How DARE you not promote Juliette's controversial comeback during Rayna's album release party?
Credit: ABC
S2 E17
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Oh, Juliette. Highway 65’s new but SECRET hire had to make a scene, huh? And just when she’d chilled out some by her new boyfriend, Yoda.

Horrified by the unfamiliar experience of being physically edged out of a conversation in a professional schmooze-type setting, Baby Barnes decides enough is enough, even though she had barely put up with anything. If Highway 65 isn’t going to use Rayna’s album drop party as a chance to market its new, controversial hire, Juliette is going to do it herself!

Country music’s pariah slithers onstage as Rayna and her billowing polka-dot halter dream of a party dress look on, aghast. Rayna had proposed a “calculated rollout,” but Juliette jumps the gun by announcing to a totally not-havin’-it audience that she’s signed with Highway 65.

“That little… narcissistic… self-destructive… person!” Rayna sputters in safe-for-TV terms. Doesn’t she know mama has a family to support?!

I’m loving the refreshed dynamic of the power foursome of managers and talent, by the way: Rayna, Bucky, Juliette, and Glenn. I know the Rayna-Juliette dynamic is its own flourishing beast, but those guys are great, especially when packed into a small wardrobe area to hash out the biggest PR nightmare imaginable — at least at that moment in time. I love watching the professional wheels spinning in everyone’s heads as fierce personal brands (and humans!) have to battle it out with actual words. Let’s hear it for the managers.

Look, bitch — if you don’t let me do things my way, I lose my house, is the gist of what Rayna tells Juliette, who immediately recognizes her stubborn childishness and feels remorse. The power duo team up for a duet at the Grand Ole Opry, but the crowd’s tepid-bordering-on-dismissive reaction lets us know the damage control cycle has just begun.

The episode ends with an amazing shot of Rayna and Juliette facing each other in dim silence in the dressing room, post-show, in a moment rich with strife, promise, and a big chill all at the same time. Loved it.

Meanwhile, Scarlett is still in love with Liam St. Luscious, and she’s not sure she can trust another tall, dark, and handsome person, or “stranger,” to produce the rest of her album. Would our ethereal doily consider going back on tour, asks Rayna? Hell no — Scarlett doesn’t have nearly enough amphetamines in her magic bottle to do that. Let’s keep it closer to home. Scarlett wants to work with….

….Avery Barkley. She rattles off his resume to Rayna: He produced Deacon Claybourne’s live-to-vinyl compilation and has worked with Juliette Barnes. “Those are great credentials,” Rayna admits. And she’s right — they’re two of the main characters on this show. I know I’m sold. When can he start?

Low blow from Juliette to Avery: “How do Bucky and Rayna even know who you are?”

NEXT PAGE: ‘You don’t wanna ride my coattails, so you can grab onto Scarlett’s with both hands?’

Queen Barnes understandably fumes at Avery’s desire to produce Scarlett’s album despite turning down a quarter of a million dollars to produce Juliette’s album via Edgehill. “You don’t wanna ride my coattails, so you can grab onto Scarlett’s with both hands?” she yells at Avery. And this conversation was before Juliette felt rebuffed at the Everybody Loves Rayna (and her up-and-coming artists) gala, so her ire towards Avery must have contributed to the angst/craziness/helplessness that drove her up on that stage.

And yet… Scarlett is technically still an up-and-comer, while Juliette certainly is not. I understand the distinction, and so, probably, will Juliette when she really thinks this through. And her relationship with Avery might depend on her willingness to accept what she currently considers a betrayal. “What I really want is for you to find a way to be okay with this so I don’t have to say no,” he challenges her.

Deacon’s girlfriend Megan can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned because how and why would you not totally gobble up a dinner Deacon had lovingly home-cooked for you? Seriously? What a bitch. Oh, plus, she slept with Teddy. TEDDY. And Maddie’s not-real father won’t let Megan forget that — at Rayna’s drop party. Of all the obnoxious places you could possibly dream up to hit on your ex-wife’s ex-lover’s current girlfriend! Teddy segues into crazy mode as soon as Rayna rather corporately suggests he stick around and have a drink. She didn’t mean it, man! The woman is a master schmoozer! She’s just doing her job!

Teddy is a real sleaze bag when he hits the sauce, as we’ve learned. Hey, Rayna certainly has a type. He seethes with a sexual ferocity we’re not accustomed to (and which I actually don’t mind!) as he mutters The Truth to Megan: “These musicians, they’re not normal people… Tell me you haven’t been thinking about me as much as I’ve been thinking about you.”

Will — and Layla, by extension and because she sucks — have been dropped from Juliette’s tour, as Highway 65 is not in the business of promoting Edgehill artists. Layla’s new manager, good old Will loyalist/terrifying figure in Will’s life Brent, suggests the fake lovebirds pair up and go on a Tiny Tour of one-bedroom (okay, thousand-seat) theaters. Will would rather play 45-minute sets opening for Luke Wheeler, because duh.

But after overhearing a haunting encounter with a fan who had quite a lot of information about Will’s past for just being a casual bystander at a Layla Grant concert (anyone else get major Wayne’s World vibes here?! the Chris Farley character? just ignore me. pretend I don’t exist.), Brent reminds Will that not everyone who’s ever met/slept with him will keep his homosexuality a secret. Will stews in his profoundly cramped closet.

Meanwhile, Layla wants some answers. “So you’re not helping me. You’re not even sleeping with me now. Do you even want to be in this relationship anymore?

Um….. That facial reaction is a definite….

But surprise! Will course-corrects the whole gay situation to the best of his completely warped ability by PROPOSING TO LAYLA. And she says yes! How else could their storyline continue? Their nothingness was going nowhere fast. Now they can get married! Hey, it’s something to do. Happens all the time.

NEXT PAGE: Bratty Maddie and the Loose, Gorgeous Connie Britton Wave of the Week

Zoey — remember Zoey? — doesn’t get a backup singing gig, even though her voice is gorgeous and she looks exactly like a hot-ass backup singer. So she’s free to stick around Nashville and keep Scarlett and Gunnar apart for six more months. Perf.

Maddie wants to go live with her “real dad” — I know Teddy’s lame, but OUCH! — after her grades drop and Teddy exhibits some very reasonable parenting by grounding her and getting her real parents Rayna and Deacon on the same page as him, which is that Maddie should tone down the eyeliner by a dozen levels and consider school just as viable a life option as becoming a teen musician, at least for a few more years. I get where she’s coming from; I was a total brat at her age even without the whole I’m-biologically-a-country-music-genius sense of entitlement she must feel. It’s attending history class vs. making history on YouTube. You do the math. Hopefully you’re better at it than Maddie.

Maddie’s response? She uploads a video of herself singing and playing guitar to the terrible, horrible, no good very bad internet… under the name Maddie Claybourne.

Oh my God.

What a freaking fantastic stage name.

I MEAN. “You make me smile.” !!!!!!!!!!!!.

Loose, Gorgeous Connie Britton Wave of the Week:

Hello, polka dot boobs, too. Amazing dress.

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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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