29
Nov
2012
Nashville: Season 1, Episode 7
Lovesick Blues
Annie
This week Nashville returned to some of its best elements from the pilot to bring us one of the strongest episodes of the season thus far. There were shady maneuvers on the campaign trail, jealous lovers arguments, lots of skin, and, most importantly, the Rayna-Juliette feud was the center of the episode.

The label's big annual show is this week, to be held at the Ryman Auditorium. Both Rayna and Juliette think they will be closing the event. Rayna is one of the label's longest running and most successful artists; Juliette has had the biggest year and made the label lots of money. However, each is shocked to learn that they would have to close the show with a duet. Juliette's public image still needs repair and some members of the Nashville old guard are skeptical that she has not earned the Ryman stage. A duet with Rayna would be symbolic welcoming to the big leagues.

Juliette is indignant, obviously, because she does not want help or mentoring from any other singers. Rayna is also unhappy because she thinks Juliette is a sell-out with no real talent. However, each woman does not have a lot of capital to negotiate with the label and they finally acquiesce. Juliette needs to be seen with Rayna if she wants to restore her tour and be considered a heavyweight. Rayna must woo a younger fan base to stay relevant.

Even after they agree to duet, the singers cannot agree on a song. There is more tension in this negotiation than in Middle East peace talks (Deacon and Liam also are great side line referees watching the women trade insults). Rayna wants to perform a ballad (one of her new songs with Liam) and Juliette wants to raise the roof. Rayna thinks she is being a purist; Juliette wants to remain fresh. Each cannot look past their history to see the valid points the other is trying to make.

Juliette storms out after Rayna calls her out on her inexperience. Deacon comes to her rescue in front of Rayna"”it is clear how much circumstances have changed since Rayna fired Deacon. Before, Deacon would have never stood up to Rayna. He believes in Juliette's talent and career potential. This is the most we have ever heard Deacon speak about his actual feelings towards Juliette. Usually she is doing most of the talking while he listens and doles out advice like the father figure she's never had.

Rayna eventually has a change of heart and offers Juliette an olive branch. She proposes they write an original song that will satisfy Rayna's need for authenticity and Juliette's wish for a chart-topper. They banter about the length of the verses, how many times to repeat to chorus, whether they need a bridge. We get it, ABC; they do not have a similar style. By the time they finish writing, however, it looks like the two are actually having fun (though neither will admit it). The same effect happens when they are on stage"”they feed off each other's energy but will probably refuse to admit it to anyone. Their duet, "Wrong Song," is an instant hit. Despite their different tastes, each considers themselves a strong female performer who is in charge of her life. Watching them perform felt like the country Spice Girls: big hair, strong voices, and tons of girl power.

This week, we also finally get to see Teddy confronted about his relationship with Peggy and the incriminating favors. Coleman's investigator has been following him and has caught their secret meetings on camera. Even though Coleman is an inherently good character, he has taken the gloves off and delivers Teddy an ultimatum: Either Teddy resigns from the race, or he publishes the pictures.

Per usual, Teddy runs to Lamar to solve his problems. Lamar acquiesces that the pictures will be published inevitably and that Teddy should get in front of the story by showing Rayna and cutting ties with Peggy immediately. We get some early hints that Peggy might not make a quiet exit, stirring up more trouble for Teddy down the road. Lamar's second front of attack on the campaign involves getting back at Coleman. While the charges from Coleman's arrest were going to be dropped, Lamar made a few phone calls and now the charges will stand. Teddy is upset that Lamar will fight this dirty for the campaign. He really should not be, however. He knew Lamar's track record when he joined the race and he knew that he would seek retribution to someone who threw rocks his way.

The episode closes at the Ryman before Teddy has had a chance to confess to Rayna. When she starts singing, "this is a song about a liar and a cheater who didn't know what he had until it's gone" he looks like he is going to vomit backstage. His whole life, Teddy has had other people solve his problems. Now, he will have to face the music himself.

This week, Scarlett was also facing a turning point in her relationship. She has just broken up with Avery and is now second-guessing that decision each day. She is obsessively cleaning Deacon's house and is unable to write new songs. Hailey's plan to take her out to forget the breakup backfires when her own boyfriend can't take his eyes off the glammed-up Scarlett. Did anyone NOT see this coming? Gunnar apologizes at the end of the episode after lashing out at Scarlett for kissing another guy. Scarlett forgives him and announces what viewers have already known"”how important they are in each other's lives. Right now they are close friends, but this will change soon.

Our characters suffered the titular lovesick blues in many different ways: Rayna and Juliette opened up wounds from past relationships to write their hit song, Juliette cannot use sex to earn a man's affection, Deacon was stuck in the crossfire between Rayna and Juliette, Teddy's indiscretions are threatening to ruin his marriage, and Scarlett has to shed the final skin of her past life with Avery. In the end, Nashville is about each of their character's relationships; ambitions take second chair. This episode helped establish a new normal while always indulging in fan's favorite elements of the show.

Grade: A-


Endnotes:

-"Best way to get over someone is get under someone else."

-"I believe you, I just don't think anyone else will."

-"Nice rack. OK voice."

-"If I'm going to lose someone I'm glad its not you"

-When Rayna and Teddy attempt to show affection for one another, they make Senator John Kerry and Teresa Hines-Kerry look like honeymooners.

-I don't even want to address Sean Butler's Tim Tebow turn this week. Gag me. First of all, no one with a sleeve tattoo is also saving themselves for marriage. Also, it is so creepy when he kisses Juliette and says "believe me, I'm not gay." I don't want to know what kind of evidence he has to back this up.
Tags: Nashville
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