Episode 6: You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)
By: Carlos Uribe
Nashville is a series about the country music scene and the political scene of Nashville.
The series has largely and succesfully painted Avery as a villanois character. I'm starting to think that wasn't completely intentional after this week's episode. He has largely been a character whom Scarlett thinks will leave him if she pursues her own music career. He acts petty and jealous all the time. The show hasn't given the viewers a single scene where Avery is actually happy being in a relationship with Scarlett. For that matter, why the relationship matters to both of them has never been defined. They're just dating but it never seems like it's anything special. Most episodes have had Scarlett trying to be loyal to Avery while he acts like the world is against him. To his credit, he doesn't leave Scarlett and he tries to deal with her finding success immediately after he has spent so much time failing. This episode has a manager trying to sign him. The deal with this manager is that she only signs men below thirty that'll sleep with her. It's ambigious whether Avery figures this out or not but he doesn't sleep with her when he does go to her house. He can't because he's loyal. Scarlett breaks up with him because her uncle told Scarlett that the manager liked to sleep with clients. She thinks that Avery had gone to the manager's house planning to cheat on her in order to advance his career. She moves out and into her uncle's home and Avery goes ahead and sleeps with the manager. The idea is that Scarlett moved him towards having sex with the manager. So, I'm confused: did the series mean to potray him as a bad boyfriend or was that just the actor? Because once you review what he actually does, he's not really that bad of a guy. He gets mad at Scarlett every now and then but he does stand with her and he does refuse to cheat on her. The series has largely been working at breaking them up from the beginning but it hasn't made any effort to make us think this is a bad thing. I'm confused on what exactly Avery's purpose on the show is supposed to be.
In other news, the show had to find something new to find Juliette. Her rivalry with Raina was the focus of the pilot but it gradually faded into the background. When Deacon got fired by Rayna, the show didn't make any fanfare when he seemed to join Raina. Raina's mother has been sent to rehab. Her publicity nightmare has subsided enough to provide her with a new plot but not to really dominate the episode. This new plot is that her publicist arranges her to go out with a quarterback named Sean. Sean is a lot like Tim Tebow in that he doesn't drink or go out. He does play the guitar. The actor they got to play the quarterback isn't a believable NFL player but I'll go along and pretend he is. There's nothing wrong with giving Juliette a love interest but Sean never really becomes anyone who makes any impression. The only intereting thing is when he punches a member of the papparazi and the publicist finds a way to lay the blame on Juliette. If Sean has anger problems, then it can manifest itself into some serious conflict. The problem is that until he punches the papparzi guy he's largely a saint. The problem with having a character that supposedly has no flaw is that it's difficult to care about him. Juliette might be hooking up with him now but it's hard to see why this is significant or why I should care. That's a large problem that Nashville is now facing: there's a lot of elements I like but they're not really coming together to create a coherent whole that leads somewhere. It simply feels like the plot wheels are turning for the sake of it. This Juliette plot is a perfect example of that: it seems to exist to give her something to do. I could be proven wrong in a future episode but that's kind of the impression I'm getting. Consider how quickly the nail polish arc was resolved: Juliette agreed to do anything the producer wanted but the only thing we see her do is go on a date and attend some fundraiser. She complains about both but the show could have taken this a lot further.
The mayoral election plot has been there since the beginning but the show isn't doing anything new to really justify it. I like politics sub-plots but this show is just crossing things off the list. Give a scandal to Teddy? Check. Make that scandal appear like a completely different scandal? Check. Have him slowly lose his ethics as he starts to play dirty tricks on Coleman? Check. Coleman's side of the story is also a lot like something that you'd check things off a list of plot points to hit. There's moments where the politics sub-plot works: such as a couple weeks when it laid the conflict that got Deacon fired. That's when the plot worked for the show because it was something only Nasvhille could do. All that other stuff is something another show can handle because it's not doing anything new with it. If Nashville can find a way to make all of this politics sub-plot work into what makes this series unigue then it wouldn't feel as much as a waste of time as it does. It's becoming less and less difficult to actually care.
Finally, there's what Rayna did this episode. She went and found herself a new producer. Only this isn't just any producer. This is a rock producer that has never worked on country before. Rayna wants him because she thinks that he can bring her music alive like nobody else can. He predictably rejects her at first but she predictably convinces him to record her song. This produces an amazing song that the record label boss loves until he learns who produced it. It looks like the label drama is back on although I'm a bit confused. The entire pilot had ended with Raina basically leaving the label but the subsequent episodes have shown that's not true. The entire question becomes exactly why didn't another label buy out Raina's contract? What makes all this more confonuding is we still don't know where Nashville plans to take this entire plot. There's nothing wrong with keeping us on our toes but we should at least have an idea where Nashville is planning to take us. Not getting across has hurt any narrative momentum each epsiode of Nashville keeps building.
That's the problem with Nashville right now: what story is it trying to tell? The pilot had given the show a lot of room of where to take the series. It had given the show a way to unite all the characters under a plot that explored the city of Nashville and how the actions of each character had ramifications. The pilot's promise of the series was strong. The problem is that Nashville looked at all the ideas that the pilot had laid out and the series ignored them. The consequences of characters actions are ignored in order to move to the next plot point which makes each action seem less significant than it actually is. This isn't a bad episode but it's the latest in a line of episodes that don't seem to actually be going anywhere.