Nashville: Season 1, Episode 4
We Live in Two Different Worlds
This week's Nashville was light on singing but heavy on drama. As the title suggests, "We Live in Two Different Worlds" forces Rayna and Juliette to scrutinize the disparity their past lives and present selves. While Juliette is constantly trying to run away from her past towards a sophisticated adult life, Rayna is trying to hold on to the earlier, freer days of her career and resist the cookie-cutter wife role her father and husband want her to play. Early in the episode we are presented with a presented with the main event that becomes the focus for each character. For Juliette, this is a hail-mary interview on Good Morning America to fix her public image; Rayna volunteers to give a benefit performance to revive funding for her husband's political campaign.

Post nailpolishgate, Juliette's entire team is working overtime to try to end the crisis, while she divides her time practicing sun salutations and denying any wrongdoing. The cops come to her house with a citation for her shoplifting, she laughs it off and slams the door in their faces. She later cavalierly eschews comparisons made by everyone to other celebrities with legal scandals. And finally, when Good Morning America offers the chance to share her story, she only denies allegations of intentional theft and blames her haters for the video (you have got to be pretty ballsy to walk out on Robin Richards!). Juliette is part rebellious adolescent, part diva. She recognizes the damage the scandal is causing her career, but wants the problem solved without her own admission of responsibility. Her mother's presence, as she prepares for the (doomed) tour, is a persistent reminder of her quick rise to stardom and her vulnerability to fall back to earth. It is not until the tour is lost and her manager is ready to quit does Juliette realize she has caused this problem for herself.

It will be interesting to see if she keeps the promise with her manager to listen to his advice. Her mother's visit (for apparently at least seven weeks until her court date) and their rocky road to forgiveness will tempt her to lash out. Over the course of the season, the writers have done a good job portraying and humanizing the lonely struggle a young superstar faces juggling a constant public scrutiny, growing up, and a demanding career. Week in and week out, I'm still excited to watch Juliette's story.

In Rayna's world, as the mayoral campaign heats up, her marriage becomes more strained. Teddy does not want to share the details of the race with Rayna. As she tries to become more involved, Rayna learns she is not comfortable playing the role as politician's wife. Through her career, she has tried to escape the country club world of her childhood. (Apparently, she was teased for listening to country music in high school, which seems like a stretch. I'll just take it as face value as the show demonstrating she doesn't feel comfortable in this privileged world and found herself once she left home to become a musician).

Teddy's campaign has meant two uncomfortable homecomings for Rayna: one with her manipulative father and also now with the world she tried to leave behind. We know little of Teddy's background and if he had a similar upbringing. Regardless, he now has the relaxed good old boy demeanor and clean cut Ralph Lauren model look to be a favorite of this set. Teddy's rise as a politician forces Rayna and her family back into the middle of this world. (Again, I am ignoring her daughters' private school education and her gorgeous home that could only be in an exclusive neighborhood as signs of old southern privilege).

The blow up between Deacon and Teddy before the fundraiser was very rewarding: so far these two men have been rather complacent with the other's presence in Rayna's life. They finally go head to head, calling each other out on their faults: Deacon's drinking problem, Teddy's role as Lamar's sycophant. I was really hoping they would get into a physical brawl at Rayna's feet. The whole confrontation was orchestrated by Lamar the puppet master, who is trying to end her music career.

Tension was still high when Rayna and Deacon took the stage. Deacon and Teddy starting eye-shouting (a distant cousin of break dance-fighting) when the song began. While I commend the show for trying to keep passions flaming during the performance, the whole scene seemed a little over done. The end result is that the final nail is hammered into the coffin of Rayna and Deacon's break up. It is painful to watch Rayna blame Deacon after the show for taking Lamar's bait, blaming his self-destructive personality. The tenderness and understanding of the Bluebird Café duet is now gone.

Nashville seems to still be laying a lot of groundwork for future revelation and scandal. Yet at the same time, the show is forced to make mini revelations with little fanfare each week for the sake of moving the plot forward. In the future, I hope the latter does not compromise the former. What makes me so excited about this show each week are the hidden and unknown connections between characters shared with the audience each week while most of the cast is unaware.

There were two instances of that this week. The first I will mention was presented in the final minutes of "We Live in Two Different Worlds": the apparently still very much alive affair between Teddy and his old girlfriend, Peggy! When we met Peggy earlier in the episode, I genuinely believed she was introduced simply to ruffle Rayna's feathers. That goal was easily achieved. Up to this point in Nashville, Rayna has been the center of attention and used to getting what she wants: the dependable father of her children and her lover on the side. The reminder that other women are attracted to her husband upsets the balance she's created for herself. By episode's end, we learned Peggy is an actual threat to Rayna's marriage. After some tense eye talking at the fundraiser, Teddy rendezvouses with Peggy in a secluded wooded spot outside the city. Both are worried about their affair coming to light in the campaign. While Peggy wants to come forward and nip the scandal in the bud, Teddy wants to continue to hide. He thinks because they've kept the affair a secret so far, they will be safe. Between burning the documents and trying to hide his affair, poor Teddy really does not know how campaigns work. All of Teddy's skeletons will certainly come to light. It is only a question of when.

The second new relationship introduced this week is that between Deacon and Coleman (Teddy's opponent in the mayoral race and Rayna's old friend). Coleman is Deacon's AA sponsor. The two meet up for coffee while Deacon awkwardly takes a call from Rayna's manager, who wants him to perform with Rayna at Teddy's fundraiser. While we learned earlier that Rayna and Coleman are old friends, we did not know much more about the relationship. Discovering now that Coleman and Deacon also have a long history sheds light on the friendship between all three. Coleman tells Deacon an AA sponsor is essentially a therapist. If Deacon has been sober for around ten years, Coleman has certainly witnessed Deacon's highs and lows as well as how deeply intertwined Rayna is in his life.

I wonder if this Deacon and Coleman storyline will feed back into what Rayna's early career was like before she met Teddy, when she had little contact with her father and was in a relationship with Deacon. Rayna is holding on to those years now, even though her life has become very different. She is indignant when she is told again and again that the attendees of the country club fundraiser are really "her people". She stops trying to deny this, but insists she has a "different world view." As the campaign continues, I imagine Teddy's camp will try to find dirt from the challenger's past, which might include some unflattering information about the candidate's wife.

The Scarlett, Avery, Gunnar storyline continue to meh along this week. For the most part, the evolution was predictable: Scarlett and Gunnar's demo was a hit and they signed a deal with a publisher. Avery wants to be happy for Scarlett, yet his own flailing career, the perceived threat from Gunnar, and Scarlett's admission of her accidental rising star are difficult for him to stomach. They have not broken up yet, but everybody except Scarlett seems to realize this fact. She seems to be in such puppy love with Avery to realize how her world is changing all around her.

A breath of fresh air this weekend was the arrival of Hailey, the music publisher's assistant, as a love interest for Gunnar. She is a confident, sassy, flirtatious brunette with sophisticated and edgy style"”quite the opposite of doe eyed, demure, almost virginal Scarlett. So far Hailey and Gunnar have had one romp and handful of office flirting, I am looking forward to see where this goes in the future. It looks like it could shape up to be another double love triangle like that between Juliette, Deacon, Rayna, and Teddy. However I am skeptical that Scarlett and Avery are strong enough characters to carry the other side of the equation.

I am also curious about the long-term reach of this story line. There are so many plot lines jammed into the forty three minutes each week; if the writers do not plan to bring Scarlett into the middle of Juliette and Rayna's line of fire (which was suggested in the Pilot during the tribute concert and the Grand Ole Opry).

My minor beef with this episode: more singing, please! Also, I hope Rayna and Juliette share the screen more often in the future. The show is more interesting when their stories intertwine and they exchange jabs. Besides these points, I really enjoyed this week's Nashville!

Grade: B+/A-

Other random thoughts:

-LOVED the opening scene! My thought process as the camera panned the scene: "Are those adult sleepover noises? Who is there? That's Rayna! That's Deacon! Is this real life?! "¦.Whomp." A very fun teaser to open the episode; kudos, Ms. Khouri!

-I almost squealed when I saw Kimberly Williams-Paisley on screen! She is most recognizable as Annie Banks, Steve Martin's daughter in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II. So far she is credited to two Nashville episodes by IMDB. Hopefully there will be more to come!

-When Rayna tells people she is performing at the dreaded "country club" it sounds like she is trying to do her best impression of Kurtz's "the horror"! This made me chuckle.

-I am not sure even Honey Boo Boo would eat the ketchup and sour cream filled "pink mac and cheese" that is the comfort food of Juliette's youth. I kind of wanted to vomit just looking at the casserole dish.
Tags: Nashville
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