Rayna's out of the hospital, Deacon's out of prison and there's a new Edgehill label head in town -- "a Harvard MBA beancounter," Rayna says when she learns the news.
CEO Jeff Fordham is a classic slickster. In a meeting with Juliette Barnes, he tells her (despite her having just won CMA's Best Female Vocalist award) that her new album isn't moving well at all with her former tweens demographic and that Rayna's new album is outselling her. "Your audience isn't maturing along with you," he say. "Would you like me to have my own near-death experience?" Juliette replies.
Meeting with Rayna, he butters her up - and a few minutes later, tries to poach Will Lexington away from Rayna's Highway 65 boutique label.
Scarlett tells Rayna she's moved in with her uncle Deacon, and asks if it will make Rayna uncomfortable. "In Nashville, if everyone who had a complicated relationship didn't work with each other, we wouldn't get anything done," Rayna replies. Talk about an understatement!
Later, Scarlett is trying to get Deacon to see a specialist about his hand. He snaps at her. Grrr. We know Scarlett will prevail, she's like that busybody angel in Touched By An Angel. Or something.
Sleazy Jeff begins a full-court press to sign Will. "Will I still get to work with Rayna?" Will asks. "Rayna's label is the farm team and I'm inviting you to the majors," Jeff tells him. He promises a major marketing push and full tour support. I don't see it. Will's not that good.
Maddie and Rayna have a talk about Deacon being her father. "What happens now?" Maddie asks. "Am I supposed to split my time between you, Daddy and Deacon?" Like every kid in a major shakeup, she wants to know how it will affect her life. She ends up flouncing out of the room in a teenage snit. Kids!
Buck tells Rayna Jeff's trying to poach Will from Highway 65 for Edgehill. Bastard!
Juliette complains to Avery, "The new head of the label is trying to prove he has balls by breaking mine." She tells him they're going to Alabama -- with a TV crew along for the ride. They end up touring the trailer park where she lived as a kid, and she's taken aback by an unexpected reunion with an old neighbor who used to take care of her. Miss Kitty, as she's known, hands her a quilt she's made with pictures from Juliette's childhood. "Nice quilt," Avery says as they walk away. "Like it? You keep it," she says, and thrusts it at him.
Scarlett tricks a reluctant Deacon into the car for an appointment with a hand specialist. The doctor says she doesn't know if he'll ever return to what's normal for him, and Deacon of course immediately decides to give up. Because that's who he is!
Rayna takes Will to the historic Ryman auditorium, basically saying if he goes with Jeff, he'll only be flavor of the month. She, on the other hand, wants him to have a career worthy of the Ryman stage. "I will always have your back," she tells him. "Ask yourself if that's true of Jeff." (I think we all know the answer, amirite?)
Meanwhile, Jeff's assistant (who's the guy Will hit on last week) shows up at Will's place to reassure him his gay secret is safe with him. "My boss thinks you're the next big thing. I don't want to get in the way of that," he says.
Back home, Juliette is watching the TV show featuring her trip to Alabama. She tears up a bit. "You want to talk about it?" Avery asks. "I just want to sell records," she says. "Why do you care how I feel, anyway?" "We're friends. Aren't we?" he says. I do believe our Avery might be growing up.
Rayna and Deacon meet at the crash site because Deacon called her. She looks at the stuffed animals and candles: "It's like they expected us to die." Deacon tells her he doesn't know if he can play anymore, he doesn't know if the program will work... "I didn't want you to be the one I'd call, but you are," he confesses.
But Rayna's a little more grounded since the crash. "We tried so hard to save each other," she says. "I think we need to save ourselves now." She hands him the ring he gave her so many years ago, when he proposed. After she drives away, he throws it on the pile. Bitter much?
Rayna goes home and tells Teddy they shouldn't be playing house. "It's too confusing for the girls." Teddy says he knows they're never getting back together, but misses their family and wants to help. "It would be the easy thing to do. But it wouldn't be the right thing to do," Rayna says.
Deacon's selling off his guitars, and Scarlett has a fit. "You're a damned fool," she says. She says the doctor didn't say he'd never play again, and demands to know "what 13 years of sobriety was worth throwing away for?" He responds that Maddie is his daughter, his life is awful, oh woe is me. (Doesn't anyone ever think to steer this emotional basket case to a shrink? Sheesh!) "Man up. Don't be a coward," she says, and walks out. Of course she gets through to him -- she's the wise Scarlett! Deacon saws off his cast and starts trying to play.
Gunnar gets past his writer's block and performs a new song at the Bluebird's open mike. "It's about the biggest heartache I ever had," he says, and performs "Adios My Friend." It's about his dead brother.
Meanwhile, Rayna, Juliette and Will are all at Jeff's Edgehill welcome party. He introduces nineteen-year-old American Hitmaker runner-up Layla Grant to the crowd as his new artist, announcing that her new single just went to No. 1 on Itunes (knocking Juliette out of the top slot. Uh oh). To add insult to injury, the song is a crappy cover of one of Juliette's tween pleasers, and she performs it for the partygoers. (If looks could kill.) Rayna has also just found out that Will signed with Jeff ("I'm not an artist, I'm just a guy who plays other people's songs," he tells her, apologizing for how things turned out). She warns Will again to watch his back.
Watching Layla perform (lipsync), Rayna tells manager Buck, "Maybe I don't belong here anymore." Buck warns her not to do anything rash, but it's clear she's going to break away from Edgehill -- and it's just as clear that eventually, the unhappy Juliette will follow her.