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 1.9 with Dan Kois, a Slate senior editor.
Katy Waldman: Sign the divorce papers!
Dan Kois: NEVER. OUR LOVE IS TRUE ... LY BORING.
Waldman: Aw, you think so? I'm very fond of whatsisname.
Kois: I could not care less about Sean and Juliette's tempest-tossed relationship. The idea that the big emotional finale of this episode was her leaving on a jet place was laughable. I do not care about having Tim Tebow on this show. There's already one milquetoast goodie-goodie and thank god she loosened up a little this episode.
Waldman: Are you talking about Scarlett? I feel like the show is constantly loosening her up and then making her uptight again, whatever the plot demands. Sometimes she'll get on stage, sometimes she won't. Remember last season when she tossed back maybe four tequila shots and started kissing that guy at the club?
Kois: True. I remember that fondly, although THAT time it was just a mechanism for us to understand for the 1 billionth time that Gunnar loves her. I am glad to see her free of Avery but distressed that Callie Khouri thinks we care about Avery's music becoming inauthentic at the hands of Wyclef Jean.
Waldman: Ha! I mostly just didn't think the punk vibe worked for her as well as the ethereal fairy girl thing.
As for Avery and his band, are we supposed to think they’re good? Normally I enjoy Nashville’s music but I just wanted to fast-forward through their songs.
Kois: Well, we're supposed to think Avery is talented, so I guess so? They sound like a highly competent bar band to me—which has its charms! But is not, like, rare.
Waldman: Got it. So, Avery. Do you like him? I can’t help pitying him, even if he’s selfish.
Kois: NO I DO NOT LIKE HIM. UGH. KATY. He is just playing you like he played Scarlett! He hurts people, remember? (And at the very least I was hoping Wyclef would make him shave his beard-nubbin.)
Waldman: I must have fallen for his rock-star swagger! I just keep thinking his redemption is around the corner. He's … accumulating Life Lessons.
Kois: He sure is. I hope he transforms them into a song someday, well, off camera.
Waldman: “I’m so vain. This song is about me.”
Kois: Back to Tim Tebow and Juliette. Can we at least agree that his grandmother's necklace was awful? Like, I respect her more for taking the necklace off than I do for getting on the plane.
Waldman: Right, I probably would have canceled the wedding too.
Kois: I hope there's a whole scene in court where she explains that she couldn't go through with it and holds it up and the judge immediately dismisses the case.
Waldman: I had this strange Harry Potter vision of Tebow's mother poisoning Juliette through some ancestral necklace.
Kois: I like her. In Season 5 she will definitely bone Rayna's dad.
Waldman: That’s why you like her?
Kois: I like characters who are mean while smiling.
Waldman: Sean’s mother does seem to represent a particular slice of the South that the show would be remiss in excluding. The snaky church-going socialite.
Kois: YES. The part that in theory Callie Khouri should be the best at writing. So tart it makes your soul pucker when she talks. The mean smile is my favorite thing Juliette does, too.
Waldman: OH absolutely. The perfect counterpart to the Claire Danes cry face is the Hayden Panettiere I-just-made-you-cry face.
Kois: That is why I am really looking forward to next week. Which to be honest is the episode I thought we were getting this week, with Rayna and Juliette catfighting on tour.
Waldman: I agree. The show is strongest when it pits the two female leads—who have the most complicated, developed characters—against each other.
Kois: Or when Rayna and Deacon do a scene, which now will not happen for a while.
Waldman: Deacon! Did we know he was Maddy’s father?
Kois: It was hinted at, but we didn't know Teddy knew. And I really liked that moment, with him defending Rayna and going on the attack against Lamar. Not enough that I want him to become mayor or care about him running for mayor, but still, it was something.
Waldman: Teddy is in the know about a lot of things but bothered by very few of them. I found it refreshing to see him get morally outraged for once.
Kois: Yes. It actually gave some weight to their sad air-clearing in the bedroom later, a scene I otherwise might have skimmed like an Avery Barkley Band song.
The Nashville Music Lounge has dropped the ball on telling me who wrote the music in this one, but I really liked the closing montage song, “Change Your Mind.”
Waldman: Amen! Nashville has claimed the duet as its signature art form. Even if Gunnar was harmonizing to Scarlett’s lyrics when presumably he hadn’t ever heard them before.
Kois: That's just a sign of their natural rapport, Katy. I’d like to find out who wrote the songs and is therefore going to the Bahamas with ABC's money. Jody Rosen fave Kacey Musgraves and Dan Kois fave Gillian Welch have already cashed their checks, but I'm not sure who penned this one.
Waldman: Was the music well integrated into the story this episode? Sometimes Nashville’s songs seem kind of plunked down.
Kois: Other than the de rigeur final montage, they are often poorly managed. There was a particularly awkward cut between the awful rock song that Deacon's new band was playing and the awful song Juliette was practicing—the one about "Boys and Buses," the two things not worth chasing after. But I don't care so much. I just like watching pretty people sing.
Waldman: Yes! Questions of craft pale in the face of all those suds. Country opera just turns out to be ridiculously fun.
Kois: I like Nashville as a showcase for Connie Britton to do the things she does really well: 1) Be fierce 2) Be sad 3) Be sexy and sad 4) (New talent discovered for this show) Sing a ballad. What more could we want?
Waldman: A “friend” like the hot reporter played by Yara Martinez?
Kois: Good luck in Atlanta, douche!
Later This Week: Further analysis of Episode 9.
Correction, Jan. 10, 2013: This article originally indicated that the Jan. 9 episode of Nashville was the first installment of the show’s second season. In fact, it was the ninth episode of the first season.