Episode 12: I've Been Down that Road Before
By: Carlos Uribe
Nashville is a series about the country music scene and the political scene of Nashville.
It's pretty amazing that we still get very little scenes between Rayna and Juliette even as the drama is centered around their tour. The good news is that there is enough development in Rayna's world that makes for the first really entertaining episode in a long time. The drama back in Nashville is still very much in shaky ground but at least the main plot was strong enough that I found myself getting absorbed back into the Nashville universe. At the same time, I still can't help but be skeptical of the show. This might have been a much better episode than the last few weeks but it still wasn't up to par on what the pilot had led me to expect. As I noted, Rayna and Juliette largely remain in separate worlds as their interactions remain very limited. There were still a lot of moments where the narrative momentum seemed to halt as pacing remains a critical flaw of the show. I've Been Down that Road Before is the best episode this show has delivered since the pilot but it's still far from the level of quality I'd like it to be at. It's a small improvement but not enough to truly convince me that this is a show that's figured out what to do right.
The best part of this show has to do with Rayna. She might be planning to start her own label but her personal life falls apart this episode. The previous episode had ended with the cliff-hanger of Deacon running into the plane to join Juliette's band. Deacon had stood and watched him board the plane right after Rayna promised him she was still committed to their marriage. This episode picks up after that. Rayna does her best to explain what happened but it's clear that Deacon's faith in their marriage has been shaken. It is so shaken that he sleeps with Peggy. He realizes that he's not happy with this marriage and rushes to Chicago because he wants a divorce. That might have been enough drama for most Nashville episodes but there's also a scene where Deacon decides to stop thinking about kissing Rayna and actually doing it. That he's later asked to meet with Rayna in the middle of the night is a sign that this might escalate further until he sees Teddy going into Rayna's hotel room. This is all drama that works because the show has basically been building up to it's climax since the first episode. It's been a slow build where the journey has been rather boring but the destination is a great one. I'm not sure if it was worth going through all those dull episodes. There are also a few concerns that arise from this divorce: how exactly is Teddy going to fit into the show when he's no longer married to Rayna? It's a question that will help determine whether the destination was worth it. That and if the future episodes are able to improve on this one.
The show has also been building up to Juliette's plot albeit in an unexpected way. One of Juliette's concerns throughout the series has been her desire to be taken seriously as an artist. She might have been happy being a chart-topping country singer but her songs are all glitter and little substance. She wanted to earn respect not just as an industry but that her songs hold critical value. The problems with doing more substantive material is that the fans might not like it and she might lose her fame. Deacon's advise to stop thinking and start doing encourages her to perform a song she wrote with Deacon that doesn't fit with her brand. It's possibly the best song that she has ever performed on the stage but she's confronted with a critic's negative review of it on twitter. That is until she learns that her true fans loved the song when it gets leaked to Youtube. Her manager might not be happy about the risk but it does give Juliette the cover she needs to start taking herself as a serious musician. This is an interesting plot to Nashville because it's one that's unique to this show. It's an exciting direction for the show to take music-wise but it's also not the most exciting. It's great to see Juliette demanding that her music be taken seriously but it's drowned out by Rayna's marriage problems. Which is a pity because this was actually my favorite plot of the night.
The worst part about the show remained in Nashville. There is Gunnar moving with Scarlett because she can't afford to pay the rent on her own. Gunnar agrees to do this because his roommates have been bothering him about being in a band. The roommate drama that doesn't really resonate since we don't really know who they are and it just feels like the writers felt the need to justify why he would move into her place. The only person who cares about this is Avery as he's still hasn't gotten over her. He tries his best to impress her by having his former house appear on a reality show about stars but this backfires because it just proves how egoistic he is. Avery thinks that Gunnar took his band and woman when in reality he had been all to happy to leave the two to pursue his own career. Avery's actions has consequences and he's not happy with them. He does decides to stop sleeping with the agent because he's tired of mixing business with pleasure. All of this drama is about as boring and forgettable as you would expect. The only exciting part was when Gunnar punched Avery but that's only because Avery's a despicable character who truly deserved to get punched. All of this dull drama dragged the episode's momentum down every chance it could and it remained almost completely separated from the main plot. It honestly felt like a different show at times. The only time it even felt like they were in the same universe was when Rayna was thinking about signing them on to the label she's planning to start. Even so, she was never in any scenes with them.
I've Been Down that Road Before succeeds because of all the groundwork laid out in the previous episodes. The problems in Rayna's marriage has existed and seeing it finally be finished within one episode finally makes it feel like it's going somewhere. The issue is that I'm not sure watching all of those weak episodes where it just heading here was worth watching. If anything, it might have made sense to have this divorce and kisses appear a few episodes earlier. The series waited too long and the journey to the events of this episode was simply so dull that it was dragging me out of the show. Juliette's desires to be taken seriously is a nice step to take with the character and I like it even if it's not as exciting. In other news, the drama that happened back in Nashville with the three rising musicians remained as dull as ever.
The next episode will determine if I keep up with Nashville or not. This was a step in the right direction but it didn't go as far as I want it to go.