The Beverly/Rayna rivalry hasn’t, it seems, entirely been extinguished by recent events. Deacon feels as if he should be spending time with Bev at the hospital, given that she went into a coma after, y’know, SAVING HIS LIFE BY HANDING OVER HALF A LIVER, but Rayna wants to get laid. Perhaps she’s influenced by Beverly’s ongoing recovery: Bev has, we are told, “passed several brain function tests”, which is more than Mayor Teddy could have done, and a triumph in itself if they were being administered by Dr Boring. Anyway, Beverly spends much of the episode playing nice and generally reconciling with everyone, so for those familiar with the tropes of soapy TV drama the ending comes as no shock at all.
But we’ll get to that in due course. Some big hat dude act decides – quite reasonably, if you ask me – that Highway 65 isn’t the label for him. Which leaves Rayna needing a new signing quickly. Fortunately – well, not if you have to hear it, but still – The Girls are rehearsing a song written by Markus Keen (Riley Smith), the lead singer in their favourite group, Boulevard (sic). One is reminded of Alan Partridge’s house band. (“Glenn Ponder and Chalet!”) Anyway, Boulevard are splitting up, and Markus needs a new home. Every label in the world wants a piece of Markus, but Rayna books a seat next to him on a plane, promises him creative freedom, and gives him lots of money. All her money, in fact.
Lavishing attention on Markus, though, leaves her and Bucky no time for poor little Layla, who plays at the Bluebird Café to an appreciative audience of strangers: no label boss; no manager; and no boyfriend, because Jeff – he is still her boyfriend, isn’t he? I may have forgotten something – is at the launch party for Juliette’s new album, and when he isn’t doing that he’s snarling down the phone at Layla. As it happens, her performance at the Bluebird is rather lovely, and it impresses at least one person: our old friend Glenn, who has presumably needed quite a lot of time off after being Juliette’s manager, but now wants to get back into the fray.
As for Juliette: she starts the episode on Live with Kelly and Michael, breaking down when confronted with a photo of the husband and daughter she doesn’t seem to want anything to do with. “It’s the closest I’ve come to seeing my wife in weeks”, muses Avery, watching at home. Jeff – protecting his investment all the while – tells Avery to reconnect with his wife, so he drops in on some appalling homecoming party she’s having, and they make up to the point where Avery publicly vows that he and Cadence will be going on tour with Juliette. This clearly doesn’t suit Juliette, who does yet another runner, this time equipping herself with a new phone that no-one has the number to. Presumably even St Avery’s patience will be exhausted ere long. Hayden Panettiere is still knocking it out of the park, incidentally.
And a bad week for Will. Luke wants to keep him on W******’ D*****’, but he’s being counselled by his new consigliere – syrupy-voiced PR siren Gabriella – to drop Will like a big gay hot potato, because the country demographic won’t stand for it, which is sort of confirmed when no-one wants to be seen with Will at Juliette’s album launch party. So Luke has the gonna-have-to-let-you-go chat with Will, although he tries to sugar the pill by asking Will if he wants to write for him. So, uh, back to Highway 65, Will?
Meantime, Will’s roomie Gunnar is also… actually, #Gunnlett can just eff the eff off. Really. An overcaffeinated Gunnar is hopping around, waiting for Scarlett to turn up at a band meeting to okay some publicity photos. Which she does, along with Dr Yoko, like it’s any of his business. Gunnar snipes all the while about how the shots were photoshopped to make them look as if they like each other; which was only necessary, Gunnar, because you sulked your way through the shoot, Gunnar, like a big guitar-playing puffy-haired BABY. Subsequently Gunnar confronts Dr Yoko, who smoothly condescends to him, Scarlett, the Exes, and the whole idea of a career in music: “It’s not like you guys are saving lives”.
But finally some good news: Scarlett, unaware that her past, present, and (presumably) future boyfriends are fightin’ and feudin’, is fussin’ around Beverly’s hospital room when Bev, presumably having had enough of being pleasant to people, suddenly goes slack of jaw and fixed of pupil. Fingers crossed. A much better episode all round.