Notes on Nashville: The Thief of Hearts

Hayden Panettiere (right) in Nashville: Mama, don't play that.
Hayden Panettiere (right) in Nashville: Mama, don't play that.

I'll try and keep this relatively brief, because I've been at the dentist all morning. Wednesday's Nashville was considerably more pleasant. At this point the show has done about all the establishing shots it can, and Wednesday it slipped a few new wrinkles into the plot (both subtle and not-so-subtle) that ought to keep the wheels turning for a while.

It also made use of the term "side boob" (twice, I believe). Haha. In the music buisness, they'd call this show a "grower."

Side boob is apparently a thing at Reyna's kids' school, which is having a talent show this episode. Her daughters choose to sing their favorite song, her rival Juliette Barnes' "Telescope," in a brooding acoustic version much better than the Miranda Lambert-ish single on the radio (and iTunes). Despite the origins of "Telescope," which Reyna knows all too well -- her kids asked her to turn it up when it came on the radio in the pilot -- she seems like just another proud mom when the kids are singing.

Other than that Reyna spends most of her time in the background, apart from one very important revelation from her sister about why her father has been so aloof concerning her career. It concerns her mother (she had one, apparently) having an affair with a musician that, sister says, "the two together made a whole marriage."

Obviously she is repeating that pattern with Deacon, her true better half, spend what little screen time they have together this episode trying to work out that shared acoustic tour, and then later, to resolve what's really going on between them. Yeah, good luck with that.

"You and music, there's no difference," she tells him. "It's the same."

Oh, and her actual husband Teddy is still running for mayor, and looking for the funds to do so, so he goes in search of a loan in a quest that seems destined to end badly. The word "audit" comes up.

Juliette Barnes, meanwhile, is no longer able to dodge her junkie mom, who ambushes her at the rehearsal studio, and then at her house and then later, her manager tells her, gets arrested for stealing food near the bus station. Holding some Oxy, too. (Trashy!) To both the character and Hayden Panettiere's credit, despite Juliette's hell-on-wheels hard shell, we can see the daughter wondering just how far the apple has fallen from the tree more than once.

She also manages to coerce Deacon into recording their duet ballad "Undermine." He sleeps with her (oops), but he manages to decline her offer of coming on tour with him. Somehow. Combined with her mom's sudden arrival, this leads to a massive lapse in Juliette's judgement. Although she is never 100 percent unsympathetic, it's completely in keeping with what we know about her so far, and will probably bring down a world of shit on her head next week.


Avery (Jonathan Jackson) showed he might not be a complete asshole after all. Maybe.
Avery (Jonathan Jackson) showed he might not be a complete asshole after all. Maybe.

The subplot of Scarlett and Gunnar and Avery, the Civil-Wars-in-waiting and her dickish musician boyfriend/third wheel, gets another dimension too. As Scarlett and Gunnar record a series of demos for the legendary producer/talent scout Watty White, Avery realizes what a talent she is and actually endeavors to help her get over her stage fright and for once puts her career ahead of his own. Probably not for long.

As for the Texans of Nashville, Powers Boothe's screen time was limited but fairly important. He showed up to tell his younger granddaughter to "break two legs" at the talent show and for Reyna to tell him to go away. Later in the episode, after Reyna confronts him about her mother's affair, he broods over some old photos of his late wife. He has a killer study, like the house in Clue.

And the Classic Country Moment came to us thanks to the one and only Possum, Southeast Texas' own George Jones, whose "Just a Girl I Used to Know" was playing on Watty White's show while Reyna's kids tried on outfits for the talent show. It's wonderful. The version I downloaded from iTunes, though, comes from another Piney Woods-man: Kirbyville native Ivory Joe Hunter (1914-74), on his 1964 album This Is My Country.

George Jones and side boob: If Nashville keeps getting the little things right, the rest ought to fall right into place.

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