Original Air Date: Feb 27, 2013
Kelly — TwoCents Reviewer
Until this week, Nashville has been a tortoise in a world of hares. In a TV landscape that wants you to yell “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” at least once per episode, Nashville takes its time, arranging its characters like chess pieces in an elaborate game—and I think it just paid off. “Dear Brother” is Nashville at its twisty, devastating, seductive best. Checkmate, y’all.
Rayna and Teddy’s divorce has already hit the tabloids, and Rayna’s personal life no longer feels very personal. Stand back, please: Lamar will handle everything. He reminds his daughter to hold her head high and then marches straight into Teddy’s office, demanding that his former son-in-law appoint the government officials of his choosing. Teddy just shrugs it off and makes Coleman Evans his Deputy Mayor—which, to his credit, is a pretty bold and awesome thing to do. Way to honor your oath, Teddy.
Still, this new version of Lamar is exactly the kind of complex father I want to root for. He’s still a corrupt, powerful figure, but he’s angrier now, which is a lot more fun. Who doesn’t love to watch Powers Boothe sneer, “Took an oath, did ya? Isn’t that kind of like a vow?” Lamar fights for his family but abuses the city for his own gain; Teddy fights for the city but falls far short as a family man. This is the kind of complicated, morally ambiguous battle that could really spice things up.
But with Rayna’s private life spattered all over the headlines, she has more to deal with than her ex-husband. The paparazzi are waiting for her around every corner, dragging her kids into the muck. Maddie wants to know why the tabloids link her mother to Deacon and Liam. Deacon just wants to know why he wasn’t informed, and Rayna doesn’t even know how to talk to him without inciting more media scrutiny. Privacy is hard to come by in this business.
But for everyone who just wants to be left alone, there’s someone who craves the media’s undivided attention. Juliette, now manager-less and still trying to rebrand her music, decides to throw a party for Deacon, who hates parties. (Rayna: “Deacon’s having a birthday party? Are they doing a public screening of Old Yeller?”) What better way to sing for country music’s biggest players? To drag him out in public, Juliette calls on Scarlett, who teaches her uncle a sweet, Liz-Lemon-approved cupcake trick and then invites him to watch her sing with Gunnar. Has he seriously never seen them sing before?
It’s a clever ruse, and Deacon actually enjoys the party. He also gets a puppy! Deacon is exactly the kind of guy who should have a dog at his knees, so this is great news. But Juliette doesn’t think everything through. First of all, if you don’t want to be upstaged, never let Scarlett and Gunnar sing in public. More importantly, never let a recovering alcoholic attend a party like this. Jolene, to save face, takes a champagne flute for Deacon’s toast, and she winds up drunk backstage. Am I the only one who yelled “NO!” repeatedly as she lifted that glass to her lips? As Rayna takes the stage, serenading Deacon with an achy, heartbroken song, Juliette leaves it all behind to tuck her mother into bed. It’s a surprisingly tender moment, given their history of disappointing one another.
And what a history it is. Jolene’s addiction counselor—who’s already admonished Juliette for caring more about this party than about helping her mother recover—shows up to pry a painful story from the young star. This isn’t the first party that Jolene has ruined; she got high using the money for Juliette’s ninth birthday, then fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand. Juliette admits that she thought about leaving it there. She thought about letting her mother die. Will the two of them ever get better? Will Juliette strike up an affair with the addiction counselor? Only time will tell.
Elsewhere in Nashville, Gunnar and his brother are rhyming things with paper bags on their heads, so you know it’s all about to go downhill. Sure enough, he and Scarlett find Jason’s gun hidden in his laundry. Gunnar confronts his brother, who claims he needs the gun as protection. His past is coming for him. Gunnar ignores him and throws the gun in the river, promising never to bail out his brother again. Unfortunately, he’ll never need to. The police track him down at Deacon’s party; it seems at first like they might confront him for hiding a fugitive, but they take him instead to a morgue. Jason’s dead. He was found beaten to death in an alley. No! No more brotherly duets! Sam Palladio takes this opportunity to show us all that he can cry as well as he can sing.
Gunnar is now officially angsty and guilt-ridden, blaming himself for his brother’s death just as he blamed himself for his brother’s incarceration. Scarlett, relieved to have him home, insists that it’s not Gunnar’s fault. The two of them proceed to get steamy, which would be thrilling on most occasions but somehow feels right now like disaster waiting to happen. Unless it’s not. Maybe they’ll become the songwriting super couple we all know they should be!
In other news, Avery is conflicted about his sound. Please continue to pretend caring about this plotline.
Will Gunnar and Scarlett be a couple now? And how long until Deacon and Rayna finally follow up on that elevator smooch? Who else loves the new Lamar-Teddy dynamic? And what should Deacon name his dog? Think about it.