It looks more and more as if this is indeed a change of direction for Nashville. Nor is it obviously budget-driven: it appears to me more like a conscious attempt by the former thirtysomething head honchos Herskovitz and Zwick to turn Nashville into a quieter, more intimate drama, with the music business pushed into the foreground again, and doubling as an extended family for the main characters.
And one sign that the new showrunners are doing something right: the most fun storyline of the week probably belongs – although I can’t quite believe I’m saying this – to Older Girl. Deacon has managed to wangle her an internship at a recording studio, where Avery is producing an album, on which Deacon is also a hired hand, by very modestly talented YouTube sensation Ashley Willerman. Now, Ashley has a clear idea of what she wants to do – and it isn’t what Avery thinks she should be doing – and is also a little high-maintenance, although in truth no more than most recording artists. That she falls short of insufferability is probably in part due to Bridgit Mendler’s layered and nuanced performance as Ashley.
Avery, unhappy that Ashley won’t take his advice, walks out of the studio (“I thought I was bad”, Juliette observes, when Avery tells her the story), and OG – head turned, perhaps, by the handsome street musician playing outside the studio – manages to keep screwing up Ashley’s lunch and coffee orders, and when Ashley overreacts OG calls her a bitch and gets the sack. Which, y’know. As Younger Girl says to OG later, regarding her getting Ashley’s orders wrong, “Isn’t that your job?”
OG isn’t for budging until Deacon has a word with her, which is less appealing as a storyline: the premise is that Deacon is walking on eggshells around OG because of the evidence she gave at her emancipation hearing, evidence which we’re now all expected to accept was untruthful. Dudes, I was there, and I haven’t forgotten: Deacon’s behaviour throughout season 4 was more or less entirely insufferable, and it’s reasonable that OG should have been frightened of him. But OG apologises to Deacon (“I’m not blameless in all this”, says Deacon, which understates matters somewhat if you ask me) then to Ashley, who accepts it graciously; and OG-the-intern is back in place. Nicely done, all in all, and I look forward to seeing more of Ms Mendler.
Nothing else works quite as well, although – with one exception – it’s far from unsatisfactory. The Exes need a video to relaunch their careers. Will is moving in with Kevin. Juliette starts to regain some feeling in her legs, and visits Hallie: after we get the crassness of Juliette’s gift to Hallie of a new car out of the way, it looks as if this storyline will indeed be about Juliette and religious faith, which could be interesting. The episode was let down by Nerd, whose name I still haven’t caught, stealing some trinket from Rayna’s office when she’s not there, and I already KNOW just HOW MUCH this arc is going to annoy me. That aside, though, I liked ‘Let’s Put It Back Together Again’ quite a lot.