October 25, 2012 - 5:37pm
BY GIBSON JOHNS AND KAYLA UPADHYAYA
ABC’s new musical soap “Nashville” explores the ups and downs of the country music industry. Daily Arts Writer Gibson Johns and Senior Arts Editor Kayla Upadhyaya recap “Someday You'll Call My Name.”
Kayla: This was probably my least favorite episode of “Nashville” so far. That doesn’t mean it was a bad episode — it just felt a little off for a couple of reasons. At times, it felt too crowded. They throw in a lot of information — such as Rayna's mom's affair — that could have been spaced out a bit. The affair reveal doesn't entirely work. I get that it’s trying to show a parallel between Rayna’s marriage and her parents’ marriage, and I respect that the writers are attempting to humanize Rayna’s father, but in the end, it doesn’t change a whole lot. Rayna still hates her father, and he's still trying to control her life (in a way that is sometimes way too creepy).
Gibson: I agree with the fact that the reveal of Rayna’s mother's affair didn't exactly work, but less so because of the episode’s pace and more so because of how the scenes played out. I thought that Rayna’s reaction to the affair was perhaps the weakest moment of acting I’ve seen from Britton — the feeling of surprise just wasn't there. As for the confrontation between Rayna and Lamar (her father), I expected it to end with Rayna’s acceptance of her father’s money but, you’re right, the scene ended exactly where it started. Now we just know that Rayna’s father has an emotionally broken side to him — something that, at this point, doesn’t look like it will have any true effect on any storyline. Speaking of this whole financial issues plotline, I find it pretty unrealistic that Rayna’s apparently legendary career would leave them struggling so much.
Kayla: I have heard that a lot of celebrities have money problems because they’re “cash-poor,” but I must say that Teddy and Rayna’s financial problems don’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering just how long she has been successful. I understand that Teddy lost a ton of money when his investment whatever turned sour, but the details of that are very fuzzy. I actually think some of this episode’s stronger moments come from Juliette, which was a pleasant surprise. Some of the scenes between her and her mother were a tad heavy-handed (“I need you.” “There was a time I needed you.”), but for the most part, I thought the character developments were solid and Panettiere hit her marks. I was taken aback by her initial reaction to seeing her mother outside of the recording studio. She wasn’t angry — she was scared.
Gibson: I would definitely say the same thing. The whole situation with her mother reminds us just how complicated of a character Juliette actually is and that she isn’t as secure with herself as most people think. The scene at the gate — when Juliette walks away crying — highlighted Hayden Panettiere’s acting chops and showed that mix of anger, fear, and frustration Juliette is experiencing. As we saw through her facial expressions while recording “Undermine” with Deacon, this is really biting away at her. Her relationship with Deacon went from one characterized by seduction and lust to one in which actual feelings and chemistry are involved. Juliette likes Deacon and feels comfortable around him — it feels like she’s actually being herself when they’re lying in bed together talking. Not only that, but it seemed that Deacon had actually fallen for her, too.
Kayla: I do think Deacon has fallen for her, but not for the right reasons. I think he’s trying to hold onto the past — specifically, his past with Rayna. He has quite obviously not moved on, and his relationship with Juliette seems like a step backwards. I don’t think I buy that he is actually falling for her just yet. I like how this episode also revealed how blinded Juliette and Rayna are in the way they think of each other. Rayna thinks Juliette is just some spoiled little girl who gets everything she wants, and Juliette thinks Rayna had her whole career handed to her on a silver platter. In both cases, they’re wrong. These two could probably learn a lot from each other. Which brings me to my next point ... I don’t entirely understand why the writers are delaying the inevitable: There is very little doubt in my mind that Deacon and Rayna will both be joining Juliette’s tour. Rayna just doesn’t seem entirely comfortable going on the intimate two-person tour with Deacon in the wake of last week’s little impromptu performance at the Bluebird when they basically announced in front of a room full of people that they are the loves of each others’ lives. This week, she tries suggesting that they sing some of her crowd-pleasing big numbers instead of the romantic, quieter ballads. And even though Deacon turned Juliette down again and again and again (for the tour — sex, he doesn’t seem to have any problem with), he too doesn’t seem fully onboard with Rayna’s tour. Plus, as we mentioned, Rayna and Teddy are having serious financial problems and if she’s not going to accept her father’s $500,000 check, the Juliette tour could be the lesser of two evils. Plus, having both Rayna and Deacon hop on Juliette’s tour will surely bring lots of drama and tension that this show could have a lot of fun with.
Gibson: It’s definitely true that it feels somewhat inevitable that the joint tour will happen — which would satisfy everyone but Rayna and Juliette. But I disagree in the sense that I’m glad they haven't just jumped right into agreeing to tour together. For one, these two hate each other. There’s no reason why it should be an easy decision for Rayna to join the tour of her biggest rival (both professionally and personally). This lag time has also given us a chance to understand the awkwardness that came between Deacon and Rayna after their duet at the Bluebird and realize why there was such a hesitation on Rayna's part to perform those intimate songs on tour. She has a husband and two daughters (who, by the way, I just realized are Lennon and Maisy Stella from YouTube) to worry about. While watching their daughters' performance in the talent show, for instance, we actually got the first true evidence that there is an actual emotional connection between Rayna and Teddy, reminding us how tough this decision will be for Rayna.
Kayla: Hmmm, you have a good point. I was quasi-complaining last week about how quickly “Nashville” is burning through all of its narrative, so perhaps it’s a good thing that they’re taking their time with the tour decisions. It just starts to feel a bit circular. And yes, the girls are indeed played by the sisters of Robyn-a-capella-YouTube fame! Their version of Juliette’s “Telescope” at the talent show was beautiful — can’t wait for the inevitable season 3 storyline about Daphne and Maddie getting a record deal and Rayna being all “but, college!” ... assuming the show makes it to season 3 ... tell everyone you know to watch. This. Show. I hope we start to get a few more scenes with the girls actually, and not just because they have such lovely voices. But some of the moments that included them this week gave me a much better sense of Rayna and Teddy’s home life. Switching gears a bit, let’s talk about the Avery-Scarlett-Gunnar love triangle. So Scarlett chokes in the demo session with Watty White, and is devastated when Gunnar says that someone else can sing her parts for the demo — the main goal is just to get their songs published. This brought back the sense of how intimate songmaking is to these characters. Scarlett claims she doesn’t even want to be a big music star, but the thought of Gunnar replacing her upsets her. But it's Avery's words of praise that give her the courage to step back up to the mic. I have a feeling that Avery might have had self-serving reasons to get her back in that recording studio though. Did you see that snide little smile when he introduced himself to Watty? I don’t think Avery is invested in Scarlett’s success.
Gibson: I hadn’t thought about that too much until now — I dismissed his pushing of Scarlett as him realizing he had been a jerk and wanting to show her he wants what's best for her. But come to think of it, I now see his sudden “investment” in Scarlett’s success as one of two things: He either sees it as a chance to capitalize financially off of her success or as an opportunity to get closer to Watty and hopefully get a record deal of his own. Regardless of the real reason, though, I think we can agree that he is undoubtedly up to something shady. Also, just a thought: Remember when Watty called Rayna from Garrett and Scarlett's initial performance and said he “had an idea?” That says to me, now, that perhaps he also has ulterior motives — does he simply want to get these songs published so that Rayna and Deacon can later record them? Or does he see the Gunnar-Juliette duo as a potential opening act for their tour? I think I’m getting ahead of myself ...
Kayla: Haha, the thing about primetime soaps is that everything everyone does starts to seem like there are ulterior motives and major implications down the road. I think that Watty was just inspired to push Rayna and Deacon to go on tour together. Seeing Scarlett and Gunnar together reminded him of the success of Rayna and Deacon’s first tour. As for the music this week, Scarlett and Gunnar win again with their gorgeous duet “Fade Into You.” It still does't beat “If I Didn't Know Better,” but it comes pretty damn close. The camerawork while they were recording it was also very beautiful. Clare Bowen’s physicality is mesmerizing. There’s still a shyness to her performance, but it works for the character. In other developments, I’m interested to see what the repercussions of Juliette’s mother moving in with her are going to be. That’s a tricky plot development to work with, but it also has the potential to open up even more of Juliette’s insecurities and emotional intricacies.
Gibson: Not to mention the repercussions of Juliette shoplifting nail polish! But yes, both of these are tricky going forward. Speaking to your argument that they are perhaps moving too quickly — why was it necessary for Juliette’s mother to move in? Why couldn't they have just checked her straight into rehab? It felt a tad bit forced that they needed her to move in with Juliette. Her shoplifting, on the other hand, might seem random but actually kind of makes sense. Juliette is acting out after not getting what she wants — Deacon turns her down (both to join her tour and to continue their affair, it seems), and her mother is forced to move in with her. She’s being rebellious. Who cares that she could obviously have afforded to simply purchase that nail polish?
Kayla: I definitely thought about that while watching the episode. Why couldn’t Juliette just tell her mother that she either had to enter a rehab program or get the hell out of town? Having her move in is much too convenient (from a story standpoint). If the payoff is strong, I won't dwell on it too much though. And yes, I actually really like the shoplifting development. It's an interesting and unexpected reaction to her mother’s re-entrance into her life. I'm glad that the show doesn’t have Juliette turning to drugs or alcohol or something like that — the psychology of that would be too neat, too obvious. Instead, she’s shoplifting, which is very much so a control thing, and therefore makes sense for the character.
Gibson: Good point — anything more intense than shoplifting would have been out of character. I do expect some sort of scandal to come out of this next week (remember, we saw those teenage girls videotape the shoplifting incident on their cell phones), which will remind the people around her, including Deacon, that she’s still young, relatively immature, and a bit irrational. It looks like Juliette’s ultimate goal of being taken seriously as a musician by her contemporaries will have to wait a little longer.
Kayla: Indeed. I’m happy that the show has me as invested in Juliette as I am in Rayna. It’ll be interesting to see how both characters grow, because both are so damn stubborn and reluctant to change. Again, the inevitable joint tour will confront this. Also, I’m officially dubbing Connie Britton the Empress of Side Ponytails.