This is coming very late, so will genuinely be short, as I don’t remember all the details. (Getting older, don’tcha know…) But I remember the most important thing, which is that

RAYNA CAN SING, Y’ALL!!!!

Hallelujah and great day in the morning, her throat is healed.  But we don’t know that right away. As we open, all we know is that she’s still a bit tight, and her vocal coach suggests it’s stress. Is Rayna under any of that lately?

Deacon is, because his hand’s still kaput–but he’s working on it, and relieving some of his stress by sleeping with his lawyer lady. Good job, you two–go get it. Juliette pops by to ask him to come back on her tour as musical director, if he doesn’t feel up to playing, but he says it hurts too much to be around music when he can’t do what he once did. Juliette is sad, but understands…although she’s still out a lead guitarist.

Scarlett is stressed because she has to put her media training to the test, and unfortunately, she’s kind of an idiot who wouldn’t recognize a sound bite if it hit her over the head with a guitar. While she sits in the green room with Flavor of the Month (whose name turns out to be Layla), she’s reviewing her notecards with her “story” written out. Under the guise of being friendly and helpful, FOTM takes her cards and tears them up, telling Scarlett just to be herself, and people will love her. (She also tells us that she deferred Harvard to do her talent show, which is a hint that she is not just smarter than dimwitted naive Scarlett, but A LOT smarter. Plus probably a soulless Yankee.)

On the red carpet, Scarlett is all a-sparkle in Swarovski, but after struggling through her first answer, she gets a curveball when a reporter asks about Deacon’s role in Rayna’s accident. Scarlett totally flubs it and has to be rescued by New Label Guy, who is NOT happy that she ditched the cards. He sends her packing in disgrace. Meanwhile, FOTM is clinging to Will and making gleeful eyes at Scarlett’s meltdown; said glee does not go unnoticed by Will, who figures out that FOTM is a bitch. However, the bitch is angling for him, even tweeting about #laylaandwill so that they get buzz…and before you can say, “Hello, Beardy,” Will and Layla are in a fauxmance for the papers.

This is even more convenient because they’re now both on tour with Juliette. She can’t stand FOTM either, so she suggests adding some testosterone into the mix, and Will fits the bill. This gets him temporarily out of the doghouse he’s in with NLG because he couldn’t land Gunnar’s song. Will “auditioned” for Juliette at a benefit concert hosted by  country star Luke Wheeler (apparently played by real musician Luke Bryan), and at which Juliette will be inducted into the Grand Ol’ Opry by Rayna herself.

The benefit is almost over, and Luke comes out to tell Juliette he has a surprise, before introducing Rayna. She gives a lovely little intro before telling Juliette she’s invited to join the Opry, and Juliette’s genuinely touched and thrilled. Then Luke presses Rayna to sing a little something! She demurs, but Luke won’t take no for an answer, and Rayna can spot NLG grinning evilly in the audience. So she sucks it up and starts. It’s a little tentative and sticky at first, and she stops…only for the crowd to pick up the line and sing it back to her. She holds out the mike, thrilled, and they sing her verse enough for her to chime back in, full-throated and fully-healed. IT’S A MIRACLE! Juliette, meanwhile, is peeved that her moment was stepped on…but not as peeved as she becomes when after the concert, she hears Luke calling her a “flash in the pan” and saying that he wanted Rayna to sing so the benefit would have a real moment. Rayna, in a moment of genuine shittiness, doesn’t defend her former tour partner and the woman who just recently PICKED YOUR KID UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND HELPED YOU CONNECT WITH HER, RAYNA. Not cool.

On the politics side, Tandy has struck a deal with the Feds to bring down Lamar and give her immunity, but that is contingent on her silence to everyone, including Rayna. This will prove problematic because Rayna has decided to buy her Highway 65 label from NLG…with Daddy’s money. (Not very empowered, Raynz!) And riding high off her benefit victory, she says as much to NLG. But oh noes! Daddy has just had all his assets frozen by the Feds! This is awkward.

polar bear facepalm

 

Our final stress cases are Gunnar and Zoe. It starts because Avery and Gunnar are singing a (very good) song together and Avery suggests that it could use a female voice as well, and why don’t they ask Zoe? Gunnar gets super-awkward (see polar bear) in the way of writers suddenly deciding to retcon a longtime crush, but whatevs, they’re both pretty. The three of them meet at Gunnar’s house and sing the song (with Zoe hardly singing, I might observe)…and then cut to Gunnar and Zoe macking! And then sleeping together! Zoe sneaks out for ye old walk of shame, feeling guilty about breaking the Girl Code.

The only people not stressed at the end of this episode are Scarlett and Deacon. Scarlett’s come back from the benefit, a sad Cinderella, deciding that she doesn’t want all this and would just prefer to sing at the Bluebird. Deacon teases her a bit and plinks around on the piano. Scarlett asks him to play, and the two of them go out on a pretty, sweet song, while we realize that for both of these characters, music will always be with them. Awwwww.