Red Lips/White Lies
Rayna’s performance. She is singing about a highway. There is an old dude on pedal steel. There is a jug band in the corner, eking out a rhythm. Her short skirt is made of burlap. A telegram is delivered. Cars are made of solid American steel. Everyone starts referring to R&B as “race music.” Norman Rockwell rises from the grave and paints Rayna’s portrait. It is quite the traditional country hoedown.
Juliette’s performance. There are lights. There is smoke. There are fireworks. There are backup dancers galore. There is a hologram of Marie Antoinette doing the Charleston. 10,000 doves dyed in neon hues are released into the crowd. Prince Harry beams in via satellite and announces that there is free ecstasy under everyone’s seat. It is quite the spectacle.
What a study in contrasts, this is!
Rayna has been whining about having Deacon anywhere near her face while on this tour. They elevator meet, it is awkward. She’s soon on the phone with Teddy, justifying the Deacon awkwardness by saying that Juliette was the one that hired him. But has she “seen him” since she fired him? “Well...” Ugh. Cut off. Teddy has to go to a meeting. Mayor stuff, you wouldn’t understand.
Rayna has her own musical stuff to deal with though, she has a lady guitarist. What is this, the Lilith Fair? Who does she think she is, Beyoncé? What did she do, listen to the new Tegan and Sara? Of course, she asks Deacon to help out the new guitar player with some old Deacon parts. She asks him what’s going on, like a college girl with a crush on her professor. It’s embarrassing for all of us.
Talkin’ with Watty. ‘Bout bringin’ artists over to her new label. What about those kids from the Bluebird? Oh, that’s Scarlett and Gunnar. Whuuuu? Deacon’s niece? What a weird conflict of interest, but thanks for finally bringing that teased plot point from like, the pilot episode back into the fray.
Deacon and Rayna find their way into Doubletree’s one elevator again. And again! They are stuck alone in an elevator three times during this episode, each one more awkward than the last. Except, on that third go around - kiss kiss kiss. “What are you doing?" “Kiss kiss kiss.”
She is lounging in her penthouse for a couple of scenes, milling over elevator kisses. “Sext,” Rayna sexts to Deacon. Knock knock. Who’s there?
Teddy runs into Peggy in Hillsboro Village. They talk about how they tried to use his mayoral campaign to fix things? Like, personal things? Yeah that’s not what any politician has ever done. The only good thing about it was that it allowed them to see that their marriages were nonsense. K. Then he drives her back to her condo, which was a three minute walk away, which means it was a ten-minute drive out of Hillsboro Village (amirite???). Hold hands touch hair kiss mouths sex cuddle. “What are we doing?”
Then he flies up to Chicago real quick to tell Rayna (right after she sent that awkward Deacon sext message) that he had “a moment of clarity” (after banging someone else) they hate each other and he wants a divorce, lol.
Milling about in Chicago before the show, everyone is snip snip snipping at each other. Deacon faces her for having too much of an entourage, and she’s taking Deacon’s kind-of-dickish criticism pretty personally, and is sad that she is not a true artist. Her manager looks up from reading Motor Trend magazine and warns her that a “left turn now could be an exit into obscurity.” But she is :( and wants to change.
Penthouse songwriting with Deacon (not a metaphor). She feels boxed in with all of the awesome, fun, amazing things that come with megasuccess, like lasers and dancers and a wardrobe person, and thinks maybe she should stick to her “brand” that she increasingly hates. WWRD she asks Deacon. “Rayna would stay true to herself.” Good non-answer, Dr. YOLO.
It’s the next show of their Chicago engagement. Juliette hits the stage in jeans and a plain white button-up top, and her manager, Captain Histrionics of the HMS Calm the Fuck Down, is like “she’s having a nervous breakdown right there on stage!” She does a quiet number with lots of Deacon accompaniment (his guitar strap says “DEACON” just like an accountant has a calculator that says “STEVE”: music is such a noble profession) and the backup dancers are like “are we fired?”
Everyone backstage (except her manager who has fainted dead away like Aunt Pittypat) loves it, even Rayna can deal (or can she???) But. A reviewer live-tweeted it. The press! Oh no! Show me the tweets! As a “snarky” and prolific live-tweeter of trainwreck events, I can say with authority that it is unwise to encourage and validate us, ABC’s Nashville, but here we are. “Who does she think she is?” #failjuliette. #wantmymoneyback.
Juliette’s manager finds Deacon drinking a glass of water in a sad jazz bar. He asks Deacon why he’s trying to turn Juliette into a replacement for Rayna, and turns down Top Gear to tell Deacon to stay in his lane. Juliette, meanwhile, is reading mean Tweets about herself for at least the second time in the run of this show. Girl is a glut-ton. But hey, good news: this show takes place in a parallel universe where YouTube is somehow nicer than Twitter, and her performance has been viewed soooo many times. Everyone else loves her! #successjuliette.
She knows that her brand has to develop and change. “I have stolen nail polish. I have left a man at the altar.” Haha! What a leap! “I have not tipped. I have pushed an old lady down the stairs.” “I have cut people off in traffic. I have deliberately stepped on sleeping homeless people.” Her manager quietly closes his issue of Tightrope Walker Quarterly and warns her not to fall off the high wire. She and her fans are growing up, Juliette says. Can he?
Gunnar has just finished fixing Scarlett’s sink, because she is as useless as globe from 1940 and he is a pushover. He is moody and she berates him for not wanting to talk about “what got yer fur all back’ard” in Texas. But actually he is upset about the living situation with his roommates, a thing we are just learning about twelve episodes into the show. I wonder if this problem will become convenient later? Anyway, his roommates, in zany roommate shenanigans, drew a picture of a turtle on his tummy. His roommates are, I assume, literal preschoolers. A four-year-old dressed like Spiderman walks into the scene, pulling hard from a juicebox. “That’s my roommate Jayden,” Gunnar says, “He is such a dick.”
“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “It’s the landlord pay your fucking rent.” “It’s the landlord pay your fucking rent who?” “I am this close to calling the cops.” Wow, who would have thought a waitress who has played a gig at The 5 Spot and lives alone would have trouble paying rent for a two-bedroom East Nashville bungalow, #37206? Turns out Avery owes her $$$. How weird that Scarlett, an unused Anne Geddes pregnancy journal purchased by a 45-year-old woman, is having housing troubles the same time as Gunnar! I wonder if anything is going to happen there, with these two.
So now we’re at FooBar. Scarlett and Gunnar and Avery’s old band are being correctly ignored by everyone. But it looks like lil’ Scarlett Sex Eyes is over that stage fright that was a huge part of her personality for, like, half of the show’s run to date. Some bros airhorn them, lol, those bros are Gunnar’s roommates! (I bet Gunnar put them all on the list, too.) They made barely any dollars. Scarlett is whining about her rent sitch, in public, bad form. Gunnar, the biggest sucker that ever sucked, is like “I’d give you the money.” You are such a sucker. You are a lollipop lamprey.
Bluebird. More roomie airhorn nonsense. Scarlett, the classmate who is going to be your stepmom after an appropriate amount of time has passed, suggests to Gunnar that he move in with her. You know, that would solve both of those problems that did not exist until this episode! She’s like “don’t walk around nekkid” and “banjo” and I’m like “you’re the worst.” The most important thing that this scene conveys, however, is that GUNNAR IS FINE. Holy crap! Does Sam Palladio always look this good but I am too distracted by Scarlett and Avery’s awfulness to notice? I don’t know what’s going on with the angles or facial hair or lighting or whatever, but whatever it is, keep doing it. #marryme
The actor may be great, but the character, we should remember, is a scrub musician who is moving in his stuff, which consists of an ugly-ass wooden bench and cigar box (the weed is implied). “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Avery, to make amends kind of.” “Avery, to make amends kind of who?” “Here’s some money and how long have you been sleepin’ with my woman?” Everyone goes at each other, and two handsome men finally duke it out over Scarlett, a thirteen-year-old girl who can’t decide between the Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn poster. Avery throws the first punch, but Gunnar goes multipunch on him. Gunnar wins. Fatality. (We wish.)
Later, Scarlett (a half-used bottle of Skin So Soft you found in your grandma’s medicine cabinet) dabs at Gunnar’s not-at-all busted face with a dishrag. He blahs about his brother, some. About fightin’ and such. “Is that the same dishrag I used to sop up greasy dishwater with earlier?” is the conversation they should be having.
Belmont called (the Joe Belmont?) and they want to give him a shit ton of money to play
Rites of Spring whatever Belmont’s spring concert series is. Go play a show on the Knoll and maybe we’ll talk, MTSU alumni represent. He’s too sad to think about all his riches, though, because he’s using his smart phone to scan the Nashville Scene music listings to find out where Scarlett is playing. Hey, that’s us! I was so proud that I took a picture (and thanks to Chris Wage for the edit). Also, some show wants to do a segment on him. Star Town? I was so busy wondering which screen name Avery uses to leave racist comments on Pith that I wasn’t really listening and I refuse to watch an Avery segment twice (journalism!) (MTSU, like I said).
Thanks to this profile of Avery on Star Town(?), we know that he is taking the alt-country world by storm, like a particularly virulent strain of herpes. He’s showing the camera crew his old hood and his old house, the “best place” he ever lived. Seems like rent was covered, so I’m not surprised. Scarlett spies the low-budget film crew milling about her mailbox. She goes outside to needlessly start a confrontation, because the one thing she knows about Avery is that he hates attention and she is in no way falling into his trap. After mouthing off to the crew that she’s not signing a release (this is as gritty as Cops: Hundred Acre Wood) she demands that $$$.
After Avery’s little confrontation with Scarlett and Gunnar, he heads over to Manager Lady’s house and packs a bag. He says to drop him, if she wants, there are better (non-boning) ways to make it. Avery showed a lot of growth in this episode (kinda), exhibited that he was learning from his mistakes, or at least was sad about being alone. Which is why it was such a shame when that meteor crash-landed on him as soon as he stepped outside, crushing his skinny little body into inky nothingness.
Rest in peace, Avery. You are now truly one with the stars.