After a previously on intro, (here is my full monty recap) we get a truncated version of the aerial shots that opened the pilot.
Rayna James (Connie Britton) might be country music royalty but stars are just like us and get caught in traffic jams while driving their kids to school. The elder of the two daughters gets a tweet, the reason for the delay is the root of all Rayna’s woes, new countrified pop sensation, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) The James Girls attempt to defect and join the crowd as “the greatest singer in the world” is shooting a video in a local park. But Mama Rayna is having none of it and locks them in the car before they can flee.
Apparently the rest of Nashville’s teenyboppers are home-schooled or just have negligent parents as they mindlessly screech while Juliette and her band of back up dancers cavort over what I assume are some city landmarks. I don’t know if Hayden Panettiere was simultaneously shooting another project and the hairdresser was under duress, but her lace front wig game is OFF. I know how cranky I can be about bad hair, so no surprise after overhearing some less than flattering remarks about her craftsmanship, Juliette orders a production assistant fired. Her ire up, the pocket diva demands to know why Deacon Clayburne (Rayna’s ex and current band leader) hasn’t committed to tour with her, as she is doing her part, i.e. straddling him by firelight.
Watty White (still Nudie suit-less) lyricist/svengali country music whisperer tries to convince Rayna and Deacon to tour as a duet and make it like it was when they were young and in love. Obviously Rayna’s husband Teddy is none too pleased with this plan. Having gone from Stay at Home Dad to mayoral candidate, Teddy is stressed out as is, but the couple agree to think on it. The hair folks might be strugglin’ but the design team is on point, wholly believable bedroom set decoration in this scene.
At The Bluebird Cafe, Watty White gives Deacon’s niece Scarlett (waitress/poetess) and her friend Gunnar (who would like to be more) the chance of a lifetime and offers to record their demo.
Juliette and her bad lacefront take things up a notch and attempt to poach Deacon on Rayna’s turf before a rehearsal session. This will be the first of several uses of “songwriting” as a euphemism.
Scarlett and her skeevy boyfriend, Avery are not experiencing domestic bliss. The first clue is his lackluster hair but he goes on to say things aren’t working out on the music front for him. Because being a good girlfriend means not being more successful than your man, Scarlett squelches news that the kingmaker of Nashville wants to record a demo with her.
After rehearsal, Rayna is pleased when Deacon reconfirms his commitment to her band. That is until Juliette picks him up to play in a classic Chevy truck. They end up on a scenic piece of land Juliette has purchased (formerly owned by Tanya Tucker) which will eventually serve as her refuge from the outside world. Softer side of Juliette alert! After presenting Deacon with a vintage guitar (fortunately NOT pronounced gee-tar) they get down to “songwriting“.
A shot of a modest house (by Hollywood standards, in other words a dream house for most Americans) is the scene for a chat between Rayna and mayoral candidate
Bunny Colvin, Coleman Carlisle. Her father Lamar has Teddy running against him because Coleman spoke out against his plans for a new baseball stadium. Long time family friends, they both nod knowingly over the intense cauldron of diabolical that is Powers Boothe.
Next up, Rayna is late to a formal fundraiser where she is forced to schmooze with society matrons who lurve Juliette and want to know if Rayna’s CD is available at Starbucks. That this was treated as an insult puzzled me. The salted caramel drinking, lulemon wearing ladies who lunch are the target audience for
Shania Faith Rayna. Going from the frying pan to the fire, Rayna has a conversation about the impropriety of her visiting Colemn Carlisle with Daddy Lamar. They allude to some dark family secrets. If this show was on HBO this would lead to an incest or a Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson storyline but its ABC so who knows.
Aw snap, Juliette and Deacon really are songwriting, and she has pen and paper out to prove it. The production company earned their money because a capella Juliette does indeed sound like an angel. This looks like another music video as the couple is perched on the back of her old-timey and incredibly expensive truck. She ends round 1 of their songwriting session by pulling off her shirt. Thankfully Deacon follows suit and gets rid of the horrible pale pink floral number he was wearing.
In a room that looks like new money’s idea of an English hunting lodge (complete with over sized oil portrait of dogs over the mantle) Teddy is being vetted for his mayoral campaign. He brushes off suggestions that he did something illegal with a development deal gone wrong, and we are quickly on to skeevy Avery performing. Sweet Scarlett breaks the news about Watty White’s interest in her duets with her co workers. Jealous boyfriend manages to put his rage on simmer and congratulate her. I doubt this show will last long enough for him to have a full on abusive boyfriend meltdown.
The Neo Classical mansion shot is the the show’s Bat Signal for Powers Booth and home to showcase showdowns. I haven’t spotted a dual staircase yet but if I do, I’m calling a fall/push/miscarriage/death. This week Daddy Lamar takes on Coleman Carlisle. This Simple Simon version of political chess, makes me miss The Wire even more. Lots of teeth gnashing and bad dialogue about loyalty and people getting what they deserve is beneath the talents of both actors.
The prize fights aren’t finished this week as Deacon and Rayna have it out after Juliette sends him a guitar valued at $50,000. As with any argument between long time friends and former lovers, old hurts are brought up and Deacon accuses Rayna of not supporting his solo gigs at The Blubird. Connie Britton normally looks fantastic, I could write a 1,000 words on her hair alone, but the skirt she has on in this scene is embarrassingly bad. I’m relieved when she and it storm off.
Another heated discussion takes place in a room with more textures and layers than a My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding cake. This one is all Juliette, though as she hates her new video. And having had him in the biblical sense, wants to know why her manager (whose highlights come from The Brooks & Dunn Hair Academy for Men) HAS NOT GOTTEN DEACON CLAYBOURNE for her tour.
It’s now Rayna’s turn to be vetted in her formal living room/hunting lodge. Like last week’s walk of exposition it serves to tell the audience what all of Nashville no doubt knows. Rayna and Deacon ended things because he had a substance abuse problem and she paid for his rehab. The time line when she left him and got with Teddy is fuzzy, which we know because Lamar was screaming who’s the daddy last week about one of Rayna’s daughters. I should also mention that the inquisition is scored and interspersed with scenes of Juliette doing some soulful crooning in a studio. The head phones make her sound magical but don’t appear to help with lip synching.
Sweet Scarlett visits her would be musical partner, nice guy Gunnar, while he’s at a hokey gig that pays the bills. He’s in full country gear, fringed bolo and hat. They exit a broke down music hall and have a heart to heart by a pool straight outta Beverly Hills. Complete with several hundred dollars in floral arrangements and twinkling lights shining in well manicured bushes. I’m all for romance but a little continuity would be welcome. Despite Gunnar’s please, Scarlett won’t be swayed to record a demo with Watty White, if it jeopardizes the love she has with skeevy Avery.
This weeks kitchen convo between Rayna and Teddy isn’t upstaged by the fabulous furnishings but another inanimate object, Rayna’s eyelashes. Was she supposed to have been coming from a performance and it was edited out? Either way I hope her stylist gives those lashes back to Muppet Janice along with the awful skirt she is still sporting. Honestly I don’t know what was supposed to be decided in this scene even after rewinding and ignoring bad hair and wardrobe decisions.
Score another for set design, as Juliette pulls up to Deacon’s house in a sporty green car. How many cars does she own? She’s like Jay Leno. Juliette’s not there for more songwriting however and gives him a disc of her soulful croonings in hopes that Deacon will play on the final cut.
Over Direction ALERT! If you are prone to motion sickness, now is the time for Dramamine. I don’t know why they insist on these multiple angles and constant panoramic shots whenever Powers Booth is plotting. We get it, he’s shifty, you don’t have to literally show us! Dutiful Daughter makes a cameo appearance as the men who vetted Rayna and Teddy, spill the goods to Daddy Lamar. They all surmise that Teddy’s real estate deal was sketchy but this pleases Daddy Lamar because ” a man with secrets is easily controlled“.
If this lasts a full season I will probably compile an Art of War meets The Prince book of truisms from Daddy Lamar for my own amusement. Cut to Teddy having a bonfire of the vanities and a drink as he burns a boatload of documents. In this day and age you better also hire some knowledgeable college student to scrub your computer but that’s not nearly as cinematic.
We end our night in Nashville at The Bluebird Cafe. It must be Thursday because an adoring Juliette beams while Deacon is on stage strumming. Enraptured, she doesn’t notice Rayna’s entrance to the club. So when Deacon announces a special guest, Juliette is crushed when Rayna appears and takes her rightful place alongside him. The audience loves it and and an inspired Scarlett agrees to record a demo with Gunnar for Watty. Connie Britton is sporting an ill advised braid (youthful embellishment?) but Juliette’s hair is the best its looked all episode as she storms out of the cafe.
Fortunately for Rayna, her tires are safe but her emotions are in turmoil as she and Deacon sit in his car. So much confusion here, because this scene screams post coital regret but Rayna simply says she wishes they hadn’t sang that particular song. Rayna goes home to her spectacular kitchen, her spineless and apparently fraudulent husband and it’s a wrap.
With strange editing choices and sub par hair and make up, let’s hope this is a case of the sophomore slump and the third episode will be a charm!