In "I Fall to Pieces", Rayna, Deacon, and Juliette (she wishes) suffer from the aftermath of the season 1 finale's car crash

By Annie Barrett
March 13, 2015 at 07:15 PM EDT
ABC
S2 E1
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I’m sorry if I scared you with the most horrifying headline imaginable. It’s okay. The tresses are intact. Everyone — except Deacon, who could be dying in a ditch somewhere and absolutely wishes he was — is fine. Rayna (Connie Britton) rather easily came out of the induced coma she’d been in for two weeks. A much less scraggly-haired (in most scenes) Scarlett said no to Gunnar’s proposal and seems more confident and less mumbly than ever. And Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) is back in sweetheart/bitch mode, either rapidly cycling between the two or somehow conveying both at the same time. Love her.

But my heart’s swelling the most for Rayna James and her daughters — that scene at the end where her family and we viewers were suspended in time, waiting for her to recognize them, had me sobbing. The reigning queen of country music would have sobbed, too, had she had full movement of her face. A single slow-trickling tear said everything for her. I’m so hungry. How are my sales? Where is that bastard Deacon?

“I am just not interested in looking behind me anymore,” Rayna told her hulking dad while getting some fresh air. “I am just gonna live my life.” Vague, yet poignant! Not so vague anymore: We learn from Deacon’s new attorney Megan that Lamar was likely involved in the death of Rayna’s mom. “Forgive me, darlin’. For everything,” Lamar had croaked out over Rayna’s bedside before she’d woken up. That’s not gonna happen.

Maddie (Lennon Stella) had some good scenes tonight, her daddy issues intensifying just like her mom’s had right around her age. And like her mom, Maddie’s disappointed in her biological father, Deacon. “If he loved her so much, how could he do this?” she asked Teddy. This was when everyone still thought Deacon had been driving drunk when the SUV crashed. Apparently it took weeks for the right people to connect the dots and determine the diagonal mark on Rayna’s torso signaled that obviously she was the one driving. But, you know. Television! Who cares? What’s important: The truth is out.

NEXT: Juliette the Innocent wears a series of flowy white dresses

And Deacon’s out of prison, moments before the $1 million bail Scarlett had to coax out of Juliette had come through. Deacon spent the premiere sobering up and loathing himself in the slammer, a lone butterfly bandage on his right eyebrow and a sinking stone in his heart. He was a monster to Scarlett whenever she visited, in denial about his familial ties to anyone and everyone. “I’m a damn drunk and I’m no good to you or anybody else,” he told his niece after she said he was like a father to her. “I’m NOBODY’S damn father! You quit comin’ here!” Now you and that hair of yours, shoo!

Surprise, though: Scarlett’s movin’ into Deacon’s house. He has a non-torched sofa, so it’s perfect.

I loved those flashbacks of Deacon and Rayna 13 years ago, by the way — particularly the careful placement of Rayna’s cowboy boots during the footage of them conceiving Maddie on the floor. Country, y’all! We saw Deacon so blotto he forgot he’d proposed to Rayna the night before, prompting Rayna to hurl the ring onto a hideous rug. And then Rayna’s sister Tandy encouraged Rayna to marry Teddy instead of her true, destructively drunken love, even though Rayna was pretty sure Deacon was the father of her unborn child.

Juliette was stressed. Remember, her mom recently killed herself and murdered someone else so that Juliette wouldn’t have to deal with a sex tape scandal. (Still ludicrous! But I don’t mind; Jolene was annoying.) But perhaps even more worrisome: The recent media blitz over the “Saint in a Coma” threatened to thwart Juliette’s record sales. The nerve of that saint! One of Juliette’s coping mechanisms during this difficult time was to have an unnamed prospective assistant (I think?) go down on her as she writhed around angrily, not getting enough out of it. Assistants just do not work hard enough these days. It’s an epidemic.

We got one glitzed-out concert scene this episode, to go along with Avery and Gunnar/Scarlett’s more muted Bluebird performances: Juliette workin’ it in an angelic white “party in the front” gown on her Inside the Dream tour. I should make special mention of the ultra-effective wind machine gently engorging the business-in-the-back portion of that gown, as well as the complicated lighting arrangement that created the illusion of fireworks every half-second. No expenses spared with this one, as usual. I love it.

Of course, Juliette’s lead guitarist Avery (quite the solo, sir!) and Manager Glenn (welcome back, Glenn! I’m trying my best to pretend “Dante” didn’t exist) both knew Juliette was milking the Saint in a Coma situation to boost her sales with those sappy speeches and Juliette-centric slideshows of the two country divas together. Singing Rayna’s “This Love Ain’t Big Enough” was a brilliant choice — during the concert, the lyrics (“Waiting on somebody to go down / Take what’s left of this love and put it in the ground”) seemed straight-up murderous to sing for someone in a coma. But later, Juliette told Maddie that the song reminded her of her own mom, when they used to lie on the floor (Jolene was probably passed out) and listen to it over and over.

Before her concert, Juliette had snapped, “Glenn, get me a thousand candles. I need to pray.” She mind-controlled hundreds of her adoring fans to follow her to the hospital and pray for Rayna. But at least some of the candles turned out to be for Juliette’s own at-home tribute to her mom — and the sobbing, makeup-free, totally raw ‘n’ real Juliette we came to love at the end of season 1 pulled a surprise move, placing an old Rayna James CD next to a photo of her and Jolene. Ahhhh!

NEXT: Scarlett and Gunnar sing a duet over a weepy montage — now a Nashville premiere tradition Zoe, Scarlett’s friend since first grade, is replacing her as a waitress at the Bluebird. So far she only seems to serve as a human for our overgrown-mop head to talk to, now that Scarlett denied Gunnar’s marriage proposal and has “gotta learn to stand on my own.” But I’m sure she’ll start screwing Avery or Gunnar by the time I finish this sentence, so expect to see a lot more of Zoe.

I liked Avery’s delicate, piano-driven “How to Live Alone” solo, though I’m not sure what is going on with his really, really long hair. But the happiest Bluebird moment for me was Scarlett and Gunnar’s sweet duet at the end — not because “Why I Can’t Say Goodnight” wasn’t beautiful (it was!) but because Miss Scarlett’s weave had been temporarily tamed. That thing was its own scene-chewing character all last season and I would love for it to keep allowing Scarlett more of the spotlight. Am I talking too much about these people’s hair? Just wait ’til next week, when Rayna’s back in full force after a deep condition.

For me, nothing will ever come close to Scarlett and Gunnar (Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio)’s series premiere duet on “If I Didn’t Know Better,” I realized tonight. I mean, everything these two sing together sounds amazing, but that initial vibe suddenly established at the end of that premiere — so rich with tension, possibility, and holy sh*t would you listen to that girl’s voice?! — cannot be replicated. Nor should it be! Tonight’s duet, similarly set over a montage of all the other characters and their suffering, was another good one. I think I’m okay with them not being together, but I don’t want their songwriting partnership to ever die, and Scarlett’s solo record deal as well as any romantic entanglements will surely corrupt that.

Meanwhile, Chris Carmack’s Will (“Welcome to the closet, bitch!”) is already getting a juicy storyline and lots of screen time, and I love it. He and the lovelorn Gunnar are roommates, and after contributing a vague painting of a bull with horns to one of the walls, Will decided that he and “the best damn songwriter in Nashville” needed to get loud and busy with a renovated-house party. Why not? They’d almost…started painting!

Enter local sex toys Lacy and Savannah (perfect names), plus a dude who gives Will the eye over a mouth-watering tray of jello shots. It’s the mysterious guy from Will’s gay past. “What the HELL are you doing here?” Will demanded, while thrusting the man against the washing machine — one of TV’s tried-and-true sexiest appliances. Nice job by Chris Carmack vacillating between super lustful and super angry here. We don’t learn anything more about him, but obviously we will soon.

“This creep just made a pass at me — you believe that?”

YEP.

Ugh, Peggy Kentner and Teddy. Can we not? First she confirmed their pregnancy to him “with three home pregnancy tests.” Red flag. But no — the baby did exist, he or she just no longer had a heartbeat when Peggy got her ultrasound. And then she LIED to him — while in tears! — and said she heard the baby’s heartbeat. She’d dragged him all the way down to a depression-lit basement bar to tell him this, even though he’d been a complete jerk about the pregnancy. “I already have a family, Peggy.” He can offer her financial support, and that’s it. I’m so bored. No one is still reading this paragraph.

I turn it over to you: Did you love the season 2 premiere? Is it only a matter of time (like, 1.5 episodes) before Scarlett and Gunnar get back together? How long before Juliette blabs to the media about Deacon being Maddie’s real dad? Are you still crying right now?

Discuss!

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Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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