So, it turns out that Rayna Jaymes is sick of doing things like getting stuck in traffic with her mini-van and kids because her young archrival Juliette Barnes is humping a statue in her short shorts while shooting her new music video in the middle of town. Luckily, Watty White has an idea! After being so inspired by Gunnar and Scarlett's performance at the Bluebird, he thinks that Rayna and Deacon should do a duo tour of small venues -- it's intimate, personal, and will make money. Plus, they'll be capitalizing on all their chemistry by singing the love songs they wrote way back when they were actually in love (as opposed to now, when they are not-so-secretly still in love). You know who is not thrilled about this idea? Rayna's husband Teddy, obviously! But Rayna was also not thrilled with his decision to run for mayor, so I guess they're more or less even.
Meanwhile, Juliette is really sad about no one taking her music seriously. Her solution to this problem is to a) stalk Deacon in a number of places (seriously, did she hack his Google calendar?); b) hound him to finish their co-write; c) continually try to give him the sexy times and/or a vintage guitar worth $50,000. Their co-written song is a good one, and it turns out that Juliette might actually have some talent and self-awareness in addition to that vast collection of Daisy Dukes. Also good: the sexytimes, I imagine. Deacon tries to resist, but she pulls the skinnydipping card and it's all over from there. Juliette also pushes him to go on tour with her, sometimes right in front of Rayna. Rayna is most definitely not pleased by this turn of events, and she and Deacon get into some fights old boyfriend-girlfriend style.
In mayoral campaign news, Teddy's handlers are doing a "vulnerability study," designed to dig up any deep, dark secrets before Teddy's opponent can. And though Cole seems like the good, upstanding type, he's mad enough about being double-crossed by Lamar over a difference of opinion around the potential baseball stadium that he promises to give back exactly what he gets. In his vulnerability interview, Teddy talks a bit about his real estate deal gone bad and something having to do with a credit union, all of which lost a lot of people a lot of money. We learn later that the handlers think he wasn't telling the whole truth, and a shady shot of him burning some official-looking papers at the end of the episode (to a soundtrack of your new favorite band Shovels and Rope!) would indicate that they're onto something. Lamar is fine with this, since a mayor with secrets will be easier to control. The "mwah ha ha!" is implied.
Through the vulnerability study we also learn a bit more about Rayna's relationship with Deacon. They were together (TOGETHER together) for 11 years, and she started to see Teddy while they were still technically together (TOGETHER together). It also turns out that Deacon had some serious substance abuse problems. Rayna paid for his rehab, and also married Teddy while he was still inside. It sounds cold, but we do get the impression that Deacon was a George Jones level drunk and thus probably not very fun to be around much of the time. Rayna denies that they've had any sort of romantic relationship in subsequent years.
But THEN. Rayna shows up at one of Deacon's songwriters' nights at the Bluebird (in part because he whined about her never coming) and he invites her up to sing a number. This burns the biscuits of one Juliette Barnes, who is also in the house and was practically standing up when Deacon began to introduce his "special and talented friend" in the audience. Two sexytimes do not, apparently, trump 20 years of both requited and unrequited love. Deacon and Rayna sing an old favorite that's all about how no one will ever love you like I do and, um, yeah. There is some heat. When Deacon holds Rayna's hand after the song, Juliette walks out in a huff. Later, as she and Deacon sit in the same car, Rayna says she wishes they hadn't done that song because, you know, feelings. She manages not to begin an affair while her husband is running for mayor. YET.
And in the obligatory Scarlett and Gunnar subplot, Watty offers to cut them a demo himself if they can get three songs together. We go through an excruciating episode-long round of "will she or won't she" as Scarlett first seems relatively into the idea, then pulls back when her boyfriend Avery hits rejection after rejection, but ultimately decides to go ahead and do it when she sees Rayna and Deacon play at the Bluebird, with all their fame and fans and repressed feelings. True role models, those two!
Previously: Aging country music superstar Rayna Jaymes wished that she could do it all over again and simultaneously change nothing and everything, thus blowing apart the entire time-space continuum. Throw in a truck and whiskey, and that would make a pretty avant-garde country song. She had to deal with a lot of bullshit, and primary among the dung was the suggestion from her label that she open for chart-topping tart Juliette Barnes. To make matters worse, Juliette put all of her efforts into seducing Rayna's very close ex, Deacon Claybourne, and Rayna's evil father convinced her deadbeat husband to run for mayor. That may sound like a good thing, but it's not. Thankfully, trusty music legend Watty White called Rayna with an idea. Let's hope it's a good one.
We enter with Rayna stuck in a traffic jam while taking her two girls to some sort of uniform-requiring school. She gets a burst of relatively mild road rage, since she's anxious to go see "Uncle Watty" after the drop-off. As a gaggle of pre-teen girls runs by with all sorts of hormone-induced excitement, Rayna's oldest daughter gets a text saying that Juliette Barnes is shooting a video in the middle of town. Thus, the traffic. Juliette WOULD do that shit during morning rush hour. The kids try to get out of the car and join the gaggle, but automatic locks save just a tiny bit of Rayna's dignity. Oldest kid snits that Juliette is the most famous singer in the world, and that little bit of dignity is released to the wind again.
We then cut to Juliette's video, for a song called "Telescope." Of course she's in Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots and a bustier, and is slinking all over a statue. Her backup dancers are also scantily clad, in a very country-fried way. And I know we're supposed to hate Juliette's adolescent crap music, but this song, called "Telescope," is pretty damn catchy. I mean, I decidedly do not hate it. You can understand just a little why all the pre-teen girls are popping their zits with excitement. Juliette's management still has not gotten her a decent hair stylist, though. It's like she's wearing a wig made of stale cotton candy. Rayna drives by and looks sad as Juliette signs countless autographs.
Meanwhile, Juliette walks by just as a part of the video production staff slams her song to the backup dancers. She instructs her manager to fire him immediately, which I think is actually kind of justified. Juliette brats that people think this is all she can do. By "this" I think she means wriggle in hot pants. And, relatedly, make pop music for pre-teens. She asks what's happening with getting Deacon on her tour, and her manager can only say that people have been calling people. Juliette's been doing her part to get Deacon, she says, and her manager better be doing his. I'm guessing "doing my part" for one of them involves an exchange of bodily fluids, and for the other a giant bag of cash emblazoned with dollar signs.