Nashville was definitely my favorite pilot of the season, but I’ve seen plenty of good pilots quickly turn into not-so-good shows. So I held my breath during Nashville’s two successive episodes, rooting for the quality to hold. After last night’s episode, “Someday You’ll Call My Name,” I feel like it’s safe to let that breath out.
I’m not much of a country music fan, but the music is so well done on Nashville that I enjoy it anyway. While I enjoy almost all of the show’s music, Scarlett and Gunnar are by far the most captivating performers. Scarlett and Gunnar set the bar pretty high in the pilot with “If I Didn’t Know Better,” but “Fade Into You” was another gorgeous duet.
Another standout number in the episode was Rayna’s daughters Daphne and Maddie’s talent show performance of “Telescope.” I loved that the song was a cover of a Juliette Barnes song, and I loved even more that the show didn’t draw a lot of attention to that fact.
Given that the sisters who play Daphne and Maddie, Maisy and Lennon Stella, are YouTube sensations and ridiculously talented, it was inevitable they would sing at some point on the show. A school talent show was a brilliant way to incorporate a performance without it feeling out of place. I’ve really been impressed with the writing for Daphne and Maddie. I’m often annoyed by television depictions of children, but both actually talk like real kids and are used well in show.
One of my favorite aspects of Nashville is that most of its characters feel like real people with shades of grey rather than one-dimensional good guys or bad guys.
Scarlett’s boyfriend Avery lacked this complexity in the first two episodes, but last night some depth was given to the character. Up until this point, I’d been wondering what Scarlett saw in Avery. He was unsupportive of her career and seemed to offer very little. The scene where he encouraged her and helped her with her performance skills helped me see why Scarlett has feelings for him. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still rooting for Scarlett and Gunnar to eventually become a couple. I just appreciate that Nashville isn’t cheating on the journey there by making Avery completely awful.
While Juliette is clearly a more villainous character than Rayna, I’ve been impressed that the show hasn’t portrayed her solely in black and white terms. The two main ways that Nashville has tried to humanize Juliette so far are through her drug-addicted mother and her desire to mature in her music career. The mother issues card feels a bit cliché. However they’ve played it decently well so far, and I like that Juliette’s issues with her mom parallel Rayna’s father issues. I am somewhat curious if the show will be able to handle Juliette’s mother moving in her without it becoming too melodramatic, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt at this point. Juliette’s desire to become a more esteemed artist is an interesting method of humanizing her, and it gives me some respect for her character. I just hope she’ll never stop wearing ridiculous fedoras and crochet dresses, even if her music career takes a more serious turn.
Rayna is definitely one of the good guys, but she’s not perfect or always pleasant. Juliette may not speak kindly of Rayna, but Rayna’s not fond of Juliet either. Last night she quickly rebuffed another attempt to get her to open for Juliette. While Rayna has justification for bad feelings towards her father, she can spit out vitriol just like he can. Rayna was particularly harsh is saying to him about her mother’s affair, “If you treated her the way you’ve treated me, I don’t see how she would have had any choice but to do what she did.” I respect that Nashville is willing to give Rayna flaws and still trust us to root for her. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt their confidence that the character is in Connie Britton’s capable hands.
As of yet, Scarlett hasn’t been a particularly complex character and has shown nothing but kindness and naivety. She hasn’t shown any flaws beyond her initial difficulty recording in the studio in this episode and could easily come off as cloying in another actress’ hands. Due to Clare Bowen’s wonderful performance, however, I adore Scarlett. She comes off as incredibly sweet rather than an annoying goody two-shoes, and the character just works.
I’m hoping that Deacon turning down Juliette’s contract marks the end of their romantic relationship. While I understand why Nashville pursued a relationship between the two of them, it’s been one of my least favorite aspects of the show so far. I actually like Juliette pursuing Deacon professionally, but Deacon seems so much more mature than her that the romantic relationship just comes off as creepy.
While I enjoyed “Someday You’ll Call My Name,” a lot, it mostly developed established storylines rather than generating new ones, other than the shoplifting cliffhanger. While I appreciate that Nashville isn’t throwing in new plots without giving proper attention to existing ones, I do wonder about the show’s ability to move forward rather than dwelling in one place. Still there have only been three episodes, and the show has plenty of time to introduce new material.
I am interested in seeing how this Juliette shoplifting storyline develops. It seemed to come a little bit out of left field, but it’ll be fun to watch Juliette deal with a blow to her reputation. It’ll be even more fun to see Rayna react to a blow to Juliette’s reputation.
What did you think of “Someday You’ll Call My Name?” Do you think Nashville’s been able to live up to its pilot so far?
Photo Credit: ABC | Nashville airs at 10 pm ET, Wednesdays on ABC.
Written by Julie M.