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What we thought: Whoa, now there's the kind of drama we've been missing in dramas. For not being a singer, Connie isn't bad. She's convincing. I believe it. Her southern accent is more believable than Hayden's too. But Hayden is chewing up the scenery with her role of manipulative, damaged mean girl. She doesn't sound very country, but that's probably why she's referred to on the show as a "crossover artist."
We expected to be solidly on Rayna's side, but the character is surprisingly judgmental, proud, jealous, and unwisely living beyond her means. We liked when she apologized for her "diva dip" though. It's Juliette we're understanding more right now. Who's the protagonist here? Both of them? This is what Smash would have been had the Ivy/Karen rivalry been done right. We sympathize with Rayna wanting that threatening, powerful father out of her life. We like Rayna's balls and her line, "Well you can kiss my decision as it's walking out the door."
Rayna's husband, Teddy, is sweet and supportive, but he lost all their money and caves too easily to Rayna's evil father. Teddy won't be a mayor. He'll be a puppet. Deacon might be a better love interest for Rayna, but now that Juliette's got him, that can't work. We can't wait to see Rayna's reaction when she finds out.
In this show, the songs serve the scenes and story. The story isn't written around songs. We don't want to download any of them. Maybe the protagonist is Scarlett, the poet with the soft voice working as a waitress. She's more Karen than Juliette is. That's not necessarily a good thing. It's annoying that she never thought of turning her poems into songs, even though she lives in Nashville, works at the Bluebird Cafe, and has a nice singing voice. Come on. What a drip. Let's hope she was lying to Gunnar to be demure.
Scarlett's song fit the tone of the episode's ending so well. If we download any, it will be that one. It's haunting and hasn't been out of our heads since we watched the pilot last week (this post has been in draft form for a while. This episode was released on hulu early.)
Episode grade: A-