Recap and review of Nashville – Season 1 Episode 6 – You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)
Nashville seems to be growing more confident in their storytelling. I imagine tonight’s “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” was already in the can well before the show received a full-season order from ABC, but even in the show’s smaller plotlines, you can see how the disparate threads of the narrative are slowly starting to come together. This is to the show’s benefit, since I’ve often had a hard time reconciling the show’s soap opera trappings with its larger ambitions. However, it feels like we’re gradually getting back to the series that showed so much promise in its pilot, particularly in how it brings Rayna (Connie Britton) back into the music-making fold, and in how the show’s weakest plotline – the mayoral election – is threatening to have far-reaching implications in the lives of our characters. For once, and I haven’t said this since the pilot, Nashville is genuinely exciting.
Front and center is the story of how the mayoral campaign became interesting, whereas you couldn’t have paid me to give a damn about it before. Teddy (Eric Close) has to be talked into allowing his father-in-law, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), to organize a police pull-over on family friend and opponent, Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom). Fortunately for Teddy’s campaign, when the police pull Coleman over, a routine search of his car leads to the discovery of the pills Deacon (Charles Esten) confiscated from Juliette’s mother, Jolene (Sylvia Jefferies), and gave to Coleman to dispose of last week. Why he didn’t dispose of them is anyone’s guess, but he gets placed under arrest, pending a narcotics investigation. When Deacon finds out what happened, he offers to come forward and clear Coleman’s good name, but Coleman assures Deacon that this entire mishap wasn’t his fault.
Though this seems like an entirely benevolent move on Coleman’s part, it turns out that Coleman likely put Deacon off because the mayoral candidate was engaging in dirty tactics of his own. It turns out that the private investigator tailing Teddy and Peggy Samper (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) last week was under the employ of Coleman, who doesn’t want to believe that the pictures are as clear-cut as they seem in depicting Teddy cheating on Rayna. However, the PI insists that he’s been doing this job for years, and that he knows an affair when he sees one. And so we’re set up for a mildly tragic misunderstanding, as Teddy is ultimately going to get busted for an act he didn’t actually commit. Coleman, for his part, isn’t sure he wants to release the photos, although he asserts that Rayna deserves to know, at least. But then Coleman’s wife speaks up while in bed with him, pulling a Lady MacBeth and arguing that he doesn’t owe Rayna and her family anything, and that it’s best to grab that brass ring while he can. We now have some sizable intrigue, where last week, hardly any genuine interest existed at all. I’m absolutely astonished at how quickly this plotline turned itself around. That said, I’m still not sure what kind of an effect it’ll have on the series’ strongest elements: the music-based storylines.
One such storyline is the love triangle between Scarlett (Clare Bowen), Gunnar (Sam Palladio), and Avery (Jonathan Jackson). Last week, Avery cost Scarlett and Gunnar a shot at a publishing deal with a major recording artist, and though it seemed like Avery and Scarlett’s relationship was heading south, this week they’re relatively back to normal. In particular, this week it’s Scarlett’s turn to play the excited, congratulatory partner, as Avery is approached by Marilyn Rhodes, a part-time manager and full-time cougar. Okay, maybe she’s a full-time manager too. But she’s definitely a cougar, either way. It seems Avery recognizes what her intentions are with him, but he doesn’t seem to care, since she more or less promises him a spot opening for The Lumineers. When Avery asks Deacon for advice on what he should do, he tells his niece’s boyfriend to stay away from Rhodes, that she’s trouble. However, when Avery’s band loses out on The Lumineers gig, he approaches Marilyn in a fit of desperation. They make out back at her place, but Avery stops her just short of unzipping his pants. He retreats back home, but it’s too late: Scarlett is waiting for him, having learned from Deacon that Marilyn is a sort of black widow, who beds all her acts and then cannibalizes their careers. Sounds hot.
The big blow-out between the two is dense with soap opera cliches, but it works because Scarlett is such a lovingly doe-eyed innocent, and Avery such an impeachable scumbag, that the conflict more or less writes itself (“When you tell the truth, I can’t get two words out of you. When you’re lyin’, you can’t shut up,” Scarlett roars at him, in a wonderfully campy, classic country music-esque line). Avery is the kind of character who feels he should get credit for not having slept with Marilyn, even if he knew what it was she wanted when going back to her house in the first place, while Scarlett holds fast to a more traditional sense of fidelity. Because, really, it shouldn’t be that hard for Avery to keep his pants on for her. Seeing that he isn’t going to get any credit for only just making out with Marilyn, Avery storms off, leaving Scarlett to go stay with her uncle Deacon. Hopefully she can begin the process of moving past Avery, who ends the episode by going back to Marilyn’s house to finish the bang he never started. What a class act, that guy.
We also have Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) still in damage control mode, as her publicist, Makena, sets up a date between Juliette and young, straight-edge NFL quarterback Sean Butler, hoping that his wholesome image will rub off on her in the press. Their flirtations are sweet, with Juliette insisting that Sean is a “choir boy”, and a complete wet blanket, while Sean argues a more responsible path for one’s life. As they ride Juliette’s private jet to a Miami nightclub, they bond over Sean’s hidden guitar skills, singing one of Juliette’s songs and splitting the harmony. Once at the club, the two grow closer, though just before the romance seems to take off, a paparazzo harangues the couple, leading Sean to get in the man’s face, appearing to be drunk. Thus, Juliette, who’s come to like Sean and doesn’t want his image to be ruined on her account, pays the paparazzo $25,000 for the photos. Sean shows his gratitude by inviting her over to his house for a date, though I imagine they’ll be doing a lot more than singing country music duets (it seems to be a prerequisite, by the way, for everyone on this show to be a good singer, even if a person’s character is in no way involved with music). It’s a bit of a sugary storyline, but it goes a long way in humanizing Juliette in a more substantial way. We have her pathos, in terms of her family life, but it’s nice to see a lighter side to her, to show that she’s capable of having a good time without always having to create drama (because, really, the drama with the paparazzo wasn’t her fault). She still has a bit of a ways to go before she’s a fully-realized character, but she’s certainly getting there.
Lastly, we have Rayna, who is looking to reinvent her sound, and so seeks out the help of a reclusive rock musician/producer named Liam McGuinness. He initially refuses to work with her outright, saying that her brand of music is all “Moms and SUVs”, but she persists, confronting Liam at his home. In an attempt to prove that she’s not some straitlaced soccer mom, she knocks back one whiskey shot after another. In a drunken blur, they lay down a track called “Buried Under”, which they listen to the next day with a wide-eyed wonder, realizing that this partnership could really be something huge. Of course, the label executive hates it, because he’s a character who’s arbitrary in his hatreds, and so Rayna gets in his face and threatens to leave the label if he doesn’t quit undermining her at every turn. Connie Britton is a national treasure. And hey, “Buried Under” is a pretty good song (check out the behind the scenes embedded below for the story behind the track). Unfortunately, this is basically the sum total of what Rayna is given to do this week, which is a shame since I could have sworn she was the series’ lead. But from the previews, it looks like she’ll be front-and-center once again, and that prospect is encouraging to me, since I feel she’s the strongest link in the ensemble chain.
“You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” is an episode that implies a Nashville that is roping its stories together in a more engaging fashion, and it’s a Nashville that works better than the hit-or-miss series we’ve gotten on-and-off over the last four weeks. I’m actually fairly anxious to see where the next episode takes us, as there’s real potential now for the various long-simmering conflicts to erupt like a volcano stuffed with old Patsy Cline albums, if I may briefly torture a metaphor. Check out the video below for the story of “Buried Under”, and don’t forget that Nashville is off next week, so I’ll be back again in two weeks to discuss an all-new episode.