Nashville: Season 1, Episode 11
You Win Again
It seems now that Nashville suffers from split personality. The past two weeks, the episodes felt messy, disjointed, and implausible. This week in "You Win Again," all the stars aligned and we got an episode with the right amount of country music, star-crossed love, sass, and family drama to make for a great evening.

The episode opens up in Dallas on the Red Lips White Lies stage. Our two favorite divas are belting out "Wrong Song" to close out the set. Juliet is wearing a top as a dress; Rayna is stage-hooking up with Liam (turns out she's attracted to all her guitarists). Juliet feels awkward as she stands by this party clearly meant just for two.

We learn that "Wrong Song" has now made it to the top of the charts. Rayna's career is back from the brink, but Juliet has not received the same praise for a song she co-wrote. The episode culminates in an Edgehill party in honor of the ladies. In the meantime, Juliet needs to deal with her own disappointment and her mother Jolene's continuing legal trouble. Rayna's revival is opening new business opportunities, while also putting a spotlight on her less-than-perfect marriage. Teddy is impatient with the flux of their "separation" and wants them to work towards actually reconciling.

On the other hand, Liam is really pushing Rayna to move to a new L.A. based record label, Imprint. She was approached after the Dallas show and has been schmoozed since. Liam levels with her: "Edgehill is like your marriage. Only way to get through it is by fantasizing about someone else." (I guess he sees their on-stage flirting as a cry for help.) Rayna seems to be almost ready to take the leap from Edgehill to Imprint (if not quite to leave Teddy). But she then learns that Liam would receive a hefty commission if she signed with the new label. Rayna's has enough with men lying to her and fires him on the spot.

This fall out brings us nicely back around to Teddy and Rayna, the state of their marriage, and why the got together in the first place. Rayna was attracted to Teddy in the first place because he was stable, loving, and committed (unlike her shady father, Lamar, and then beau, Deacon, but more on that later). Now that Rayna has been burned again by a shifty guy, she remembers why she was drawn to Teddy in the first place: his stability and commitment. Teddy also gets to explain why he felt driven to embezzle, that his number one goal was to provide a stable and prosperous home for his family; the end justified the means.

Juliet's has been struggling to be seen as a heavy hitter in Nashville. "Wrong Song" does not give her the boost she hoped for, despite commercial success. To make matters worse, Jolene's drug and legal drama continues to creep into her life. She has to speak at her mother's court hearing and later is forced to baby-sit her at the record label party. Nothing seems to be going right. She is still considered a mere flash in the pan; a rookie in a professional's world. However, at the end of the episode, Juliet finally lets down her guard with her mother, and they have a sweet moment. Jolene tells Juliet all of her success is in spite of her mother's own shortcomings. Juliet fought her way to the top without a privileged background like Rayna's. While Juliet puts on a strong front, Jolene underestimates the importance she can play in her daughter's life. She forgot her daughter was still young and still needs the approval of her mother, despite their history. This pep-talk helps give Juliet the confidence to keep working hard and not lash out (a nail polish-gate 2.0 is the last thing her career needs).

Deacon is also experiencing the fall-out from his brawl-filled fallout with the Revel Kings. He is being publicly raked through the mud; there are allegations he is no longer sober. But in a surprise twist, he acquiesces to Juliet's pleadings and support to help get back on course, not Rayna. It makes sense: there is too much love and grief shared between Deacon and Rayna. This week we finally learned more about the history of their relationship: twelve years ago, Rayna sent Deacon to rehab for the fifth time. But when he finally got clean, Rayna was already engaged to Teddy. Since then, he had been staying clean and hanging on to hope that they could be together again. Today, Rayna has stuck with Teddy through the election and suspicions of infidelity while he is unemployed (for the second time in a few weeks) and publicly smeared.

I like that Juliet and Deacon are spending more time together on this episode (finally, his character has relevancy again!). Beyond that, I think Juliet and Deacon are compatible support for one another. Juliet has faith in Deacon as a man who conquered his own demons and can share his talent with the world. Deacon sees Juliet's promise as an artist and departure of old-money Nashville he cannot stand. On tour together, the two will only grow closer and Rayna will be livid.

On the other side of town, karma is finally starting to bite Avery in the ass. Riding in his new fancy car alone, he hears his song on the radio for the first time. He happens to be casually stalking his old bandmates' rehearsal as this happens and sees Scarlett and Gunnar with them. Watching all the people he hurt and betrayed happily playing together takes away all the amazingness of just hearing his own song on air for the first time. Avery was smacked down at the record party by Juliet and other heavy hitters; Now he is alone with no friends to celebrate with.

I thought this week's ending was awesome; it re-introduced our favorite double love triangle. As Rayna says goodbye to Teddy and the girls in the airport, it seems as though they've reached a positive place about the future of their marriage. Once on the plane, Juliet continues to give Rayna sass as they wait for one last passenger. Deacon runs through the hangar, gives Teddy and the girls a quick hi and bye and Teddy watches, jaw dropped, as he runs out to the plane carrying his wife. Little does he know, inside Deacon makes it perfectly clear that he is joining Juliet's band, NOT Rayna's. Teddy is jealous because he thinks Rayna and Deacon are going to shack up on tour; Rayna is pissed that Deacon is choosing Juliet over her.

This episode re-calibrated the relationships on the show; now the best dynamics can shine once more. Nashville is at its best when its places these highly territorial, highly competitive people at odds with each other. Now that Deacon is back in the mix, we will finally get to see more of these tensions play out in the tour life bubble. When the next episode airs in two weeks, it looks like emotions and hormones will be running high on tour.

Grade: A-

Random Thoughts:

-"WHERE"S MY BEAN DIP?!?!?" -what stars shout on their private planes, daily

-Rayna and Juliet's tour outfits need to coordinate more. This week's silver jeans on Rayna and too small showgirl dress on Juliet completely clashed. Sure, I get it, they have different styles and are in different places in their career, but it is visually displeasing and I don't think would ever actually happen.

-Juliet needs to work on her courtroom attire as well. Just because its long sleeved and high necked, we still see the giant chest slit and the mini bondage skirt bottom. I know you gotta do your thing, gurl, but if you want to be taken more seriously, appropriate clothing would be a great place to start.

-It will never sound not icky when a guy on TV refers to sex as "making love," especially when paired with the complaint "we haven't made love in months."

-Scarlett: don't end a sentence with a preposition! ("Where's your Gibson at?")

-Poor Gunnar still has big brother drama. Even if they do a great Merle Haggard duet, he is still a fugitive in the eyes of the law. He is trying to keep it a secret from Juliet; obviously this will not work. I am worried this storyline will be dragged out into too big of a deal and take away from some of the stronger movements I like (including this new F-U Avery Barkley Band).
Tags: Nashville
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