Oh, Nashville, we sure have missed you! A lot! Welcome back!!
“Where you go – there you are and you’re still who you are. You’re an artist-you make music”
That line was said by Gunnar to runaway Scarlett but it could’ve been said to anyone on Nashville (including Gunnar himself) during the episode because it’s actually what this episode ‘That’s Me Without You’ was all about: The attempt to escape oneself and one’s destiny. That destiny is being an artist and making music (physically and figuratively) and the question is if it’s at all possible and what’s the price one must pay for trying to do so?
Nashville’s answer to this question is a big fat NO and as for the price – the longer one refuse to listen and accept those simple truths the price goes up…Just like in real life (and Greek tragedies).
What we can learn from it is that if season 1 what about establishing the Nashville universe and season 2 was about survival, the theme of this season is embracing one’s destiny. From the tone of this episode we can also assume that it’s going to be a very emotional journey (with a healthy dose of sense of humor). In other words, we’re happy!
Now, let’s touch on the main journeys ahead going from the relatively simple to the tragic and to Rayna’s 7 carat ring.
Scarlett/Gunnar/Avery – Who knew that a story involving Scarlett from all people will be the comic relief of the episode, that Gunnar will be the voice of reason and that Avery, who spent most of last season being Nashville’s private life coach will give Deacon a run for his money with the amount of alcohol he consumed in one episode? We sure didn’t but you won’t hear any complaint from us; this road trip made our day.
From all the characters that tried to escape their destiny, Scarlett is the one that didn’t settle for a metaphorical escape and actually left town. Nevertheless, the price she had to pay was just rescuing a drunk Avery from a Bar fight and having an awkward conversation with a car mechanic. Not fun, but also not tragic.
What causes that is first and foremost the fact that she has good friends that she listens to but there’s also another reason and that is the fact that for Scarlett, Gunnar and Avery destiny is not fully set yet. They all had their share of mistakes and failures but these are still rookie’s mistakes and not patterns that can destroy their whole life. They had to say ‘I’m sorry” once or twice but not too many like Deacon…
The only thing that is already set, certainly for Scarlett and Gunnar as we saw in the season 2 finale (and you can read our thoughts here) is their vocation as artists. This road trip established that and once it’s done the only question is not ‘if’ to be an artist that creates music-but how to go about it.
We speculate that part their journey this season will be to find the balance between the business side of the music industry and the joy of the art of it all with a better perspective on things, gained from their recent experiences. As for Avery, once he’ll stop drinking, we suggest he does the same cause it’s about time he stops being the sidekick and get back to the front. It was great hearing him sing one of his own songs at Deacon’s charity event in the finale and we’d love for him to see a world beyond Juliette and Juliette’s needs before he decides to forgive her (don’t worry, we’re totally team Javery, just want to help them become the best versions of themselves)
Will– And we thought love can conquer all…sorry, not really funny. When it comes to embracing ones destiny Will took a big step forward at the end of last season, but what made us think he has still a long way to go is that when Layla asked him if he can change he replied: “I don’t know”. There’s a lot of pressure on Will that is a direct result of his desperate and constant attempts to escape from the truth about his sexuality.
This and the fact that he’s still pretending on camera and not willing to pay the price of coming out at this point, will likely only make things more complicated at least career-wise.
Nevertheless, since it is indeed a step forward we do think that now that he has one more person he can be honest with, it may encourage him to take more risks in his love life. Will is one step from being a prisoner of his own destiny and we sure hope the truth will really set him free.
Juliette – As we mentioned before, the motto of season 2 was survival and that happens to also be the Juliette Barnes motto. She’s a survivor; someone that push hard until she gets what she wants and if not she literally fall to pieces because there’s nothing more scary for her than feeling helpless. It’s no wonder that her season 2 theme song ‘Don’t Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet’ found the right audience in a military base; Juliette is a fighter. She controls her life so that her success in mostly the result of her hard work and her failures are usually things she inflicted upon herself.
She’s also self-destructive since her survival skills came from having nothing so that her ambition is fed by a very low self-esteem and so she has a constant need for approval to fill the endless void in her heart. That means that her failures are usually in epic proportions.
If there’s one character that finds the concept of embracing destiny as foreign it’s Juliette. Acceptance is just ain’t her color. She doesn’t know how to let go, accept the consequences for her actions and let nature take its course. But now it’s her greatest challenge.
Now, she has put herself in a position where she must trust Rayna in her musical career, accept Avery’s decision to stay away, undertake a new project as an actress that will sure awaken lots of demons inside of her and on top of it deal with pregnancy.
These are sure lots of things to embrace for the woman who doesn’t believe in destiny unless it’s one she created herself and we sure can’t wait to see our favorite diva rise to the occasion.
Deacon – Poor Deacon. If there’s one thing that becomes apparent from watching this episode is that Deacon’s proposal to Rayna at the season 2 finale wasn’t a Deyna moment but a Deacon moment.
It was a conclusion of his torturous odyssey during the season that eventually made him a better man. The problem is that for Rayna, Deacon’s epiphany is too little too late. He’s not Gunnar, Scarlett or Avery. He has made too many mistakes that created a pattern that created a certain destiny that, at least for now, made him lose the love of his life and his dream of a life that’s good.
It’s a tragedy, especially since Deacon is right about everything he says to Rayna. The sadder truth is that in life, this is the realty most times.
But this price is actually also an opportunity for a better life. You see, unlike Rayna that escapes the memories of the past, Deacon is holding on to them and refuses or unable to let go. He keeps trying to get back and change his past (and by that his destiny) when what he really needs to do is accept it and move on. No one can change the past and that’s it.
He needs to use the lessons from his journey to be fully present in his life and hope that it will open him to new opportunities in his career and in love. He needs to embrace his failure with pride, hold his head high and march forward knowingly that now he can really be happy since he finally learned his lesson.
That’s also the ONLY way for him not to regress to his usual self-hatred-martyr-doom and gloom-state of mind and get back together with Rayna (but we’re not telling him that so he won’t get his hopes up and miss out on all the fun).
That’s because it’s an opportunity for a clean slate, rebuilding trust and creating a new and fresh dynamic that’s not based on who they were but on who they are now.
You know what? We think it’s going to be even better than the first time around.
Rayna – Oh my dear Rayna, what have you done? From all the characters that refuse to embrace their destiny Rayna is the most stubborn and therefore is most likely to pay the highest price. It’s not because she committed a bigger sin or something like that, but because some truths are so powerful and undeniable that turning your back on them causes much harm than good. Saying no to your true love and choosing to marry another man mainly in order to escape that true love is one of them.
To be honest, Rayna had some very good reasons to say no to Deacon.
After all, it’s great that Deacon finally discovered the scope of the damage he caused over the years, but Rayna lived with the memories and the consequences of the past every single day completely sober.
Like Deacon, Rayna is also a prisoner of the past only she’s spending much of her energy on escaping it. She based her life on the notion that Deacon is not an option and that she did the right thing by giving herself and her daughter a better life. Her premise is that the best things come from broken hearts and that’s the way she found meaning and justification for her actions.
This line of thought formed her destiny so for her witnessing Deacon’s change is like watching her own private version of ‘Sliding Doors’. It makes her question EVERY life choice she has made. There are too many ‘what if’ in this scenario for anyone to handle.
Rayna loves Deacon. She even said to him that she’ll probably love him for the rest of her life. That part of her destiny she accepted, but changing the entire course of her life just for the hope that this time it’ll be different is too much for her. She doesn’t trust Deacon enough to do so and worse- she doesn’t trust herself.
That leads her to choose Luke, the man who has been there for her whenever she needed. It’s a decision of the head that Rayna tries to convince everyone (starting with herself) that is a decision of the heart but we can feel and see the difference and so can Deacon.
If she didn’t already date Luke this could have been different (after all, it took her no more than 2 seconds to give up on St. Lucia and jump into Deacon’s arms despite everything they’ve been through once she got divorced) but she did already date Luke and was already engaged to him.
When we look at it this way we see that Rayna didn’t choose Luke as much as she chose to take a stand against reopening her past and getting back to Deacon. She chose to go against her heart, against her 3 chords and the truth. That can lead eventually to one thing – being out of tune (in every aspect).
Rayna’s challenge this season will be to fully embrace the fact that one can heal from the past without erasing it and inventing an alternate realty to replace it. She’ll have to learn how to trust her heart again and set it free.
By the way, we suspect Teddy and Maddie will take part in the process. Teddy for being the one person that knows exactly what Rayna is doing by marrying Luke and Maddie for being able to have faith in this love for all of them.
It will not be fast or simple, we’re sure, but it will certainly be beautiful.
To conclude all of it, looks like this season is going to pill one more layer from our characters and this time, we’ll get to even touch the heart.
BRING IT ON!!