“Nashville”- Where He Leads Me episode review 1

★★★★☆

This week’s episode of Nashville picks up where last week’s left off. Rayna and Juliette have just performed their duet “Wrong Song” at the Ryman, much to the satisfaction of Marshall Evans, who subsequently agrees to release Rayna’s new record (with “Buried Under” as the single). It’s a major victory that more or less gets glossed over, but I hope this means we’ll hear more of Rayna’s new songs soon. “Buried Under” is, in my book, the best song on the show thus far, and I’m stoked if there’s more where that came from.

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But before Rayna has time to celebrate, Teddy drops the bomb he’s been hoping to avoid about the paparazzi pictures with Peggy. Rayna, understandably, calls bullshit on Teddy’s claim that there’s nothing going on between him and Peggy. She doesn’t understand how Coleman could put her family in this position, and says as much to his face when she marches into his office the next day. Coleman says he’s playing eye for an eye, playing “the same games they started.” He hands Rayna the pictures and she storms out. “It’s none of your damn business,” she says.

For much of the episode, Rayna gets paired off with different characters for one-on-one scenes. All of them demonstrate just how great Connie Britton is at adapting Rayna to different environments. Who she is at home, who she is with her family, with Deacon, with Marshall Evans, with Juliette—sometimes all of these are fundamentally different in the space of one episode, and Britton nails each one.

First, she meets with her sister, who swears up and down there’s nothing untoward going on between Teddy and Peggy. Then, with Deacon, who wants to check in on Rayna after the pictures have gone public. Rayna encourages him to take the tour he’s been offered, playing lead guitar in eighty cities for The Rebel Kings, a band we’re made to believe is hugely popular. At the episode’s end, we see Deacon accept the gig. He takes Rayna’s advice, “to see what’s around the bend.”

Eventually, it’s just Rayna and Teddy at the house. (The children are conspicuously absent, a growing trend on ABC dramas.) She holds Teddy’s feet to the fire and forces him into a confession: not to an affair, of course, but of the perhaps even more complicated embezzlement fiasco. Rayna’s reaction is expectedly muted; she’s speechless. If she was unprepared to confront her husband’s infidelity, she’s even less prepared to confront something like this. It speaks to much larger issues of trust and Teddy’s security in their marriage. As Rayna points out, they never needed that money. It was all about Teddy feeling like a contributor, and at this expense, it’s twice as foolish.

However, that doesn’t stop Rayna from standing by her husband at the press conference he holds later in the week. She’s late, of course, but she’s there. She praises Teddy as a father, as a businessman, and as a husband, and won’t even dignify those silly pictures with a comment. But the audience knows she’s doing it more for the kids and for the sake of saving face than she’s doing it for Teddy. Those two still have some pretty serious issues to address. And if Rayna’s about to hit the road, they might have an even more difficult time trying to get their marriage back on track.

And about to hit the road she may be. With Juliette. It’s what Marshall Evans proposes at the end of the episode, an echo from the pilot. However, the circumstances are fundamentally different seven episodes later. Their duet is at the top of the charts. Rayna has a new sound and new songs to try out. Deacon’s out of the picture; at least we think he is. And, despite their differences, I think Rayna and Juliette realized they had more in common last week than they previously thought. Rayna still seems hesitant, but Evans tells her it’ll be an arena tour with mass exposure, and they’ll get to alternate who closes each night. A pretty fair deal, I’d say. We don’t get an answer, of course, but I have a feeling it just might happen. And that’s something I’d very much look forward to seeing it. Juliette—caught up in love, escaping her mother, pining for her cancelled tour—needs it as much as Rayna does. Come on, Callie Khouri. Give us a tour.

And, even better, let Gunnar and Scarlett open. Because, more and more, I care less and less about them. There’s no justifiable reason for them to be in the show’s universe as of yet, which makes their well-trodden will-they-or-won’t-they schtick a bit tiring. We know they will, and they should. We like them together. Get them together, get them on the road. Get Deacon, too. The Rebel Kings sound fun, but imagine the possibilities if he was playing lead guitar for Juliette and Rayna. Some material to be mined there, indeed.