggest fan” and gratitude to her “wonderful” husband for her birthday bash. Liam is cordial to Rayna at their meeting, offering well wishes on her recovery, but a cold shoulder on returning to the album. “I’m booked,” he bluntly tells her, walking away. His rethinking of her offer doesn’t take long, though, as she brings her old hard drives to her door, desiring her apology over St. Lucia, as well as her plea, and the two rediscover his skill as an “excellent producer” between the sheets, too. Scarlett has a rough time accepting suggestions from her new stylist, courtesy of the label, while Will seems to love styling himself, leaving Scarlett to ask “Where’s the bachelorette party?” upon seeing him at the showcase. Will asks Savannah (Ashley Pereira) to accompany him, and the offer of a limo does the trick, much to Scarlett’s chagrin. The wealthy Mr. Wentworth has an original Hank Williams guitar, and not the slightest idea how to tune it. Avery obliges in awe. Jeff wants Rayna to sing one of her new songs, but she insists they should be held until closer to the release of the album. “Sing one everybody knows,” he then strongly suggests.
Reviewing tracks, Liam remarks that all one needs is a “new vocal,” and Rayna really hedges, finally confessing that her voice is “not the same” since the accident, and “a breathing tube down your throat.” Respecting her confidence, Liam says he will use whatever creative producer tactic needed to stall Jeff and buy time. Coleman (Robert Ray Wisdom) offers true fatherly advice to Deacon, suggesting AA and to “deal with what yours did to you,” referring to Deacon’s abusive father, to help him find healing. Will wants to sing Gunnar’s song at the showcase, but Gunnar resists the idea of surrendering it. Juliette is delighting in her defiance of Jeff, and Avery advises her on the addictive power of defiance, remembering well his time as a “kept” artist, when he destroyed his own masters. Avery gets the ultimate slam from Juliette, when he overhears her tell her wealthy host that “he’s just on the payroll,” rather than anyone close. Deacon goes to Teddy to clear the air, telling him how much he admired the decisions he made to raise Maddie as a present and decent father, saying that “lesser men” would have made other choices. “Lesser men did,” Teddy countered.
Gunnar isn’t having a good night at the showcase, telling gussied up Scarlett “I had no idea you could look that good,” and squirming as Will sang his song, giving him full credit. Rayna lets her introduction of Scarlett be a CYA substitution singing, but Jeff won’t be satisfied. Scarlett has never looked or sang more sultry, and it draws plenty of new attention. Deacon begins his confessional of childhood pain at AA with Coleman’s support. Gunnar and Savannah make their own sweet retreat from the party, neither being appreciated by their intended. After her tiff with Avery, who tells her she doesn’t know how to manage real friendship, Juliette spies Mr. Wentworth getting on quite well with the ladies, and makes a play of her own to lure him. Saying she’s lost her way to her room, she requires assistance, and the scene ends with the pair taking their passionate kisses behind her closed door. Old habits are hard to break on Nashville.