Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nashville 1.14: "Dear Brother"

“Should’s not the right word when it comes to music.”
-Watty White

The latest episode of “Nashville” was certainly a downer. All of the characters are in a pretty seriously dark place by the end of the episode. Heck, they’re in a dark place by just half way through. Watching “Dear Brother” was physically painful, not because it was bad by any means, but because all of the characters were being put through the emotional wringer and making bad choices as a consequence that we know is going to just lead to more heartbreak down the road. Part of the darkness was the characters’ own doing, and part was just something like fate. And there’s still a couple weeks until the show comes back from post-February sweeps hiatus, so we’re left with everybody in this rather sad state of affairs for quite a while before we can see how it’s all resolved.

The events that cause all the darkness and drama by the end of the episode pretty much all stem from a series of really bad choices on the part of multiple characters. To start off, Juliette decides for some reason that she really wants to throw Deacon a birthday party. We get the impression as the episode progresses that her reasoning has to do with some ruined birthdays when she was a kid, but I still don’t see exactly how that connects to her perseveration on throwing Deacon a party. I guess she believes everyone deserves to have a blowout birthday party? Considering Deacon’s a recovering alcoholic (albeit a long-time sober one), it just doesn’t seem like the smartest idea. Deacon’s idea of a good birthday is camping out on his couch and watching “Old Yeller.” To make matters worse, in her focus on planning this party, Juliette is either ignoring or being a bitch to her mom, who just got out of rehab.

The second of the three major sources of drama in this episode starts at Scarlett and Gunnar’s house. Gunnar is gathering up some laundry for Scarlett when he finds Jason’s gun. Scarlett understandably freaks out, and Gunnar ends up kicking Jason out and throwing the gun in the river. Jason pleads with Gunnar, saying he made some serious enemies in prison and he’s worried about retaliation, but Gunnar doesn’t want to hear any of it. After a rather triumphant performance at Deacon’s birthday party, Gunnar gets a visit from some police officers. He’s got to go to the police station and identify Jason’s body. Apparently he was beaten to death in an alley. Hen Gunnar finally goes back home, Scarlett is very worried about him because he’s been out all night. When she hears the news, she understands why Gunnar is so upset, and she makes the decision to start kissing him. And then there’s the clothes coming off. This can’t end well, which makes me sad, because Gunnar and Scarlett (literally) make such beautiful music together. By the rules of television, though, except for Booth and Brennan, I don’t think grief sex can immediately lead to a lasting relationship.

The other big dramatic plot point in this episode is that Rayna’s divorce has hit the tabloids. To make things worse, the tabloid story accuses Rayna of having an affair with Liam. This makes Maddie really pissed at Rayna. Rayna is the center of Paparazzi attention in Nashville, and she can’t go anywhere without the photogs swarming. It gets so bad when she’s just trying to take the girls home from dance class that Rayna holes up in her house and refuses to leave, saying she’ll just stay there and write music until it all blows over and the tabloids find something else to fixate on. Rayna does eventually get it together enough to go to Deacon’s birthday party (she originally declined the invite so she wouldn’t make the tabloids heat up even more), mostly thanks to a conversation with her father. Speaking of Lamar, he finds that now Teddy is mayor, he is much less amenable to taking Lamar’s advice. Teddy’s not putting Lamar’s lackeys in his cabinet, and it’s pissing Lamar off. Instead, the cabinet includes Peggy and Coleman, which pisses off both Lamar and Rayna. While we’re on the subject, it kind of pisses me off that Coleman has so little self-worth that he agrees to be Teddy’s deputy mayor.

Anyway, the big birthday party is at the Bluebird, and it’s kind of epic. Juliette enlists Scarlett’s help in getting Deacon to leave the “Old Yeller” marathon. Scarlett tells him she and Gunnar are going to be performing at the Bluebird that night. They do indeed get to perform, it’s just as the opening to the party. They sing “I Will Fall,” and it’s gorgeous as always, and all the music bigwigs at the party take note. Juliette kind of regrets asking them to perform, actually, because they show her up a bit. Avery stops by the Bluebird and is pissed off when he’s not on the list to get into the party and then sees Gunnar and Scarlett performing through the window. I really, really don’t want Scarlett and Avery to get back together. He’s such a tool. Juliette’s mother Jolene is at the party, too, which is also not such a good thing considering she just got out of rehab. Jolene takes some champagne for the big birthday toast, and that’s all it takes for her to completely fall off the wagon. Juliette and Deacon have to take her back to Juliette’s house, and Juliette has to take care of her for the rest of the evening. I guess it’s a sign of progress that she takes care of her mom willingly. Jolene also has an addictions counselor who I have a feeling will play a bigger role in the episodes to come.

So we leave the episode in a rather dark place. Gunnar and Scarlett are hooking up in seriously sub-optimal circumstances, Rayna’s family life is falling apart, and Jolene has fallen off the wagon. It’s almost too much really. I hope that in the final stretch of episodes, we can really get back to the music and the joy of creating it. I want more new Gunnar and Scarlett songs! Although I have a sinking feeling that their current rendezvous might put the kibosh on that for a little while. What I really love about Nashville is that it’s a portrayal of a town where a particular craft is honed and all the participants really care about and devote themselves to that craft. As a musician (albeit not a very good one), there’s something about that aspect of the show that really speaks to me. So here’s hoping for more great music in the final stretch of the season.

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