Though this week’s episode of “Nashville” revolves around Rayna Jaymes - still sans voice thanks to the car accident that opened the season - questioning who she is without it, what’s revealed is that she knows exactly who she is.
The show begins with perhaps an attempt at a Halloween nod, with Rayna, her two girls and her sister all visiting the grave of Rayna’s dead mother. When Maddie, still acting the sullen teen after learning Deacon Claybourne and not Teddy Conrad is her father, complains that she never met her dead grandmother, Rayna insists it’s “important you have a relationship with her.”
The audience is treated to some further soapy antics when Rayna sits before the gravesite alone and delivers a monologue about her troubles with Maddie. “I think I lost my voice and I don’t know who I am without it,” Rayna bemoans.
Common themes continued with many of the other characters, as Scarlett O’Connor feels uncomfortable at a studio photo shoot while Layla Grant, the reality show singing star, takes to it like a fish to water. And Tandy Hampton, Rayna’s sister, looks into what role their powerful father played in the death of their mother. By the end of the episode, convinced he is lying about her death, Tandy turns over damning evidence to the authorities looking to bust him for shady business dealings.
In a dance that’s becoming comfortably familiar, Rayna - played by Connie Britton - and Juliette Barnes - played by Hayden Panettiere - engaged in their standard fight over the tour before making up later in the episode. The exchange features some of the episode’s best dialogue, with each character snarking at the other. Rayna breaks the news to Juliette that she wants to quit the tour to spend more time with her family, and Juliette, thinking only of herself, freaks out.
“Rayna I do not have a near-death experience to help me boost my record sales! I need this!” shrieks Juliette.
“You’re a smart girl, you’ll figure it out!” snaps Rayna.
Playing the role of the spoiled teen to Rayna’s matronly character, Juliette stomps off shouting, “This sucks!”
Sad puppy dog Deacon, who is sober again after the accident but still suffering from ill effects in his guitar-playing hand, meets up with the lawyer who defended him to thank her. She serves as a distraction and perks up the morose cowboy, who is still struggling to mend relationships with Maddie and Rayna.
Gunner Scott and Will Lexington continue to be at odds, sparring over whether or not Will can use Gunner’s song for his first single. After Avery Barkley, still scarred from his own bad experience with pushy music executives, hears the fight and Gunner perform his own song, he circumspectly offers some advice.
“It’s probably going to be big for somebody, just a matter of who,” he said.
When Maddie runs away from a fancy event with her family because she learns Teddy is getting remarried, it serves to pull two storylines together and gives Rayna and Juliette their moment to play nice again.
Juliette, called by Maddie, listens to the teen rant about her mom before offering a new side to the story.
“She quit the tour yesterday because she wants to be there for you,” she said. “She told me herself that you girls mean more to her than anyone in this world - more than money, more than fans, more than me being really, really pissed off at her.”
Rayna comes to pick up a sleeping Maddie and Juliette says, “I guess at some point it’s not about what you want anymore - you just gotta do what you gotta do.”
That’s when the audience finds out Juliette’s solution to losing Rayna as a touring partner - inviting Layla to be her opening act. Though Layla’s excitement over playing with her idol is obvious, it’s also clear Juliette will not be acting the mentor - or the hostess. When she invites Layla to her house, she comically keeps her standing outside on the stoop while relaying the tour news.
“Calm down, there’s no cameras here. Since you are quite literally singing my old songs, I thought it would be a perfect fit,” Juliette said, promptly shutting the door in Layla’s face.
The final scene is a duet between Rayna’s girls, which she listens to from the hallway. As she wells up and croons a few notes, she and the audience are left with the obvious question, will Rayna find her voice, but as to who she is, the answer is already there - mom.