Last week’s premiere of Nashville may not have drawn the numbers the network dreamed of, but the new drama definitely has potential for pulling in viewers. Friday Night Lights favorite, Connie Britton, has more than her acting career on the line as producer for the series, and legendary music producer T Bone Burnett brings a ring of authenticity that has never been duplicated in a music centered storyline. This week’s offering showcases the talents of songwriter Trent Dabbs and singing artist Kacey Musgraves whose song “Undermine” is central in the episode.
Having burned her bridges with her label’s new boss, Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) opts for a tour of smaller venues with former love and still bandmate, Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), hoping to rebuild her fan base and her relevance in the business from the ground up. The two are inextricably tangled by their profession and their past, and Deacon comes on board for the tour. Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is riding her wave on top, though, and that kind of limelight is hard to resist, especially when she insists she wants to break out of her “pop for preteens” country and really become an artist, in spite of shooting a Britney-esque video on the campus of Rayna Jaymes’ daughters’ high school. Juliette knows how to use her assets, and she pulls up in her big blue truck and nails Deacon for a definite get together to create their song. Naturally, the chemistry flows beyond artistic collaboration, and Deacon pronounces himself “a dead man,” but no songwriter can decline the elusive promise of a hit, especially with the taste of “what songs get written about” according to Juliette still on his lips. The dedicated Juliette makes a personal delivery of the demos to Deacon. He and Rayna squabble over his perceived lack of devotion to her and the tour, one that Rayna describes to Juliette as being for those who love “actual music”Â—dig, dig!
Loyalties are further tested as Rayna’s husband, Teddy (Eric Close) goes under the Inquisition of his past by the mayoral committee, overseen, of course, by father-in-law, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe). He passes the prostitution question fine, but a credit union collapse is much more of a quandary. Playing the role of political candidate’s wife pains Mrs. Conrad a.k.a Jaymes, particularly when the ladies at the posh soirÃ©e love the catchy tunes by Juliette, while only paying her platitudes. Just as Rayna feels she’s had enough with Deacon, Juliette can’t get enough, and both ladies turn up at The Bluebird CafÃ© for his set, where he invites a “special friend” to join him for a song. Juliette rises from her seat just as Rayna’s name is spoken, and their bygone duet brings harmonies down from heaven, and flames the memories of the fans in the seats and the singers, too. Rayna resists the recall of old emotions yet again, leaving Deacon’s truck and fleeing to Teddy, only to face her own questioning by the committee, who of course find lots to fuss over in the star’s past. She confesses her feelings for Deacon, and insists that their relationship has “shifted gears,” now that she is married to Teddy, and Deacon is out of rehab that she paid for, but her story stirs up too much, and she calls a halt to the session.
The final scenes display the power of promise over passion, too, as Jolene (Sylvia Jefferies) and Gunner (Sam Palladio) decide this is their moment to grab a dream, and except Watty White’s offer to cut their demo, despite Jolene’s profession of love for Avery (Jonathan Jackson). A star shines brightest only for a moment. One of Juliette’s memorable lines to Deacon is, “Something about you makes me want to grow up.” There’s still a lot of growing for Nashville and these characters to do, and the growing pains are worth paying a view to on Wednesdays.