'Nashville' recap: Dealer's choice
Oh, ABC promos: you misleading scamps! Deacon doesn't fall off the wagon (although he thinks about it), and Rayna and Liam don't make out (although they think about it, and Teddy isn't convinced they haven't done it).
But Deacon's having a hard time, thanks to a misleading magazine article claiming he got fired from Revel Kings because he didn't stay sober, not because the lead singer "mauled" his niece. He shows up for Juliette's mother's hearing, and he's supposed to speak to the judge on her behalf, but he doesn't think it's a good idea given the (inaccurate, but still) publicity, so Juliette has to do it, and she half-asses it with, "There's nobody who hopes this sticks more than I do. That's all I have to say."
When the fight is having you
Then Juliette's annoyed when Deacon invites Jolene as his plus-one to the big party the Edgehill label is throwing to celebrate the "Wrong Song" duet hitting #1. She's even more annoyed when Deacon doesn't show up, leaving Jolene to drop appetizers on the floor unattended, but Deacon's too busy sulking, trashing his apartment, calling his sponsor Coleman and hanging up, and being a self-pitying dillweed to Rayna for such trifles as parties. Rayna comes to see if he's okay after the article comes out; she finds him planting a for-sale sign on his front lawn, and loaded for bear. Why didn't she wait for him after rehab? Why does she still think he's her responsibility? Rayna points out that she dragged him out of umpteen hotel rooms not knowing if he was "drunk or dead," but mostly tries not to take the bait, until Deacon meanly asks her if she ever found out whether Teddy cheated on her, and then like, this is why I can't do this with you anymore. "Then don't do it," he hisses.
Later, when Juliette comes to find him stewing in the wreckage of his house and notes that she knows "a dry drunk" when she sees it, he informs her that he's no different from her mom, so why is she so "full of care and concern" for him but can't spare any for Jolene? (He also admits that, though he's supposed to say he got sober for himself, he really did it for Rayna, and he stayed sober for her too.) Juliette still wants Deacon to go on tour with her, telling him her band has a group that meets twice a week; he could work the program and still do what he loves.
Then she goes home and apologizes to Jolene, and mother and daughter have a sweet heart-to-heart about their pride in each other – Juliette for Jolene's recovery; Jolene for Juliette's toughness and accomplishments. Juliette is surprised to hear Jolene thinks of her as Rayna's equal. (All episode, she's been crabbing that Rayna's getting too much credit for the single, and "sweetly" tells a reporter, "It was a thrill to see her contribute a bridge to the song." Burn.) Jolene shrugs that Rayna came from money, and "you came from me," so Juliette has had to work harder to hold her own. Sweet scene between them, and high time the story moved forward emotionally.
Rayna's having some trouble with that herself. She's home for a day or two for the party, but bunking in the guest room, and Teddy is pressuring her about their relationship all "so do ya forgive me yet huh huh do ya do ya forgive me?" He also complains that she's on the road constantly, and she tartly reminds him that somebody has to pay for their house. Teddy isn't sure that makes up for him basically raising their kids, and she's like, I haven't called the cops or divorced you, so maybe be grateful instead of passive-aggressive there, fella. Then Teddy guilt-trips her with a reminder of how they got together: "Deacon had destroyed you." She wanted someone solid, he "was that guy," and when he started circling the drain financially, he did what he had to do not to disappoint her.
The courtship of Rayna James
At episode's end, at the airport, she's reassuring him that as far as she's concerned, they're still married, no matter where she is geographically. She may still love him; she may also feel dislocated by the knowledge that the record executive (Ming-Na Wen, fabulously glib) who's after her to jump ship actually promised Liam his own sub-label if he could get Rayna to switch over from Edgehill. Liam gave the exec the unfinished tracks they did together; made a number of snitty comments about Rayna and Teddy's relationship ("think of Edgehill like your marriage; the only way to get through it is by fantasizing about someone else"); and sniffed that she's only back on top because she worked with him. Rayna tells him to get bent, but also tells her manager to leverage the other offer against Edgehill for her own sub-label and her own plane. (A running gag in the ep is Juliette's reluctance to give Rayna and her team rides on her jet…in part because they steal her bean dip. Hee.)