The Music City Music Festival has arrived! Juliette is feeling good about her headlining turn until she realizes that the tabloids have gotten wind of her affair with Charlie and reporters have shown up to ask how it feels to be such a skanky ho-bag. She insists to Glen and others that it's a nasty rumor, and becomes obsessed with finding out who leaked it to the tabloids, quickly (and correctly) theorizing that Layla is to blame. When she takes the stage at the festival, she sees that someone in the audience has scrawled "HOMEWRECKer" on a giant sign in what looks like, well, pork blood. She freaks out on stage, and though Avery gets her back on track she is mightily upset that her fans have turned on her. Later, Avery tells her that she's not a bad person, and that though she'll have to face the press she doesn't have to "play the game." And so she officially gives a "no comment" on the situation, then shows up at Avery's apartment to share the realization that she's in love with him. More about THAT in a moment. Jeff, meanwhile, tells Layla that if she is to blame for starting the salacious rumors about one of Edgehill's biggest stars, her contract is in serious jeopardy.
Scarlett, meanwhile, is giving Zoey and Gunnar some really first-class silent treatment. She tries not to even look at them, which seems fair. Despite his reluctance to get involved, Deacon tells Scarlett that a friend of 20 years really means something. She agrees to finally talk to Zoey, but then just gets all judgey and says that being a good girl suited her better. Zoey thinks it over, but eventually is basically like "Fuck that noise" and decides to keep on dating Gunnar. Scarlett tells Avery that this whole thing is not about latent feelings for Gunnar, but about the fact that they did all this behind her back. She's glad that Avery has never lied to her, and though technically that's still true things get a little awkward when Juliette shows up to his door to confess her love, sees Scarlett, and leaves without saying the words (but also without really having to).
Gunnar and Deacon bond over the fact that they've been screwed at the festival, with Deacon's appearance being mysteriously canceled and Gunnar's big shot from Jeff equating to an 11 a.m. set on the port-a-potty stage. Deacon gets really crafty and arranges for them to do a show together just outside of the festival borders, in a parking lot owned by his friend. Deacon's official stance about the Scarlett situation is, "We'll talk about that later. As in never." When Teddy tries to shut down the guerrilla performance, Deacon is all, "Private property, bitches!" He was really on fire in this episode. Maddie wants to see Deacon play and Peggy tells her she can't, which leads to some "You're not my mother" realness. She eventually does go with Rayna, who gets that little light in her eyes while watching Deacon's turn as a frontman. When their talk after the show is interrupted by a call from Megan, Rayna looks like she's having FEELINGS, but whether it's because she's still in love with him OR because she wants to sign him to her label, I can't tell. If it's the latter, she may have some competition from an industry guy in the audience. Hooray for Deacon for finally having a good day!
Speaking of Rayna, she gets the word from Luke that Jeff is still planning to put out her new album in a "From the Ashes" format, and gets mightily upset. She shows up at his house while he's naked in the pool with a lady, and he tells her that he either needs to release the album or get a check for $20 million. Tandy offers Rayna a $3 million investment and some business advice, and eventually figures out that if Rayna basically liquidates all of her assets she can get the money. This is not necessarily a great idea, however, and Luke doesn't get what her problem is or the concept of artistic integrity. Jeff hands Rayna a folder of market research and tells her that he's trying to do her a favor, since her album won't sell. She doesn't even read it before deciding to go for it, and promises Jeff a $20 million check on Monday. Has she not learned anything about waiting until she has the money in hand before making such statements? When Luke learns about this, he's basically like, "See ya around!" Ugh. Can Liam just come back already?
So at this point in the recaplet, you're probably wondering who dies. The answer is: I don't know! There are two possible options. So, Brent has learned that the guys Will beat up in Houston were the homophobe harassers, and does a little shimmying during Will's set at the festival that apparently is irresistible. They sleep together, which only intensifies Will's raging case of internalized homophobia. Near the end of the episode Layla tries to call Will, and we see that he's standing on the railroad tracks with a train coming in. And I mean: no. Just no. On the more hopeful side, at the festival's end Teddy is approached by a random dude who has a gun and has most likely been sent by Lamar to assassinate him. Teddy manages to wrestle the gun away from the guy, but it goes off during the struggle and shoots Peggy! In the most ironic twist of all, she's not even bloody.
Previously: Will took a keen interest in Brent's new boyfriend, and a keen right hook at some homophobe harassers in Houston. Deacon was thrilled to get a spot in the Music City Music Festival, and was unaware that Teddy pulled his name from the list of performers. Zoey decided she had to tell Scarlett that she and Gunnar are together, but then didn't have to when Scarlett saw them kissing. Awkward! Meanwhile, Rayna had all kinds of problems with label head honcho Jeff Fordham, and Layla leaked the news that Juliette broke up renowned celebrity couple Charlivia.
We begin with preparations well under way for the festival. Juliette, Teddy and a city councilwoman are having their photo taken and exchanging pleasantries. When the councilwoman leaves, Teddy takes Juliette's hand and sincerely thanks her, since if she hadn't agreed to come on board they wouldn't have connected with Charlie Wentworth, and the festival wouldn't have happened. Juliette says it's her pleasure, though when she turns and walks away she gives a weird grimace to Glen. Maybe that's just a facial tic? She seems to have it a lot.
That grimace turns to a smile when Juliette walks outside and sees Avery, who's there to drop off his guitars for their show the next night. Why he'd need to drop off guitars in advance I don't know, but then again I am not the lead guitarist for the headliner of the Music City Music Festival. Juliette thanks him for playing with her after she gave her current player Brian time off to catch up on sleep or something. Whatever pitiful excuse she made for getting him there, Avery is not complaining. He notes that he tried calling her a few times and got her voice mail, and is wondering if everything's okay. She says it is, but even if that's true at the moment it won't be for long. A bunch of reporters run up to her asking questions about being to blame for the Charlivia split, and it is the first (but not the last OR the bloodiest-looking!) time that we encounter the word "home wrecker" during this episode. Juliette is shuffled into a waiting car, and Teddy wanders out only to have a microphone stuck in his face and a reporter asking, "Any thoughts on the fact that the face of your festival is a tramp?" Teddy apparently has no thoughts, at least that he'd like to share at the moment.
Then we're at Rayna's house, where she and Luke are admiring the artwork for their single and talking about their upcoming radio tour. Luke is all for early morning radio spots if it means he gets to spend time with her. He adds, "I like this working with my girlfriend thing." Rayna gets flirty as she says she's not sure if her kids are ready for her to have a boyfriend. Jeff asks if she, in fact, is ready to have a boyfriend, and she just laughs. For the moment, at least, he's just fine being her dirty little secret. And speaking of dirty little secrets, Luke spent the morning golfing with Jeff (to which Rayna says, "Oh god, did you lose a bet?") and Jeff mentioned marketing strategy for her album launch. What album launch, you may ask? Yes, the album launch that Jeff told Rayna he wouldn't do. Luke has the district impression that Jeff will release "Rayna Jaymes is Not Dead, Vol. 1" right on the heels of the single. Whatever promises that Jeff has made to Luke, Rayna hopes Luke has collected on, because she's going to go over to Edgehill and kill him. The whole contract buyout has become a little like the Cumberland Deal to me -- just wah wah wah, and can we get to some people making out already?