Nashville "A Picture From Life's Other Side" Review: The Leather Jacket of Douchery Strikes Again

Nashville S01E20: "A Picture From Life's Other Side"

By this time in the season for a show like Nashville, so many narrative balls have been thrown into the air that the final episodes are all about watching them all come crashing down. Two weeks ago, I talked about the prevailing sense of the inevitable, and although last week's episode wrenched up the drama too much, it kept pushing characters toward some particularly dramatic and upsetting circumstances. This week's "A Picture From Life's Other Side" rebounded from some of the more hyperbolic, constructed tension that's plagued the story as of late and instead served up some expected, but no less powerful, moments. But whereas the last few episodes kept throwing more balls into the air, "A Picture From Life's Other Side" brought gravity into the picture, bringing those balls down quite quickly, and quite disastrously, for certain characters. 

Ever since the rumors started floating around that a few characters were going to die here at the end of the season, it was pretty clear that Dante and Jolene were nearing their expiration dates. Dante is the kind of character who dies on shows like this and the writers had truly run out of interesting things for Jolene to do other than have her get shooed away by an angry and petulant daughter. However, I did not expect their deaths to come in this week's episode, though it was probably the right call, for a number of reasons. Instead of using Jolene's murder of Dante and her subsequent suicide as some sort of cliffhanger, approaching the story this way permits the show to give us a few final moments of true Juliette sadness. I keep hoping that the show will finally allow her to be happy for even a few episodes, but it's clear now that she must bottom out even further before any real rehabilitation can begin. 

On a related note, the deaths make sense now because Juliette spent this episode recognizing that she didn't have much of a way out of the deep, deep hole she'd dug herself into. If she gave Dante money for the sex tape, there was zero guarantee that he hadn't saved the video to the cloud, or that he'd ever stop asking for money. Consequently, in one of the season's best scenes, Juliette told her entire team that it was not worth fighting Dante anymore; it was time to admit the mistakes she'd made, even if that meant further harming her burgeoning career (though we haven't seen much of an impact from her previous troubles). As she noted, everyone already knows that she is a trainwreck; might as well turn into the skid before trying to fix the image. 

Juliette can now go one of two ways. She can, inspired by the moment of self-realization she experienced this week, take her mother's death as yet another sign that she does need to get her life together. She needs a manager and she should probably be less desperate to find love from anyone who might look at her with an interested eye. Or, armed with that same self-realization, she can fall deeper into depression, close herself off to everyone, and take up that simmering alcohol problem that was on full display last week. I really hope that the show chooses the first option, as this is a character that truly deserves to move forward after quite a tumultuous time. However, I'm nervous that the second option is much more likely. No matter which way Juliette goes, Nashville has done a pretty solid job of convincing us that she is a character who simply cannot let herself be happy (like a lot of people on this show, to be honest). But she is at a crossroads now; time to choose.

Although the stakes are not as high, Rayna and Deacon are certainly in for a rough go of things very soon as well. "A Picture From Life's Other Side" made more movement on Maddie's paternity by introducing Teddy's fairly ridiculous restraining order against Deacon. What frustrates me about the show's treatment of a character like Teddy is that 96 percent of the time, he is little more than a stiff, bitter obstacle between Rayna and Deacon, the show's most important romantic pairing. That version of the character dominated the story for much of the episode, with his arrival at the Conrad-James estate while Rayna, Deacon, and the girls were having dinner resulting one heck of an intense scene between Teddy and Rayna. And yet, at the end of the episode, Rayna pleaded with Teddy to trust her with the secret about Maddie, and suddenly, he seemed like a human being again. I'm not sure if that was just Eric Close doing all he could to make a problematic situation a smidgen better, or if the writers simply cannot decide how evil they want the character to be. He clearly falls into a gray area, but I would like to see some more consistency there in Season 2 (which, by the way, yay renewal!). 

Unfortunately, Teddy's mostly failed suit is not the end of Rayna and Deacon's problems. Somehow, inexplicably, Rayna keeps a lock-box full of information about Maddie's paternity in plain sight, under a few expensive dresses. How dumb. The box might as well have said "CONTENTS: IDENTITY OF MADDIE'S TRUE FATHER" it was so blatantly obvious. It's good that the show is pushing this story thread to its logical conclusion, but like with some of the things happening in the Gunnar storyline, it feels like the writers are straining a little bit to get the pieces in the right place for maximum drama. And don't get it twisted: That is exactly what Nashville is going for here. Now that Maddie knows without Rayna having actually revealed the secret, Rayna is going break everyone's heart: Maddie, Deacon, Teddy, Daphne, heck, maybe even Bucky. It will be fascinating to watch her try to negotiate all those relationships and lies, but I do wish that we did not get there because of a lock-box.

And when one story started to reach its apex in problematic fashion, another managed to wiggle away from previous trouble spots to hit some solid beats in this episode. I am glad that we did not have to spend much more time talking about how terrible Gunnar is for stealing his brother's unpublished lyrics, and thankfully, the show simply figured out other things for Gunnar to be a complete tool about. It is no longer just about the lyrics; he's taken on a full "gritty" persona outfitted with more stubble, a smokier voice, greasier hair, more henleys (BAD BOY ALERT) and the most important signifer for Nashville tooldom, the leather jacket. No seriously, think about it: Avery wore the leather jacket earlier in the season when he was an utter douche. He was not wearing it this week when he calmly and earnestly helped Juliette with her song and attended Scarlett's first big performance at the Grande Ole Opry. When Dante turned on Juliette and started swindling her money? Leather jacket. If you see any male character wear a leather jacket on this show, immediately know that he is A TRUE VILLAIN. 

In any event, after the bumpy stuff last week, Gunnar and Scarlett's crumbling relationship worked better once the show got to the end. Gunnar has not known who he is for a very long time--even the fleeting moments performing with Scarlett were filled with various conflicts--and the guilt over his brother's death has just been too much. As Scarlett sort of masterfully noted, he became his brother in most facets, and that simply isn't who she fell in love with. Unfortunately for Gunnar, the break-up came at the precise moment where it seemed like he figured it out. As always with overnight jail stints on television, Gunnar worked out his issues with Will in yet another season highlight of a scene. AND BY THE WAY: The leather jacket was gone at this point. I assumed that Chris Carmack would only be around for a few episodes, and maybe his run will end in the finale next week, but he has been really good. His work in the jail conversation is probably the best I have seen from him and Will is now a character I want to get to know more instead of just an angel or devil on Scarlett and Gunnar's shoulders. 

I would have to imagine that the show is headed toward a moment where Scarlett falls back into the arms of a now-less douchey Avery, resetting things to a more complex and complicated version of the triangle we started with in the pilot. Much like Maddie's paternity, I am not sure I have enjoyed every moment along the journey, but the destination mostly feels worth it now. And that is really a great way to sum up Nashville as it heads into the finale. Season 1 has been a bumpy ride (sometimes very bumpy), but the stories and characters are about where we figured they would be, and that's a good thing. Now it's time for all of those balls to fall out of the air in one fell swoop.



B-SIDES

– Nice little scene between Rayna and Lamar this week. But the less time spent in the boardroom and with Tandy trying to overthrow her father, the better. Yeesh.

– Will's performance for Rayna was quite good. He has to stick around now, right?

– The preview for the season finale looks bonkers. If you had the season finale in the When Will Deacon Fall Off the Wagon? pool, we have a few party favors for you on the way out.

– I want to hear your predictions for the finale. What will happen, and what do you think should happen?

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I've learned NEVER to trust ABC previews - they're always misleading in some way. I just ignore them and watch the episode.

That being said, I really hope Deacon doesn't fall off the wagon, that's the one thing I've rooted for more than anything in this show. If nothing else happens, Deacon needs to stay sober.
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My heart breaks for Juliette, Hayden does a damn good job of playing her! She doesn't have anyone she can turn to and she keeps on pushing away those who can be that for her. I hope season 2 is a better one for her character.

Also Gunnar has become annoying...
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Juliette's jealousy of Rayna doesn't matter, since Rayna is queen, but if there's a love-triangle with Avery + Scarlett, along with Scarlett's rising star, Juliette's probably going to intimidate the heck out of Scarlett, at least until Scarlett learns to stand up for herself more.
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Hey, this guys roommate, uh, well, you read it, how could you not click on it. I would but I just washed my hands...
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I really like Will and hope he sticks around. In a short period of time he has evinced a number of facets and made an interesting impression. I also think a storyline centered on Will's flexible sexuality would be both timely and culturally relevant given the level of press committed to Frank Ocean's coming out letter. Plus, Scarlett is going to need someone in her life she can pal around with that is somewhat neutral in the Avery/Gunnar triangle and Will being slotted in as the 2nd artist for Rayna's label will ensure they roll together fairly often.
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There's this scene in the promo that may let us think that Deacon is drunk or using again... I hope not. I really hope he's just broken about it, but ready to be in Maddie's life. It would be great if Maddie knocked on Deacon's door and stayed there, just to see Rayna and Teddy's reaction.
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The gals are all great characters, the guys, not so much. Who'da thunk by the end of the season Avery would be the one to root for, certainly not me. And it's good to see Chris Carmack doing some good work - I always liked him in the OC after he got it together. As for Ben McKenzie, wait, what? Never mind. I'm thinking Hayden can really act as we all knew Connie could and Clair is the show stealer. But with Avery the only one who seems to be worthy of any of our gals - Deacon too, but if he falls, that screws that up. Jolene was a good character and should've been kept around. She at least gave Juliette some purpose in her glitzy dismal life. We all think if it were us we could do better but that's not how life works. You need people in your life to share it with, good or bad. I hope they give it good next week because I really like this show. Excellent review Cory, excellent...
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i think they are setting up Scarlet as competition for Juliets spotlight in season 2
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Juliette and Scarlet are both here to stay and if that's the case, I'm in. Hayden does a great job of humanizing Juliette, but it's not easy. Gunnar is just a train wreck - the one we all thought Avery was before he wised up - and I just want to bitch slap him. But that's how he's being written so that's just that.
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i think juliet will be overshadowed by scarlet in season 2, so all the resentment juliet has shown towards rayna this season will be transferred onto scarlet - and avery will be next seasons deacon - stuck between 2 singers. they will probably also have a love triangle between scarlet, avery and gunnar next season
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I'm voting for the triangle to be Rayna Scarlet and Juliette. Does that make me a bad person? Oh, who am I kidding, I just turned 65?
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that would probably be very successful on ppv
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I think Hayden Panettiere did some hardcore acting in this episode, by the way. She can switch from happily and brightly shining doing a show, to a dead-eyed 'And how'd work out for you?' Funny too that she's really one of those young stars that actually seems quite together in real life! Also, I love Scarlet, she's so sweet and still a little ballsy. But... the guys on this show (and I'm usually all for the guys!!) are getting really boring and are acting dumb! Give those guys some balls too, please, and not in the ridiculous way that Teddy thinks he has them.... but real ones!
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Well said...
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I am not looking forward to Deacon falling off the wagon. I liked that he had kicked the alcoholism and stayed sober for 13 years. But spoiler alert, I read that there's supposed to be a major, very bloody car accident in the finale, and with Deacon driving off drunk in the promo I fear he's going to end up spending the summer hiatus in the hospital. I just hope he doesn't kill anyone and end up in jail all next season a la Bates in Downtown Abbey. I know it's a soap opera, but leave the murders and trials for daytime.

As far as Juliette goes good residence to the mom. Hopefully now she'll realize she doesn't have anyone to complain about anymore and grow up a little. It would be nice to see her character mature a bit.

Most of the other characters I find boring. I only like Tandy when she's with Rayna, but a small part of me kind of wants to see them explore her relationship with Bucky past the casual mentions that they're a couple. Gotta love Bucky.
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i see a love triangle next season between avery, juliette and scarlett
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Hated to see Rayna and Deacon's reunion coming abruptly to a halt with a complex situation. (Should be interesting to watch.) Hopefully they can get these characters resolve their issues and Rayna and Deacon can be reunited again soon. Wonder where the storyline is going from here. Excited to see how the writers are going to develop Juliette's character from this point. Looks like there will be an exciting climax and I can't wait for the new season to start. Really enjoy this show and can't get enough! Hopefully it will be renewed by ABC SOON.
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ABC renewed Nashville few days ago. Season 2 starts at the end of September.
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I really hated the resolution to Juliette's mother's storyline. I really felt like there was a lot of story left and I wanted to see Juliette repair her relationship with her mother before she died. I get that the drama is in how unresolved her relationship was with her mother but it didn't feel like the natural end to that storyline. It felt like the show was trying to meet its death quota for May sweeps.
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I So AGREE!!!! Sad
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I'm of two minds on this. I think there COULD have been interesting places to take the story with Jolene, but the writers seemed so disinterested in doing anything with her other than making her Juliette's punching bag. Maybe it's for the best then.
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I agree with Brook. Now what does Juliette have to worry about? She can self-destruct on her own now with no one to disappoint. Hey, can I have the Jet?
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Poor Juliette. First the sex tape and now Jolene sacrifices herself to protect her. Writers give this girl a break - you're basically tormenting her now.

I liked Jolene. She wanted to fix her relationship with Juliette. Too bad she did it in the wrong way. I'll miss her.

Poor Maddie. Her world has just fallen apart. Looks like there is no place for happiness in Nashville.
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Sad, but true. Alas...
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I loved last night episode! Can't wait for next week's season finale and season 2...
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I like how they got rid of Dante, I really hated that character and storyline. It will be great to see how Juliette handles everything.

I'm not a fan of country music but I thought Will was pretty good.

I don't think Ranyna was going to reveal the secret about Deacon being Maddie's real father anytime soon so that was the only way anyone was going to find out. Maddie knew something was going on and I would have done the same thing in her position but Rayna didn't hide the evidence very carefully.

I'm not really enjoying what they are doing with Scarlett, Gunnar & Avery, its such a rollercoaster. First Scarlett is with Avery then he starts acting like a douche and will do anything for fame. She is friends with nice, sweet Gunnar. She breaks up with Avery then Gunnar moves in and they get togther. Gunnar's brother dies so he goes off the rails and at the same time Avery starts changing into a nicer person. Scarlett and Gunnar break-up and it looks like she might be getting back with Avery.

The business/politics plotlines are really boring and I hope are left out next season. I want to watch a show about the country music industry not politics.
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"Will's performance for Rayna was quite good. He has to stick around now, right?"

I totally agree! Can, I just say how much I love this show!!! Seriously, it's one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. Everything that happened was fantastic. Not a dull moment for me.

As for predictions/expectations: I hope that Juliette won't recover from her mother's death this easily or fast. I want her to fall deeper into depression, and try to drown her sorrows into alcohol or drugs. After all, it is all her fault. She kept blaming her mom for bringing Dante into their lives, but it was Julliette that trusted and let herself be used by him. Her mom gave up her life for her. I mean, come on, how can Juliette live with that guilt? < May be that can be her redeeming moment, when she realizes that she needs to be a better person and not treat everyone else like trash. Although I hope it can happen in the course of the second season.

Rayna/Deacon are so over! When he finds out that she has been lying to him for 13 years, it's pretty much done deal. How can he ever forgive her? I'd like to see Rayna and her father's relationship develop further.

Scarlett/Gunner - I have a feeling the writers simply hate Gunnar. He is being a total and complete jerk. It's true, he didn't start the fight, but his attitude and mood swings have been a bit insufferable lately. I seriosly hate the freaking writers for what they are doing to both of these characters. Scarlett is coming off as unfeeling, cold-hearted bitch. She could be more understanding as to what Gunnar is going through. I guess they are breaking them up so that they can make douche Avory and Scarlett happen again.....sighhh
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You could not be more wrong. What Juliette's mother did was not Juliette's fault in the least and even suggesting that is beyond ridiculous. Juliette has never been responsible for her mother's actions. That self-destructive behaviour began long before she was a country music star and her mother let herself be just as used by Dante as Juliette was.
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Are you kidding me? Are we even watching the same show here?

All season long Juliette has mistreated her mom, every time she tried to get close to her she pushed her away. All Jolene wanted is for her daughter to love her. Juliette never morally supported her, she never even tried to help her mom with her drug addiction problem. (apart from taking her to rehab but that was Deacon's idea)

Jolene shot Dante, and killed herself because she loved her daughter and wanted her to finally see that. She sacrificed her life for her daughter's hapiness. Of course it was all Juliette's fault that she is dead. Juliette practically pushed her to do it. It is sad that you are blind as much as Juliette is and can not see that.

Jolene said she loved Dante, yes she was fooled by him but did not exactly get used by him.

So lets agree to disagree.
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"She sacrificed her life for her daughter's hapiness."

Maybe that's what she was thinking, but it was a really stupid plan. She should have stopped for a second and thought about whether this really was the lesser of two evils. (It clearly wasn't).

Juliette treated her like dirt, so she is partially to blame, but she could never have anticipated that Jolene would do something *that* stupid.
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Keep in mind that Juliette is a product of her mother's addiction who just got lucky. But did she really? If she hadn't made it big would it have been any different? We can't know these things but we do know who created the problem - the writers, but did they get it right? Maybe, maybe not - but I still think there was more story there than what they gave us...
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I don't know if I should consider Jolene's action selfless or selfish, because that depends on how delusional she was. But I know that it was stupid. She's hurting Juliette more than Dante was ever going to. This doesn't make up for any wrongs. It's just another wrong, a really big one.

You say "Partially?" as if you think it's crazy to think that this wasn't 100% Juliette's fault. You're ignoring (or failing to realize) that Jolene made a bizarre decision that doesn't make sense.
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Oh please? Partially? Would have Jolene killed Dante and than herself if Juliette didn't push her to it?

I don't think it was "stupid", it was selfless. She wanted to make up for all the wrongs she did when Juliette was growing up. She saw this as her one and only opportunity to show her that she loved her unconditionally. <<

I guess, people don't see this a selfless act of love?

Am I the only one?
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I'd split the difference here. I don't think Juliette is absolutely responsible for Jolene's actions, but she's mistreated her, and basically everyone else, enough that she put herself in a very tough position. She berates her mother all the time, and jumped too quickly into the relationship with Dante because she wants to be loved. It's not totally her fault, but she's not devoid of blame.
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I can live with that...
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Can you elaborate further? What part of this was Jolene's fault?

Yes, she is the one that introduced Dante to Juliette, but it's Juliette who made him her manager, trusted him and gave him acess to her accounts/money and she is the one that had sex with him. Jolene did not push her to do those things.

If anything she tried to make her daughter see that he is a liar by telling her about the kiss Dante and that lady broker shared. But she didn't trust her mom, and dismissed her claims in matter of seconds....

I know I'm repeating myself, but what Jolene did was a selfless act of love.

I can't place any blame on her for that.
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I mean, Jolene still pulled the trigger. She's not totally absolved.
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I am the only one who thinks that is completely rational for a girl who has seen her mother high so many times and has been abused by her junkie friends all along her childhood to be acting cold towards this same person.

I mean come on guys we have seen 1 year of Jiliette/Jolene's relationship half of which Jolene was high, can you imagine having such a mother for 20 years...

Did Juliette pushed her mother to kill Dante? One of the reasons i love Nashville is exactly the way Juliette reacted towards her mother the entire season : she admitted to Dante that part of her hated her mother yet deep inside she could not help but loving her and she has been torn apart by this love/hate feelings all of her life I even think she slept with Dante only to get some revenge on her mother and this is the way such relationships works.

Jolene killed herself not to sacrifice herself but because deep inside she knew she was the reason Juliete has become the person she is and that she is the reason for her daughter's misery. It was a terrible decision but sounds a logic one for someone as unstable as she was.

It has been painful to watch this relationship in a way i'm glad it ended (sorry if a sound cold harted but in real life people are not black and white, they have their dark moments, their depression, their drinking habits etc and these things don't suddenly go away : there are no heros and lovable all the time people, there're tragedies and people do not recover from them in a heartbeat and this is what makes Nashville such a great show)

P.S nor Avery nor Juliette nor Gunner nor Jolene are douche bags they're just human beings with theirs flaws and emotions very well written characters bravo nashville
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