Nashville "Take These Chains From My Heart" Review: This Steamy Hook-up Brought to You By Subway

Nashville S01E18: "Take These Chains From My Heart" 

After another break (seriously ABC, you have to stop with this crap; momentum matters, even in a DVR world), Nashville is back. Including this episode, there are four episodes left in the season, and if this one was any indication of where the the series is headed here at the end, we're in for some entertaining, soapy television.

The last episode before the break was a bit of a slog thanks to the dominance of a few supporting characters and middling storylines. But it did set up this ominous feeling of inevitability. If you watch television long enough (about three days should do it) and you can guess how certain stories are going to play out. That's not an indictment of the medium or its storytelling apparatus. Formulas can be very good and very compelling. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call some of Nashville's random threads very good or very compelling, it was enjoyable to see things we've been waiting for—some for much longer than others—finally happen. Some of the conclusions had me fist-pumping in excitement, while others had me sighing in resigned happiness that it was all over, but at least the show keeps pushing the stories forward after suffering some minor stagnation not so long ago. 

Let's rip the Band-Aid right off and start with the mediocre, but ultimately maybe okay stuff: Dante was a scumbag all along! I don't know how shocked you are that Juliette couldn't find her True Love with a slimy bro who moved very quickly from concerned sober companion to romantic partner to maniacal business partner. I'm stupefied. There was no way it was ever going to work, even if Dante was a good dude... and, well, he wasn't. "Take These Chains from My Heart" tried to swerve us by once again relying on Jolene's instability and possible lack of sobriety, but in the end, we learned that Dante stole a huge chunk of Juliette's money and ran off with a "former patient." It's unclear whether Dante was ever actually a sober companion, or ever even a junkie; maybe he was just a scam artist preying on an easy target. What is clear that he sucked the life out of Juliette, Jolene, and really the show as a whole. No shots at Jay Hernandez, but the character never totally clicked and his issues were only compounded when he became more central to the story.

He's gone now, presumably at least, but in his wake, we're left with yet another example of Juliette's broken-down immaturity and inability to make smart decisions. There's no doubt that Dante was a bad influence on Juliette both professionally and personally, but I've never totally tracked what Nashville wanted us to think about her declaration of independence three or four episodes ago. She killed it in the sponsorship meeting and made a few other solid choices, and then everything just completely fell apart and she slid right back into borderline monster caricature territory. Every time the show asks us to think of Juliette as a real person and not just a facsimile of Taylor Swift and celebrity culture, it quickly pulls the rug out from underneath both her and us. She's certainly a work in progress who regularly takes one step forward and then at least 2.5 steps back, but now she's had a number of substantial screw-ups in a row and alienating her crew, disowning her mother again, and getting hosed by Dante is just the culmination of some generally poor judgment. I actually want to root for Juliette, or at least to feel for her. And I believe that Nashville wants me to root for her, but it also needs to do a better job of convincing me to do so. 

Although it didn't come to mind before this episode, by the time Chris Carmack's Will kept talking to Gunnar about picking up women, it was quite obvious that the character's purpose wasn't to seduce Scarlett and break up the lovebirds—it was to seduce Gunnar. As always, the easiest way to surreptitiously hit on someone of the same sex is to take them on late-night thrill-rides avoiding trains, in order to teach them how to seduce all the young ladies who get sloshed and gyrate to just-fine country music at 11am on a weekday. 

Will's an interesting guy, and Carmack's a fine presence to have around, but Gunnar is completely on an island right now. While I could believe that his brother's death had such a profound impact on him that he's fallen into this pit of confusion, self-hatred, and despair, I'm not sure I buy that all of that comes with mostly ignoring the woman he spent a healthy amount of time pining over, and the one who supports him completely. In some ways, it feels like we can see the hands of the writers with this story. So much of this season has been spent pushing Gunnar and Scarlett together and developing their chemistry on multiple levels, but heaven forbid they remain happy for just a few episodes. Nashville isn't the kind of show where anyone is going to be particularly happy for very long, and I understand that, but the two of them are so disconnected and distant at the moment, and they're both going to do something stupid because that's this show. If you can't already imagine a world where Gunnar uses the tricks Will taught him to pick up another lady, if you can't picture Scarlett rediscovering her attraction to the significantly less douchey Avery, then you might want to prepare yourself for disappointment.

Well, and that's all that happened this week right?

Oh, wait: Rayna and Deacon. In love. But also in some heavy-duty, sweeps-baiting lust. Talk about inevitable. 

It took 18 hours, but the series' most compelling, dark and twisty couple finally reconnected, at least temporarily. As I mentioned above about Scarlett and Gunnar, these kinds of relationships are often difficult to pull off because the tendency is to want to keep them apart for a number of different reasons and really, Nashville has done a nice job all season of leaving Rayna and Deacon in this awkward, intense grey area where their feelings are obvious despite neither one of them being able to do much about it. Their history is difficult to overcome, and I really liked how this episode played that up. Deacon has spent the last few episodes convincing himself that he's happy with the very lovely Stacy, but as soon as Rayna called, he was there and as soon as she and Liam busted out an old song that he co-wrote, it was all over. Maybe it was a little silly to have the final straw be a performance of what was a truly terrible song, but the music and the electricity of the duet is just so central to this show's ethos and Deacon's personality that it worked for me. 

For Rayna, the decision to ditch the vacation with Liam and blow up her life by getting involved with Deacon again was both welcome and not smart. She hasn't been free of bad decisions herself, and while shacking up with Liam in St. Lucia probably wasn't a textbook "good idea," it at least involved way fewer strings. But as she told her sister early in the episode, she finally had the confidence and independence to make choices in her personal life. And once she realized that, and saw Deacon's relationship with Stacy fall apart in front of her eyes, there was never, ever a doubt that her choice would be Deacon. It's probably not going to work out, especially once Deacon finds out about Maddie, but it's fun to have them together, at least temporarily. 

Nashville has treaded water for its last few episodes, but "Take These Chains From My Heart" kicked off this final string of episodes with some punch. And while it allowed a few big shoes to drop, there are even more just waiting to crash down harder, and faster. Juliette's going to go to a very dark place, and so could Gunnar. And while Rayna and Deacon are happy right now, neither one of them can stay still or happy for more than a few days. There's still a lot of angst—and angsty music—ahead.


B-SIDES

– The Subway product placement was so laughably bad that I felt like I was watching an NBC comedy. It felt especially out of place in a straight-up drama like this. Spoilers for next week suggest that Rayna is going to write an ode to the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese $5 Footlong. 

– I'm just going to keep beating the "Avery is kind of okay" drum. He's trying to be nice and humble to people. No one will give him a chance! I'm rooting for you, tool!

– Powers Boothe is doing all he can (he was great in the scene with Rayna in the living room), but whatever is happening with his business, Teddy, Coleman, and Tandy makes me want to go to sleep. Or get a Subway $5 Footlong. EAT FRESH. But seriously: Every time I hear the phrase "city contracts," I immediately just close my eyes and wait to hear Clare Bowen's lovely voice luring me back to heaven. 

– Not a particularly good week for music this week, but I did enjoy Sam Palladio's work during Gunnar's performance.

Comments (19)
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Come on - they've got one latino character and he turns out to be a thief. They reveal one gay character and have him try to break up a hetero couple. I enjoy this show (though I kind of forgot about it somewhere around mid season), but those two things really stuck out to me upon returning. I just had to chew them out a little for that. Nice review, though.
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Annnnnd you nailed it with this review! That's basically where I stand on all of it. Especially the Juliette stuff.
-Wee we surprised that Dante was a jackass? No. He pretty much told her who he was and what he was capable of and she just...well, didn't listen. Did I honestly believe that Juliette's mother relapsed? Not one bit. I knew she wasn't lying. I knew those weren't her pills, all that drama did was make me want to strangle Juliette with her own curls. I can sympathize with broken, vulnerable, confused, but I can't with stupid. I just can't with stupid, and that's what she is. Plus she did a masterful job at alienating herself from everyone who genuinely gives a damn about her which, well there aren't too many of those people because she's so a royal biotch to practically everyone who comes into contact with. I have nothing against Hayden P. She's alright. But even when they make attempts at having Juliette be a sympathetic character it just doesn't work. I can't bring myself to sympathize for her. I just can't. At best I can tolerate her in a scene and not have my hand itch a little bit with the sudden impulse to smack her. Umm, for the record, though this comment may suggest otherwise, I'm so not a violent person. :) She pissed off freaking Deacon for goodness sake. Once he leaves you it's a wrap. So congrats girly girl for isolating yourself. Again.
-Were we supposed to be surprised that Will is gay and that he made a move on Gunnar? Because I wasn't. I seen that weeks ago. Every time they share a scene together he has the googly eyes. Every single time. The fact that neither Scarlett or Gunnar picked up on it was what threw me. In fact I was just making a Brokeback Mountain reference a millisecond before Will planted one on Gunnar. That was followed by "I knew its" and "finallys" by all watching. Yup. No surprises there. It also isn't shocking that they've humbled cocky Avery, be still my heart I might actually kinda not hate him now, and he's around just as Scarlett and gunnar are becoming more distant after being together for all of ten seconds. Yep,I agree, we all know where this is heading.
-I liked Liam. I liked Liam as a confidante. I probably wouldn't have even minded him as a FWB. I liked him more than I liked Stacey. Stacey to me jumped into "we're in a loving relationship heading to marriage" too quick for me, which bugged me because....female stereotype much? She came across as relationship obsessed and real serious, real quick. The thing is though, I couldn't help but be annoyed by her response to Deacon. She asked him if he was still in love with Rayna and he told her he was. Deacon is honest. He always is honest. He has a history with Rayna that will never go away whether they are together or apart. It's complicated like that. If I were Stacey I probably would have respected that he could be that honest with her. It didn't mean that he couldn't love her too. That happens to people often enough and not everyone would be willing to admit that. I think it's the dishonesty that ruins things more than anything else. I feel like they're relationship did't have to end over something like that. But it lead to Deacon and Rayna action and I ain't complaining. I love them together. They have such a complicated relationship, but a mature one, and it's written in such a mature way that it's refreshing and unlike most relationships of a similar caliber on television.
-I agree, Teddy, Rayna's sister, Lamar, whatever....I'm just never interested. It's a snooze fest.
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Team Avery!
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I still sort of enjoy the show, but I'm getting more and more tired of how almost everything we see is someone overreacting to something.
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"I'm rooting for you, tool!" - Best Line!
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It was pretty obvious they were heading for a brokeback moment.

I am sick of the show trying to create reasons for us to dislike Juliette, though they are doing a fine job of it, I worry that for forced nature of project make Juliette a Bitch could turn viewers away.

Am I the only one hoping Gunnar and Avery form a band together? Would that be too a la Threesome? Do the four "Threesome" + Will get together for a really uncomfortable foursome producing some awesome music???

Now that Rayna and Deacon have finally had a moment again, all the dirty laundry is really going to start airing? I hope they don't go too daytime soapish with the roller coaster of revelations, betrayals, and heartbreaks just over the horizon. What, you thought it would just be some Rayna/Deacon paradise with them singing and galloping into the sunset?
Yeah, right...

So, in the game of Let's Guess who Juliette Sleeps with Next, betting on Juliette either trying to seduce Kourtney Hansen (her assistant) or Scarlet, but I gotta double down on Scarlet.



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Okay, I'd like to say I loved all of the drama but the episode lacked music performances!

I do have to express a lot of dislike for both Rayna and Juliette because of so many reasons.

Julliete is an immature, spoiled, excuse of a human being. First, she should have never trusted Dante! And, her second mistake is not trusting her mother. I realize she was an addict, BUT SHE IS TRYING TO CHANGE for her daughter. How can Juliette not see that? Isn't it time she let the past go, and forgive her mom and try to help her in any way? I'm not talking about the financial support she is providing but the moral support she actually needs to stay clean. At this point, I find Juliette's mom more likeable than Juliette herself. I hate that she told Deacon he is "replacable". For someone who has tried to help her, she was just being cruel to him for no good reason!

Rayna is pretty much the same as Juliette. She is acting like a horny school girl! Oh, I kissed Liam..."He's really hot"..."Does that make me slutty?"...like what are you ? Start acting your own age for God's sake!!!!!!!!!! Than a day later she tells Deacon she loves him? It makes no sense to me.....

I anticipated Will being into Gunnar, I saw that coming awhile back. He was always talking about how he can pick up girls and whatnot. I was sure he was sort of crushing on him. I do hope they can work as friends, and forget the kiss thing happened? At least that's how I see it.

At this point, I'm only watching the show for Gunnar and Scarlett, I hope those crazy kids can work as a couple!

Side note: I still hate Avery! Get rid of him! XD
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loved gunnar's performance but i feel so bad for scarlett cuz her men always treat her badly... i mean, gunnar was really sweet b4 but now he's mean sometimes (i know, his brother died and all but still...) and now that she's not with avery he decides to go back to being a good guy??
now juliette, i love/hate her and i thought it was a good thing dante stole her money cuz she was being really stupid getting together with him... i guess she's still too naive and that's what they want to show us?

rayna+deacon = <3
i really loved deacon and the vet but well rayna is rayna...
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How is it that I saw the kiss between gunnar and will coming a few episodes ago and yet was still shocked by it
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Am I the only one that would root for Juliette more if she came out dressed like a cheerleader at least once, "Save the cheerleader, save Nashville" :)
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Now that Dante is gone maybe now Juliette can get together with Avery.
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I think it's only a question of when.
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Yeah, we haven't been down that road yet. God I'm glad I'm not filthy rich and extremely stupid - not really, psych.
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God I love Nashville. Seriously. I loooove how soapy it is! It just revels in this big, dramatic soap opera plots and then adds luscious country songs to it. LOVE. THAT. I know it's not the best TV out there right now, but let me have this okay? It's just too good!
And I have to say: I liked that duet? The way Liam was looking at Rayna! Some people call that a duet, I called that some dirty hot foreplay. I mean, "dayum", but he was undressing her with his eyes and add the music to it, his raw throaty voice and her playful vocals? Thàt's what I love about this show! Even if she chose Deacon afterwards - which I obviously saw coming - that was fine with me. So far I haven't really invested much "shipping"-time in this show yet. Mostly because for so long they haven't been able to "do anything" about their feelings yet and there's basically a lot of feelings floating around. So I haven't "picked a team" yet or whatever. So I'm good either way.
But it's about those moments for me. That the show has the characters and the music line up perfectly and I go all "oompfh, damn, kawauwza". In that order.
Nashville's my guilty Southern pleasure y'all. I lovez it.
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What do you mean it's not the best TV out there? Care to retract that or name something better or more fun right now? And four more episodes, what more could you ask for - 10? 20?
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A) I mean exactly that: it's not the best (interpret as "quality, high standing, well-written, mentally challenging") TV out there at the moment. I watch lots of shows (no joke, but my number is well over 50). I like lots of shows. I love a couple. Some of them, like Nashville or The Vampire Diaries, are more of a guilty pleasure. Others, like The Good Wife or Game of Thrones, are simply very well-written in my opinion. They're not trashy, they're just really good. Though that doesn't mean I don't like my fill of trashy shows, because "trashy" doesn't necessaricily mean "awful", on the contrary. But you have to admit: there's a difference between "good-quality" and "good-entertaining". I'm not saying it can't be both, but Nashville isn't mentally challenging. It's rather trashy. And that's okay. It's exactly what I expect from it and I love it.
B) Don't know what you're referring to with your last question. I never said anything about the amount of episodes. So what are you talking about?
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I believe I was siding with you and as Mr. Spock once said," A difference which makes no difference, IS no difference..."
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Please do not cancel this show !
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I think you're good...
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