When Friday Night Lights ended (and broke my heart), like many others, I vowed that I would follow Connie Britton anywhere. Fortunately for me, she has landed on a show that features one of my favourite things: country music. For this, I will be a dedicated fan and loyal watcher. But as I watched tonight’s premiere, I was also pleasantly surprised by all the familiar faces I saw.
The biggest draw of the hour for me is not the strained relationship between the aging superstar Rayna Jaymes (Britton) and the young starlet, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). While I did appreciate their back and forth snide remarks about each other, they didn’t get enough screen time together in the episode to make their cattiness front and centre.
No, for me, the most interesting element that will keep me tuning in is the relationship between Rayna and her lead guitarist, Deacon (Charles Eston). They clearly have a trusting commitment to each other and have known each other for years, and I find myself desperately wanting to know why they have this intimacy between them (after all, she is married to Eric Close’s Teddy and has two daughters!). Were Rayna and Deacon together before? Did she break his heart? Did he break hers? I want answers! Especially after we hear comments from her husband about how he knows she “settled” for him, and from her estranged father Lamar (played by the always impressive Powers Boothe) who drops a hint that perhaps one of Rayna’s daughters isn’t fathered by her husband. This is just too good to just walk away from, so I, for one, am eagerly anticipating seeing more to this story. In a tantalizing twist, the episode ends with Juliette’s acting on her crush for Deacon and seducing him at her house. He seemed so loyal and committed to Rayna earlier in the episode, but after that ending, I’m questioning all of Deacon’s motives now.
As I mentioned, the verbal sparring between Rayna and Juliette deserves a gold star. This is my debut into the world of Hayden Panettiere (Heroes what?), but I can say that she can certainly hold her own as a young, rich seductress who uses her body to get what she wants. When Rayna visits Randy (Burgess Jenkin) and finds out that he is working on Juliette’s record, the older singer snaps out a few solid insults without realizing that Juliette is upstairs in Randy’s bed, listening to everything. That is a moment of pure gold for me.
Beyond these central conflicts, there are so several supporting stars in this show that I am delighted to see. Admittedly I am a little let down, however. Jonathan Jackson’s aspiring musician Avery barely registers due to his disappointing one minute of screen time. It is about the same for the amazing Robert Wisdom as mayoral candidate Coleman Carlisle (the man who will be running against Rayna’s husband, Teddy). Even Powers Boothe could have used more screen time in my opinion, since he is so powerful both as an actor and as a character. But since this is just the first episode, I’m hoping that they are just teasing us with all the possibilities for the future.
Here are a few more things I’m excited to see unfold in the coming episodes:
- The relationship between Juliette and her mother, the drug addict. Based on her snide comment to Rayna and how she reacted after taking her mom’s phone call, this can only cause drama.
- What’s going to happen with Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar’s (Sam Palladio) song? Is it going to be Rayna’s saving grace or will she have to tour with Juliette?
- I would like to get some kind of explanation about what the heck Deacon is thinking at the end of the episode when he betrayed Rayna! I’m holding firm that there’s more to this and he’s not a complete jerk.
So what did you think? How did you like Hayden’s portrayal of Juliette? I can’t tell yet if it’s just her being herself or if she’s actually a half decent actress. What do you think happened between Rayna and Deacon? Sound off below!
Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on ABC