The half-season long "Will they or won't they?" question has finally been answered! And no, I'm not talking about Rayna and Deacon Doing It. We finally get to enjoy Rayna and Juliette bitching it up at close range, as they are encouraged by label head Marshall Evans to perform a duet at Edgehill Republic's anniversary show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Of course, neither woman is feeling this idea at first, but Rayna uses it as leverage to get Marshall to agree to new BFF Liam producing her next record as well as nixing a proposed greatest hits album. And the duet is yet another reputation-repairer for Juliette, whose burgeoning relationship with Sean "Tim Tony Tebow Romo" Butler is only drawing more ire from football fans. Without the duet with Rayna, she won't even be on the bill at the Ryman show and she's dying to play there.
Once both parties have agreed to the duet, things only get more difficult in a really magical way for us, the viewing audience. Juliette kicks things off by being a total bitch and the bitchery becomes mutual as they try to agree on which song to sing. Juliette totally wants to do one of her teenybopper songs and, well, we all know what Rayna thinks of Juliette's music. Rayna points out that she's doing this as a favor to the label and adds that everyone knows Juliette hasn't earned a place on the stage. Then Juliette's feeeeeeeeeelings are hurt and despite the fact that she's basically spent hours calling Rayna an irrelevant hag, it's Rayna who gets a hard time from Deacon for not acknowledging that Juliette might actually have talent. He gives her a copy of "Undermine," and soon Rayna shows up at Juliette's door proposing that they co-write a new song. They do, and when they play this ode to telling off no-good men at the Ryman, it has MONSTER HIT written all over it. Co-headlining tour, here we come! In supplementary Juliette news, Sean doesn't want to sex her up outside of wedlock. OF COURSE. He does strike me as an "oral doesn't count" type of guy, though.
Meanwhile, Teddy's poll numbers are way up, but his optimism is quickly dashed when Cole shows him the incriminating Peggy-photos. Cole tells Teddy that if he doesn't drop out of the race, he'll leak the photos to the press. Lamar, of course, has some scheming ideas on how to get around this (I'm hoping that one of them involves eventually murdering Peggy), but ultimately thinks that Teddy should get ahead of the story and deny any infidelity-based wrongdoing. Team Conrad agrees that the biggest problem is going to be dealing with Rayna. The biggest problem for Cole, however, is going to be a long drawn-out trial for possession, thanks to Lamar's friends in the judicial system.
And then there's Scavergun. Avery sleeping with manager Marilyn has evidently paid off, as his band is playing in bigger venues, being heavily promoted and being introduced to Wyclef Jean in a guest starring role. But he still seems kind of lonely for Scarlett. Meanwhile, Hailey is way more stupid than I gave her credit for and gussies up Scarlett for a fun night out on the town, using the philosophy that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone. Of course, when Gunnar sees Scarlett in heels and a sexy (for her) black dress, he has to pick his eyeballs up from the floor. He also conscientiously objects to her flirting with another dude and is a total cockblocker. Not cool! In the midst of all this, Scarlett is invited onstage by the band at the bar (OF COURSE) and sings what is perhaps the worst version of "Ring of Fire" in existence. This only serves to make her more enchanting to Gunnar; meanwhile, Hailey starts to get wise to the fact that these two are freaks and she should run while she still can. Eventually, a very upset Scarlett goes to Avery's house unannounced and finds Marilyn there in her underthings. In positive news, this finally breaks her writers' block!
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Previously: Avery met a cougar manager who was interested in representing his band, which really meant that she was interested in boning him and would represent his band to help get there. Scarlett asked, "Did you sleep with that woman?" with cheeks full of sunflower seeds, then stormed out. Juliette and nerd-jock Sean Parker started A Thing, while Cole debated whether to release photos suggesting that Teddy and Peggy were having an affair. And Rayna entered into a musical partnership with hotshot producer Liam McGinnis, in a move that entailed going against the head of her label, who she hates anyway.
We enter with Rayna and Liam listening to a music track in the studio, and continuing their pattern of mutual admiration. Rayna loves the track, which is quite a bit heavier than the likes of "American Beauty," and says she just finished a lyric that would be perfect for it. Bucky skulks around and gets off the phone with some not-so-great news, as he is wont to do. Rayna's label, Edgehill, is doing a live recording of their 25th Anniversary Show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, and wants to follow that up with a Rayna Jaymes greatest hits album. As we know, Rayna is REALLY indisposed to the idea of a greatest hits album, probably because it makes her feel old at a time when Juliette Barnes is constantly calling her old.
Liam at least is in alignment with Rayna about the fact that label head Marshall Evans is a dick. Rayna notes that she's done every Edgehill anniversary show ever, and wants to end this one with some of her new material. Bucky is not quite ready to venture into EdgyHill territory, but Liam is of course down with that plan. And though I was fully on board the Rayna and Deacon reconciliation train, I have to admit that the Rayna-Liam combo is turning out to be way more fun at the moment. As it turns out, it's a relief not to have all those pregnant-with-meaning stares!
Meanwhile, Juliette and Sean Parker are making out by her pool. He stops long enough to say it's nice to do something other than football. She replies that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, then whips out an axe to accompany her devious smile. Kidding! Though I actually think that would be a satisfactory character turn for her, and if she eventually went after Scarlett in a tree-maze (after a fleeting glimpse of Teddy in a dog costume in a compromising position with Lamar) I would give this show 17 Potes Emmys.