‘Nashville’ Review: Despair Takes Hold in the Emotional ‘The Storm Has Just Begun’
Recap and review of Nashville – Season 3 Episode 19 – The Storm Has Just Begun:
Life is never as simple or as straightforward as TV would have us believe, and Nashville illustrates the inherent unfairness of life’s big moments with “The Storm Has Just Begun”. In short, very little works out the way it’s supposed to, because while this is a TV show, it’s not a fairy tale.
At the start of the episode, Deacon (Charles Esten) learns that a liver has been found for him, and he immediately bails on a fundraiser Teddy (Eric Close) has set up for his music program initiative. While prepping for surgery, we learn of complications surrounding Deacon’s temperature (he has a fever which might cause him to reject the liver, and they might not have time to wait for the fever to come down before the liver goes to someone else), and later, problems with the liver itself. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride for Rayna (Connie Britton) and Deacon, but it’s especially difficult on Maddie (Lennon Stella) and Scarlett (Clare Bowen), who lash out at the news in their own ways. For Scarlett, this involves lashing out at Caleb (Nick Jandl) for not bending the rules to make sure Deacon gets that liver. For Daphne, it’s tearfully begging Deacon to promise he won’t die. It’s a promise he can’t keep, however, and that heart-shattering realization is one of the most emotionally gutting moments in the episode, thanks in large part to how natural and real the father-daughter dynamic between Esten and Stella feels. Life is unfair, and few things are as cruel as to find hope in a hopeless situation, only to have that hope ripped away. It makes people act out of turn, as Scarlett realizes. I was initially bothered by how she storms away from Caleb for not breaking the rules for him, as if he’s going to risk having his license revoked over a situation he can’t really change anyway. But I like that Scarlett immediately realizes how unfair she’s being, and apologizes to Caleb by the end of the episode, expressing how proud she is that he’s a man with integrity. It’s a lovely moment in a sea of despair. Hell, even Rayna is beginning to lose hope, turning to the hospital chapel to have a one-on-one with the Lord. She pleads with Him to show her the way, since Deacon and Maddie need her to be strong for them. I guess we’ll see if her prayers are answered, but this entire situation is emotionally draining regardless.
On the subject of unfairness, Jade (Christina Aguilera) quickly discovers that a love for country music doesn’t necessarily mean she can ever find acceptance in that industry. At the fundraiser, she bids half a million dollars to see Layla (Aubrey Peeples) perform, incurring the wrath of Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), who gets outbid on what she’d hoped would be her big post-pregnancy comeback performance. In one of the absolute worst moments of the season for Juliette’s character, she laces into Jade by essentially calling her phony, and noting that she’ll never be accepted in Nashville because of who she is, with Juliette somehow failing to realize the irony that she’s more pop than country herself. Juliette apparently has a pathological need to make everything about her in this week’s episode, and it illustrates the regression of her character. Perhaps it’s stress due to the baby, but Juliette comes across as far less likable, and considerably less mature or dignified. She laces into Avery (Jonathan Jackson) for firing the nanny and then makes snide remarks about his mother watching Cadence. This is after she’s flown off to L.A. without giving him a heads up, and then making an embarrassing scene at the fundraiser. Avery is legitimately concerned that Juliette doesn’t realize what a lousy person she’s becoming, and all Juliette can do is to promise to try and let him in. But marriage, and parenthood, is a partnership — one which seems to be taking a back seat to Juliette’s career. And that’s troubling, since it makes Juliette a far less sympathetic character. A woman can value her career, even a little bit more than family, and still be likable. But they have to be far more mature than Juliette has shown herself to be lately.
At the very least, Jade recovers from Juliette’s tirade thanks to Luke (Will Chase) giving her a pep talk and taking her to the Blue Bird to have her sing in front of a real country crowd. It’s a wonderful music moment for the episode (rivaled only by Daphne getting to sing a duet with Luke at the fundraiser), and it culminates in Jade and Luke finally consummating this little flirtation of theirs with a trip back to Jade’s hotel room. I actually really like this Jade and Luke pairing, since they both seem to get each other. Also, their names could make a much nicer portmanteau that Ruke/Layna. On the subject of everyone getting along, Gunnar (Sam Palladio) gets over himself long enough to apologize to Scarlett for compromising the band with all this talk of relationships. He wants it to just be about the music again, and it takes a pep talk from Rayna to help Scarlett see that some of the best music comes out of those fraught, intense pairings. So she agrees to keep the band alive as a duo, and I’m actually surprised it’s taken us three seasons to get to this point, considering these two were a ready-made act from the series pilot.
But it could prove difficult to keep things professional, as is the case for Will (Chris Carmack), who gets jealous after seeing Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey) at the fundraiser with some other dude. His solution? To go to Kevin’s house that night and confess that he’s never felt as strongly for someone as he’s felt for him. While Will doesn’t say he’ll come out of the closet for Kevin, he does ask if it’s possible that they can be exclusive while he figures things out for himself. And Kevin, surprisingly, agrees. I like this love story and how it’s progressing, although I feel the show needs to have Will come to a decision on whether or not he’s going to make his sexuality public, since the secret gay relationship subplot has been beaten into the ground for him. Same goes for the hot-and-cold business between Layla and Jeff (Oliver Hudson). However, in their case at least, there’s an interesting inversion of the usual dynamic. Layla is the one in control, whereas Jeff is the one who’s psychologically damaged by the failure of a past relationship. He’s still not over how awful Jade supposedly was to him in the past, and so he doesn’t want Layla going out on tour, for fear she’ll get used in exactly the same way. But Layla takes control and lets Jeff know that while she IS going on the tour, she wants him to know that she isn’t going to replace him like Jade did. It’s a tender moment that pretty much sold me on this relationship in a way I wasn’t before.
“The Storm Has Just Begun” keeps the streak of solid Nashville episodes alive, as we inch closer to the season finale. As illustrated this week, life can be inherently unfair sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless either. Yes, things look lousy for most of our characters right now, but despair helps nobody. It’s the resiliency of these people that makes them compelling, and so it’ll be interesting to see them continue to fight on, in the face of everything that’s going wrong in their lives. Because, really, that’s the truest thing this show could do right now.
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