Rayna is suddenly desperate to get away from the Highway 65 balance sheets and back on stage. I kind of hadn’t noticed, but, yes, it has been a while since Rayna – who is, after all, a country singer – has done any actual country singing on a regular basis. So she snags a slot on a charity show for missing women; then – as predicted by CJ last week – suggests to Bucky that they might put on “a big show” for that cause; then decides to go on tour herself, in order to give Layla someone to support; then bulldozes onto Autumn Chase’s stage to sing a duet with her.
Which, we are led to believe, is something you might just want to be careful about. The Exes turn up for a tour meeting just in time to see Autumn totally fire some dude for a relatively minor mistake, then they have to endure dinner with her, at which she grills them relentlessly about their relationship. Insofar as she has an evil plan, it seems to be to drive the Exes apart: she hints that Gunnar is the star songwriter of the duo (something which Gunnar, to his credit, shuts down); then she blabs about their private life at an afterparty, to the point where Scarlett feels obliged to intervene and ask her not to. Autumn praises Scarlett for speaking out, but has a furious look on her face when Scarlett walks away, and by the end of the party is behaving somewhat coquettishly with Gunnar. Dude. Do not fall for this. Gunnlett remains my endgame.
As well as Rayna, someone else who’s been missing from the country scene is, of course, Juliette, now keen to get back to work. Thing is, she needs a manager, and the obvious candidate is Glenn. Well, obvious unless you’re Glenn, who when he sees Juliette at the door of his office has a look of terror which is almost comical. “What are you doing here?!” he asks, while visibly wondering whether his will is up to date. He declines to put himself through the ordeal of managing Juliette again, prompting her to ask Avery, “Does Glenn hate me?” Tricky territory, this, as Avery recognises. “Well, uh, not exactly hate”, he doesn’t say, conceding instead that “there was a lot to love” about Juliette before her breakdown. This is an obvious falsehood, but Juliette and Avery share a smile and a look which means, I’d say, that the countdown to Julvery Uno Mas is on. Avery then doubles down on membership of Team Juliette by tricking Glenn into attending the Opry to hear Juliette performing, at the end of which Glenn agrees to take Juliette on as a client again.
Avery and Juliette’s growing closeness doesn’t go unnoticed by Layla, who having wangled herself a slot on the Luke/Riff tour asks Avery to go along with her as band leader and bed sharer, although she doesn’t explicitly mention the second of these functions for now. Although the tour itself might be in jeopardy: in the final scene a tearful woman, who, to be honest, I didn’t recognise at first, runs into Luke’s office: it’s Mrs Riff. Anyway, Riff has gone missing and she doesn’t know where he is. Thing is, I don’t care where he is: perhaps he’s with Vita?
Will, meantime, is writing with Kevin again, to tidy up one or two of their songs. While they’re working together Kevin gets a call from his new boyfriend, something which Will is unbelievable pissy about, like it’s anything to do with him.
And Older Girl, egged on by Cash, steals out of the house without telling anyone in order to play at a sleazy bar. Younger Girl overhears their conversation and faux-inadvertently tells Deacon, who gets down to the bar just as OG is about to start. And then the most surprising thing happens: OG is good. Really good. Actually, exceptionally good. Whether a sixteen-year-old should be singing a song whose essential message is I’m-a-bad-girl is, perhaps, something on which more than one opinion is available. But it can hardly be denied that she’s moved on from twee duets with YG, and that Rayna and Deacon might do well to recognise that. For the moment Deacon manages to contain himself, right up to the point at which a bro starts pawing his daughter’s leg, whereupon he intervenes in classically understated Deacon style and drags OG away, Cash sniping all the while as if it were any of her business. Great stuff. This might have been the best episode of the season.