Recap and review of Nashville – Season 1 Episode 13 – There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight:
For an episode that seems intent to divide its time equally between the relationship dramas and the music industry happenings, “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight” is sort of dull for an episode of Nashville. It’s not that it doesn’t have an engaging story to tell. Quite the opposite, as the business of Rayna (Connie Britton) coming to grips with the end of her marriage to Teddy (Eric Close) is pretty compelling stuff, as is Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) exerting greater influence over her career, brief as those segments are. But the episode lacks a certain sense of narrative cohesion, as the plots with Avery (Jonathan Jackson), and Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio) are total non-starters. There’s even a tired, groan-worthy soap opera trope that infects the better parts of this episode, as Maddie (Lennon Stella) overhears her father on the phone with Peggy (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and tells Rayna, which could create a whole host of unwelcome contrivances. That said, it’s not really enough, on its own, to derail the entire episode. There’s a lot to like about “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight”, even if it’s ultimately not an episode that ranks favorably alongside some of the show’s better efforts.
Rayna running into Liam (Michiel Huisman), her former producer with whom she recorded half of one good album, is a welcome plot. Basically, Rayna freezes onstage and misses her cue (which Deacon says he’s never seen her do, in twenty years), and though she’s able to pick up as though nothing had happened, it’s clear that she needs to get away from the rigors of her life for a while. To this end, she goes out drinking with Liam, getting plastered and confessing the veritable wealth of problems she has in her life, from Teddy asking for a divorce to Deacon (Charles Esten) kissing her in the elevator last week (although some would argue that’s hardly a bad thing). No sooner has Rayna poured her heart out than Liam has his tongue down her throat, and she goes back-and-forth on whether this is something she actually wants to do, first kissing him back, then relenting — then accompanying him to his room, making out some more, and then asking for a minute alone. In the bathroom, she breaks down, as the looming possibility of sex with another man is the concrete signifier that her marriage is truly over. Rayna and Liam talk it out, with Rayna considering working things out with Teddy for the girls, until Liam tells her that his parents tried to work things out for the kids, and it made things worse, since they’d fight behind closed doors and wear fake smiles in public. It’s a wonderfully low-key scene, rich with a sense of honesty and reality, and both Britton and Huisman play it extremely well. It’s of a piece with their entire arc throughout the episode, as the two actors have terrific chemistry, fleeting though the connection proves to be.
Deacon, meanwhile, is annoyed by Rayna’s apparent dalliance with Liam, and is right back to writing her off. It’s kind of a shame what they’ve done with Deacon, as one of the more down-to-Earth characters in the series has become one of its most exhausting, and it’s mostly because he’s so thoroughly in Rayna’s thrall that he doesn’t feel very much like his own separate individual anymore. He fares a bit better in relation to Juliette, telling her never to talk to him the way she talked to her crew during a late night rampage (which we’ll get to in a bit), or he’ll quit on her in a snap. Deacon still has a modicum of self-respect, and he also has that same world-weary wisdom, as he tells Juliette’s manager Glenn (Ed Amatrudo) that, although he might consider himself a father figure to her, parents eventually learn to let their kids go once they’ve grown up. As it comes to pass, he learns to do just that, although the parting isn’t exactly on pleasant terms…
Juliette, imbued with new confidence after seeing the fan reaction online to the song she wrote, has told Glenn that his grip on the direction of her career ends now. Completely gung-ho about her new sound, and the path her career can take as a legitimate singer/songwriter, Juliette becomes something of a monster. Though she’s seemingly going to let her mother move in with her again, she’s treating her crew (which she considers her “family”) much worse than she ever treated her mother. Or, at the very least, she treats them horribly, and without the same righteous justification she had for how she treated her once-neglectful mother. Towards the end of the episode, Juliette snaps while talking with Deacon in her hotel room. She stampedes through the halls, banging on the door of each hotel room for each member of her crew, and telling each one of them that they are all her employees, and no one else’s. Her word is law, and if they don’t like it, they can all quit. In particular, she tells Glenn that he doesn’t control her career, that he only signs the checks, and that if he has a problem with that, he can go right back to searching for his next country princess at the county fair. Glenn, fed up with yet another tongue-lashing, quits on the spot. Panettiere deserves credit for the remarkable subtlety of that moment. There’s a brief flash of genuine surprise across her face, as though Juliette never expected Glenn to actually quit. There’s a feeling that Juliette expected she’d always have Glenn to kick around, yet his resignation upsets that expectation. It’s only a brief moment, but it’s very well-done. The possibility of Juliette discovering herself as an artist had led to some of Panettiere’s best work on the series thus far, to the point where she’s nearly as compelling as Rayna, finally.
Other artists trying to discover themselves: Avery, who is fed up with Marilyn (Rya Kihlstedt) and even more fed up with Dominic (Wyclef Jean), who is catastrophically mismanaging his career. Avery is slowly starting to feel like a character who might be worth our time, particularly after he asserts that while Marilyn might have other clients lined up if Avery should fail, “I’ve only got me.” To this end, he meets with Hailey (Chloe Bennett), Gunnar’s ex, who offers him a co-publishing deal with a six-figure advance. It’s certainly more than the promises he was offered by Marilyn and Dominic. Moreover, it would finally give him a certain amount of financial freedom. If nothing else, this development provides a separate storyline trajectory than to have him simply get signed by Rayna’s new label, as is the case with Scarlett and Gunnar (though it at least makes sense for them).
Gunnar and Scarlett are over-the-moon about getting signed to Rayna’s label, though their little honeymoon is short-lived, as they get into a squabble over whether Gunnar’s ex-convict brother Jason (David Clayton Rogers) can stay with them or not. Scarlett is in no mood to harbor a fugitive, but she’s inevitably swayed by Gunnar’s puppy-dogging, as he goes through the entire sordid story of how he was supposed to be Jason’s getaway driver, but he let his brother down. Scarlett rightly observes that it was wrong for Jason to have put him in that position in the first place. However, Scarlett eventually relents, allowing him to stay for just one night. As if we couldn’t infer that this would turn out to be a bad idea, the parting shot of the storyline is of a handgun in Jason’s bag. Might as well have a tag on it with the price on one end, and the words “Chekhov’s Gun” on the other, because that baby is going off sooner rather than later, by my estimation. The only questions are when and why it gets used.
“There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight” is a busy episode, so much so that the conclusion feels somewhat perfunctory, as Teddy and Rayna try to keep news of their impending divorce hush-hush from the girls. Rayna’s sister spies Peggy’s ID on Teddy’s phone, and questions him about it, upon which point he declares that it’s neither hers nor her father’s business whom he talks to. The proceedings continue, with Teddy telling Peggy he asked that he only feels real when he’s with her, hence why he asked Rayna for a divorce. Maddie hears the whole thing and, in a poignant moment, takes her little sister’s hand when their parents sit them down to talk, since she knows what’s coming next. Daphne (Maisy Stella) is devastated, but Maddie, though sad, has a grim sense of resignation about the divorce, perhaps reflecting her mother’s own weariness. It’s the best aspect of an episode that’s as hit-or-miss as they come.