June 3, 2014

Finale Reviews: Nashville Season 2 - "On the Other Hand"

Nashville's Season 2 finale cemented what was perhaps already certain - Chris Carmack is the MVP of this show. And his character, Will Lexington, has got nothing but trouble coming toward him now. Yes, Season 1's finale left Rayna in a coma and Juliette an orphan, but Will's fate at the end of the second season hit the audience (well, me, at least) harder than those cliffhangers did. In part, it was the inevitability of his fate. This far into the plot, Will had made too many missteps to keep his secret hidden for much longer. Even more painful, though, is the fact that it will be Will himself who reveals it all. And he has outed himself to the world in a moment he thought was private. Chris Carmack delivered that moment with such heartbreak and humanity, not unlike his moment on the tracks a year ago. Only now we know his heartbreak won't be hidden anymore. It was devastating. And acted so devastatingly well.

Of course the real MVP of Nashville is the music, which consistently articulates what the show's dialogue can't seem to, and allows the actors to deliver emotion in a way that makes the show utterly unique among its soapy ABC brethren. The music of the finale was no exception. Scarlett and Gunnar's beautiful Bluebird duet of "It Ain't Yours to Throw Away" was a haunting backdrop to the destruction in Will's life and Juliette's, too.

This duet opened with a cinematic moment that deserves mentioning. It was only for a moment, but before they begin singing, the two characters faced each other in one room, but illuminated by opposite lights. The melancholy, pensive poet, Scarlett, was spotlighted in blue, while Gunnar stood in a glowing red. They were separated almost exactly down the center of the shot by a single strand of white Christmas lights. It was marvelous. Symbolic of their differences, and the distance between them, yet as full of warmth as the song that would follow. (Unfortunately, it happens right before video above starts, 36 minutes and 33 seconds into the episode, if you're curious.)

Now, as much as I enjoyed "On the Other Hand," I have a few problems with the episode. First: for much of the 42 minutes, the show business aspect of the plot centered around sales of the characters' digital singles in order to top the charts. Not only were the mechanics of this not clearly explained for an audience unfamiliar with the concept, but in the end, chart-topping wasn't even particularly important to the movement of the story. It just took up minutes I would have rather spent hearing a longer conversation between Scarlett and Avery.

Second: I don't usually comment on the wardrobe aspects of TV shows, because I am vastly under qualified to do so. (I wish frequenting wornontv.net qualified one to speak about such things, but alas…) However, I just gotta say, what the heck was going on with the hats in this episode?! First, Gunnar has that Charlie Chaplin number somehow magically affixed to the back of his head. Can you say, distracting? Then, Luke Wheeler shows up with a hat so sparkly, he could have proposed to Rayna with that! We haven't seen such a fashion misstep on this show since Rayna's fedora disaster during her Liam days.

Though not exactly in as much suspense as at the conclusion of Season 1, "On the Other Hand" did leave me with a few lingering questions. Chief among them, why does it seem Rayna was totally fine with the unexpected, over-the-top, public proposal by Luke? A proposal she had to accept, and was not discussed ahead of time? Is this poor character development? Or just one more example of how Rayna is great at solving others' problems, but disastrous at even identifying her own? Another query: was there more to Avery and Scarlett's conversation than was shown on screen? I mean, was there more in the script? Because that scene seemed cut short, and did not thoroughly explain Avery's attitude in his later conversation with Juliette. Perhaps it was meant to be ambiguous. That way the audience is left in as much limbo as Juliette herself? I can only hope these questions will be answered when Nashville returns next fall.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the finale. You're absolutely right about Chris Carmack's performance. I cheered and was almost brought to tears. The honesty was gripping. and i just couldn't stop saying "FINALLY."

    Check out http://www.possessionista.com/ for fashion-y things too. and hilarious reviews of tv shows. She's as snarky as she is wise.

    Also, as someone who had a public proposal recently, I totally identified with Rayna at the part of the episode. I'm actually surprised she was that calm....that's good character development in and of itself. Just showing that Rayna NEEDS to be in control of everything all the time. It's totally clear, like you said, that she (like me, in a lot of ways) is really good at solving other people's problems then just smashes things when everything builds up and her emotions bubble over. It'll be interesting to see how she deals with all of the Deacon-vs-Luke issues.

    I'm SO EXCITED for next season, and I have no idea what Scarlett's future holds, so I'm hoping to be surprised with more of her story-line.
    Good stuff!! Thanks for sharing! :)