"A Picture From Life's Other Side" sounds like it should be the title of an episode of Fringe. While not an hour of FOX's recently passed multiple universe based drama, Nashville Season 1's penultimate episode was similarly chock-full of extremely emotional and tense moments.
Let's begin with the character the arc that has surprisingly become the most interesting over the course of the past few weeks. At the end of "Why Don't You Love Me" last week, Avery was propositioned by Juliette. They could have easily allowed that to turn into another situation where the young pop star either abused her companion or was abused by her counterpart.
Instead, the situation was used to bring Avery's arc back to where it began and made it more believable. Early on, there was a semi-love triangle between Avery, Scarlett and Gunnar. The problem was that Avery was a complete d-bag and never for a second did we believe that Scarlett wasn't going to choose Gunnar.
Now, though, with Avery's mini redemption story, it becomes completely possible that she could give him another chance one day. If Scarlett knew that Avery turned down Juliette Barnes not solely because she was drunk, but also because he still has feelings for his ex, she might strongly consider trying it again.
As an aside, I'd like to note that I didn't enjoy Gunnar as his normal goody-goody self, but I also don't like watching him as this fake outlaw. I guess the entire character just doesn't work for me.
What always works, on the other hand, is Hayden Panettiere putting those acting chops on display. Between her practiced announcement to the world in which she matter-of-factly stated "I fell for the wrong man, and he broke my heart," and the sadness in her face after finding Dante shot to death and her mother overdosed, Hayden P was on fire.
Juliette was put through the ringer once again, but the question now becomes, how will she come back from this? Will she spiral out of control? Or will this act as a force pushing her in the right direction? Maybe she can use these events to get a hold of her life. As much as I love a good train wreck, it would be interesting to see what a season of successful and happy Juliette Barnes looks like.
Meanwhile, Juliette's competition for Female Vocalist of the Year was facing some difficult issues of her own this week. Rayna has been handed the challenge of wanting to integrate her love of Deacon into her family life, but also not wanting to make her girls' father obsolete. Honestly, I thought she was doing a good job of not making things too difficult on the girls. That is, she was doing a good job until Teddy stuck his fat face in the mix.
I understand that he feels threatened, and that he is the one who has been there for the girls his entire life, but the fact of the matter is that Deacon IS Maddie's father. It's not like he knew that, and has been shirking on his responsibilities all of his life. He's had problems, but maybe if he knew that he had this daughter he would have cleaned his act up much earlier.
Whatever the case may be, like Juliette, I would have liked to have watched a care free Rayna for a while. Seeing Teddy take her to town about Deacon being around the kids was disheartening, but then again, they need SOMETHING for Teddy to do. Along with the political story line, Teddy Conrad himself is also becoming difficult to attach ourselves to.
Deacon, conversely, could read the phone book on screen and we would be as attentive as ever. The simple act of sitting down with Maddie* and Daphne to reprise the girls' performance of "Ho, Hey" was one of the highlights of the hour. Chip Esten's chemistry with the girls was great, which shouldn't have been a surprise. He elevates everyone's game on this show.
*Lennon Stella is becoming a better actress every week she continues this journey. Starting the series with seemingly zero experience, she was put to the test in "Life's Other Side" with the realization that Rayna was in love with Deacon, and finding out her dad might not be her father. She delivered.
Also delivering was Chris Carmack as he told the story about Will's father finding out about his sexuality. As much as I hated the moment that they threw the fact that he was gay in our faces a few weeks back, I loved this moment. It was raw, it was honest, and it was a stellar performance by Carmack. Will has become one of the characters I root for most over the past few weeks.
Overall, "A Picture From Life's Other Side" was a breath of fresh air after a couple of episodes that were lacking. Nashville is in a good position heading into next week's first season finale.
What did y'all think of the episode? What were your favorite moments? What didn't you like about the hour? Whose story are you most interested in? And if you're from Nashville, did you laugh when the radio host said Gunnar was playing at the bar on second?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.