Last week's 'Nashville' episode ended with questions about country singing legend Rayna Jaymes' ability to sing, following her terrible car accident that ended last season, and this week's began with the same.
"It's still catching," a nervous Rayna, played by Connie Britton, tells her voice coach.
On the other end of the spectrum, burgeoning starlet Scarlett O'Connor is getting coached on how to work the red carpet press. Our sweet, fragile Scarlett muffs the easy prep questions, so her studio-assigned handler tells her, "We're going to use facts from your life to craft a compelling story." It's a real side of the music business we all love to pretend doesn't exist, because we love to buy into those compelling stories.
The audience is also treated to a glimpse of a new rivalry, between naturally-talented and accidental star Scarlett and the reality show runner-up Layla Grant, who we learned spurned Harvard to pursue her lifelong dream of making it in show business. We also learn Layla lost her singing competition to a girl who signed up on a dare, deepening her resentment for the likes of Scarlett.
Speaking of rivalries, former foes Avery Barkley and Gunnar Scott unite to write and perform a song sure to make the ladies swoon - until they realize it would be improved with a female voice. Enter Zoey Dalton, Scarlett's best friend. The tension between Zoey and former Scarlett beau Gunnar has been building for several episodes, but it finally comes to a head here. Definitely something to watch, as we don't know if Zoey, the preacher's daughter, is a sweet spark plug or traitorous friend to sweet Scarlett.
When Deacon Claybourne finds out his drinking and the accident it caused my not only have cost him his guitar-playing hand but also Rayna's voice, he confronts her to find out the truth. The scenes between the two grizzled music veterans and former lovers prove once again, 'Nashville' is at its best - raw, emotional and real - with the two of them sharing the screen.
"Don't you ever say you are done with music," Rayna commands.
"You either, okay?" Deacon says in reply.
But later in the episode, when Rayna is forced on the spot to sing live before an audience, we learn the state of affairs. After her initial hesitation, the crowd chimes in and Rayna finally finds her - fully operational - voice. Cut to a classic Juliette Barnes line, incredulous that Rayna has once again found a way to upstage her, this time after she earns entry into the Grand Ol' Opry.
"Her timing just killed my moment," Juliette complains.
Later, Juliette hears a veteran male star confide in Rayna that she's just a "flash in the pan" and we see her reunite with Avery, her former guitarist.
"It really sucks when you think someone's got your back and they don't," she says, adding a begrudging, "I'm sorry."
Once again, we are left wondering what the true nature of Juliette's feelings for sometimes-rival, sometimes-mentor Rayna really are.