Evil label head Jeff demands the Edgehill artists sell themselves as sexy wild animals; has Rayna lost her voice?
Nashville Connie Britton
Credit: Mark Levine/ABC
S2 E5
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Rayna James can sing! It’s a sequined miracle! Our favorite country/TV diva who’s not Juliette Barnes is back in the game, at least vocally. She may have just screwed herself over, business-wise. But that’s just money. Nashville is all about the music, and as we’ve already seen throughout the series, “The Best Songs Come From Broken Hearts.”

What a scene! Of course we all suspected Rayna could still sing (we can all admit the show would be lame without her), but the way she toyed with the theater audience…and us viewers…and get this — HERSELF — during that forced performance of one of her old favorites had me holding my breath and on the verge of tears at the same time. (Not cute.) I love how not even Rayna James knew right at this moment if Rayna James could pull this off. Forget Luke Wheeler’s “Youthful Noise” benefit concert (the dress code is denim and diamonds if that matters to you). This was Connie Britton’s time to shine. Props to Rayna’s vocal coach, who reminded her “healing is halted by anxiety” and directed her to “feel the resonance in your mask.”

Her mask! Aren’t we all just anxious ghouls wearing masks when it comes down to it?

“I’m happy for Rayna, but her timing just killed my moment.” Ha! That’s so Juliette.

Lamar Wyatt didn’t even know his daughter was scheduled to perform, but he still managed to ruin her night: He’s under arrest for 42 (!) counts of racketeering, bribery, extortion, and scenery-chewing. Meanwhile, Tandy’s signed a gag order stating she cannot speak to anyone, including Rayna, about the investigation. On one hand, I’m glad to not have to hear her talk more about it. But it’s not like this problem will just go away. After all, Teddy’s still a character on the show (I guess…) and he needs some new drama to get all barely involved in. “Teddy’s gonna pay for this,” snarls Lamar to the real leak, Tandy, in prison. Sorry if y’all just fell asleep.

With Lamar’s assets frozen, Rayna can no longer use his money (it would be an investment on his part, not a gift) to buy her way out of Edgehill and take Highway 65 with her. Rayna sure had been right that “it’s time that Jeff Fordham met the Wyatt side of Rayna James” — just not in the way she wanted. We didn’t see Jeff’s reaction to the Lamar news, but I can offer up a preview of how terribly freaking smug he will look once he finds out:

What a little bitch. Hidden Gem in that screenshot: Juliette’s manager Glenn (sans new hipster glasses) mouthing the words to Rayna’s song. If you ever needed a reason to love Glenn! Ha, as if. Glenn has always been the greatest.

NEXT: The best duet comes from broken-hearted Deacon and…Rayna stole the show onstage, but Deacon and Scarlett’s homestead duet on Jaida Dreyer’s “This Town” was another hugely pleasant surprise — the tune was appropriately haunting for the occasion (Deacon’s depression/Halloween) and I love the edge a minor key adds to Scarlett’s voice. I liked her stockholders’ showcase performance for the same reason. Beautiful simplicity from the uncle/niece duo, with Deacon gingerly trying out his bad hand on the piano after turning down Juliette’s offer to come back out on tour (he wouldn’t even have to play guitar, she said, as if that would make it better). He even gave Juliette back the vintage Martin she’d gifted him because it “deserved to be played.”

But an emotional conversation between Rayna and Deacon reminded Deacon that he might as well play something. “You don’t need to be anyone’s guitar player,” she tells him. “You might need to take a minute and figure out who you are without a guitar in your hand — but don’t you ever say you’re done with music.” “You either, okay?” Good God, I was pretty close to crying here. Their only scene together in the episode was packed powerfully with shared fear and disappointment and, from Rayna’s end at least, hope. She told him something he desperately needed to hear.

You know who’s not good at giving career advice? American Hitmaker runner-up and new Edgehill tweeter of distinction Layla Grant! Scarlett can’t deal with the horror show that is the red carpet, even after getting coached by an awful, somewhat Katherine Heigl-y media trainer on how to lie about her past and tie her life story up in a pretty little lip-glossed bow. I like the media trainer’s expression of pure disgust upon learning that Scarlett “just wrote poems” before all of this….

….instead of the correct answer — “craved the spotlight her whole life AND NOW SHE’S FINALLY GOT IT! #hashtag.”

This beast then proceeds to explain exactly what can be so annoying about Scarlett’s character to TV viewers, while offering Scarlett practical advice for the press line: “In certain situations, the stammering may come across as folksy. But on camera, it reads as scattered.” I’ve definitely never said it better myself. This cretin and Layla Grant are truly the worst, but I like them as characters because they’re such accurate depictions of the soulless, hashtaggy media monster that rules us all.

I can’t decide which of Juliette’s lines is the best of the week — the delivery was delicious on “You mean your little spot on my big tour?” in response to Layla’s mention of her first big tour, but “For the encore, I’ll make my entrance through the 3-D video screen” is so quintessentially Juliette.

NEXT: Luke Wheeler prompts Juliette to skeptically survey her many, many awards Juliette (sponsored by Neutrogena) is just trying to live in the moment. And she’s never done it better than the way she let herself stew in a sweet and genuine shock right after — surprise! — Rayna invited her into the Grand Ole Opry. One acoustic performance on YouTube and she’s in?! Achieving country royalty is easier than ever these days.

Juliette’s decided she hates Layla Grant more than ever and doesn’t want her filling too much time onstage (she does realize what “Open for me” means, right?) so she needs some manpower up in this lady business a.k.a. the Inside the Dream tour. Who’s the only character left? Will, of course! Will wails on his guitar so hard during practice that Juliette hires him on the spot. That was easy.

Oh — Will and his former flame Brent share an arm-gripping moment as Will threatens to explode from excitement after impressing Luke Wheeler. (This is all very confusing because I already think of Will as Luke from The O.C.) But he’ll have to get through a showmance first: Jeff Fordham wants #LaylaAndWill to pretend to be a couple. You know, for the social media benefits! #WantToDie

Juliette and Avery are back on track as “friends” — and I’m only putting it in quotes like that because they’re both so insistent on repeating it over and over. After overhearing Luke Wheeler refer to her as “some flash in the pan,” Juliette finally understood how Avery had felt at Lord Wealthington’s mansion a few weeks ago: “It really sucks when you think someone’s got your back and they don’t.” To be fair, we’d seen zero indication that Luke Wheeler had Juliette’s back, ever. He seems like a real jerk.

Avery’s got a key to Juliette’s recording studio now! Niiiiiice. He turns down touring with her again so he can write more songs with his new boyfriend Gunnar and extend his mayorship of the Bluebird Café on Foursquare.

At Avery’s encouragement, he and Gunnar try out a new song — which I loved, by the way! — with new girl Zoey. As far as I could tell, her main contribution was that she twirled her hair with one finger as the lyrics demanded literally that. But yeah, she has a pretty voice. The scene was mostly a setup for how clear it is that Zoey’s leaning in towards Gunnar instead of Avery, who spent the whole time side-eyeing both of them grooving on each other. “Don’t you wanna be my girl?” Turns out Gunnar wrote the song for Zoey after their steamy sexcapade following episode 3’s stockholders’ showcase (which for some reason I’ve stored in my brain alongside “Supermarket Sweep”).

Yeah, so Gunnar and Zoey are doin’ it. I didn’t like the look she threw down at him as she left his bed early in the morning — it was a little “eh, whatever will help me get ahead.” But am I reading too much into that? I feel worried for Gunnar, but not worried enough, if that makes sense. The stakes seem pretty negligible so far with Zoey.

Hey, any word from Peggy?


Loose, Gorgeous Connie Britton Wave of the Week:

The waves sort of ended abruptly this week, as if they’d been dipped in a pool of happy #WelcomeBackRayna tears. But I’m going with this one for the way the light catches it on the left.

Your thoughts on “Don’t Open That Door”? Were you terrified for Rayna? Do you want to see more Deacon/Scarlett duets? Is Gunnar gonna be okay?

Episode Recaps

Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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