Friday, October 19, 2012

Nashville 1.02: "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)"

“If I wanted to fight like this, I’d have a damn girlfriend.”

“Nashville’s” second episode, while not spectacular, was a decent effort. All of the plots (sort of) advanced, and wisely, more emphasis was placed on the music scene as opposed to the political machinations. A theme of this episode was character choosing between their loves and their career, and surprisingly, it wasn’t just women in this situation. Rayna and Scarlett are having to choose between continuing their career with Deacon and Gunnar and their relationships with Teddy and Avery respectively, but on the flip side, Deacon is having to choose between taking his career to the next level with Juliette and his devotion to Rayna. Scarlett makes a choice by the end of the episode, but the Rayna/Deacon/Juliette mess is still left unresolved. I’m wondering if I’ll end up dubbing them the new Triangle of Doom (the original is Sawyer/Kate/Jack on “Lost”) by the time this all shakes out. I’m so used to seeing the “trials of the woman who tries to have it all” trope on television, that Deacon is sort of refreshing. He sacrificed his own career to propel Rayna into superstardom, and he’s trying to figure out for how much longer he can do that.

Gunnar and Scarlett’s plot was pretty self-contained. Scarlett is reluctant to take Watty up on the offer to produce a demo, and Gunnar isn’t especially happy about that. He’s sick of just being a soundboard operator. Scarlett is pretty dense about this sort of thing. When she wants to change the topic with Gunnar, she invites him to Avery’s upcoming show at a nearby club. What a hurtful way to shut Gunnar down. I think that she’s afraid of having romantic feelings for Gunnar because she had this picture in her head of her future with Avery (even though last week she claimed that Avery kept breaking her heart, and that inspired her poetry). At Avery’s show, Scarlett and Gunnar get recognized by a fellow audience members for their performance at the Bluebird showcase, and Avery is pretty pissed to find out that not only has his girlfriend been writing and performing music, with Watty’s offer, she’s had more success with one reluctant performance than he’s had in a concerted effort at a music career. Seeing Rayna and Deacon put on an amazing acoustic performance at the Bluebird (more on that later) finally convinces Scarlett that she and Gunnar need to take their chance at music stardom, even if it potentially means hurting Avery.

In the political world, Teddy’s campaign manager wants Teddy and Rayna to both participate in a “vulnerability study” where some suits will interview them to see what dirty secrets they can dig up. The idea is to find out all the negative things that Coleman’s campaign could capitalize on. It’s really just a good backstory downloading device, because we get to see Rayna’s interview. It turns out she and Deacon were together romantically for eleven years, but Deacon had a pretty serious drug problem back in the day. Rayna dropped him off at rehab and paid for his treatment, but she also dumped him and started dating Teddy. Rayna and Teddy haven’t been together romantically at all since that point, even though they did eventually go back to working together. Earlier in the episode, Rayna can’t imagine every having romantic feelings for Deacon again, but that changes by the end. All the vulnerability study folks can find is that there mus have been something shady about Teddy’s recent land deal gone wrong, but they probably won’t figure out what any time soon, because we also see Teddy burning documents. Lamar has no problem with Teddy having some secret skeletons. He thinks it will make Teddy easier for him to control.

The main plot of the story involves the Rayna/Deacon/Juliette potential future Triangle of Doom. Watty reveals his big plan to save Rayna’s career. He thinks that she and Deacon should do a small-scale acoustic duet tour like they used to do back in the day. Seeing Gunnar and Scarlett gave him that inspiration. Rayna is really enthusiastic about the idea because it is a way to get out on tour without opening for Juliette, but Teddy isn’t thrilled with the idea of his wife going on this sort of tour with her ex. In exchange for Rayna participating in the vulnerability study, though, Teddy finally agrees to support her desire for the tour. The one remaining obstacle is Juliette. She’s dead set on stealing Deacon away from Rayna in every way. Juliette is a bit more moustache-twirling in this episode than she was in the pilot, probably because her mother wasn’t a factor. The only thing that elevated her above pure villain was her obvious love of country music and her desire to be seen as more than just a pop star for tweens. She sees ensnaring Deacon as her ticket to more grown-up respectability.

Juliette tries to woo Deacon with a songwriting session out in a random field and a $50,000 guitar. He does have sex with her out in that field, but he still won’t join her band. Juliette turns up the heat by blatantly sending the guitar to Deacon while he’s in a rehearsal with Rayna. Rayna is pretty pissed about the whole situation, and she gets more and more irritated as the episode progresses. Juliette isn’t just the new popular country music artist, she’s trying to steal Rayna’s life. Juliette seems to be basing her self-worth on her ability to snag Deacon, too. It’s kind of a sad situation all around. Anyway, Juliette is watching Deacon perform at the Bluebird when Rayna stops by to ruin the party. Rayna was trying to counter Deacon’s accusation that she didn’t support him, and Deacon is delighted to see her. Deacon invites her right up on stage, which makes Juliette livid. When he started talking about a special friend in the audience, she thought he was referring to her, obviously. Rayna and Deacon sing one of their classic love songs, and the crowd goes wild. Rayna and Deacon also really reconnect. After the performance, they sit outside in Deacon’s car, and Rayna says they shouldn’t have sung that song. She jumps out of the car and runs home to Teddy, where she quickly tells him she loves him.

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