Green Hills Mall! Kroger! Corpse-filled alleyways! Don’t let the glitter get in your eyes, it’s just Nashville.
Sumner County proves itself good for something (jk Gallatin friends!) because Rayna and Teddy have filed for divorce there, to keep it super-secret. Seeking comfort, Rayna has been hanging out with sister Tandy a bit more, telling her about Teddy’s affair with Peggy and letting her pick up the kids and cook dinner and pay the bills and take the car to the shop and all kinds of additional sister stuff. Rayna is the Roseanne and Tandy is the Jackie, if you will.
All of the girls are at Kroger, buying sketti. The kids have found the tabloids, who are writing about the divorce. Guess Sumner County is not the secret weapon they thought it was! “Is any of this true about Deacon?” Deacon’s secret daughter asks. Meanwhile, all the shoppers are living the ultimate shopper experience, looking at a magazine cover and then looking at the fallen celebrity. This is way better than the time Juliette Barnes shoplifted nail polish you guys! Kroger is such a blast.
Back at home, the oldest daughter — Deacon’s daughter — is proving herself to be not-stupid by pressing hard like “Oh so all those pics were ’shopped?” and “Everything else was true, but whatever you say." Deacon soon texts Rayna the gossip mag cover, and Rayna is like “Wow I need to talk to him” and Tandy says “You are literally holding a telephone in your hand, call him” and Rayna is like “...Nah.” Also, Mrs. Damage Control has been hired to control all of this damage. Sleep with Deacon or Liam? Is there a sex tape? By the way, don’t go to Deacon’s birthday party. Oh, Deacon’s having a birthday party? Is he ever!
Elsewhere. Teddy calls Peggy, letting her know that “his people” tell him that he needs to distance himself from her, but he will think of something! You know who else thought of something? Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford “thought of something,” and now there is an entire Wikipedia article dedicated to “Mark Sanford disappearance and extramarital affair.” Good luck hiking that trail, buddy.
Rayna and Tandy (were they named using Scrabble tiles?) are at the girls’ ballet practice. A Dance Mom pulls the “bless your heart” routine on Rayna’s life troubles, but that’s not the worst of it: they get all paparazzi-blasted as soon as they go outside. Good thing they parked the SUV literally right in front of the door, downtown.
Back at home, Rayna is watching her soon-to-be ex-husband hold a press conference on TV. Very common problem, really relatable scenario. I remember when my first ex-boyfriend wrote an editorial in Time magazine about our failed relationship, I’m sure you have a similar story (probably involving Facebook?). Teddy lies that no one cheated, and that Peggy is my new financial consultant! HAHAHA. Isn’t the one thing we know about Peggy that she’s an incompetent financial criminal? “My alleged lover, a noted vegan author, is now the manager of my butcher shop. Nothing to see here.” Hiking that Appalachian Trail for some Appalachian tail! (Workshopping that one at an open mic night 3 years ago, c u there.)
Lamar shows up for the first time in aaaages, hooray! He smells of pipe tobacco and gravitas, and is clearly a “circle the wagons” sort of man. He tells Rayna, basically, that Teddy can go fuck himself. That he thought when he put Teddy up for mayor, it would help him “right his ship,” because Teddy is a looooser. Fight back. Be proud. Haters to the left. Lamar out. *mic drop*
Rayna ignores the expensive advice of Damage Control Lady, and straight rolls up on Deacon’s party anyway. More paparazzi face blasts, and at one point she recognizes a guy and is like “Did The Tennessean stop paying you? I thought you were a REAL photojournalist” and uh, Rayna, they probably did stop paying him? No one is buying CDs or newspapers, you’re in this together.
But who cares about this guy lowering himself to feed his family, it’s Deacon’s party! Everyone is there! Pam Tillis! Juliette’s mom! Some guy in a red hat?
Fred Durst? Kip Moore! Dan Auerbach! Vince Gill! Rayna sings a song, and it sounds like a lady version of Everlast’s “What It’s Like.” She apologizes to Deacon for blowing up at him in Chicago, and says she’s lookin’ at a world full-a question marks. Good news, Rayna is The Riddler now.
Teddy meets with Lamar, who attempts to pressure him into appointing Some Guy as Deputy Mayor. Teddy is Mr. Straight-Arrow all of a sudden, and says that he “took an oath” and Lamar is all “isn’t that like a vow?” and the secretary listening at the door went “Oh snap.” Teddy also meets with Coleman, because he’s grown and he’ll do what he wants. Coleman publicly and literally allies himself with “Team Rayna" (bought the t-shirt and everything) but still accepts when Teddy offers him the Deputy Mayor position because Lamar’s not the boss of him!
Green Hills Mall! Juliette, let’s meet in Sephora and try on lipsticks and make fun of our enemies. (I love you.) You know who else I love? Jolene! Yes, Juliette has taken her junkie mom on a shopping spree, and the two of them (plus an assistant and bodyguard) decide to throw Deacon a big ol’ surprise party. But how to get Deacon to the party? Why, doesn’t he have a niece in town? Yes, a terrible one. How convenient.
Also, mom has a foxy new addiction counselor named Dante. Hi, Dante! Juliette won’t attend the family session because of party planning. Understandable.
Juliette rolls up, via chauffeur, on garbage raccoon Scarlett. “Get Deacon to the Bluebird for his party,” Juliette commands. “He hates them,” Scarlett foolishly rebuts. “I don’t care,” Juliette responds. “I guess if I tell him we’re singing he’ll come, do you want us to sing? Really can we sing?” Scarlett oversells. “I could not give less of a damn. You can say you opened for Juliette Barnes.” Oh Juliette, you are a wonder.
Deacon’s party! Apparently Deacon loves Old Yeller and normally spends his birthdays watching it and tries to argue that Old Yeller is not sad. For a quick laugh, Deacon checks out the last few minutes of Six Feet Under. Reads a couple of Wikipedia articles on WWII for an afternoon pick-up me. Deacon is crazy.
But you know who is very crazy? The waitress who gave Jolene a glass of champagne! I cannot believe Juliette did not account for this, and threaten the lives of staff who might give her Junkie Mom access to drugs/alcohol. Juliette has foxy Dante called up and takes her mother home. As she’s putting her drunk mom to bed, Jolene apologizes for ruining the party. “Deacon loved it,” Juliette protests. Not Deacon’s party — the party when you turned nine. Uh-oh.
Dante arrives and asks why Juliette was so hell-bent on throwing a perfect party, and she tells him her side of the story: her mother had rented a room at an ice cream parlor for her ninth birthday — the first party she was ever going to have. But they had to cancel it because mom spent all the money on drugs. Little Juliette ran away, and returned a few hours later to find Jolene passed out with a lit cigarette. She put it out, but she wanted to walk away and let her die. Infinitely sad. Don’t tell Deacon, he’ll call it a laugh riot. Hopefully Dante and his lovely jet black hair and deep eyes can help this family heal.
Scarlett, a bad sketch of a sexy fairy drawn by an immensely lonely 13-year-old, arrives at home with paper bags of groceries, and two of her grocery items are very noticeable additional paper bags. Gunnar’s runaway con brother Jason notes that milk and cleaning products were in the same bag, which is a breach of bagging protocol. Gunnar walks in and he and his brother put the bags on their heads (aha!) and talk about packing sacks to save backs, please leave your joke about “sacks” in the comments.
Later, Gunnar walks in on Scarlett scrubbing a hole through the linoleum. She says that she cleans when she has writer’s block, because girl has internalized the Disney princess narrative so hard she actually believes herself to be Cinderella. Seek help, you unwell little hamster. She requests Jason’s dirty laundry because why the hell not, may as well soap out the farts of some dude you just met a week ago. Jason’s gun drops from the clothes pile and Gunnar is pissed; he unloads the gun and runs off to confront Jason.
The brothers inconspicuously meet right by the river, right downtown. “I’d love to forget about my past but it ain’t gonna forget about me,” Jason protests in defense of his weapon. He says that he is owed a life for the time he served, partly on Gunnar’s behalf. Gunnar isn’t having it, and throws the gun in the river, which is littering and I believe punishable by a fine. Now who’s the criminal?
Deacon’s party: Scarlett and Gunnar do their little music thing. Everyone is just wowed by these two, like it’s Mozart and Mama Cass up there, jaws are on the floor. I perceive them to be competent/good at doing a thing that does not interest me in the least. Gunnar confesses to Scarlett that he hasn’t heard from Jason in two days, and ignored the last call he made. Now detectives are approaching him. Uh-oh! Gunnar buggers off with them, and Scarlett texts him “where r u?” because of course she texts like that, of course she does. Of course.
Gunnar r in the morgue because his brother is dead. RIP Jason, you were born to die to further the growth of a more important character, like so many Old Yellers in this world.
Home. There is no man currently in Scarlett’s presence, so she is sitting and staring at the floor, thinking about, ha, just kidding, she is not thinking. A completely rattled Gunnar appears: His brother was beaten to death in an alleyway. Gunnar feels guilty: because his brother didn’t have the gun, he had no way to defend himself, which I guess means he learned absolutely nothing in prison. Aren’t you supposed to fight all the time and get mad beefy in there? Anyway. His brother is dead and it’s pretty sad! Until. Until. Until Scarlett, in the ultimate act of weird grossness, climbs atop Gunnar and proceeds to kiss him. “My brother’s dead and I have to call our mother and tell her and now I have a boner.” GROSS, Scarlett, you are gross. And good job on popping that death boner, Gunnar. Try not to get too crazy with your grossness.
Deacon had a surprise party! Juliette gave him a puppy!
You know, we made it 22 minutes into this episode before we saw Avery. Did anyone’s face light up when they realized we were watching an Avery segment? Did anyone call their mom to say “Whew, I thought this was going to be an Avery-less episode for a second! Good thing we’re checking in on everyone’s favorite guy!” So close.
Anyway, he has $100,000 now, so he is buying a $25,000 guitar. Of course. The music store guy describes Avery’s new music as “different” from his 5 Spot stuff, and asks if he would call it “hip-hop” or “indie punk,” two things that are so diametrically different that it can’t be anything other than terrible. “Would you call this a custard or a pot roast?” “That’s my baby.” “Good luck.” Watty White randomly appears in the music store, and randomly starts a gear conversation, because he is a dork. Avery decides upon boldness and asks advice about what he should do for his sound. Watty says “ ‘Should’ is not the right word when it comes to music.” Uh, thanks for nothing? “ ‘Over’ is not the right word when it comes to architecture.” “ ‘Potato’ is not the right word when it comes to glass-blowing.”
He tries to go to The Bluebird and hang but is not on the list for Deacon’s party and is turned away at the door. Ha-ha.
Forever sad, Avery decides to return the guitar, which is wise, because it cost a quarter of what he got from the publishing company. He was thinking about buying a $25,000 keyboard, a $25,000 set of drums and $25,000 worth of cocaine to really show this town what’s what, but I guess recalled at the last minute things like “food” and “rent.” As he’s perusing the shop, an out-of-nowhere earthquake strikes Nashville. Guitars upon guitars are falling from the shelves, falling from the ceiling, falling all over the place. Everyone survives, but one: young Avery Barker’s body is found in the rubble, pierced with fret shrapnel and black and blue from, I don’t know, balsa wood? No one cared.