Every week in Slate’s Nashville TV club, Katy Waldman will have an IM conversation with a different Nashville fan. This week, she rehashes episode 1.19 with Miriam Krule, a Slate copy editor.
Katy Waldman: I thought this was a stellar episode, one of the best so far. I loved that both Juliette and Rayna were nominated for CMA female vocalist of the year. I loved the character deepening that happened when we got to compare their reactions—Juliette fiercely determined to win, Rayna unfazed and distracted by Deacon. I cheered at Avery's stroke of good fortune: He got to step in as Juliette's band leader after Deacon quit (!). And the performances completely sold me, from Susan Misner as the thrown-aside Stacey to Charles Esten veering between blissful Deacon and tortured Deacon to Will (Chris Carmack) being intriguingly inappropriate—both around Gunnar and at the Edgehill party. Were you likewise enthralled?
Miriam Krule: Yes! There was less singing than I would have liked, but I definitely felt that we were moving forward in this episode, even if we were revisiting ALL of the old tropes. I'm most excited that the Deacon Rayna thing didn't just end (was I the only one who was scared that he'd risk his sobriety in that parking lot?) the second there was trouble. But, Avery, Avery, Avery. If you're on the road to redemption, PLEASE TAKE CARE OF THAT FACIAL HAIR.
Waldman: You know, it's growing on me. Not literally—that would be horrifying.
Krule: It doesn’t grow on him! He should learn a thing or two from Deacon: Scruffy = good. In fact, can we quantify success by amount of facial hair?
Waldman: Well, let's see. Deacon is scruffy and a big deal in Nashville. Liam has a superbeard and is a famous rock musician. Gunnar is clean-shaven and struggling. Avery is hairwise in-between and on the cusp of stardom.
Krule: Hold off, on the cusp of stardom? More so than Gunnar?
Waldman: You don’t think so? He got a smooch from Juliette because he did such a nice job as her last-minute bandleader. Whereas Gunnar is unsustainably passing off his dead brother’s songs as his own.
Krule: First, Juliette was drunk. Second, can we talk about the morality of Gunnar using Jason’s material? I’m not so bothered by it. Is my ethical compass off?
Waldman: It's odd, because all signs indicate it's a big deal in the eyes of the show. I agree with you that it doesn't seem too objectionable. I imagine it might even be what Jason would want. Also, isn't Gunnar writing the music? He's just using his brother’s lyrics. (On that note: I don’t get the metaphor "gun for a mouth." What does that look like? It doesn't sound dark or sexy; it makes me think of an auctioneer.)
Krule: I'd prefer him to dedicate the songs to his brother, and he obviously has unresolved feelings. But like, that is NOT the most ethically challenging thing going on in this show. I get why he's ashamed, and that's more interesting to me, his unresolved feelings toward his brother.
Waldman: I agree, I’m interested in the Gunnar-Will-Jason triangle that is playing out in Gunnar’s head. Brothers and lovers and friends all blurring together—it’s very Freudian. As for Will, is he going to be another Dante? Using people was a theme last night, and I couldn't help but notice how quickly he volunteered to go to the party with Scarlett. He practically threw his demo at Rayna!
Krule: Let's talk father daughter. What could possibly be a good, or not good, but entertaining outcome?
Waldman: Isn’t the dream outcome for most viewers that Maddie and Deacon find out the truth—Deacon is Maddie’s father—and Rayna, Deacon and the girls move in together?
Krule: No! For one thing, that is AWFUL for the mayor. He's a horrible person, but he loves his daughters. What he did for Rayna and Maddie was really so selfless, don't you think? And he was charming as Maddie’s date at the school function. The dad dancing was a nice touch.
Waldman: I’m glad the show is alert to “dad dancing” as a particular subgenre of dancing. Teddy performed it well. But is he really so selfless? I thought participating in the lie saved his pride.
Krule: Either way, Deacon WILL find out the truth, and I imagine the show will not let him be OK with having it hidden for so long.
Waldman: No, he'll likely be furious. And he'll see Maddie as yet another reason that Rayna should have chosen him, not Teddy.
Krule: Can you blame him? That image of the two of them, him playing guitar, her wearing his shirt, staring into each other's eyes…
Waldman: I was more incapacitated by the expression on the dog's face when Stacy started to leave.
Krule: Haha, well. In that regard, I agree with Farhad. Did we discuss the sex tape?
Waldman: No! (And good pivot, because I vehemently disagree with Farhad.) It’s got to be emotionally devastating, right? Juliette is so careful about controlling her image. And she’s already not handling her “break up” with Dante well, if the quantity of alcohol she consumed this episode is any indication.
Krule: Yes, but do we think it will be good or bad for her career? I feel like it's a lot less shocking than it would have been 10 years ago. PLUS she wants a grown up appeal. It's her Spring Breakers!
Waldman: My sense is that, when it comes to her career, Juliette is her own worst enemy. Anything that makes her psychologically more unstable is not ultimately going to help her professionally.
Krule: Katy, thanks so much for letting me play today. I hope I did alright by you.