Nashville Review: Rayna Returns
Named for Hank Senior's 1951 track, "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)" was highlighted by a musical performance that couldn't have gone any better with the episode's title.
We knew there was a history between Rayna and Deacon after the pilot, but this second hour delved much deeper into the details of that relationship and their song on stage at the Bluebird made everyone wonder if their love didn't continue to grow to this day.
The way that Connie Britton and Charles Eston performed that scene was riveting, as the history between their two characters was jumping off the screen with every lyric sang and every strum of the guitar. Rayna's comment afterward of "I wish we hadn't done that song" was perfect in that it helped show how seriously complicated their relationship is.
It didn't hurt that earlier we learned more about what actually happened between them way back when. They were together for a decade, he abused substances so much that he needed rehab, she started dating Teddy while they were still together, and then she married Teddy while he was still in rehab and they were never broken up.
Those are a lot of layers to the Rayna/Deacon onion - and there are probably many, many more.
Before letting their positive emotions get the best of them in that wonderful performance, Rayna and Deacon also provided us with a very entertaining blow up of negative emotions. She was obviously angry with his involvement with Juliette, while his frustration probably dealt more with the problems between them discussed above.
Whether it was the warmth of a love song on a small stage or the heat of an argument that had built up for a long time, it's obvious these two have undeniable chemistry that should be fun to watch in the future.
As Rayna and Deacon were connecting to their history, Juliette was attempting to connect with Deacon in the present all episode long. Personally, I loved everything Hayden Panettiere. Whether it was Juliette's catty dynamic with Rayna, her flirtatious attitude towards Deacon, her drive to become a better artist or her disappointment in failing to win over her idol, Panettiere absolutely nailed it all.
She can always fall back into the young, flirty, pop star with an evil side persona, and that smile and laugh will make that a joy to watch each and every week, but it was the complexities of Juliette that we saw in the first episode that continued to keep her interesting in episode two.
Juliette wants to get with Deacon. She wants him in her band. She wants him in her bed. She wants to write with him. Is it lust? Is it idolization? Is it the need to win? I'm sure it's a combination of many motivations, but watching her work through them all was intriguing once again.
The elation on her face when they were writing the new song together, the seriousness she showed when she said that she wants to grow up, and definitely the disappointment draped all over her when Deacon called Rayna up on stage instead of her at the Bluebird, gave us a number of sides to Juliette, and it will sure be fun watching them all come out week after week.
Although it wasn't quite as interesting as the Juliette/Rayna/Deacon triangle, I also enjoyed the Scarlett material this week. Thankfully, Deacon and Rayna's performance to end the night finally pushed Scarlett to accept Watty's offer to make a demo. After that amazing Civil Wars song she and Gunnar performed in the premiere, it would be a shame if those two didn't come back with more soon.
The only storyline I'm not quite feeling at this point is the political stuff. I can see potential for really interesting dynamics between Rayna and Teddy because of it, but for now it's just taking up time that we could be spending with Juliette, Deacon or Rayna.
What about you all? What did you think of "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)?" Was it as good as the premiere? What was your favorite moment from the hour? And what was your favorite musical performance?
Nashville: "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)"
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.