Seeing as ‘Nashville’ has reached its winter finale and won’t be returning until January, I thought it would be a good idea to give it a mid-season recap, encompassing episodes one through eight.
Rayna James is a legendary country singer in her forties whose album and tour aren’t selling as well as she’d hoped. The new head of her label suggests she co-headline a tour with Juliette Barnes, a blonde bombshell in her twenties who brand of teeny country pop has earned multi-platinum records but really doesn’t appeal to Rayna. She refuses and decides to embark on a much smaller tour just with her lead guitarist, Deacon Claybourne, who she used to date and write songs with for a long time and she only began dating her now-husband after Deacon went into rehab for extensive substance abuse. Their relationship is complicated and Rayna begins to have renewed feelings for Deacon, who has never stopped loving her. After a jealousy-fuelled row between Deacon and Rayna’s husband, Teddy, however, she fires him, but after time passes and the feelings have waned they are able to get along again.
Meanwhile Deacon is beginning to write songs with and get romantically involved with Juliette, whose life is troubled from her drug addict mother and her intense mistrust of people. She wants Deacon to join her on tour but he seems to have been too scared to strike out from under Rayna’s wing his whole life and he refuses. However, when Juliette’s mother, Jolene, returns, he convinces her to go to rehab and he and Juliette remain on friendly terms despite the termination of their romantic relationship. Quickly spiralling and to make her feel like she could take care of herself, Juliette steals a bottle of nail polish from a store but her crime is captured on video but some fans and it immediately goes viral, ruining her reputation. After a satellite interview with Good Morning America goes bad, her tour is cancelled and urgent work must be done to save her reputation and career. Her publicist sets her up with a ‘goody-two-shoes’ footballer named Sean, and although Juliette is reluctant at first their relationship quickly blossoms and they begin to get serious. Sean has a strict rule of sex before marriage, and in a bid to move things along Juliette agrees to meet his parents and go to church. She goes out of her way to please them and be a wonderful girlfriend and guest but Sean’s mother knows her reputation and warns her away from him. Juliette takes this opportunity to ask Sean to marry her to prove her worth, and also to build a new family after the horrors of growing up with a drug addict mother.
At the same time Teddy is caught in an election for Mayor of Nashville where he answers to Rayna’s controlling and rich father, Lamar, and is running against her childhood friend, Coleman, a former protégée of Lamar’s. A business deal falling apart a few years before that resulted in Teddy and his former girlfriend Peggy secretly embezzling $2 million threatens to ruin his campaign. Although Lamar makes sure the slate is wiped clean through bribes, photos of Teddy consoling a frightened Peggy fall into Coleman’s hands after he suspects the opposition of foul play, and he leaks them as it looks like Teddy is having an affair. Rayna finally finds out about the embezzlement and is furious, but she does her best to dispel the accusations at a press conference, for the sake of their children.
In addition, Rayna is looking for a new sound for her new album. After choosing a primarily rock producer, Liam, that her label does not approve of, he encourages her to let go a little more and focus more on her music than her other scheduled commitments. The label, Edge Hill, continuously threatens to release a greatest hits album, which Rayna does not want. At Edge Hill’s 25th anniversary show at the Ryman Auditorium, Marshall, the head of the label, asks for Rayna and Juliette to perform a duet to close the show, in order to save Juliette’s failing reputation and expand Rayna’s fan base. After an argument over which song to sing, they decide to write a song together for the performance, and it is hugely successful, being released as a single and storming up the charts. Marshall offers Rayna the chance of the combined tour again, with 80 cities and alternating closing the show. She replies “I’m not saying no”, and we will have to wait until January to find out her definitive answer.
It is not just Rayna being offered a tour. Deacon’s old friends, the band the Rebel Kings, are now sober and want him to be their new guitarist on tour. After considering it and his age-old worries about stepping out on a limb, he agrees.
On a completely different note, Deacon’s niece, Scarlett, has recently moved to Nashville with her bad-boy musician boyfriend, Avery. She moves over to be with him and support him in his band’s efforts to make it, but when her colleague at the Bluebird Cafe, Gunnar, puts music to her poems, they get approached by a very famous producer to record their songs and get signed to a publishing company. Gunnar, clearly in love with Scarlett, gets romantically involved with a employee of the publishing company, Hailey. Avery struggles with Scarlett’s success, refusing her promotion to the publisher and when drafted in to play guitar on their track, drawing the attention towards him and ruining their chances of getting Lady Antebellum to record their song.
Driven by success, when offered a contract with a manager who can really make his band go places with gigs and the possibility of getting signed, he is willing to do anything to seal the deal, including sleeping with a female manager who likes to ensure a level of intimacy with all her acts. Deacon, who has had experience of her, attempts to warn her off to protect Scarlett’s relationship, but to no avail and so he makes Scarlett aware of the situation. Although Avery does not sleep with Marilyn, the manager, Scarlett breaks up with him for planning to and he decides to go back to Marilyn to continue where he left off. Avery’s band begins to go places, but a potential label advises him to ditch the band he’s grown up with and he is left with a decision to make. Scarlett meanwhile is struggling with the break-up, and in an effort to get her to begin writing with Gunnar again, Hailey dresses her up and takes her out. Gunnar unfortunately falls for her all over again, and a jealous Hailey breaks up with him, leaving Gunnar to attempt to get together with Scarlett. He tries to kiss her but she pulls away and suggests writing separately for a while. However, one of their songs gets put on hold and the publishing company decide to celebrate their partnership, unaware of what has happened between them.
Each character appears to be at a turning point in their life, ready to start anew after the drama of the first half of the season, and I for one am excited to see what comes next.
‘Nashville’ returns on January 9th, 2013, according to IMDB. The show has been given a full 22 episodes due to the good ratings received, and will continue on Wednesdays at 10/9c. See you there.