Nashville: “A Picture from Life’s Other Side” Season 1 Episode 20 Review

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This week’s lesson is: the more you win, the more you lose.

Tonight, Nashville centered around the idea of loss.  It’s interesting that, as these characters keep gaining success, they lose the things that they hold the most dear.  The episode started out pretty quietly, but creeped up to deliver a very heavy handed ending.

After Teddy comes home to Deacon eating dinner with his family, he files a restraining order against him, saying he isn’t allowed within 100 feet of his daughters.  It’s a pretty bold move for Teddy, and when Rayna confronts him about it he has a fire in his eyes that suggests this isn’t just about his kids.  When the two take things to court, the judge decides that the order will be dropped, but that the two need to come back to work out a new custody agreement.  Cue the Rayna-Teddy adult argument.  Seriously, even when these two are fighting there seems to be an air of calm sensibility about them.  It’s the most mature form of dysfunction I’ve ever seen.

Let’s hope they can keep their levelheadedness for next week.  Though Rayna promises Teddy that he will always remain Maddy’s father, the eldest Conrad does some digging in her mother’s closet and finds a paternity test.  This part rang a little false to me.  If Rayna is really so committed to keeping her daughter in the dark about this, then why would she keep the paternity test in her house?  And a locked steel box that’s hidden behind some things in your closet?  There’s got to be a better hiding place for that, Rayna.  You live in a freakin’ mansion.  Still, it looks like come season finale time, Mom’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Rayna might be losing some control, but this week Juliet lost much, much worse.  After negotiations with Dante over their sex tape go sour, she decides to come clean on The View before he can release it himself.  Jolene, however, decides to take matters into her own hands.  It’s pretty obvious she has a plan in motion when she goes back to her old drug dealer, but seeing her shoot Dante and then purposefully OD on pills was still very shocking.  Juliette arrives too late, and though she won’t have to deal with the tape being released, I’d say losing your mother is far from a fair trade.  It was all a little melodramatic, but I bought it because of how desperate Jolene has been to get back in Juliette’s good graces.  She felt partially responsible, since her drugging ways are the reason Dante came into the picture in the first place, and decided the only way she could fix things was to sacrifice herself.  Hayden Panettiere and Sylvia Jefferies’ stellar performances helped to sell things as well.

In the midst of all this, is a great moment where Rayna and Juliette meet to rehearse for the CMAs.  Anyone who’s ever witnessed the forced banter between two celebrity presenters at an awards show will appreciate the hilarity of the two reading their cheesy back-and-forth off a teleprompter.  It’s so cheesy, in fact, that Juliette storms off, causing Rayna to think she’s even more of a diva.  After tonight, though, I think she deserves a break.  Her personal life is turning out to be a perpetual wheel of misery, it’s no wonder she acts out sometimes.

As far as subplots go, Scarlett performs at the Grand Ole Opry as part of Rayna’s new label launch.  Before she goes on, she receives a mysterious box.  It turns out to be the whisk that Avery made her sing into to practice when they were still together.  Did anyone else think it would be a head?  Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to watch Seven before this came on.  Anyway, Avery seems to be getting nicer.

Gunnar, meanwhile, starts rocking a new badboy image to go along with his brother’s jailhouse songs.  Things don’t go so well when a couple of bar patrons start a fight with him during a performance, claiming he’s a fake.  Will is there to have his back, but they both end up in jail.  In a touching scene, the two friends reconcile over their awkward romantic encounter and Will opens up about his homosexuality and leaving home.  It’s nice to see vulnerability from someone who is usually so confident.  Will has pretty much been a background character up until this point, and I’m interested to see where this goes.

This episode did a lot to set the stage for the season finale next week.  Some of the plotlines felt like a means to an end, but I’m willing to forgive because it was still an entertaining hour of television.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends.  Grade: B+

By Mike Papirmeister

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