Talk about big drama and even bigger hair! Nashville has finally arrived — and it is seriously better (and hotter!) than we could have possibly imagined. There were shocking hookups, plenty of dreamy bad boys, and, of course, some amazing country songs. And all we want to know is, when do we get to have our city’s mayor name a day after us?
The episode begins with Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) — the once-beloved superstar whose career is starting to fade — singing onstage at a fancy country music event in all her sequined glory. (Come to think of it, this show’s sequin budget must be through the roof.)
We also meet Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Rayna’s lead guitarist — who we can see from the looks they shared (and this is later confirmed) that he had a relationship with Rayna years earlier. Three minutes into the show, and the drama is almost too much for us to handle!
Deacon introduces Rayna to his niece, Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen), who is Rayna’s biggest fan (but why wouldn’t she claim to be her biggest fan, right?). Scarlett is an aspiring poet —because she wants to make the big money, we assume — but is working at the popular bar/venue Bluebird Cafe. Scarlett is also dating aspiring singer Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), and we can tell just from his scruffy facial hair that he’s gonna be trouble.
The drama is even more intense backstage, as Rayna is told by her record label that she needs to make nice with the super-popular Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who is on the same label and selling loads of albums. Their exchange is not what you would call cordial, with Juliette saying that her mom is a fan (ouch!), and Rayna retorting that Juliette’s “girls” were gonna fall out. (Uh, is that seriously Rayna’s best comeback? That Juliette has big boobs?)
Rayna then finds out why the label was so insistent that she meet Juliette: Rayna’s tour and album aren’t exactly selling like hotcakes, so the label wants to send her out on a “co-headlining” tour with Juliette. The catch? Rayna will go on before the new ingenue. (And if you ask Rayna, that’s one heckuva catch.)
Rayna has a couple of days before she has to let the new label honcho, Marshall, know what she thinks. However, saying that Rayna isn’t thrilled about the tour is the understatement of the year, considering that she throws the remote control while she’s watching Juliette on TV. (Not the remote! That’s the most priceless item in the house, if you ask us!)
And as if this week couldn’t be any worse for poor Rayna, she also has to deal with her controlling — and just a wee bit scary — father, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), a wealthy politician. Rayna gets dragged to a ceremony for the announcement of “Lamar Wyatt Day,” where we meet Rayna’s sister, Tandy. Tandy is so supportive of their dad that we initially assumed she was his spouse (and that’s never an assumption that you want someone to make about you and your father!).
Things get weird(er) when it turns out that Lamar wants Rayna’s husband, Teddy Conrad (Eric Close) — and the father of her two children (we think?) — to be his puppet candidate for mayor. Teddy has had financial troubles in the past with some real estate deals that went way, way bad (translation: Teddy is no Donald Trump) — so when Lamar says jump, Teddy asks how high.
Rayna tries getting her career back on track without that dreaded tour, so she asks her songwriter Randy for new songs. He says he’s now working for Juliette — and is he ever (!), seeing as how Juliette is naked in his bed as he and Rayna chat. (Talk about sleeping with the enemy.) Juliette overhears that Rayna doesn’t think she can sing — which means Rayna has now made a bad second impression with Juliette, too. (Maybe the third impression will be the charm?)
Over at the Bluebird Cafe, we learn that sound engineer Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) has a thing for Deacon’s niece, Scarlett. We also see Deacon perform and the dude has still got it. In fact, Juliette appears to agree with us, given that she later asks him to be her bandleader, offering to pay him double what Rayna is paying and promising that they can have some “fun” on the road.
And by the way, by “fun on the road,” we’re guessing Juliette has more in mind than just playing the license plate game. (What — who doesn’t enjoy passing time on road trips with the license plate game? It’s a blast!)
The stress is getting to Rayna, and she has a minor flip-out (okay, it was kind of a major flip-out — we were just trying to be polite) during a rehearsal. She tries to relieve stress by taking a walk with Deacon, and we learn that she and Deacon apparently used to have other ways to relieve stress (wink wink). Deacon tells her about Juliette’s offer, and Rayna wishes everything could go back to the way it was — meaning she was still with Deacon. Gulp. (Don’t tell Teddy!)
Speaking of Teddy, Rayna ain’t thrilled that he has accepted her father’s offer, since she’s afraid that her dad will now control Teddy (and from what we’ve seen of her dad, we think Rayna is dead-on). She tells her dad this, and her dad threatens to tell Teddy something about their daughter Maddie. Say what?
So could this mean that Deacon is actually the father of one of Rayna’s daughters, but that Teddy doesn’t know? And why the heck does her dad know? Creepy! Uh, have we mentioned yet that this family has issues? Because it does. (We’re sorry — we didn’t mean to disrespect Lamar Wyatt on “Lamar Wyatt Day.” Nobody should be respected on the day that’s named after them!)
Finally, it’s time for that meeting with record honcho Marshall. Marshall isn’t impressed by Rayna’s talk about her career accolades — he just wants to focus on the fact that her album isn’t selling. So how does Rayna respond? She delivers the line of the night, telling him that he can kiss her decision as it’s walking out the door. Apparently, that’s how country legends say “kiss my butt.” Now we know.
Finally, we see that Randy has arrived at Juliette’s for a little one-on-one rehearsal (more winking from us) — and he’s right to assume that Juliette would want to see him, as she seemed really into him when she s kissed him earlier after she had to tell her drug-addicted mother that she wouldn’t give her any money. But now that Juliette’s of clearer mind, she’s not interested in Randy.
In fact, Juliette walks in to her house and hops onto the lap of a different guy, who happens to be — wait for it! — Deacon. Holy coup! Way to go, Deacon. And so much for all that schmoopy-schmoopy talk between him Rayna, eh?
So in the final scene, Scarlett is now performing songs with Gunnar, and they’re impressing Mr. White, the town’s radio personality. (Because why wouldn’t the most popular radio DJ in Nashville spend his free time at open-mic nights?)
Mr. White then calls Rayna, who is about to go onstage to endorse her husband as mayor — not his rival, Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom). Awkward, because she already promised to perform at Carlisle’s announcement. In other words, the drama surrounding our real-life presidential election has nothing on this one!
All in all, this episode provided one shocker after another. We’re already completely smitten with Rayna and Deacon (Team Dayna for the win!), and we’re even intrigued by Juliette, since her mama drama — along with the harsh feedback she gets on her voice — make us kinda want to root for her, despite her overall bitchiness. And then there’s the Rayna-Teddy drama, especially with this cray-cray Maddie allegation.
Gah! How could they squeeze so much into one episode? And now we can’t wait for next week’s episode! If anyone needs us, we’ll be passing around a petition to get a day named after us. Wish us luck.