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December 6, 2012 - 7:43pm

'Nashville' RECAP: Surface-level changes for everyone in midseason finale



ABC’s new musical soap “Nashville” explores the ups and downs of the country music industry. Daily Arts Writer Gibson Johns and Senior Arts Editor Kayla Upadhyaya recap “Where He Leads Me.”

Kayla: Well after weeks of complaining that not enough was happening or that things were happening too slowly, all of a sudden, EVERYTHING HAPPENED. In this midseason finale, big changes from a purely plot standpoint happened for just about every character. The big picture seems a little messy, but in little vignettes, I think this episode worked quite well.

Gibson: Where do we even begin? SO much happened. But it made for one of my favorite episodes this season, I think. If only Lennon and Maisy had made an appearance then this episode would’ve literally had everything. Anyway, maybe the least messy storyline right now is Juliette’s. Her relationship with Sean was running very smoothly for most of the episode: he invited her to church to meet his parents and his annoying sister (who’s obsessed with Juliette) where she gave an impromptu performance backed by a church choir and then his mother invited her to dinner at their house. All seemed well until Sean’s mother took Juliette aside and warned her to not get too comfortable, which took Juliette by surprise. I thought this was believable considering Juliette’s less-than-stellar past and understood Juliette being kind of blown-out by the whole thing — she’s really beginning to like Sean and she wasn’t expecting his mother's warning at all, it seems.

Kayla: I did mostly like Juliette’s scenes this week, but only when zooming in on the specifics. For example, I thought it made a lot of sense that she was so into this sense of family and togetherness even though a family dinner and church aren’t her typical scene. She never had a family like this, which she points out in her kitchen with Deacon — one of my favorite scenes of the episode. This show does seem to have a very strong grasp on its characters' backstories, and with Juliette, our picture of who she is and where she comes from only continues to strengthen. It adds so much dimension to the character. I, however, don’t really know where this whole proposal thing is going. I’m guessing that Juliette proposed as a kind of “fuck you” to Faux Tebow’s snobby mother. I do agree that she seems to generally care about him a lot, but marriage? Come on now. This can’t really happen. And if it does, I’d almost rather it be a publicity stunt than something real. Because it all just seems so preposterous.
Gibson: I see it as a “fuck you” to his mother too, but something that also definitely came into play when she decided to do this was the fact that Sean won’t have sex with her until marriage. She’s clearly rushing into it, and I wouldn't be surprised if the marriage never happened, but I think deep down Juliette just really wants a more stable life and to her that means marrying this guy in whom she’s really invested. Going back to the scene with Deacon, I agree that I think it was probably one of Hayden Panettiere's strongest scenes so far this season, and that’s saying something. Her telling Deacon that her first kiss was with one of her “mother’s creepy boyfriends” was a powerful admission on her part that captures how broken up she is inside, mainly because of her own mother.

Kayla: This is, again, where Deacon and Juliette’s relationship is so great. He not only acts as the middle man between her and Rayna, but between her and her mother. And neither can really understand where the other is coming from because they have such different experiences. Now, we also have Gunnar and Scarlett ... and even though Gunnar broke up with Hailey and Scarlett seems to finally be over Avery, the love triangle seems like it's being dragged out just for the sake of being dragged out. Gunnar kisses Scarlett, who promptly freaks out because ... it’s unclear. But anyways, they also have one of their songs picked up and might make it big. I care much more about this than the will-they-won't-they happenings. Gunnar and Scarlett as blooming songwriting partners just has more story potential than Gunnar and Scarlett as lovers. If the show wants to go in that direction though, they need to earn it and they haven't yet. The pilot suggested that the two were going to be a twist on the usual star-crossed lovers formula, but so far, it's just a bit tired.

Gibson: It is a bit tired. When Gunnar kissed Scarlett I expected this back and forth to finally be over — why wouldn’t it be? But no, Scarlett retreats and says she needs time. But why does she need time? Sorry, but her and Avery have been done for long enough for her to get over him. I just don’t get it and this is where Scarlett’s innocence gets a little frustrating. And as Hailey told Gunnar, their relationship has “always been over.” So true. But I agree, their potential as a successful songwriting duo has more of my investment anyway. The song they wrote this episode was beautiful and, although I thoroughly enjoyed Gunnar’s solo version, I wish Scarlett had performed it with him. Regardless, I am happy that we are sort of moving forward with one of their songs being picked up. I loved how awkward it was when their boss proposed a toast to “successful partnerships” at the end with Gunnar, Scarlett, and Hailey there.

Kayla: To be honest, Gunnar is really frustrating me. The show seems to want him to be an empathetic, innocent character, but he comes across as a bit of a jerk. He’s so possessive of Scarlett and disrespectful to Hailey. I just don’t know how I feel about him anymore. Shut up and write songs, Gunnar! Speaking of other stories that just won't seem to quit ... the mayoral race heats up as the pictures of Peggy and Rayna leak. Rayna spends a lot of time trying to figure out if Teddy really did have an affair, which we have known all along isn’t true. But the important thing that happened here is that Teddy finally comes clean about the credit union to Rayna. And she, rightfully so, is furious. But it looks like she’s going to try to keep her marriage together for the sake of her daughters. Oh and Peggy tried to kill herself ... I’d put a million dollars on that being the result of network notes. It was a little too over-the-top for this show.

Gibson: Completely unnecessary to have her do that. That was so bizarre. But, anyway, Rayna’s frustrations finally boiling over were a long time coming. This whole situation is pretty messy, but once she finds out about Teddy’s sketchy real estate deal gone wrong, she realizes just how much scheming has gone on between him, her father, and her sister that she has been oblivious to. I’m glad that she also blew up at her sister (which made for an interesting scene considering I couldn’t even remember her name) because it hasn't only been Teddy betraying her. It’s been all three of them. Teddy’s lying, though, was understandably the hardest for her to handle and I thought that Connie Britton — in the scene where Teddy comes clean and the press conference scene — was incredible in how she captured this. Her whisper in Teddy’s ear that she was standing by his side solely for her daughters was perfect.

Kayla: Yes, I loved that! When she first showed up at the conference, I thought for a brief moment that she really had decided to let this slide. But then she revealed that it’s all an act just so she doesn’t have to break the hearts of her daughters who love him so much. Britton executed it perfectly. One thing kind of popped into my mind during the episode though ... are we ever going to come back to that huge bomb of information we got in the pilot about the fact that one of her daughters is actually Deacon's? Does he know? On the subject of Deacon, I’m happy that he has decided to go on this tour, but at the same time, it seems to be a story that’s completely outside of anything else that’s going on. How is this going to connect back to anything? This is kind of what I mean about the episode working better in little pieces than all together.

Gibson: Wow, I completely forgot about Deacon being the father of one of her daughters...maybe the writers did, too? I really hope that comes back into play, though, because it will certainly make Deacon a more relevant player in “Nashville.” Like you said, this tour makes complete sense for Deacon as a character — he probably does need to get away for a bit — but what does this mean for the bigger picture? In a way, it seems like we are back to where we started with the same idea of Juliette and Rayna co-headlining a tour together … but at the same time, a lot has happened since the pilot. Rayna didn't say no to the offer, so maybe she also needs to get away for a little bit. Touring, performing, and writing on the road would help her get her mind off of all of this deceit in her life, but I just wonder if Juliette will want to join her.

Kayla: The episode ends in an interesting place, because it's more or less where we began. The head of the label urges Rayna to go on tour with Juliette. The difference in this offer is that he explains that they can take turns closing out the show. For once, Rayna doesn't fight it. She's in a different place now, what with all of this drama going down at home. I think she too realizes that getting away for a tour might be best. Meanwhile, I’m applauding, because there’s nothing I want more than a Juliette-Rayna tour, especially after last week’s performance.

Gibson: I think it’s safe to say that nothing would make us more content than more Juliette-Rayna duets. I guess we’ll have to wait until January to see if we get what we want, though!