Recap and review of Nashville – Season 1 Episode 10 – I’m Sorry For You, My Friend
With last week’s developments, Nashville finally can get around to being the show that so many people expected from the previews of the pilot back in September. Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) and Rayna (Connie Britton) are finally touring together, and while this creates a whole host of catty issues that we might have come to expect, much of “I’m Sorry For You, My Friend” keeps the two rivals separated as they deal with the men in their lives. Juliette, in particular, really gets a chance to shine this week, in the wake of her decision to ditch Sean (Tilky Jones) at the altar. Given the tempestuous relationship Juliette shares with her mother (Sylvia Jefferies), who rightly called her out last week on the facade of happiness she was trying to present to the world, it’s not really that surprising that she’d try to forge some semblance of an emotional foundation with someone. She’s needier than she’ll ever openly admit, and that’s part of what makes her such a compelling character, in many respects. Her performance of “Love Like Mine” during the tour was a wonderful bit of acting from Panettiere that encapsulated so much of the wounded nature of the character. This is not to say that the episode was without its flaws, but by centering much of the episode around Juliette’s dilemma, and her desperate need not to be erased, the episode becomes one of the more interesting character studies of the season.
The big story this week is that Juliette has petitioned Sean for a divorce. The devoutly Christian quarterback, however, wants an annulment. His rationale is that he only ever planned on marrying one woman in his life, the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his days, and he’s not going to let Juliette take that away from him by making him a divorcee. He sort of has a point, particularly when he scolds Juliette for knowing what marriage meant to him, yet continuing to defraud him anyway. It’s understandable, in some respects, why Juliette did what she did, given how ill-equipped she was to deal with the emotional commitment that marriage entails. However, so much of what happened was instigated by her; and while Sean did, ultimately, consent to marriage, he was essentially sold a false bill of goods. He didn’t know, nor could he have, given his relative naivety, the transitional nature of his role in her life. Sean is little more than a step in Juliette’s rehabilitation, both in a figurative and in a literal sense, as pairing her with Sean was her publicist’s idea of rehabbing her image following the shoplifting fiasco. Sean may have had an inkling of what he was getting into, but he probably didn’t expect that the end result would be, in his words, the public shame and embarrassment of his parents, and his little sister’s broken heart.
However, with all this taken into consideration, Juliette still refuses to allow Sean to simply erase her from his life. It speaks to the desperation of Juliette’s character that she would persist when she’s so clearly in the wrong, and aware of that fact, at some level, throughout the episode. She tries to reach out to Sean through the media, giving an interview in which she extols the virtues of Sean as a man, but adds that the idea of marriage was a mistake on their part. This does nothing to allay the situation with Sean, as he still pursues an annulment on the grounds that she defrauded him. They go back-and-forth, with Juliette tracking Sean down outside a football stadium and demanding he sign the divorce papers, in a situation that only escalates as the episode progresses. There’s a genuine sense that she’s simply out to hurt Sean for wanting to erase her existence from his life. In a very real sense, the annulment would render her effect on Sean non-existent, essentially standing as a declaration that she doesn’t matter, because she leaves no footprint in the lives of others – at least not any kind of positive footprint. After an episode-long act of introspection, Juliette comes to the decision to agree to the annulment, perhaps out of a desire that Sean would forgive her in some small way. Unfortunately for her, he parts by saying, “You told me I wouldn’t like you if I got to know you. You were right.”
Meanwhile, the election is bearing down on Nashville, and Teddy (Eric Close) resents that Rayna will be touring during the big night. Lamar (Powers Boothe) wants Teddy to play dirty pool, buying votes to rig the election in his favor. But Teddy won’t hear of it, and his inherent sense of justice and fairness, when coupled with his genuine love for a daughter that, biologically, isn’t his, adds color to the earlier portrayal of Teddy this season as a resentful, if not spiteful, husband. It looked for a while that the show was building him as an antagonist of a sort, with the embezzling and his bitterness with Rayna. There’s a moment towards the end of the episode where it looks as though he might fall into an act of infidelity with Peggy (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), who’s recovered from her overdose, which she explains was an accident, and not a suicide attempt. Teddy seems to accept this at face value, although the look in his eyes belies a certain doubt about her story, especially given how shaky and nervous Peggy seems around him. She places her hand on his cheek, and for a moment, it looks as though they might step over the line. But nothing happens. Peggy departs, and both parties seem sadder for the encounter, which is peculiar since…
Teddy won the election, fair and square, apparently. Coleman (Robert Wisdom) concedes the election when the race is called for Teddy, and even Rayna finds a way to make it home for election night, standing beside her husband as he’s declared the new Mayor of Nashville. Her return back home is part of an episode-long arc in which she comes to realize her folly in trying to replace Deacon (Charles Esten) by trying to create a duplicate Deacon. She burns through two guitarists, who quit when it becomes apparent to them that Rayna is impossible to please. Her producer, Liam (Michiel Huisman), offers to fill in, and he proves to be valuable to Rayna – not only as a friend and guitarist, but as a means of dealing with Juliette, who runs over schedule during her soundcheck, prompting Liam to antagonize her into leaving the stage, in a scene that would be funnier if it weren’t so cutting, with Liam chiding Juliette for her habit of passing off responsibility for her actions onto others (“Oh, that’s right, nothing is ever your fault”). Liam is an interesting figure, if only for how he’s kind of above it all. He’s a bit of a cliche, in that regard, as he comes across as one of those characters who’s “all about the music, man”, but he actually reads as a bit more authentic than that. He makes some pretty insightful observations about Rayna’s attempts to turn him into Deacon, giving him cowboy boots and all. It’s his insight that prompts her to hop a plane back to Nashville for the election, and though her marriage to Teddy is still more facade than authentic, Rayna at least seems more gung ho about making the effort to keep up appearances.
On the topic of Deacon, he’s now free to return to Rayna whenever he’s ready, now that he’s quit The Rebel Kings. The writing was on the wall the minute Deacon brought Scarlett (Clare Bowen) backstage to one of his shows, as band leader Cy (Daniel Buran) started laying it on pretty thick with her. This culminates in Cy attempting to force himself on Scarlett, which Deacon breaks up in one of the more intense scenes of the series so far, even recognizing how inevitable the confrontation was, since being clean and sober doesn’t preclude one from being a complete scumbag. He throws Cy across the room, exchanges cross words, quits the band, and probably would have done worse, had Scarlett not gotten him the hell out of Dodge. Though it could have been read as a bit heavy-handed, it’s a means to an end: in this case, the end of getting Deacon back together with Rayna for the tour, which I’m absolutely okay with. As much as I like Liam, I don’t know that I really want to see anybody hooking up with him, whether it’s Rayna, or whether it’s with Juliette, with whom he has the kind of antagonistic back-and-forth relationship that usually leads to sex on a show like this.
The rest of the episode is solid, if unspectacular. Gunnar (Sam Palladio) picks up his newly-released older brother Jason (David Clayton Rogers) from the correctional facility where he’d been held for his role in a stick-up. Gunnar, who was sixteen at the time, is still dealing with the guilt of having abandoned Jason during the hold up, having apparently not known what his brother intended to do. Their relationship is complicated enough, yet one of the sweeter moments of the episode sees the two brothers singing together in the cheap hotel room Gunnar is staying in, remembering the old days when Jason taught him how to play guitar. However, things eventually turn sour, as Jason pawns his guitar for money, leading to an argument that climaxes with Jason telling Gunnar he’s thankful that Gunnar didn’t turn out like he did. The brothers share one last hug before parting, and while it’s a decent little subplot that helps to add layers to Gunnar’s character, it feels like little more than a retread of Juliette’s complicated relationship with her mother. It’s not the same thing, but many of the same themes are addressed. That said, this doesn’t necessarily preclude the plot from being worthwhile, but it does feel like something that, perhaps, could have been done differently. Oh, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the “here today, gone tomorrow” subplot of Avery (Jonathan Jackson) being yanked around by Marilyn (Rya Kihlstedt) and Dominic (Wyclef Jean), with each accusing the other of trying to screw Avery out of his due. I have no idea where this Avery business is going or why anyone should care, but I hope it gets to the point soon. I want to like this story, but the lack of forward movement makes it virtually impossible.
“I’m Sorry For You, My Friend” isn’t as good as last week’s episode, but it retains some of the elements that made last week’s episode work, primarily the consistent, well-plotted arcs of the characters. Juliette, in particular, is well-served by the story, as is Rayna. We’re still pretty early into the season, but the series gets more compulsively watchable with each week, to where I found myself wishing it were next Wednesday already. That’s one of the best feelings a show can engender in a viewer, a sense of progressing addiction, if not simply anticipation.