Wednesday, February 4, 2015

REVIEW: 'Nashville' - Rayna Deals with the Fallout of Her Decision Not to Marry Luke in 'I'm Not that Good at Goodbye'

ABC's Nashville - Episode 3.11 "I'm Not that Good at Goodbye"

Now that Rayna has cancelled their wedding, Luke is not going quietly, and Rayna's daughters don't take the news well either. Juliette and Avery adjust to married life with a few bumps along the way. Gunnar fights for custody of Micah. Sadie tries to take control of her own problems with her ex by buying a gun. Deacon gets dire news about his medical condition.

In its third season, Nashville has been much more focused on the soapish antics of its characters than providing insight into the country music business. So far, this season: Rayna has planned a wedding that was never going to happen before coming to her senses in the midseason finale; Juliette and Avery dealt with her pregnancy, then got married; Gunnar learned he had a son with his high school girlfriend, only the kid's not his but his brother's; new singer Sadie is becoming a domestic violence PSA; Deacon has pined after Rayna, only to be kicked down further with a cancer diagnosis; Layla has struggled with her marriage to Will and tried to kill herself with pills she got from Jeff; and Scarlett has failed in properly dealing with many racial issues. It's a hodgepodge of melodramatic stories that don't have much connecting them together besides the fact that they're all happening to various people in the music industry in Nashville.

Nashville's finales are often like that. They throw a lot at the wall to generate excitement heading into an extended hiatus. It's just so messy and disjointed. It feels like the characters are getting broader and further away from their core details. That actually was the point of Rayna's arc last fall. Her relationship with Luke forced her into the public spotlight much more than she usually accepts. They became Ruke or Layna - both equally bad. I understood Rayna's decision to call off their wedding. She woke up and saw that she was becoming a person who makes compromises that chip away from the values she held close for both herself and her family. She launched this new business venture and had to become a public persona in order to become successful again. Luke's attack of using him for his popularity in order to bring her back into the public eye was vicious but also had some truth buried within it. She is a public figure again and not a fading artist like she was earlier in the series life. And yet, Rayna values her privacy. That's so important to her. She wants her daughters raised with wholesome values and family. She wants to be a part of their lives and she threw a part of herself away in order to be in a relationship with Luke.

Meanwhile, Luke loves the public attention. He is always quick to promote himself and interact with his fans - on both social media and in person. He's a showman. But that keeps him from seeing the monster he's becoming to both Rayna and his kids. After she breaks up with him, he runs over the cake, shoots bottles of wine and then holds a concert that same night. He's vindictive. But it's also his true colors coming out. This is not the type of person who Rayna should marry. We should be glad that she called the wedding off before she would have made this big mistake. This episode did vilify Luke in a bigger way to make this character shift more apparent. It's obvious. But who ever thought that Luke was the person Rayna was going to end up with?

That person has always been Deacon. The two have had their ups and downs. But Rayna has always loved him her whole life. She shouldn't get married again unless it's to him. However, just because she's not with Luke anymore doesn't mean she should immediately jump back to Deacon. I respected her decision in the last episode because it felt like she was having an Olivia Pope moment and choosing herself over the men in her life. That was empowering. And now, to see her at Deacon's house claiming that he is the only man for her undercuts that message a little bit. She just needs a little time to get her life back in order. Time that she won't have because Deacon is dying. He has liver cancer and needs a transplant before it's too late. He doesn't tell her this because he wants to take care of her not the other way around. That's what she has always been doing. And yet, keeping this big thing from her could be very dangerous. He doesn't know where this transplant will come from. Scarlett's not a match and he could easily die on the waiting list. It's a precarious situation that only complicates things further with Rayna. She deserves to be her own woman for a little bit. But the show won't allow her that because of this latest development with Deacon.

Some more thoughts:
  • "I'm Not that Good at Goodbye" was written by Debra Fordham and directed by Jan Eliasberg.
  • Juliette and Avery continue to be the most interesting characters because their relationship feels emotionally real. They are still basking in the afterglow of their marriage. But they're little disagreement over Avery moving some stuff into Juliette's place was very simple but very entertaining.
  • Seriously, what has the point been to the "Gunnar discovers he has a son/nephew" story? It came to a pretty good resolution in the last episode. But now, it's given even more focus as he's still taking Micah's grandparents to court. Was it just so they could point out how he's not the same guy he was as a kid? We never know that version of him so it's pretty pointless to the audience.
  • Layla survives her suicide attempt which largely forces Will to see how much harm his secret is doing to the people around him. Sure, Jeff is just trying to cover his own ass. But him helping the two of them so that Will can divorce her was a nice gesture. The two had their moments, but I'm interested to see what's next for them after this.
  • With the wedding off, Maddie and Colt can be in a relationship and not have it weird because they're step-siblings. I really don't care about them though.
  • It seems like Scarlett's mom will soon be making her way back to Nashville. Ugh, she was so annoying the last time she popped up.
  • Even though Sadie's story is predictable and very emotionally manipulative, I continue to think that Laura Benanti is fantastic.