Episode 8: Where He Leads Me
By: Carlos Uribe
Nashville is a series about the country music scene and the political scene of Nashville.
This serves as the mid-season finale of Nashville and it should come as no shock that there's some cliff-hangers in this episode. Let's talk about the worst one: the one with Juliette. She has been dating Sean for a few episodes now and it's not entirely clear whether she actually likes him or if it's all a publicity stunt. This conundrum would actually be compelling if Sean wasn't such a boring character. He invites her to go to church with him so that she can meet his family. She accepts and she seems to be happy to be invited into their home. That is until the mother basically tells Juliette that the only reason Juliette is with her son is for the media and that Juliette's upbringing guarantees that she would never be invited into Sean's family. That is extremely harsh and it's also an issue that Juliette is seriously struggling to deal with. We don't know much about her father but she has some serious mother issues. Her mother being a drug addict meant that they not only grew up with little money for basic necessities but it's severly implied Juliette was molested by her mom's creepy boyfriends. She ends the episode deciding that she'll ask Sean to marry him. Why did she do it? Is she really in love with him, using an engagement for publicity, or is she trying to get back at his mother for her comments about her background? These are all questions that could possibly fit the character but the problem is that it's hard to care about the answers because Sean is the least interesting character on this show. No episode has actually given a reason for us to care about him and thus his relationship with Juliette. It doesn't help that the stakes are unclear. If Sean says no, what exactly does Juliette lose? It would be a good cliff-hanger if the series had been able to better develop Sean and his relationship with Juliette. That they chose to end with this cliff-hanger is the most mystifying part to me.
Now let's talk about the one I could care less about: Avery. He's no longer with Scarlett but it looks like his musical career is about to launch. The guy from Atlanta liked Avery during the band session and offers to fly Avery to Atlanta on his private jet. Avery gets on the plane as he's excited that he might be getting a record deal out of it. That is until he learns that the guy is only interested in Avery and not his band. This is a problem because Avery's best friend since school is his partner in the band. I'm sorry, wait what now? If this is so important that it would cause Avery to think about jeapordizing his career just as it's about to start then it's probably a detail the show should have at least introduced before this episode. If his bandmate is really that important to him, then how come we've never really met him? We might have seen him perform and he's in this episode but he doesn't really make any impression. We're eight episodes in and we're only discovering this important detail about Avery's band? This just feels like a weak attempt to create conflict with stakes. He can lose his friendship or he can lose out on this oppurtunity of a lifetime to make it in the music business. It's just so hard to care about the first stake when the episode literally introduces it in this epiosde for the sake of the cliff-hanger to work. That cliff-hanger being whether or not Avery is going to betray his friend for his career. Seriously, who cares? Actually the show should use this as an excuse to abandon him in Atlanta so we don't have to deal with him anymore.
Talking about Avery, let's move to the discussion on Scarlett and Gunnar. Gunnar and his girlfriend break up in this episode because he likes her. There's also a huge part about the girlfriend telling Scarlett to try out as a lead singer to a band because she's jealous or something? Scarlett does try out for the band but it seems like her writing relationship with Gunnar is threatened. This is because he kisses her and she pulls away. She claims she's not interested in him but it's hard to buy that since it was obvious that she likes him. This is really just a way for the show to stall the natural development of them getting together in an attempt to make this their cliff-hanger. Are they going to resolve their differences and start writing together again? Are they going to get together? The answer to both of these is probably a loud “yes” because it's just very predictable. It's understandable that the show wants to tear them apart but it isn't making for fun television.
There is yet another cliff-hanger in this episode with Rayna. This time she's asked if she wants to tour with Juliette. They would co-headline and alternate who closes. Of course, they would perform what is now their best-selling duet. This is very similar to the scenario presented to Rayna in the pilot but it's different now because she's willing to consider it now. Is it character growth? Sort-of. She actually did like being on stage with Juliette and she doesn't want to be with her husband at the moment. She discovered the complete truth about his boring financial scandal and she felt betrayed. She does stand up for him when the pictures get released that makes it look like he was having an affair for her daughters but she's not interested in supporting him anymore. The promise of a tour between Rayna and Juliette is something that's been dangling over the show now so it's good that it seems like it's finally going to pursue it. This is probably the only cliff-hanger that has me wanting to come back in January. Considering how you have five cliff-hangers in one episode, that's not really a good record to have.
This isn't to say that Where He Leads Me is a bad episode. It's actually a pretty good one, held back only because Juliette's proposal literally caught me off guard. I'm not talking like it was a major twist I never saw coming but more like I wasn't aware she was anywhere near marriage because the series failed to establish where she was internally with him. It's just an episode that fails me to get really exicted to see what happens next.
Deacon gets an offer to be on a band that doesn't drink because they're all members of AA.
There's a part of the episode where the Atlanta guy states that he's serious about working with Atlanta while he's flying Avery to Atlanta. I bring this part up because it's a moment that made me sarcastically go like “No, really? I thought you flew around with people you weren't seriously thinking about going into business with!”