Nashville "My Heart Would Know" Review: Dante's Peak

Nashville S01E17: "My Heart Would Know"

One of the things that bothers me about soapy dramas is the glut of temporary recurring characters. Shows like Nashville already have massive casts and a dozen stories going at once, but there's always a tendency to introduce additional supplemental folks, even in the first season, to push stories along and keep some of the more central characters as apart as possible. Nashville has been pretty resistant to go full-bore into a Rayna-Juliette feud, a decision that has mostly worked, but that has also forced the writers to continuously focus on stories like Juliette's struggles with her mother. The same could be said for Scarlet and Gunnar and the rotating cast of guys and gals keeping what is obviously true love on the slow-burn. 

Generally, good shows can get away with this. After all, stories have to build, character relationships have to develop, and the audience has to feel like there's something to care about before the show can rip it away or finally give it to us. But when these supplemental characters aren't used particularly well, and when their purpose is to create tension between more integral characters, it can be frustrating.  

The problematic use of these kinds of characters dominated "My Heart Would Know," the last episode of Nashville before May. (Because ABC won't stop until this show has one of the worst stop-and-start schedules in recent memory. Seriously, didn't they learn anything from what happened with the second season of Lost)? While this episode featured a few strong moments, particularly from Connie Britton, it was weighed down by some miserable actions from non-essential characters. 

The most offensive culprit was Jay Hernandez's Dante, a character who I enjoyed in his first few appearances but who has now completely worn out his welcome. After helping Juliette snag a big endorsement deal—and also helping her score in the bedroom—in the previous episode, Dante immediately started acting like a power-hungry tool in this one. The show tried to warn us last week by having Dante note that he shouldn't be involved in things that give him those old addictive rushes, but it could never have prepared us about how bad this was going to look. Not only did no one suggest that Dante's behavior here might have something to do with his addiction issues, but no one said much of anything—he just did whatever he wanted and strutted around as annoyingly as possible. Dante tried to fire the suddenly-in-New-York-because-why-not Avery from the latter's new roadie gig (thankfully, Saint Deacon was there to put the stop to that injustice), and then after Juliette and her mother fought over him, he didn't even consider that his place on this tour and in their lives is a bad idea. 

Nashville has done some solid things with Juliette and her mother, but the show is never willing to simply let things settle for an episode. Each time Juliette and Jolene have a minor breakthrough, Juliette immediately turns around and treats Jolene like trash. I understand that we're supposed to see this as part of Juliette's confused, immature, and even broken psyche, but at this juncture in the season, it's a little tired. If Juliette cares about her mom, like we've been led to believe half of the time, or if she cares about growing, like the show at least kind of wants us to believe, something has to give. I'm not asking for the tension to evaporate; I just want it to progress with more consistency. And using Dante as a wedge to drive between them (something the episode actually admitted) doesn't work, because not only did we already seen that in some fashion with Deacon, but we also don't care about Dante as a character. He's not a character. He's a Motivation 101 textbook. The show needs to do a better job of making Juliette and Jolene talk to one another about their problems instead of creating attractive male sounding boards for those problems. 

I feel somewhat similar about Chris Carmack's Will. Though he's not as annoying as Dante (mostly because Carmack's an enjoyable goofball), Will's being used in a weird way. There's an ominous feeling hanging over his relationships with both Gunnar and Scarlet, and we're being left to wait around until something goes terribly wrong. With Gunnar down in the dumps over his brother's murder, you'd imagine that he might be a possible love interest for Scarlet, and this episode suggested a tinge of that with the celebration at the bar. However, by the end of the hour, Will had convinced Gunnar to stay out drinking a few days in a row and pushed him out of his funk by producing a near-death experience. I don't particularly want to see Gunnar go down a dark road where he's jumping from high to high, hoping to find the spark to write and to engage with Scarlet, but I especially don't want to see that story if it involves a Bad Influence New Friend. We probably should wait to see where this one goes, but I'm bearish on its possible development because, like Dante, Will isn't much of a character. It's Chris Carmack in a cowboy hat. Nothing wrong with that conceptually, but I need a little more as the show nears the end of the season.

The episode's other big story was a mixed bag of sudden developments, possible future intrigue, and really good acting. Lamar's heart attack allowed Power Boothe to bellow out commands and stubborn exclamations in a hospital gown, which was definitely cool, but I'm not sure the story produced the emotional impact Nashville wanted it to. Although the mayoral race never held any substantive place in the season's narrative, Rayna and Lamar's relationship held the promise of being interesting—and not simply because Boothe and Connie Britton are the show's two best performers. There's a compelling story to be told about Rayna's rise to the top of the music world and what kind of real sacrifices she had to make to get there, but outside of her marriage, the show hasn't really invested itself in telling that story. Lamar hasn't been around all that often and he certainly hasn't interacted with his more famous daughter very much. 

As a result, the heart attack, Rayna's response to it, and her discovery that it was Watty who broke up her parents' marriage didn't pack as much of a punch as it could've. Watty's relationship with Rayna's mother makes total sense, if only because Nashville show loves to draw comparisons between Rayna and her mother, and Watty feels like the older generation's Deacon. And Connie Britton totally sold Rayna's new-found desire to understand her father and make up for lost time. But Lamar's not really a character, and it's somewhat tough to imagine him playing a supremely integral role in the narrative while Rayna's continuously out on tour (especially given his various dealings with Peggy). I want the show to explore Rayna and Lamar's relationship in much more detail, and I hope the events of this episode are the catalyst to get them to do that. But the show still has to do a good job with that exploration.

With just four episodes to go in the season, I'm a little surprised at how unclear Nashville's narrative picture is. The show rarely truly surprises (and that's fine), but it could push some of its stories to dark, dramatic places in the season's final act if it wants to. But wherever they go, I hope that Nashville quits relying so much the characters who are plot devices more than anything else.



B-SIDES

– Welcome to weekly coverage of Nashville. I'll be here until the end of the season. 

– I'm all in on Rayna and Deacon, but also really enjoy Deacon's relationship with Stacy. Susan Misner is good in a limited role. I guess everyone has electric chemistry with Charles Esten.

– I continue to kind of enjoy Avery. I appreciate that the show didn't just inject him back into Scarlet's life (I guess they have Will for that), and at least he's out there hustling instead of moping around about his life. A bit weird that his former bandmate was so willing to help him get the roadie gig, though—especially since the guy noted that he was leaving town, presumably because he can't hack it as a musician without Avery. That dude doesn't hold a grudge. 

– What was more ridiculous: EdgeHill's staff standing ovation for Scarlet, or Juliette's band learning 10 new songs in a few hours? I don't want to nitpick too much but both of those things bothered me, for slightly different reasons.

– Peggy leaked the info about Teddy and Rayna's divorce. Okay.

Comments (31)
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First off, Yay!! So happy to see you reviewing the show. :)
-Deacon, for me is the beacon of light for this show. He's the one that just keeps everything together, but what I love is that he's far from the saintly, self righteous type. He's just as flawed and screwed up as everyone else, and he has that "aww shucks" sort of feel to him. Once again it was showcased quite well in this episode, with him coming all the way back to Nashville just to be a supportive confidante to Reyna during her time of need. I also love that he serves as mentor and voice of reason to Juliette, but the confrontation he had with Dante just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
-Not a Dante fan. I agree that they are missing out on a great opportunity to expound upon addictive behaviors. Dante suddenly becoming a jackass can be easily explained away by his having sex with Juliette. It was the final nail in the coffin to him venturing towards the dark side. The adrenaline rushes, the sex feening, the douchebag behavior that addicts posses, always scheming, plotting, and planning. the destroying relationship. He has clearly lost sight of his role and now he's in dire need of a sober companion himself. The story itself could be rather interesting if they choose to explore it adequately but I fear that they probably wouldn't, and he'll continue to be the one contributing to the friction between J and her mom, and possibly alienating J from the handful of people who can actually tolerate her.
-I wasn't surprised with the revelation about Rayna's mom etc. I wasn't all that interested in it either.
- Yup, waiting for the Will and Gunnar and Scarlett thing to start. I'm sure it's going to be an issue. I'm not all that interested, I just barely started getting interested in those two on their own. Eh. I don't like the whole adrenaline, cheating death thing though. Nothing says a night out with the boys like racing across train tracks while watching the bright lights coming towards you.
-Teddy is just a jackass. Plain and simple. It's difficult to watch him at times, but I chuckled when Rayna's sister didn't bother withholding the info from him, she just threw it in his face like eff you.
-IT's funny because I had really enjoyed this episode until I read this review. I actually agree with this, I mean I still think it was an okay episode but I think I was more excited about something new being on during these past few weeks that have felt like droughts television wise, that I was perfectly okay with watching a relatively mediocre episode of Nashville.
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How many more times will the writers make us sit through scenes of shy little Scarlett being thrown on stage to sing against her will with a shocked expression of 'who me?!? I couldn't possibly sing that song, gosh I'm just so darn embarrassed y'all' before she break into a killer performance that brings down the house. Seriously getting tired of her 'cute and innocent little ol' me' act
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Hey Cory! Thanks for reviewing.. here are my thoughts

-Since you didn't review the last episode I just have to say that Rayna's daughters can bring it! They sing amazing!
-Enough already with Juliette's mom and her crying every episode.. seriously, enough
-Dante, you cannot be out of here soon enough
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An excellent review! I didn't connect Dante's freakish behavior with his addiction but it certainly makes it a bit easier to understand. All of your points about the show - and the episode - are spot-on! Great reading.
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I'm not really a fan of this show, but I've been home on Wednesdays lately, and I haven't been turning it off after the comedy line-up. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but I'd tell them it's watchable...if they asked. This show kind of reminds me of Melrose Place with a wider age range. And country music.

Similar to the review, it bothers me when they flood a show with sudden roommates--er, placeholders and temp characters, especially when it's obvious that every single one of them won't end well after their first appearance. It's essentially saying, "We'd like you to meet someone you're going to have to endure until we pull them back...and here's another..."

No one is doing well, hardly even in the long run. Pretty much everyone's taken one or two steps back since their last step forward, and it's really weak writing when all the characters are in the same rhythm.

The best thing I can say about this show is that unlike Melrose Place, not everyone here is actually stupid, and a few are just struggling with understandable issues or roadblocks. It's more than a lot of similar shows can say.
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My first thought with that Will and Gunnar train dodging incident was please don't make Gunnar start trying to defy death every episode to life/music motivation. That will be so annoying!

I agree about Dante. Total douche. This will not end well.

I'm kinda glad Rayna's sis told on Peggy. I just wasn't interested in that particular storyline getting dragged out.

Was it just me or did anyone else think Scarlet was gonna puke when she had to drink again after drinking so much the night before the meeting? Ah well.

I'm glad this show will be regularly reviewed as I've learned I can't count on consistent reviews of the shows I watch (bye bye soon to the Bates Motel reviews). Upset about all these breaks! 3 week break for Scandal, 2 weeks for Supernatural, not sure how long of a break for Grey's Anatomy! I mean, come on!
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I have to agree with most everything. I don't like Dante and I think he has overstayed his welcome as well. They should get rid of him. As for Will, we don't know much about him enough for me to care....Hopefully he will be gone too..

I enjoyed Rayna's storyline a lot. While I have no idea what they are doing to Juliette. Why is she getting manipulated so easily? It just makes no sense. I wish she stop slutting around....and settle down with someone her own age. The Deacon nonsense was a bit much, I never saw them as a couple and he is old enough to be her dad....

Hoping Juliette will grow but looks like it's never going to happen. Sending away her mom was really low even for her. Just proves she doesn't care for her at all....
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She and Deacon never were a couple, and they both knew it the whole time. So I didn't have a problem with it. I agree with everything else you said though.
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Waasn't just former bandmate...they were best friends,no?
Yeah Dante,Lamar and character like them are boring to me and waste of episode time. ANOTHER BREAK!?!?!?! WTF,COME ON ABC!!!

Rayna and Deacon are meant to be and any "ho" in between is just gonna get burned. You could see in Deacon's face,that he is with her only,because he doesn't wanna break her heart,but he will and he knows Rayna is the one for him. Rayna,who is single now,should go to Deacon and just get it on:D

Juliette is a bitch.
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Nashville recaps to end the season is great! And I can't disagree with any of the points in this excellent review. And Avery FTW.
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I'm guessing cowboy Will's hoping more for Gunnar's company than Scarlet. Meanwhile, I'm already bored with Deacon's vet.
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Very good review I must say. I haven't really been paying attention to the underlying themes of Nashville, but I hope that the characters grow more in the final episodes of this season. Dante confuses me: he was introduced as a caring guy who really pushed Juliette to become a better person, but now he is suddenly acting like a jerk. What happened there, Dante? Were you tempted by three of the seven deadly sins in the midst of your life, and lost your way (classic literature reference)?
This episode was fine, although there wasn't much going on except Juliette/Dante drama and Rayna's dad. But I like to see what is going to happen between Rayna and her dad, since she has started to understand his previous actions better.
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yayy finally!!! Nashville recaps :) :)
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I don't really care about plot holes and character inconsistencies as long as music scenes keep being engaging and heartwarming.
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"– Peggy leaked the info about Teddy and Rayna's divorce. Okay."

This was actually revealed last week. What happened this week is that Rayna's sister found out and told Teddy.

This is the sort of thing I had in mind when I said that they like to "throw drama in our faces". Apparently the whole "sneak around with a girlfriend that you don't want the kids to see and definitely don't want the press to see" thing isn't enough drama. So the writers think "How can we add more drama?" and come up with something that certainly does that, but really isn't necessary and doesn't make the show better.
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Hooray to weekly Nashville recaps!!!
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Based on the number of comments so far, I wonder if there are enough Nashville viewers here to justify that.
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I'm all the justification needed tbqh
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I'm actually over the whole Juliette/Rayna feud. For some reason I just want them to get along. And I want Rayna to sign Avery as her second act, just because Dante tried to fire him.

Thanks for picking up the reviews, Cory. Look forward to reading them each week...starting in May.
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When did Avery become the best character on the show?

Out of every story, of which there are plenty and some good, some bad, his has the most choices I can relate to. No, not to the extreme of dumping a group of friends for some bling, but tough choices where I had picked my own advancement or my own pride or my own emotional stability at the cost of friendship, relationships and my own self respect.

And I can most certainly relate to a quest for redemption, where one truly realizes that it will be a hard road. It will be hard but he's going to try anyway. So, what makes him happy, excited, alive, is his music and by extension, shows that he wants to hold onto his humanity - in his music, as in the music of all great artists, there is a lifetime of experience, some of it coming from pain, a lot of it from love, and he still finds these things valuable.

I respect that. It is a (possibly unintentionally) well written character, enhanced by a really solid, nuanced performance from Jackson.
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How exactly did Rayna end up as the "good" one in the Rayna/Julitte conflict? Rayna acts like a prima dona with her record label, like it's their fault she's not as popular as she used to be. She looks down her nose at Juliette for being an untalented pop star, even after learning it was her daddy's money that launched her career (never even said "thank you"to Lamar). And she spent her entire marriage drooling over Deacon and getting jealous any time he even looked at another woman.

Bottom line: Juliette acts like a spoiled brat. Rayna is a spoiled brat.
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I think the show has tried to show us that Juliette isn't the villain the pilot suggested that she'd be. But it's interesting to see how much push back there is towards Rayna.
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I don't get Dante, when he first appeared he was annoyed that Julliet wasn't trying to help with her mom's recovery now he's following her around saying yes to everything. Firing Avery was just wrong because 1) he's not in charge of what goes on within Juliette's tour which means he has no power to fire anyone and 2) he did it to cover up the fact he was doing Juliette. Loved Connie's acting in this episode especially at the hospital. I like Will more than Dante (although there's not much comparison) but I'm not sure I like the direction they're planning out for him coz Gunner really needs someone other than Scarlett to bounce off of. I really hate when characters go back and forth in terms of development especially for Juilette and her mother as it seems like 1 minute their bonding and becoming closer then their being pushed apart again, it's getting old.
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Don't even tried to understand Dante. It's a poorly-written character.
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I'm glad that you're reviewing this, because I want to talk about some of the problems this show has, and the review is mentioning many of my concerns. That Dante character is acting like a complete psycho all of a sudden, and it's just too much. Will the Cowboy has never made any sense to me. Everything about him feels wrong. Why did they even introduce him? Scarlett and Gunnar already have enough going on.

The way that Jolene made a pass at Dante didn't make any sense. That Juliette walked in at the exact moment she kissed him was just annoying. I'm so tired of seeing that scene over and over in lots of mediocre TV shows.

I'm also tired of Juliette's behavior. It's OK to have her act like a spoiled brat once in a while, but she doesn't have to do it in every other scene.

All the drama feels so forced and so faked. Everyone gets too emotional too fast. The show is trying too hard to throw drama in our faces in every scene, instead of just letting people do what real people would for a while. These are somewhat interesting people in interesting situations. It's not necessary to have everyone act nuts just to get more drama.

It doesn't make any sense to me that everyone at the record company are refusing to consider including Gunnar in Scarlett's record deal, just because he missed a meeting two days after his brother was murdered. It's been more than a month, and we haven't even heard a comment about it from Rayna. What's up with that? Why didn't we get a scene where she *asks someone* why Gunnar didn't show up? Is Rayna the one who's refusing to consider him, knowing perfectly well that he's at least as talented as Scarlett and that most of her songs are duets?



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The writers seemed determined to maintain an addiction theme throughout the show.
First Deacon, then Julliette's mother, now Juliette and Dante. It seems the show cannot not have someone addicted to something or someone. Is there some personal history of the writers coming through here?

Also, the writers are determined to make us hate Juliette while desperately trying to make us feel sorry for Rayna. But let's face it, Rayna is not a good person and so it feels like the show is just trying to win one for the middle-aged crowd.

I don't find either of these directions satisfying or necessary.
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How do I suddenly like Avery? I don't know, but I feel like there was a long time when Dante was berating him, that he should've shouted in his face 'I did knock! Like loads of times you dick!'
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Right nick? Like most of the time I loathe Avery, but I was so rooting for the kid in this episode. I wanted him to punch Dante in the face, and that speaks volumes as I don't condone violence...most of the time.
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Come over to the dark side! It's okay to like Avery!
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Only considering it if you guys have cookies...
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