Monday, September 30, 2013

NASHVILLE Falls to Pieces

Article first published as NASHVILLE Falls to Pieces on TheTVKing.

ABC's Nashville, the soapy drama set in the world of country music, came rocking back last night with "I Fall to Pieces." Two weeks after the events of last spring's cliffhanger finale, Rayna (Connie Britton) is still in a coma, Deacon (Charles Esten) is in jail after telling the police that he drove drunk, causing he and Rayna's crash, and Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) worries about how Rayna's failing health will overshadow her own album release. So, not much has changed, despite the huge event.

Actually, Juliette is not nearly as bad as she seems. If she's fooling anyone, it's herself. Yes, she milks Rayna's coma for all it's worth at her album release concert, which is a terribly selfish thing to do, and should tick fans off. But once Juliette actually visits Rayna in the hospital, the young star falls apart, rethinking her uncaring attitude. Rayna has made an impact on Juliette's life, and while Juliette can try to deny it all she wants, she's a better person for it. It's why she decides to arrange Deacon's bail, even if she has a bad history with addicts.

Deacon is actively self-destructive, lying about driving. He's in a very dark place prior to the car wreck, and he sees a way to remove himself from the world, at least for awhile. Perhaps there's also the thought going through his mind that he doesn't want to live if Rayna is dead, but more importantly he is punishing himself. He thinks he belongs behind bars and separate from everyone else.

In flashback, we see Deacon and Rayna's early relationship. Besides being an impressive visual, with both performers looking much younger, this gives us a chance to view them at both their best and their worst. It's easy to see how Deacon can blame himself for screwing things up, but it's also certain they work well as a couple. Maybe when all this is behind them, they can make a go of it, with Rayna able to forgive Deacon after seeing how low he's sunk and how bad he feels. That is, if Deacon can stay sober.

Deacon does have some help in that regard. Scarlett (Clare Bowen), having turned down Gunnar's (Sam Palladio) proposal, works on securing bail for Deacon, and decides to move in with her uncle. As much as Deacon attempts to run Scarlett off, I'm glad she sticks around anyway. It's a rough sacrifice for her to make, putting parts of her life on hold to help Deacon, but maybe she'll finally get through to him and help him heal. As long as this doesn't destroy her just-launching music career, it's a nice development, giving both family when they need it.

Gunnar hasn't given up on Scarlett, even if she did say no to marriage. They share a very nice moment, performing together once more, and he vows to work to win her back. When last season ended, they were not in a healthy place to move forward, and two weeks doesn't fix everything. But "I Fall to Pieces" hints that there will be a second chance for them, and maybe they won't end up split for so long like Deacon and Rayna.

Rayna's accident does bring her family together in a way they haven't been for some time. Tandy (Judith Hoag), Lamar (Powers Boothe), and Teddy (Eric Close) are actually able to be in the same room together! It won't last, especially as a new secret rears its ugly head, so it isn't as touching as it should be. But at least Rayna's loved ones are there for her in her time of need.

Lamar has actually been downgraded to recurring status this season. That's not a guarantee that he'll be sent away or locked up, but that does increase the likelihood that he won't remain as involved in his daughters' lives as he has previously. It's sad to see parents and children drift apart, but if Lamar really did what Tandy hears he's done, he doesn't deserve the girls in his life, anyway.

"I Fall to Pieces" remains just as full of everything that makes Nashville so deliciously compelling as it was in season one. It's a prime-time soap, to be sure, but it embraces that part of itself and is well-suited for the genre. I look forward to more tumultous romances, twists, and turns this year and for many more after.

Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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