Season 2 of “Nashville” opens a couple of weeks after the finale of last season; Rayna is still in a coma after the accident, Deacon in jail because everyone knows he was drinking and they assume he was at the wheel, and everyone is pretty much in turmoil because of it . . . well, except for Juliette, of course. For a review of the first season and a more detailed synopsis, check out my earlier review.
A Fine Balance
In the first season, “Nashville” touted that they were a drama about the music industry and business side of things in Nashville. At times, that got a little tedious because all that was interesting was simply the characters and their lives, and not necessarily within the industry. The second season seems to have a better idea of this; there is still a strong component of “Nashville” devoted to exploring the industry, and we see it mostly through the characters of Scarlett and Will, who are slowly being integrated to that world.
Another balance that “Nashville” is teetering on is how much they’re focusing on the relationship between Rayna and Deacon. Personally, I’m of the opinion that the two are destructive to one and another and they need to stay away from each other until they’ve sorted their own issues out. Fortunately, “Nashville” seems to agree . . . for the time being. Rayna and Deacon both appear to be focusing on different things, the former with her career and her family, the latter with his addiction problems. I enjoy the fact that the relationship is not completely ignored, but sprinkled on here and there to keep things moving. As the season moves along, it does look like the Rayna/Deacon can of worms will be wide open again, and perhaps that will be necessary, but for now, it’s nice to see those characters develop separately.
And Finer Characters
Speaking of characters, “Nashville”‘s season 2 has seen some serious developments, especially when it comes to the ladies. Juliette Barnes continues to steal the show by being simultaneously one of the most manipulative, bratty divas as well as sometimes the kindest souls. Panettiere keeps on surprising us with her portrayal of this musical star. The second lady who has stolen the show several times is previously soft-spoken Scarlett, who has come to her own. While still maintaining her delicacy and soft nature, Scarlett has shown that she can be extremely tough and strong when need be, single-handedly rescuing her uncle from completely losing himself in self-pity, and continuously calling people on their bullshit with the most amazing expression. Originally, her character had bored me to death, but toward the end of season 1 and so far this season, she has been doing wonderful.
This brings us to the disappointing characters of the show, one being a pretty big one. Rayna James continues to get on my nerves because she never seems to change, recognize the need to change, and no one ever thinks that all this terrible stuff happening to her might have something with, oh, her. There was a brief glimmer of hope for her, when it seemed that Rayna might have to face a huge upheaval to deal with the loss of her voice, but as of the fifth episode, that hope seems to be disappearing.
To the Music!
Another aspect of “Nashville” that has fallen behind a little bit is the music. While I am no country music efficinado, I’ve noticed a considerable change in musical quality. The change comes with the fact that the musical producer duties have passed from T-Bone Burnett to Buddy Miller. While the music is still quite good -and is consistently getting better as the show moves along- there was definitely a little bit of a shift, some bumps, in the first couple of episodes. Hopefully, that was simply an adjustment phase.
Overall, “Nashville” is getting considerabley better. It is much more focused on the characters now, which is good. Hopefully, as the season progresses, some of the iffy parts of the show (*cough* Rayna *cough*) will be addressed, and more integration between the storylines will show through.