Nashville: Season 1, Episode 6
You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)
Sometimes, art imitates life. Our image obsessed and paparazzi infested world has given some fun fodder for this week's Nashville. Namely, yes, I am speaking about the Taylor Swift and Tim Tebow...er, the Juliette Barnes and Sean Butler pairing. This episode is all about opposites attracting or, well, repelling one another. While Juliette and Sean are drawn to the exotic in the other person, different pairings, romantic or otherwise, push each other apart.

Juliette is a party girl who likes to stir up trouble; Sean is a tee-totaling, rookie NFL quarterback who spends Friday nights learning to play Juliette Barnes' singles on the guitar. Their initial encounter and date were just the work of high-powered publicists getting a photo-op for their clients. Juliette needs to be seen with a "choir boy" like Sean; he gets more national exposure and star power if associated with her. The two first meet at a charity event for the Nashville zoo; Juliette was unimpressed and dismissive of him. She only agrees to go on a date with him after her publicist and manager remind her that her career is still at stake (she then proceeds to dive into the pool in a miniature nude bikini, which makes it looks like she's skinny-dipping).

Once on their date, Juliette is still mean to Sean. She gives him a hard time about his disappointing performance in the NFL and how he doesn't drink or hit the party scene. He replies coolly that stepping up to the pressures of the pros is difficult and his dedication to his career keeps him at home and out of trouble at night. Both Sean and Juliette are rookies in their chosen fields; yet take very different approaches to their career, a fact Sean does not hesitate to point out to Juliette.

Fast-forward a few hours, and we've seen them singing on a private plane, dancing closely in a crowded club. Despite their differences and Juliette's indignation, the two are having a good time together. At the end of the night, Sean falls on his sword for Juliette defending her honor against a heckling paparazzo. The incriminating photos and broken camera could seriously damage a rookie's image. Juliette has never been the beneficiary of this kind of selflessness; it moves her to buy out the paparazzo and keep Sean's altercation out of the papers. By the end of the episode, they've set up a "stay in" date for the near future.

I am not sure how I feel about a potential relationship here for Juliette"”Sean would certainly be good for her. He is genuinely nice, successful and famous in his own right, and not trying to use her for personal gain. At the same time, Juliette is most fun to watch when she is being sassy and causing trouble. She needs to continue to push the envelope to grow. We will see if this is possible with Sean at her side. Regardless of what shape the relationship takes, I pray it does not go the way of Scarlett and Avery, a horribly mismatched couple who (annoyingly) refuse to take off their blinders to face the music (excluding the closing minutes of this episode"”hallelujah!).

In Rayna's life, too, opposites are attracting. Rayna is trying to change her sound and move her next album in a new direction. She tells the head of the label she wants to find a new producer. He says that is fine, but warns her the producer must be on the pre-approved "list". Rayna is so excited about the label's support for her new album, she might have missed that last part about approved producers. She seeks out Liam McGinnis (Jim O'Rear, who IMDB delightfully names "Creepy Record Producer"). He is a rocker with a rebel attitude, quite the opposite of Country Queen Rayna James. He's recently moved to Nashville and she wants to meet to discuss collaboration. Liam dismisses her at the original meeting, saying Rayna's music is just for "Moms and SUVs".

But Rayna is a pro: she has been in the business for too long to take the first "no" as a final answer. Rayna ditches her manager, her glam outfit and 4" patent pumps. She returns to his studio/home at night with a leather jacket, printed jeans, and moto boots to renegotiate. This was one of my favorite Rayna scenes: she knows how to play the part and push the right buttons to get what she wants. She proves to him that his music can mesh with her carpooling mom life. Liam acquiesces and they get to work. This work, however, involves whiskey. Rayna initially protests, insisting her familial duties can't keep her out late. Eventually, the whiskey wins. A little drunk and a lot more relaxed, an inspired Rayna records until 2:00 AM.

The next day she watches a video of her recording, which Liam insists is magical (I love that Rayna asks, "what kind of magical?" out of fear she's gotten inappropriate with another collaborator). It is a good recording: Rayna is feeling the music much more than when she was twirling and fake smiling for last week's commercial shoot. Liam tells her that to reach her musical potential, she has to be more relaxed generally. This insinuates her relinquishing her role as involved mother and dutiful wife, which is obviously a tough pill for her to swallow. All of the decisions she has made in her career have been to preserve her home life, which we now know have been holding her back. This reinvigorates the struggle we've already seen Rayna face with choosing between her professional ambition and family obligations.

This great recording and career revelation may all be for naught, however, when the label refuses to work with Liam. He apparently offended the label president in 2005, which is still an open wound. But Rayna stands up for herself and her music. She insists that this is her new direction and threatens to leave the label if they do not allow the collaboration. The opposites attracted in Rayna and Liam, but the culture clash between Liam and the label may prove to be too strong. I think ultimately the label will acquiesce, but it was great to see Rayna defend herself so strongly here. When she is playing the role of politician's wife or leaving her longtime friend, it seems like a shell of Rayna is making those decisions. Here, Rayna's inner warrior comes out (I just can't help myself) and sticks up for her best interests.

Over in Scarlett and Avery land, the episode opens with them making up over moving forward after the last week's fight. By the end of the episode, however, this tentative peace is destroyed. While performing at the Five Spot, Avery's band is scouted by Reid, a promoter for local acts to open for major artists, and Marilyn Rhodes, a manager. The band is hoping to be picked to open for The Lumineers' upcoming show in Nashville. Marilyn insists that her representation can get the band that gig and much more.

However, Deacon learns that Marilyn has set her sights on Avery and he insists on stepping in to recommend the band to Reid instead. He doesn't exactly say why he does not want Avery signing with Marilyn, but her deep cleavage and not so subtle body language give the audience a pretty good idea. That is later confirmed when Deacon confronts Marilyn, warning her to stay away from Avery. She makes no such promises and reminds Deacon what his life could have been if he had signed with her as well. He replies, "that was a price too high to pay." This must have occurred while Deacon and Rayna were a romantic item; he is too loyal and too in love with Rayna to have put his own career in front of her happiness.

Avery's band does not get The Lumineers' gig. Instead, another client of Marilyn's was picked. This ultimately drives Avery back into Marilyn's force field. He is seduced by her promises of fame. At their meeting at her house, they begin to kiss, but Avery's conscience kicks in before they can consummate the relationship. However, it is too late when Avery returns home. Scarlett learned about Marilyn from her Uncle Deacon. She is furious and betrayed that he even went to her house initially. This was probably the most realistic performance by Juliette of her love for Avery and how this betrayal has left everything broken, likely for good. Their differences are finally too much to ignore. Scarlett moves into Deacon's house the next morning. I am very happy these two are broken up; the question is if they can now be interesting characters apart.

On the whole, this was a good episode of Nashville. Nothing earth shattering happened, but I was disappointed when it ended. I wanted to keep watching the stories unfold. I am excited to see Rayna and Juliette spar in two weeks (country stars have to celebrate Thanksgiving, too), as well as Scarlett confront Marilyn.

Grade: B+

Odds and Ends:

-I didn't really talk about Teddy, Coleman, and the race, although things were certainly interesting there. I blame it on post-Presidential Election hangover. (Yes, its been two weeks, but I stand by it). I am excited to see what happens with the Teddy and Peggy photos and whether the Oxycontin found in Coleman's car during the "routine traffic stop" will really hurt his campaign.

-Its ironic that Juliette was so "over"/skeptical of the zoo, in real life, Hayden Panettiere is well known for her animal rights activism. She is a spokesperson for the Whaleman foundation and has lobbied Congress on their behalf.

-When Marilyn Rhodes and Avery are hooking up, I was pretty shocked they camera cut to her trying to unzip his pants. We didn't see anything on camera, but that still leaves very little to the imagination and therefore off-limits for network TV. The shot definitely worked here, as it just emphasized Marilyn as a cougar.

-Dear Deacon, maybe people think you don't like Avery because we never see you two in a scene together! I guess this is more a point for the writers, but still. A nagging complaint I've had with post-Pilot episodes of Nashville are that characters that are supposed to be close do not appear in scenes together. It might be that these scenes would be trivial and not move the plot forward, but for the sake of consistency and building up a rapport for the audience, it would be nice to see family members or close friends spend more screen time together.

-Like most humans, I normally hate watching shows live and not being able to fast-forward through commercials. Fortunately someone over at ABC took my feelings into account and gave us a commercial starring Gunnar and the city of Nashville. What actually makes this a good time was I learned GUNNAR (SAM PALLADIO) IS A BRIT! He was already on the top of my list of cutest actors on the show; now his spot is close to solidified. Unfortunately, Gunnar probably got more screen time in that commercial then the actual episode, which is a big bummer.

-In the Pilot, Juliette and Avery bump into each other backstage at the Grand Ole Opry (Juliette is there standing awkwardly, whatever). Now that Avery and Scarlett are through, I hope they'll bring back this pairing. Of all the characters on the show, I think Avery just might have the most in common with Juliette. They are both hungry for fame and willing to do what it takes to make their star rise. I'd like to hear them record a duet (their mixes of sounds could be cool) and get a little frisky on the side, too (we all know Juliette's song writing process involves nudity).
Tags: Nashville
comments powered by Disqus