Nashville: Season 1, Episode 10
I'm Sorry For You, My Friend
Last night's Nashville was a mixed bag for me. On the whole, none of the new story developments felt like a surprise. And while some moments were interesting, others simply fell flat. For the first time, I found myself browsing my computer during the show rather than closely watching.

The big issues this week: Rayna has to perform her first major gig without Deacon and is freaking out, Teddy needs to push out a last few days of campaigning before election day, Juliet needs a quick way out of a marriage with a man who (ostensibly) does not believe in divorce, and Gunnar has sketchy family matters to attend in Austin, Texas. Deacon and Scarlett develop their own big set of problems, although these do not present themselves until mid-episode.

Beginning with Rayna, it is understandable that she would be slightly terrified about performing for an arena audience with a new guitarist. She projects these fears by micromanaging Deacon's replacement. Unfortunately, we do not get to see any of this happen and only witness bickering between her and new guitarist #2 on their different styles, ending in him quitting in a huff. When producer Liam acquiesces to be a temporary replacement, he helps to show Rayna she can perform well without Deacon. While parts of this storyline might have been the most realistic elements of the episode, the overall execution seemed a little bit trite, the type of story you would tell a child with stage fright to boost their confidence.

Over on the campaign trail, the ugly race is finally coming to an end. In the final days, Teddy and Coleman are still tied in the polls. Teddy, Lamar, and Tandy need to strategize how to close the win. Lamar has one sure-fire solution. Unfortunately, it is illegal. He proposes vote buying and Tandy supports him. Teddy refuses; he has already lost too much in the election to stoop that low. However, too much is at stake in this election for Lamar and Tandy. The episode ends with Teddy winning the election (there was never really any other option"”Teddy's story and relevance would have ended). At the election night celebration, the dynamic duo are standing on a balcony and looking below at Teddy, Rayna in the girl. It is actual great imagery"”the combination of their vantage point and the venue architecture makes the dynamic duo look like puppet masters about to attach the strings to their marionette. During the campaign, the writers created a lot of dirt during the campaign that made Teddy seem as much as a dirt-bag as Lamar. However, by the end of this episode, it seems as though Teddy's involvement in all of the money laundering, the possible extramarital affair, and muckraking had been absolved. Teddy was transformed once more into simple victim of nefarious forces. This step-back is a disappointment. Watching Teddy's dark side made him multi-dimensional, even if less likeable. There is still a chance his skeletons will be revealed in time, but I am no longer holding my breath.

For Juliet, this week continued to demonstrate immaturity and lack of accountability for her actions. She refuses to speak directly to Sean, a man she tricked into having sex with her by suggesting a quickie wedding. She storms offstage when she is called out for running behind schedule on her sound check. She also makes changes to her concert set list mid-performance. While I really enjoyed Juliet's standoff with Liam onstage, on the whole these antics felt more like déjà vu and not refreshing banter. At least by episode's end, Juliet has finally recognized the painful consequences her actions can have on others. She also quickly learns that responsibility does not mean absolution. Sean icily repeats the warning she gave him when they met: that if he got to know her, he really would not like her. He now knows that is right. Juliet's typical reaction to this type of rejection is just to spiral back into her bad habits. I am still very interested to see what happens next week.

Since being on tour, Deacon has been mopey about leaving Nashville (except for the times he's banging a journalist/ex-girlfriend). Tension has been growing between him and the leader of the Revel Kings, Cy. Finally this week all Deacon's problems were solved when, doe-eyed, dressed in white Scarlett gets into Cy's crosshairs. Cy defies the space-time continuum and is able to get Scarlett alone in a room with his private security guarding the door outside. Luckily for Scarlett, Deacon is able to push a security guard twice his weight out of the way to save the day before Cy's assault escalated to a more serious crime. Deacon and Cy then brawl; Deacon is definitely done with the Revel Kings. This was actually a pretty serious scene. I was also on the edge of my seat as the camera cut between Deacon happily signing autographs and Cy getting closer and closer to Juliet. It also raises some new interesting plot points for Deacon: Will this mean he will get back on tour with Rayna? They will hem and haw, but I predict ultimately yes (shortly following a divorce between Teddy and Rayna).

Nashville has been creating interesting conflicts and dilemmas between its characters. They are navigating between self-interest, duty to family, and manipulative competition. We have seen most characters light and dark sides; at times it is a refreshing amoral world in Nashville. The tension has grown palpable with each episode. Yet when the conflicts reached their tipping point, the solutions were mishandled and anti-climatic. I've grown to enjoy the characters and am still curious to see where they will go this season. But I do not expect anything earth shattering (or at least gasp-worthy), which is why I am now multitasking during episodes.

Grade: B-

Random Thoughts
"¢\tIf I ever go on a nationwide stadium tour to perform country music, I want the creator of "Red Lipstick, White Lies" to come up with a headline for me!
"¢\tI'm glad Rayna's daughters came back, sad they are glorified props.
"¢\tIn the battle for best tour outfit, Juliet wins
"¢\tWhile intensely studying weird paintings inside this tour lounge, shouldn't Scarlett have noticed that the party was abruptly ending? To me, this is another example of overkilling the idea of Scarlett as a naïve girl who is oblivious to social queues of the adult world. She is a twenty something year old woman with two jobs. It is impossible (and sometimes feels offensive) for her to be that much of a space cadet.
"¢\tGunnar played a small role this episode"”all we learned was that his angsty convict older brother might show up in Nashville and that Gunnar is short one guitar. While I like the idea of giving Gunnar more than one dimension, introducing another character to do it makes me cringe.
"¢\tWhy does Avery still exist? And why does Wyclef Jean give him the car from Entourage as a signing bonus? I was over this back in October.
"¢\tThere is too much will they/won't they in Rayna and Teddy's marriage. I don't know if they are trying to go for a Peter and Alicia Florrick type of marital gray area with their separation, but it is not working. Instead, it feels like watching a marriage slowly disintegrate. It almost would have been more satisfying if Teddy had actually kissed Peggy at the end of the episode than just prolonged googly-eyes made in his somehow empty hotel suite on election night.
Tags: Nashville
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