Nashville – Recap: Hey Brother
Recap and review of Nashville – Season 3 Episode 12 – I’ve Got Reasons To Hate You:
This feels like new ground for Nashville. While the stakes do tend to be pretty high, “I’ve Got Reasons To Hate You” raises the stakes across the board. For once, it’s not just Rayna (Connie Britton) or Deacon (Charles Esten) facing serious, life-changing consequences.
In this instance, it’s Teddy (Eric Close). When Jeff (Oliver Hudson) is faced with the possible loss of his job when sales decline by 70%, he has to find a young new star he can push forward as the next Taylor Swift. To this end, he sets his sights on Maddie (Lennon Stella), whom he feels he can turn into a massive star overnight. Basically, she’s just about the only girl who can save Edgehill, making it imperative that he sign her now. Of course, Rayna would never allow it, no matter how ready Maddie thinks she is. But luckily for Jeff, he only needs one parent’s signature in order to sign a minor to a record deal, and he just so happens to have a nasty little secret he can use to blackmail Teddy into signing the deal (namely, that the people of Nashville would probably prefer that their Mayor didn’t frequent escorts). I haven’t exactly missed the fact that Teddy hasn’t had much of a role this season, since I’ve often found his character to be one of the bigger drags on the narrative, even while I find Eric Close a solid performer. But I like that his story will result in an increased profile for Maddie, since I find the rise of a young ingenue in the entertainment industry to be one of the more interesting stories a showbiz series could tell. Hell, this show started off telling that story with Juliette (Hayden Panettiere), creating an All About Eve story where the rising young star threatens the status of the industry legend. Now, the show might actually come back around to that story via the feud between a daughter and her mother, since it’s unlikely Rayna is going to want to allow Maddie to pursue a career in music. Tonight, she outright tells Maddie that, at 15, she’s still too young, despite Taylor Swift having signed at 14, and Rayna herself having signed at 16. If Maddie has Teddy’s blessing to rebel against Rayna and sign with Edgehill anyway, then this could end up being a fight not just for the career of a young girl, but for the innocence of a little girl who might not be ready for what the music industry has to offer just yet.
That said, this episode still had some poignant mother-daughter moments. Both women feel distress over Deacon: Maddie feels he’s putting her off for no reason, unaware that his illness is making him distant. Rayna, meanwhile, is struggling to come to some sort of decision as to whether or not she wants to pursue a relationship with Deacon, backing out of a show at the Blue Bird when she has a flashback to all of their highs and lows as a couple. So they end up bonding over their heartache, with Rayna explaining that, as a recovering alcoholic, Deacon is a person who still seeks escape when problems get serious. Rayna is attempting to be respectful of Deacon without throwing him under the bus, but here, it appears as if Maddie is finally beginning to understand why her mother has always been so reticent about being with Deacon, since it’s hard to ever know which Deacon you’re getting. Ultimately, mother and daughter bond while writing a song to play together at the Blue Bird show. While it’s not as great as my favorite Rayna/Maddie/Daphne team-up (embedded below at the end of the review), “Real Life” is a good song that does an impressive job of wrapping together the major storylines of the episode, namely that we see just how badly Deacon is struggling to deal with his illness.
Deacon’s sister, Beverly (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), visits after Scarlett (Clare Bowen) called her last week. However, neither Deacon nor Beverly know that Scarlett has called her to try to get her to agree to be a liver donor. Beverly is offended at having been tricked, and Deacon is furious that Scarlett is telling others about his illness. In shouting at Scarlett, Deacon ends up having a mild seizure, the result of having missed a dose of his medication. Beverly sees the effects and decides to undergo testing to see if she’s a match, and…well, that’s kind of just the tip of the iceberg. What results is a fairly moving storyline, as Deacon and Beverly wonder why, exactly, they stopped being as close as they were. Esten and Wheeler-Nicholson have a brother-sister chemistry that isn’t immediately evident, but it’s a rewarding pairing to watch develop. They argue a lot, the result of old wounds coming back to the surface. But they also laugh together, and sing together, suggesting that there’s a possibility for this relationship to be mended. Even Scarlett seems warmer towards her mother, as they cook together in the kitchen and sing an old family tune.
But Scarlett ultimately discovers that Beverly has been lying about not being a match for Deacon, as the lab results apparently prove she’s a possible match. It’s a complicated development largely because neither side is necessarily wrong in the ensuing argument. Maybe it’s selfish for Beverly not to want to undergo the surgery, but she’s right when she says Deacon’s problems were brought on by his own poor choices. She resents being used solely for what she can do for Deacon, whereas Scarlett feels Beverly owes them this since…well, she hasn’t really done much for them before anyway. Beverly wants them to be a happy family again, but she doesn’t appear to want to make any of the sacrifices necessary to make that happen. That’s what makes this as compelling a story as it is, since both side have valid reasons for feeling the way they do. Deacon ends up revealing his condition to his AA group, and it’s clear just how much harder this is for him than he’s leading on, since he isn’t actually sure if he can beat cancer or not. All he knows is that he has people he cares about, and he’s terrified about possibly not being there for them. It’s a real heartbreaker of a storyline, and it results in Esten continuing to deliver some of his best work of the series.
In much the same way Deacon is taken to task for his questionable choices, Micah (Gunnar Sizemore) has been making some lousy choices of his own. Believing that because Jason was his father, he must be every bit as bad, Micah has been getting into fights at school and rebelling against his grandparents. So Gunnar (Sam Palladio) flies to Texas to set Micah straight, trying to show that there were good aspects to Jason. No one is all good or all bad, and the lesson Gunnar imparts is that Jason was a decent man who made poor choices because he didn’t really have anybody. Micah, however, actually does have loved ones to support him, so he doesn’t have to make those same choices. I’m not exactly sure what Gunnar is going to be up to for the rest of this season, but I find myself enjoying the Micah storyline almost despite myself. It doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the rest of the episode, at least not anymore than Juliette trying to get back in the studio despite being too pregnant to make full use of her diaphragm. Both storylines feel strangely ancillary to the main plot, but they both deepen characters who are inherently likable. Gunnar proves to be a stand-up guy, and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) is shown to be supportive in a way that Juliette badly needs, largely because it’s the kind of support Juliette has never had before. So I enjoyed these stories, even if they ultimately don’t appear to contribute all that much to whatever overarching narrative is in place for the season. At the very least, they feel more of a piece with the show than the ongoing tale of Sadie Stone (Laura Benanti) and the abusive ex. This week, it basically amounts to Sadie lying about what’s going on to prevent anyone from finding out she’s being abused. It’s probably an accurate representation of how a battered spouse would act, but it’s too minimal a storyline right now to generate much in the way of interest. But Benanti is an outstanding actress and performer, so I’m hoping the show offers her the opportunity to do more with the character and the storyline.
“I’ve Got Reasons To Hate You” brings us to a crossroads for these characters, as Rayna is uncertain about Deacon, Deacon is unsure if he’ll actually survive, and Teddy is faced with setting his daughter down a path she’s not ready for, simply to save his own political career from ruin (well, probably more than his political career. I can’t imagine he’d avoid jail time if it came out that he used public funds on escorts). While the episode gives us some touching scenes, particularly when Rayna explains to Maddie that Deacon is an alcoholic, it’s clear that the real meat of the story isn’t in the tender moments, but in the growing tension at the center of the series. And that makes for some solid Nashville.