If I was annoyed by the over-the-top coma shenanigans in last week's Nashville premiere, after "Never No More" I've kind of decided I just don't care anymore. Nashville will never be the show it promised it would be in the pilot, and it'll probably never be the show I want it to be—which is a mixture of that pilot and what it is now. But eventually, after you take so many pies to the face, you get to a point where it doesn't really bother you that you're standing hip-deep in pie, you just wonder whether the next one will be banana cream or apple. You just accept that this is your fate and you try to enjoy it the best you can. All of which is to say: Bring on the crazy, Nashville, because I'm ready.
The theme of "Never No More" was manning up. Most of our characters were forced to confront some sort of demon, whether it was Rayna approaching the new guy in charge of the record company, or Deacon facing the harsh truth that he might no longer be a guitar-playing sex god (I might've made up that last bit). Gunnar and Juliette also dealt with their pasts in order to move on and be slightly happier with their lives in the here and now. Basically the message was this: "Y'all have to man up and stop being cowards. Today is the first day of the rest of your life..." and all that.
Rayna woke up at the end of last week's episode, which was probably for the best because if the show had kept her out for much longer we'd have been dancing in daytime soap opera territory rather than night. And there's a difference. Time moves much faster at night! Two weeks have now passed since Rayna came to, and she spent them in a hospital—where patients are apparently forbidden from doing their hair, because Rayna's was a hot mess when Tandy brought her home. Also during that time, Teddy decided he wanted nothing to do with Peggy and her (fake) baby and everything to do with the family he has. It's just too bad neither Rayna nor Teddy actually want to be together. Just kidding. What's truly too bad is that Teddy is still around at all. He serves no purpose other than to be a pain in the ass these days.
Deacon's now out of prison following Rayna's admission that she was driving on the night of the accident, but he's still bitter and surly on account of the doctor told him he may never regain the same range of motion he once had in his hand. It's understandable that he was upset; because he's a guitar player, it meant his career might be over. Deacon, of course, took this news like any grown man would and flat-out refused to even try physical therapy. Instead, he chose to feel really bad for himself, have a cast put on his wrist that would probably cause more damage than it would fix, and then set up a fire sale for all his guitars because he wasn't going to need them anymore.
Deacon has long been one of my favorite characters on this show because, even though he mopes all the time, you can still see where he's coming from. Also because I still find it incredible that Charles Esten is the same person as the Chip Esten who starred on Whose Line Is it Anyway? during the '00s. Anyway, Deacon's backstory (along with Juliette's) is the show's most fleshed-out, and that immediately makes him one of its more interesting characters. Even without the Rayna love story, Deacon's got a hell of a lot going on under the surface.
As a former addict, Deacon carries a lot of guilt around with him. Guilt for the things he's done, guilt for the people he's hurt, guilt for being the cause of his own unhappiness. That guilt eats away at him constantly and you can see it on his face. It makes sense that after everything he's lost—which now includes Rayna again—not having the ability to play music would send him spiraling. Music is the one thing he's always had, so without it he feels more lost and alone than ever. So thank God he's got Scarlett to take him to doctor's appointments and to tell him how big of a dope he's being. When she told him to man up I was immediately grateful that she'd turned down Gunnar's proposal (I mean, I was grateful anyway, but now I had another reason to be happy) and moved in with Deacon. Because while I'm fine with a little depressed Deacon, that storyline would've been unbearable if it'd continued much longer. Now, I don't condone cutting off your own cast and then trying to play guitar again without a licensed physical therapist nearby, but whatever, that's not how we do things on Nashville.
On the Juliette front this week, the new head honcho of Edgehill, Jeff Fordham, pretty much hated everything that Juliette did in her Season 1 attempt to become a more adult artist. He preferred the bubblegum and glitter. Look, I'm not saying he's irrationally obsessed with tweens and teens, but he might be irrationally obsessed with tweens and teens. In my head I know that's a big market, but his insistence that Juliette's new music was crap and not selling made me want to slap the guy because I absolutely hated all of her pop country songs in Season 1. So while Jeff was off telling Rayna that her music and her label Highway 65 was the future of Edgehill (which was a big fat lie because he went on to poach Will from Rayna), Juliette decided to put on her public relations hat and go to Alabama to film a new special about where she came from.
You could tell Juliette was in Alabama because she was wearing her hair in braids. The trip started out as a publicity stunt, but when Juliette returned to the trailer park where she grew up with her parents (it appears that her father passed away when she was four years old, something we never knew because she's never talked about him), it was clear that the experience was affecting her despite her best attempts to pretend otherwise. This is the Juliette I prefer to watch every week—the young woman who came from nothing and built her own ladder to the stars, who lost her mother and is still grieving. The facade of being an icy, cold-hearted bitch is boring, and I prefer my Juliette to express real human emotions instead of jealousy and contempt. The moments where we glimpse the real Juliette are what keep this show from wandering too far off into the world of melodrama. That being said, I can't wait to see what crazy shit Juliette's going to plan now that Jeff has, for all intents and purposes, replaced her as the darling of the record label with the 19-year-old runner-up of a fictional version of one of the many, many singing competition shows on TV these days. I'm looking forward to seeing Juliette do battle with someone other than Rayna, because that wasn't really going anywhere.
The Gunnar stuff this week was fairly light, aside from the hilarious moment in which he had to tell Scarlett that her couch had been torched. But after suffering from a major case of writer's block where he struggled endlessly to come up with a good rhyme for beer, Scarlett's BFF—who no one even knew existed until last week—helped him out. When he got up to play at open mic night at the Bluebird, everyone assumed the song about the greatest heartbreak he'd ever known was about Scarlett (as if), but it turned out to be about his brother, so A+ for you, Nashville writers. My hope for Gunnar this season is that he continues to have storylines that don't involve Scarlett, because as much as I love their duets, those romantic plots are basically kind of the worst.
Also the worst—but totally understandable—is Maddie's attitude toward Rayna. It makes sense she'd be pissed off that her mother liked about who her real father is, but I'm tired of angst-y, bratty children on TV, so I'm pretty much ready to ignore any and all of Maddie's temper-tantrums for the rest of this show's life. See also: the storyline about Rayna and Tandy's mother's car crash.
So yeah, like I said, I think I'm finally over trying to treat this show like anything other than what it is, which is soapy musical melodrama. As much as I can pick apart the bad parts of the show, and complain when it makes a misstep, I think it's more fun to accept the sudsy parts and just go with it. I'm ready to sit back and take some crazy pies to the face. How do you guys feel?
– I enjoyed that Deacon called Rayna after visiting the spot where the townspeople of Nashville had built a vigil to Rayna after the car crash. What I didn't enjoy? The fact that Rayna had kept the ring Deacon had drunkenly proposed with all those years ago for so long, only to return it to him now. AND HE THREW IT ON THE GROUND LIKE IT WAS JUNK. Which, yeah, I mean Rayna had basically just told him that they were through forever and ever and they couldn't save each other now because they're kind of terrible at being together and stuff, but DUDE.
– Rayna wants to break away from Edgehill completely and start her own label? I could support this.
– Why does Will hate Brent (that was his name, right? The guy from last week and who works for Jeff at Edgehill?) so much? Obviously it's because he can out him and ruin his status as a ladies' man or something, but there's something bigger there and dammit, I kind of care a little bit!
– Yay or Nay: Avery's friendship with Juliette? I vote yay. But if it starts straying into romantic territory that vote will quickly turn the other way.
– Oh, and Scarlett now knows that Maddie is Deacon's daughter, which brings the count up to: Rayna, Teddy, Deacon, Maddie, Juliette, Scarlett, Tandy, and Powers Booth. Am I missing anyone?
– We still don't know whether we'll be reviewing Nashville every week (or if it needs to be reviewed every week), but it's fun and I enjoy the show so even if I don't do weekly reviews, I'll still be around to discuss the latest crazy shenanigans with you guys. Cool? Cool.
AIRED ON 5/25/2016
Season 4 : Episode 21