Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nashville: “Road Happy” recap and review

by Kayla Kenney, Writing Intern

In Nashville’s latest episode, “Road Happy,” the line between predictable soap opera and a show of sincere shock blurs. Few moments lack an utterly unimaginative storyline. Others remind viewers why they tune in every Wednesday night for the never-ending drama of these country music stars.

Juliette’s baby crisis: In the previous episode, Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) finally revealed her pregnancy to a select few. Now, she spills her secret to the father, her recent ex-boyfriend, Avery (Jonathan Jackson). In classic, ruthless, drama-queen, Juliette style, she texts it to him. The look on Avery’s face when he receives the blunt message, “I’m pregnant. It’s yours,” resonates shock. Though big, and destructive, the moment is comedic because of Juliette’s brutal, spontaneous delivery.

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Juliette, then, refuses to see or speak to Avery. He bursts onto her movie set asking if her pregnancy is real or not. Co-star, Noah West (Derek Hough), overhears the outburst. As they film a sexually intimate scene, West promises Juliette that he won’t tell a soul.

West appears to be an attractive, nice guy. The spark between the two came as no surprise. However, it’s way too soon for Juliette to be contemplating a new love interest. The breakup with Avery destroyed her. She’s pregnant. She shouldn’t even consider a new man at this point. Yet, her character constantly falls back on guys for support. She’ll be with West, or back in Avery’s arms, soon enough.

Rayna and Teddy, an ongoing war: Rayna (Connie Britton) is booked to the brim with tour dates, promotion, and wedding plans. Her latest endeavor involves filming a commercial with her fiancé—fellow mega-country star--Luke Wheeler (Will Chase). The limelight begins to take a toll on her girls. They join her, and Luke, for a one-day visit on the commercial set. Both voice how unhappy they are with her.

Teddy (Eric Close) befriends Rayna’s enemy, Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson). After going to a party with Fordham, he finds a new love-interest. Upon the girls’ home arrival, he says they can spend the day doing anything they want.

One girl pierces her ears; the other dyes her hair. Rayna calls. She’s obviously upset about missing out on these crucial moments in her daughters’ lives. Teddy reminds her that being away all the time means missing out on many moments. It’s time Teddy’s character had some fun. He’s remained too stagnant since his second wife’s death. This battle, in the divorced couple’s war for their daughters’ affection, goes to him.

The Newlyweds: Will’s (Chris Carmack), and Layla’s (Audrey Peeples), newlywed smiles disappeared when Will revealed that he’s gay-ish—super gay-ish. Now, he just needs to admit the truth to everyone else. Instead, he takes strolls in the park, looking for random hook-ups. His trainer--who thought they were boyfriends--states that Will wants the pleasure, but not the life, after discovering that Will won’t go out in public with him. Most of the time, Will’s park walks turn into random escapades. However, this time, when Will finds a man and leans in for a kiss, he’s beaten, mugged, and called a fa**ot.

This scene shocked—sincerely. What’s thought to be merely another secret sinful romp quickly escalates to extreme hate and violence. Carmack portrays Will’s self-loathing wonderfully. He cringes in pain, on the ground in the park; the viewer feels the fear buried deep within him.

Meanwhile, his wife remains in Nashville. She’s neglected by everyone. She married a gay man and can’t divorce him amid a constant media frenzy. The poor girl can’t even bribe her way into stardom with Fordham. He tells her she can’t write her own songs because she has no feelings. After all of this, she results to drastic measures. She hopes for a pill high and ends up injuring herself in the process. The bubbly and superficial Layla’s is now buried in newfound layers of depth. It’s a refreshing and needed change of pace for her character.

The Nashville remainders: Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Scarlet (Clare Bowen) reside at home, in Nashville, while pretty much everyone else is away, reveling in their glory. Gunnar spends time with an ex-girlfriend only to discover she has a kid. The boy is his—of course. The writers attempt to fool viewers because the ex says, “Don’t worry. He’s not yours.” But the kid loves the exact weird food combination Gunnar does. He’s the requisite age. Gunnar notices this. He forces her to tell him the truth. Yet, his face still registers shock when she admits it. The shock diminishes: 1) the credibility of the show, and 2) Palladio’s acting. Why would he be shocked when he announces that the kid is his?

Scarlet gets back into songwriting. Her voice works wonders on the ears, as usual.  She’s stuck on a song and finds inspiration in the most unexpected place. A homeless man, screaming on the street below, continuously interrupts her work. Against expectations, Scarlet brings him a sandwich. He says he must give her something in return. Bowen portrays the timid, kind heart, beautifully. He fills in the lines for the rest of the song she’s struggled with. The scene—the lightest and warmest of the episode—reminds us that inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places. 
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