Yes, it's been an uneven season for “Nashville,” I won't disagree. There have been points in the season in which I felt I was tuning in simply to listen to the music and watch Connie Britton flip her hair. It is really good hair, after all.
Some storylines felt rehashed or at the very least circular — Scarlett's mom seemed to have gone to the same school of crazy as Juliette's mom, Rayna wanted Deacon when Deacon wasn't available, then vice versa, then he was drinking, then he was mad at her about Maddie, and then I couldn't even keep track of all the obstacles keeping these two apart. Love triangles were everywhere and often overlapped. Really, you'd think from watching this show that there are only a handful of available men in Nashville.
But what makes the show compelling (other than Britton's hair) is the soapy fun of it all. The “All About Eve” aspect of Rayna and Juliette's relationship has taken an interesting twist with Rayna becoming Juliette's boss, not longer just the older and wiser rival but a businesswoman forced to put aside personal conflict with an eye to saving her company. Will's homosexuality, an issue that once looked as if it would be put to bed in a pretty permanent way, has actually played out in a more complex manner than I expected. That, of course, brings us to the season finale.
Where to start? It's pretty clear that the show set up more than enough drama for a third season, one that was by no means guaranteed (but is, thankfully, happening). It seemed every character got a juicy cliffhanger, as befits a nighttime soap. But let's start with Will.
Of course it was a bad idea for Will to let Layla bully him into signing on for a reality TV show. When a virtual stranger like Jeff Fordham is certain your marriage is a sham when he has no evidence to support the claim, you might want to consider easing out of the spotlight. You also may want to find out exactly where all the cameras are in the house, or at least get the hell out of it when confessing your homosexual status to your new wife. But hey, Will's not so familiar with this reality TV stuff, obviously. We also get the impression that his new personal trainer may be working out more than his muscles soon, and Will is going to be making some TV producers very, very happy. Let's just hope someone keeps the guy away from trains when the show airs.
After all, he's already on the ropes knowing that Rayna has squashed the deal Jeff set up to get 200,000 downloads “sold,” which means his album could sink like a stone despite Jeff's sneaky double dealing (and willingness to pimp out Luke). I'm hoping the twist next season might be that once Will is revealed to be gay, his record sales go through the roof, but that wouldn't be entirely reflective of the country music scene, I think.
We knew Juliette's one night stand with Jeff wouldn't stay a secret for long, if at all, and lo and behold if Jeff isn't obsessively calling Avery trying to tattle the news. It makes sense that someone as shameless as Jeff would have no problem blackmailing Juliette to keep the secret, but it's surprising that when she decides to unload, it's to Rayna. I guess the alcohol probably helped. Still, her confession to Avery and her speech to him about how her messed-up childhood has defined her was a beautiful scene that felt neither plodding or overwritten. Hayden Panettiere always does great things with Juliette's vulnerable moments, and this one lifted us out of the suds for a while.
Avery had become a little too much of a cuddly bunny in season two, and I almost missed the self-important jackass of season one. I suspect having his heart broken might take him closer to the middle of those extremes, whether or not he takes Juliette back. We've seen glimmers of a more complex Avery, one who can't play well with others but saves his nice side for Juliette, and I'm hoping this promises a more cogent character arc moving forward.
While I realize why Scarlett wants to walk away from Nashville, part of me wants to shake her until she just sucks it up and finishes her album. I'm guessing Gunnar feels the same, though his decision to write Scarlett (Clare Bowen) a song to tell her that is probably more effective. I'm curious to see how this plays out, as we haven't seen any cracks in his relationship with Zoey (Chaley Rose) that would give him reason to go running back into Scarlett's arms, and maybe there's no need for that to happen anyway. Imagine two exes supporting one another without sleeping with one another! I bet that would get “Nashville”'s license to create suds pulled.
Even if it did, it would be returned just for the see saw that is Deacon and Rayna's relationship. So, Luke is apparently over his misgivings about Rayna's history with Deacon and he decides to propose on stage in front of thousands of people and a Jumbotron screen. This takes a significant amount of confidence, and I guess when you're the biggest male country artist out there, you have it. Of course, he shouldn't. Deacon can't stand the thought of letting Rayna move on, I mean, letting go of his one great love (it really depends on your perspective) and proposes, too. Rayna has to make a decision, and we now have all summer to debate which one is the right one. Clever, “Nashville,” very clever.
It was a full throttle race to the finish for season two, and I'm hopeful the show can continue the pace it set here (if not the shaky, repetitive themes from earlier in the season). There's definitely enough dishy, soapy material to do it.
Did you watch the season finale? Do you think Rayna should choose Deacon, Luke or neither? Do you think Avery will go back to Juliette?