'Nashville' song-cap: Happy birthday, Mr. Claybourne

Sarah D. Bunting
Yahoo! TV
"Nashville" -- "Dear Brother" CONNIE BRITTON
"Dear Brother" - Juliette plans a surprise birthday party for Deacon, which is attended by real-life country stars Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, Kate York and Kip Moore. During the celebration, Rayna sings, backed up by Pam Tillis and Kate York as themselves, Watty White (JD Souther) and Adria (Erin McCarley). However, Juliette's own performance is derailed by her mother. As Rayna and Teddy's divorce moves forward, the tabloids move in, speculating about Rayna's cheating and thrusting her children into the spotlight; Teddy decides to bring Peggy into his mayoral fold and holds a press conference to make it look like it's all business; and Gunnar's brother charms Scarlett with his singing, on "Nashville."

Every song is a story, as they say. Let's take a look at the stories from last night's "Nashville" episode, "Dear Brother."

Juliette's planning a surprise party for Deacon's birthday. Deacon, typically, would rather spend the day like he does every year, watching "Old Yeller" on VHS, but of course it's not really about Deacon for Juliette, who's refusing to take part in Jolene's counseling sessions. Below, Juliette rehearses for her party performance and gives the addiction counselor lip:

Predictably, that goes pear-shaped with a quickness when an unsupervised Jolene starts slamming champers and Juliette has to take her home. She doesn't get to perform, but she does talk to the addiction counselor about her ninth-birthday party, cancelled because Jolene spent the money for it on drugs. And Deacon gets her present -- a yellow Lab puppy -- the next day.

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Juliette enlists Scarlett to get Deacon to the party, and "lets" Scarlett and Gunnar play before her own set. Here's their party duet, watched jealously by Avery, who's having an artistic identity crisis (when he asks Watty Wyatt for advice, he's told that "should" is "not the right word when it comes to music, son").

A sweet song, made somewhat bitter in retrospect when, shortly afterwards, the cops come to talk to Gunnar. He'd kicked Jason out earlier, and thrown Jason's gun in the river; they'd fought over who owed Jason his eight years back. Now Gunnar's having to ID Jason's body. Jason was beaten to death in an alley, evidently, and Gunnar blames himself. Nice work by Sam Palladio as he reacts to the loss. Scarlett's reaction is to start kissing him, so that's finally being consummated...

Elsewhere, Rayna's dealing with the divorce fallout, namely that the tabloids got hold of the story somehow and now she's practically a prisoner at home -- not to mention that they're accusing her of having affairs with Liam and Deacon while Teddy merrily continues sleeping with Peggy (and even installing her as a "financial consultant" to the mayor's office. Great idea given her non-acumen in that Cumberland shell game, chief).

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And Rayna hasn't talked to Deacon about it, either. Instead, she turns up at the party with Wyatt hoping to sing a new song for him. Juliette's snotty about it, natch, but once she's gone home to deal with Jolene, Rayna takes the stage after all, and sings this number while she and Deacon lock sad eyes:

Not as sad, mind you, as Lamar is about to make everyone in town when he finds out that Teddy -- already balking at taking his suggestions -- has asked Coleman to serve as his deputy mayor.

Did you like the sad stories on last night's episode? Are you looking forward to seeing Rayna's relationship with her family thaw, and the one with Deacon heat up? Was Scarlett's timing in macking on Gunnar terrible? Sing it in the comments.

"Nashville" airs Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC.