Rayna’s hoping that Luke will take the high ground after she publicly humiliated him and broke his heart. On the other hand, Bucky’s more realistic assessment is that “we may need to brace for the worst”. Bucky’s right: Luke starts off by driving his pickup truck at the wedding cake, then sending the bill for the wedding to Rayna (understandably), then going round to Deacon’s to pick a fight, calling Rayna a bitch along the way. Unfortunately, Deacon smacks him around, and video of Luke getting his ass kicked by a man with liver cancer goes viral. Still, at least The Girls are unhappy when they find out, although when are they ever happy these days?
And it’s also the morning after Jeff’s recreation of the last days of the Roman Empire. The police are prepared to overlook the drinking, the drugs, and the hos, they tell Mayor Teddy, but not so much the girl found floating face-down in the pool. Layla will eventually come round, although not before Will realises that she’s now aware of him cheating on her with men and women. So their marriage is (finally) over, and Jeff is able to get the reality show cancelled, meaning that there’s nothing standing between him and Jayla4EVA, apart from the age gap, the decency gap, and the fact that she might need a few months to clear her head. Or maybe go to Harvard and get the eff away from the lot of them.
The sweetest moment of the episode is undoubtedly when Gunnar finds out that Avery has married Juliette, and kind of bro-hugs him to the ground. It’s possibly the best news of the week for Gunnar: for some reason, he’s decided not to tell Micah about the paternity test, and continue his now-doomed fight for custody. Eventually he lets Micah in on the secret, and Micah decides he wants to go with his grandparents. I’d like to think that’s the last of this storyline, endearing though Micah has been, but the final exchange between Gunnar and the grandparents suggests it might endure.
By comparison, Avery’s problems this week are kind of trivial: he’s moving in to Juliette’s house, but she doesn’t like an old chair of his. My patience would have been tried by weeks of “It just doesn’t feel like my house! It feels like I’m a guest!” so it’s fortunate that this is all sorted out quickly. There’s trouble ahead for Sadie, though, who has bought a gun to protect herself from her violent ex. I will be amazed if she doesn’t use it within the next couple of weeks. Amazed.
But it’s the Rayna/Luke/Deacon love triangle which closes the episode out. Rayna goes to Luke’s house to sue for peace, but he’s not interested. (And, much as I don’t like dude, can I say again that I really don’t blame him?) In fact, he goes on to make a point which is undoubtedly vindictive, but perhaps has more than a grain of truth. I’d actually been thinking for a few weeks that the revival in Rayna’s career – the show started, after all, with her star on the slide and Juliette’s on the rise – had gone largely unacknowledged. Well, Luke acknowledges the hell out of it: pre-Ruke, Rayna’s career was going nowhere; now, she’s got CMAs coming out of her ears and playing stadia again.
Luke rounds an unhappy day off by playing an impromptu gig at his house for 500 fans and airing a new woman-done-me-wrong song, called, I think, ‘If I Drink This Beer’, which is better than anything else we’ve ever heard from him by an almost risible margin. Maybe heartbreak suits him. And Rayna heads off to start her dance with Deacon again, although what she doesn’t know is that this time the clock (in the shape of a tumour on his liver) is ticking (growing), so she doesn’t have forever to make her mind up. I like Deacon, but in all honesty I’m kind of over him and Rayna as a couple, which perhaps meant that I didn’t enjoy this episode quite as much as some others this season. That and the fact that Hayden Panettiere, seasons 1 and 2’s MVP, is perforce being used more and more sparingly as we go on.