Nashville: Season 1, Episode 8
Where He Leads Me
The title of this episode could really have been "How to Not Doom Your Marriage and Business." This week was all about partnerships. We are reminded throughout the episode what creates for a strong bond and what forces can tear one apart. Trust, pure motives, and the support of friends and family are some of the most crucial components.

The episode starts with Rayna learning about the Teddy-Peggy photographs. When Rayna confronts Coleman, he defends himself"”and rightfully so"”that he needs to protect his campaign against Lamar and Teddy's lies. Once Rayna sees the pictures, she clams up. Sure, it was just a hug, but the smile of Teddy's face suggests there's more going on. Rayna is finally forced to examine her marriage, or lack thereof, and see what we in the audience have seen all season.

What I don't understand is how everyone is speaking so highly of Teddy's character, while nothing on Nashville supports these claims. He gets himself into trouble and cannot clean up his own mess. It does seem like he is a good father, yes. But Teddy cannot function in an adult world; he is incapable of accountability. Case in point: Teddy tells Rayna that it was Peggy's idea to float the funds on the Cumberland deal. Peggy is more of a dutiful lap dog than a financial mastermind. But it is easier for Teddy to pass responsibility on her shoulders than his own. By her overdose at episode's end, it looks like Peggy really is collateral damage.

Rayna does call Teddy out on the motives for his embezzlement"”he did not commit these crimes for their family, he did it for himself. She can no longer trust him or her family. Despite this, she still stands by to support him and the campaign. But, as she so coolly reminds him after stepping off stage, it is only for the sake of their daughters. After their hug, her face is stone cold and distant. She is done with the marriage and this campaign.

Over in Juliette's story, we still watch new romance unfold. Its exciting at first for a bad girl to date a religious guy"”his goodness is exotic to Juliette. But the fun and games end when he invites you to meet his family at church.

Juliette's initial apprehension is quelled when she meets the Butlers at church. Sean's younger sister is a big fan and his parents are warm. When she is invited to the stage with the church choir, it looks like she is killing it with the Butlers. And she realizes they have something Juliette has always wanted: a strong, stable, loving, nuclear family. You can see the happiness in her eyes when she gets to play house with them.

Mrs. Butler soon reminds Juliette that Sean and Juliette are from different worlds; this day with her family will not become a regular occurrence. For a Christian woman, she has a lot of judgment against Juliette's upbringing and dalliances with the law. She disapproves as mother and a manager (turns out you can't be Mother Theresa and Ari Gold at the same time). The parting shot is of Juliette flaring her nostrils as Mrs. Butler walks back towards her family"”you know when Juliette flares, she is scheming to get her way.

Before she can hatch her plan, the next day, Juliette invites Deacon over to do more song writing. Which makes me wonder, was she thinking of song writing or "song writing" when she called him over (it is her m.o. to turn to sex when she doesn't get her way). Unfortunately, Deacon brings some unwelcome correspondence from her mother. She is doing well in rehab and wants to make amends with her daughter. Juliette continues to refuse her overtures, which may seem cruel, until we learn more about her difficult upbringing. It will clearly take a lot of work to bring Juliette and Jolene together. These realizations particularly sting so soon after Mrs. Butler voiced her disapproval. For Juliette, each step forward brings two steps back.

It looks like this week the Gunnar, Scarlett, Hailey love triangle has finally come to a close. While Hailey entered the storyline as a flirtatious girl not looking for something serious, this all changed after her night on the town with Gunnar and Scarlett last week. She now knows where she stands in Gunnar's heart (even if he does not).

Her first plan is to get Scarlett out of Gunnar's line of sight. Hailey innocently tells Scarlett about a band looking for a lead singer. Obviously, Scarlett tells Gunnar, who is not a rock, and Gunnar confronts Hailey. She ultimately has no problem coming clean and telling Gunnar "she wants her boyfriend more interested in her than some other girl." Fair enough. She may not be as freewheeling as she came off in her first appearance, but at least she has the independence to not play second fiddle. Their relationship is over.

Thanks to Hailey's admission, we can now see the real relationship between Gunnar and Scarlett struggle to take off. But, being long character-arc television, Scarlett does not react like most warm-blooded female humans would when Sam Palladio confesses his feelings and kisses her. Why does she freak out and say "you can't go kissing people whenever you feel like it!" ?! But Scarlett, YES YOU CAN! WHEN YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH THE PERSON YOU CAN! Gunnar has told her he wants to treat her right, and that she is amazing. Yet she cannot accept his love. Gunnar, persistent, tries to woo her with a song, "When the Right One Comes Along." It is a beautiful song, one they have been working on together. Scarlett probably did not realize while writing the lyrics that it was really about Gunnar. As she listens in the Bluebird, I think she has that realization. The problem is, she is not ready to confront these feeling.

Scarlett tells Gunnar she needs space because she is confused. Gunnar is obviously upset. To be fair, Deacon reminded him in the pilot that, in their family, they never pick the person that is actually right for them. I do support Scarlett needing space"”she needs to know how to love herself before she can be in a real relationship. But Gunnar is such a great guy! I blame Avery for giving Scarlett the champagne they were saving for when he got his big break in Nashville. Scarlett probably takes this as a sign of them getting back together. Yes, he cheated on her and she should be repulsed, but Avery was Scarlett's first love. I am okay with her needing time to make a clean break. Looks like Scarlett will not get her space, however, because we learn at the episode's end that one of their songs has been picked up and will hopefully be recorded soon. She and Gunnar are marketable as a pair, that can't be put on hold. It is only a matter of time before they transition to an actual performing duet and not just a writing partnership. In the meantime, hopefully their love will finally takeoff.

Despite the break-up with Scarlett, Avery continues to get his own storyline. His cougar manager and new Atlanta-based label want to put his career on the fast track. They take him on a trip to Atlanta to "dirty up his sound." In a move nobody saw coming from a mile away, once Avery is wined and dined on the private plane, they ask him to leave his band. He's been with them since junior high, but he is more marketable as a solo artist. Looks like Avery is going to have a repeat of the decision he made two weeks ago"”between his loyal friends and family who have helped him make it to this point, or the promise of stardom. My money is on the latter.

This week, Deacon met with some old buddies, who have since formed an incredibly successful band. Catching up, they ask what his keeping him in Nashville these days (I guess everyone knows Deacon's life is in a rut). They offer him a two-year deal on the road with the Rebel Kings, an opportunity of a lifetime. But Deacon does not accept on the spot. Juliette is right: he is too busy playing a steadfast supporter to her and Rayna to make a decision that is right for him. Ultimately, he can't decide to leave until he has Rayna's blessing. Deacon watches the news, after all, and is certainly very aware of how the Teddy-Peggy revelations must hurt Rayna. Maybe he was even wishfully thinking there would be another opening for him in Rayna's life. But Rayna tells him to go see what's around the next corner, which is the fair advice a friend should give. I assume this means Deacon will not be joining Rayna and Juliette if they go on tour? That would be a shame, because I know everyone enjoyed watching him uncomfortably play referee between the two divas.

The episode ends with pitches for two new partnerships"”one heard before and another a little out of left field. Edgehill Records still wants an arena tour for Rayna and Juliette. Although this time, the circumstances have changed for Rayna. She proved her worth at the Ryman last week and she is now in acute need to get away from her husband and the campaign. Juliette is still desperate for her tour to resume post nailpolish-gate and will likely agree, too.

On the other side of town, Juliette is trying to make an honest man out of Sean Butler. Proposing marriage to get back at your beau's mother does not seem like the best foundation for a new partnership"”but hey, Juliette goes after what she wants. If Rayna and Juliette are now going to establish a good working relationship, Juliette will need another female authority figure to spar against.

This week also brought along some necessary plot movement and character development. Rayna finally knows Teddy's secrets and is breaking free. Juliette is still scheming, but towards an end-game of greater stability. Gunnar is embracing his feelings for Scarlett. There finally seems to be a tour on the horizon. At the same time, we still had some of the great conniving and singing that makes Nashville so fun to watch. There was also some interesting commentary about actual phenomenon today: the religiously devout yet protective, cold momager (looking at you, Mrs. Jonas), more on the dirty underbelly of politics (this one has been beat over the head, hopefully this will get a rest of this episode), the effect of paparazzi on human's lives (get well, Peggy). This week, Nashville did a good job of weaving the ensemble cast, the indulgent primetime elements, and cheeky commentary into a single episode.

Grade: A-

Favorite Lines:

-"I know how important family is Deacon, because I never had one."

-"Here is to sex, no drugs, and rock n' roll"
Tags: Nashville
comments powered by Disqus