I took the weekend off. I had some personal stuff I was dealing with (and needed some time off to have a little fun, too). But even when I have time off, I’m working. And all weekend I had one thing in the back of my mind – Nashville. The ABC show returned from a brief hiatus this week, coming back with a (literal) bang and a whole lot of exciting developments. But, in spite of that, I was struggling to come up with any way, any way at all, to talk about it here. It’s a failing of mine, I guess. Intros and conclusions. I suck at both (as with writing, so with life). So I decided to try the one thing I do when this happens. Be honest, admit my failings, write a soft open just like this one (in which I explain to readers that I suck and couldn’t think of an insightful or interesting opening), then dive right into the review. So here it goes…
The episode was pretty much dominated by family issues – Teddy and Rayna post-divorce, Juliette and her mom, Gunnar’s grief over his brother – but also delved into a few side issues. All in all, it gave me a few interesting insights into various characters.
For instance, I’m beginning to see a new side to Juliette. An almost softer side. As she becomes more and more a part of her mother’s life and recovery, she’s opening up and becoming kinder and really seeing that she’s not the centre of the universe. It’s a chicken and egg situation, really. I don’t know whether Juliette’s becoming nicer because she’s spending time with her mom or spending time with her mom because she’s becoming nicer. It’s impossible to separate the two. I’d like to think, though, that it’s all because of the influence of Rayna and Deacon.
Rayna is the strict older sister that Juliette always should have had. She’s not willing to bow and scrape for the young starlet, nor is she willing to let her get away with acting the maggot (it’s an Irish phrase – learn it, and use it wisely). She’s pulling Juliette up and forcing her to be better and do better. Deacon, on the other hand, is becoming a father figure. He is teaching her to respect herself and be kinder to others, all while offering a ‘no judgments’ shoulder to cry on. Together, they’re exactly what she needs. While the changes have been subtle, and slow to materialize, they are appearing. But where does that go from here? She can never completely change, or the show will lose that Rayna v. Juliette appeal. She has to be the antagonistic, irritating (but at times incredibly sweet) counterpart to Rayna’s sanctimony and preaching. Both characters are fantastic, and Nashville couldn’t survive without either one.
Teddy Conrad is another character I’m gradually coming around to. At the start of the season I really didn’t like him, but I’m beginning to see that, in many ways, he’s the backbone of the show. Here is a man who has always struggled against the more powerful figures in his life. He has been at the mercy of Rayna, and of her father. But he keeps rising up and acting the noble, kind man. For a while in the middle of this episode – when Maddy is in hospital – I thought we had lost him. That kindness was gone, to be replaced by a bitter, angry, stubborn, selfish boy. But he came around in the end. He will always put his children first (even the one who isn’t his). He represents everything good about compromise and magnanimity – something that is often lacking amid the drama that the other players are constantly embroiled in. In many ways, he represents normality. But that doesn’t mean he is safe from drama himself. I sense a big serving coming his way, soon. As Lamar learns of Teddy’s appointment of Coleman, and of their joint decision to take the stadium away from him, it speaks of trouble to come. All that remains to be seen is how Teddy will deal with it. Will he be able to retain everything good about himself in the face of the onslaught from Lamar? And what vignettes of information will Lamar leak now that he has no reason to protect Teddy?
And, while we’re on the subject of characters about whom my opinion has changed, let’s talk about Avery. Nothing too deep here. He’s still an asshole. But, this week, I found myself not hating him for the first time since he walked on screen. In burning his tapes and walking away from Dominic and his manager, perhaps to the detriment of any future career prospects, we had a newfound respect for him. He may be a dick, but he has his principles.
Looking briefly at the lighter side of the episode, Deacon has a new love interest in the form of his vet, Stacey (Susan Misner, The Following, Hope Springs), I don’t know what it is about her, but she is the first of Deacon’s hook ups who I have been willing to accept as a stopgap measure for Rayna. I know Deacon and Rayna are long-term (or will be, eventually) – they do have a child together, after all, and I suspect it won’t be long until Deacon finds that out – but Stacey is so likeable that I actually want to see them together for now. It won’t last. It can’t. But I won’t hate her while she’s here.
And, finally, staying with the romance theme, we turn to Gunnar and Scarlett. Here’s a couple I have no doubts about. Or had, at least… Throughout the episode, I knew they’d make it work. Now that they had finally caved into their feelings, there’s no way it wouldn’t. Even when Gunnar was being an ass and Scarlett was being (justifiably) stubborn I knew that, by episode’s end, they’d be back in each other’s arms. And I wasn’t wrong. But now I have fresh concerns to deal with. Gunnar’s grieving process (getting wasted) meant that he missed their performance for Rayna. Consequently, Rayna is offering Scarlett a solo performer’s contract. This puts Scarlett in the same position that Avery found himself in a few weeks back. Will she make a different choice than he did? I think she has to. And that she will. But hopefully they won’t drag this decision out for too long. I can’t deal with any more Gunnar/Scarlett uncertainty than is strictly necessary… – K
Quoteworthy: “I feel like I’m in quicksand, on one leg, blindfolded. But you know – nothing I can’t handle.” – Rayna