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Nashville S02E01: "I Fall to Pieces"


When it premiered, Nashville was one of the most promising new dramas of the 2012-2013 TV season. Somewhere along the way it fractured a bit, and each week it felt like a different show. This was made all the more clear at the start of the Season 2 premiere, "I Fall to PIeces," when the "Previously on..." segment attempted to recap everything that happened during the roller coaster of Season 1. What we thought we were getting: a drama about the inner workings of Nashville's country music scene, as seen through the eyes of an aging superstar and a rising newcomer. What we got instead: more or less a nighttime soap that ultimately served up a bitter music feud, a couple of addicts, a political storyline for a character no one cared about, a divorce, a health scare, an aborted wedding, a baby daddy scandal, a pregnancy, a proposal, a car accident, and more bad decisions by Juliette than there are wannabe musicians in Nashville. 

There were times when we saw inklings of the well-written drama that we glimpsed in the pilot. But more often than not, it felt like there was a contest in the writers' room to see who could come up with the most ludicrous plot to make it to air. Whoever came up with the storyline about Avery making it big better have gotten more than a free dinner at Sizzler, is all I'm saying. Because that crap was beyond ridiculous. Not only did no one care about Avery, but it was shoehorned in. And that's kind of Nashville's M.O. these days. Nothing feels organic, every plot feels as if it's been cut and pasted from poorly written fan fiction, and not a single person has experienced much character development.

Sure, Hayden Panettiere has proved that she has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Connie freaking Britton. And sure, Juliette was last season's standout character. But she hasn't really grown since the series premiered. Instead of using the new season to wipe the slate clean and start anew, Nashville picked up right where it left off on the train to crazy town.


Juliette went through a lot at the end of Season 1 with her mother's rehab and subsequent death, but she's still a brat who's more concerned about her own image than she is about Rayna or Deacon or anyone else. And speaking of Rayna, she was placed in a medically induced coma following the car accident that occurred in the Season 1 finale, which apparently means experience flashbacks to when she had short hair, fewer freckles, and she and Deacon were together, but still mostly miserable. The woman can't even be happy in her coma dreams. 

Rayna's life basically sucks right now. She's unconscious, the man she loves is in jail because he told the cops he was drunk and had been the one who was driving on the night of the accident, and Juliette's out on stage using the entire situation to further her own career. She performed one of Rayna's classics at her own album launch concert to exploit the emotions of the crowd. It was manipulative and sneaky, not to mention heartless. That woman should quit music and go into public relations, because she's getting pretty good at playing the public.

When Juliette showed up to the hospital with camera crews in tow to put on another false show for the hearts and minds of country music fans, she ran into Maddie and the two of them had a heart-to-heart about Rayna. The poor girl was blaming herself for the car accident that put her mom in the hospital, as if she was the one driving the car that pulled out in front of Rayna and Deacon. It took Juliette talking to a tween about possibly losing her mother to make her realize how much of a bitch she's been lately. But after their chat, it appeared that Juliette's heart had grown three sizes. She'd eventually go ahead and agree to bail Deacon out of jail at Scarlett's request, but there's still no reason to think she's changed. She now knows the truth about Deacon being Maddie's father, and you just know that she'll try to use that knowledge to her own advantage somewhere down the line. 

Nashville needs to figure out what it wants to be: an interesting drama or ridiculous soap opera. Because it can't continue to be both. If Nashville has given up on being the complex series it promised us in the beginning and decided to go balls-to-the-wall, then good for Nashville. I support that. Who doesn't need a little crazy to light up their life? And if that's the case, the show will need to accept that despite Connie Britton's Emmy nomination, it'll never become a must-watch drama. It'll remain in that gray area of disappointing shows that spoiled their potential by trying to do too much. The show was lucky to get a second season, and the behind-the-scenes changes and shakeups have made it that much more unstable. If Nashville wants to be anything more than a vehicle for wind machines, hair extensions, and soapiness, now's the time to make the change.



NOTES

– On the young love front, Scarlett turned down Gunnar's proposal, which means she's now living with a friend. She's quit the Bluebird in the wake of her record deal, but thankfully she hasn't gotten involved with Avery again. So that's a plus.

– Gunnar and Will are roommates now, and Gunnar's grown some truly unfortunate facial hair. Break-ups are rough, man. And Will's still pretending to be something he's not, sleeping around with women and refusing to acknowledge the truth about his sexual orientation. 

– The music in this episode was hit-or-miss. I wasn't impressed by Juliette's performance—probably because the dress she was wearing was horribly distracting—or Avery's. But Scarlett and Gunnar's duet at Scarlett's party was pretty great.

– Peggy suffered a miscarriage, but refused to tell Teddy about it because she's an idiot and never saw the first season of Glee. Fake pregnancies do not work, Peggy. Also, why is Peggy still around? I know we can't just get rid of Teddy on account of he's the father of Rayna's children (biological or not). But Peggy? Push her off a cliff already.

– Anddddd, apparently Powers Booth might have had something to do with the car accident that killed his wife and Rayna's mother all those year ago. Because of course he did.

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What'd you think of the premiere?


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