Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: 'Nashville' Episode Eleven

[I didn't get to do my usual Wednesday-night write up of ABC's Nashville after watching last night. Nevertheless, here it is. I didn't take notes the way I usually do, so forgive my skimping on details.  – Erin]

At the completion of last night's episode of Nashville, my former roommate, friend, and fellow amateur t.v. critic and I exchanged a happy text. They are finally "there." Through a few key (and clearly written!) conversations and small but important moves, Nashville covered some serious ground in terms of character and plot development. It wasn't a perfect episode, but I can't deny that it was satisfying.

"Wrong Song" is at the top of the charts and Edgehill Republic Records wants to throw Rayna and Juliette a party. That's great, because the writers finally created a situation where most of the characters are actually in the same room– Rayna, Teddy, Liam, Juliette, Druggie Mom, and even Avery, who has somehow wormed his way in with Maneater Marilyn. A few interesting things happen at this party. It's Teddy's turn to be the good spouse and come out to support Rayna. They had an icy conversation about not really knowing what they were doing, and he was kind of a douche about how hard it is raising the kids while she's out there doing God knows what (besides bread-winning?), but now he's got to be decent. He even sounds sincere in a little speech about Rayna to the party-goers when introducing her at the shindig. It's also a good moment because we see how Juliette is getting mostly ignored when it comes to doling out credit for "Wrong Song" and this makes her unusually sympathetic. She stands awkwardly off to the side of the platform while Teddy waxes on about Rayna.

But all is not totally well with Rayna. Earlier she was approached by a woman from another label who really really wants to sign her after Liam sent along some unfinished tracks. You can tell Rayna was buying this woman's spiel about being partners and 'hey, I'm a working mom too.' However, buzzkill Marshal Evans lets Rayna know that Liam stands to get an imprint for bringing Rayna over to the label. It's a bummer because, as I noted last week, Nashville seemed to set him up as a mostly impartial truth-teller and now he's just slime ball... a slime ball who also sees fit to lecture Rayna about how her marriage is on life support. (What do you really want here, Liam?) Rayna dissolves the partnership. The best part of the party, though, was Avery attempting to make small talk with Juliette about how he's learning it's hard to be a star an' all because of his new song. Wow, does he bomb out. Juliette does not care because she's being unnecessarily mean with Druggie Mom. Druggie Mom had a hearing and could have gotten out of rehab early if Juliette had put a little more umph into her testimony. Technically Deacon was suppost to babysit Druggie Mom, but we'll get to that in a second.

From here, I want to talk about two important conversations that various characters had.

Rayna and Deacon: Deacon is in bad shape after an article came out where that piece of crap Cy insinuated that Deacon got fired because he was drinking again. Rayna stops by his house and they finally have it out. He's mad she didn't wait for him to get out of rehab, basically– maybe somewhat bitter that he lost out to Teddy, and aware that he's just always hanging around while Rayna's breaking up with him, firing him, or telling him to chase whatever is around the bend. Then Rayna counters with the despair of pulling him out of hotel rooms unsure if he was really drunk or dead, and putting him through rehab a whopping five times. Though the scene is sad because he tells her he's not her problem anymore, and it really feels like an emotional break between the two, it's great to knock them out of their weird friend-zone. Plus, it's hard to believe that with all that transpired between them, that there wasn't all this emotion and frustration under there somewhere.

Juliette and Druggie Mom: After Deacon fails to show up at the party, Juliette goes to his house. Deacon's destroyed half the living room including a guitar, which is a pitiful sight. Much is said, like how Rayna was the reason he got and stayed sober, but more importantly, he tells her he doesn't understand the difference in how she treats her mom and him because they are the same person. They're both addicts. Juliette goes home and talks to Jolene, apologizing for the hearing, and Jolene expresses how proud she is of Juliette, that despite coming from Jolene, Juliette has done so much. Jolene sees Juliette as equal or better than Rayna because Rayna didn't have that adversity. Juliette softens up and we sincerely hope that because t.v. is magic, there is hope for the relationship instead of more simmering drama.

Anyway, less important but still worth mentioning because I would fully support the function of Avery's character being punchingbag-in-chief, he plays a show on Belmont University's quad (WOOOOOO ALMA MATER) and Scarlett runs into JT who proposes that the remains of the Avery Barkley Band teams up with Scarlett and Gunnar and win one for the good guys. Later that night Avery cruises by whilst listening to himself on the radio and sees band practice and it's like YES. So satisfying. GO HOME, AVERY. We do not love you.

A quick word about Gunnar, though. Jason dropped off his Gibson at the Bluebird, mysteriously. The parole officer calls Gunnar to say that Jason didn't show up at his halfway house and if Gunnar is holding out, there could be problems of the legal variety. Gunnar is like .... gotta go. Just then, Scarlett skips in with a "proposition" (har har) and Gunnar's response about the whole band thing is basically, you are an ignorant child. You know nothing of the weighty things I deal with in my life. I hate this because 1) It's not her fault 2) The second she starts paying him attention he decides to lash out. Makes so much sense. In any case, he shows up later all sorry-eyed and they proceed to make Avery feel un-missed.

So. Where does all this take us? I'm glad you asked. Rayna and Juliette are on the Juliette's jet with managers en-tow. Rayna and Teddy have just basically made nice with each other. There seems to be hope! But wait! Juliette has hired Deacon and now the three are on the plane together. Thank you and goodnight. We are finally in the position for stuff to happen and we've mostly condensed the cast into two main groups. If the show-runners can keep the writing up, we're going to be in great shape. Looking forward to episode 12 in two weeks.

Stray Observations:

+ Belmont is a dry campus, so what those crazy undergrads were doing with red solo cups... you tell me, Belmont. You tell me.
+ I honestly felt a little bad for Teddy watching Deacon hop on the jet with his wife. Happiness is fleeting, folks.
+ Surely we're not done with Liam, right?
+ Whatever happened to Watty?

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