Scarlett has always been special to me, much because I relate to her introverted ways and her eagerness to mediate and please. In this episode from season 2 she utters my absolute favourite line of her, “I’m the kind of artist that prefers to whisper”, making it a moment and an episode telling us a whole lot about her. When rewatching this episode I realised it is also a brilliant episode in regards to Juliette.
I have always seen Scarlett as someone confident in who she is as a person, but someone with less confidence when it comes to her work. In this episode she finds the courage to stop pleasing, ignore what people tell her to do and for once make her own artistic decision. The episode brings Juliette’s confidence and insecurities to light as well and the way she is juxtaposed with Scarlett tells a real fascinating story about them both.
I had a plan to review my ten or so favourite Nashville episode in order of appearance, but since I have been thinking about Scarlett lately, I wanted to watch this episode instead and I thought, what the heck, I will write about them in whatever order that comes to mind. And being such a revealing Scarlett episode, I decided to include a note on her and season 5 at the end.
The opposites of Scarlett and Juliette
Scarlett and Juliette in a way look somewhat alike on the surface. Physically they are both young, tiny creatures with long, blond hair and when it comes to work they are both struggling artist at the moment, even though on different levels and in different ways. Remember how Juliette fell from the good graces by sleeping with a married man, then seemingly sneer at God and now need to win her audience back.
Where Scarlett has the great self-esteem and bad self-confidence as mentioned above, Juliette is the opposite.
Their personalities are very different though and I like how that is not overly obvious in their looks. Where Scarlett has the great self-esteem and bad self-confidence as mentioned above, Juliette is the opposite. Most of the time she has the greatest confidence in her capabilities as an artist (now that she knows she can write songs) and putting on extravagant shows, but her self-esteem is another matter, not when it comes to her sexual attraction, but for sure when it comes to actual love and relationships, where her insecurities quickly rises to the surface.
The episode begins with Rayna, Bucky and Scarlett meeting with Glenn, Juliette and Avery before the addition of Scarlett to Juliettes troubled tour. Juliette doesn’t care the tiniest bit that she crashed the launch party of Rayna’s new single to do her own announcements of joining Highway 65 and therefor destroying the marketing of Rayna’s new song. Juliette is super-confident about her tour, which she put money in herself, but when it comes to Avery coming along to produce Scarlett’s album during the course of it, her self-confidence takes a dive. She immediate feels the need to “claim” Avery in front of everyone by continuing Avery’s ”I’ll go where I’m needed” with ”and wanted” with a smug smile.
As much as Scarlett loves the pure singing part and putting together songs with Avery, she hates the world that surrounds the creative part. She complains about the label heads who doesn’t give a damn and tries to shove her into “some cookie kind of mold, I will never fit into”. As the introvert she is, she hates the new hotels every night, the strange beds she has to sleep in and the industry parties she has to attend.
The tour continues with Avery and Scarlett working on the album all day leaving Juliette jealous, insinuating and edgy, which of course for Juliette translates into making Scarlett miserable. It doesn’t matter that she according to Glenn performs her best show ever and having all her fans raving again, off stage all she does is worrying about Avery and his whereabouts with Scarlett. Avery gets that she is jealous, it’s impossible not to, but still he is not really getting how disturbing the whole thing is to Juliette. First he tells Scarlett, “I can’t play in her band, when I have an album to produce” and then he completely tone-deafly skips an after-show party to continue the work with her.
Everyone is out of the loop
Leaving the tour behind for a moment and visiting the other characters, the common theme for them seems to be that they are all out of the loop.
The price for being the most out of the loop goes to Layla.
Deacon was not kept in the loop when it comes to the parenting of Maddie, which he frustratingly informs Teddy when he is told that Maddie was not allowed to come to him for guitar lessons as she was grounded. ”You can feel free to give me parenting advice when you’ve actually raised a child for 14 years”, Teddy states after a short argument. ”Yeah, I was kept out of that loop too”, Deacon wryly replies.
Deacon is also totally out of the loop when it comes to Megan’s inability to resist the clean-shaven Teddy, who she just had to get it on with in his car. This makes regretful Megan extra clingy and commanding Deacon’s attention when he is back from his tour, which he has no problem giving to her though.
Rayna is out of the loop too, or at least in denial, of Maddie’s need to explore herself, her will, her identity, with the help of her music. Music is not a hobby and Deacon is her dad, she needs to say these things out loud as to make them real and for her it is not something that can only be kept within the family. So while Rayna is gushing over how good social media is for getting her music out as an independent, at same time as she is forbidding all tweeting and selfies in their private life, Maddie is planning her own way to get her music, her ambitions and identity known. Maddie is a teenager with her own thoughts and ideas that cannot be controlled as easily anymore and Rayna must consider the art of guidance instead.
Luke has been totally out of the loop regarding Deacon being Maddies father, he realises when seeing the video Maddie was posting online in the name of Maddie Claybourne. This makes him utterly jealous, a feeling he cannot hide, and Rayna finds herself in the middle spending the night mediating between the three rather frustrated men in her life.
The price for being the most out of the loop goes to Layla. Will decides to take to extreme measures denying or at least refusing to admit to anyone that he is a gay cowboy in the straight country world. While most of the artists in Nashville are putting on a show, musical and theatrical, on stage this episode – Juliette with Scarlett, Luke pretending he is having fun with Will and Deacon, Maddie and Daphne with Luke’s son Colt (ok they are back stage) – and in every other episode, Will is the one putting on a formidable show off stage as well, choosing to propose to Layla when Jeff is getting way to close to the truth in spite of Gunnar clever cover for him. And actually he does find a stage of sorts to do it on as well.
By the end of the episodes Deacon has punched a wall instead of Teddy and doesn’t understand Why. Megan. Still. Is. In. His. House. while throwing things in a bag to get away and the only one still really out of the loop is poor Layla happily going through with the impromptu wedding with Will.
The courageousness of Scarlett and Juliette
That said, this is very much an episode about Scarlett and Juliette and there are some scenes that makes me enjoy it so. The young women may have opposite personality traits, but they actually understand each other real well. They are playing a bit of a game here and it’s hard to know who is on top. You would think that Scarlett is the weak one and Juliette the strong, but that is not true, both of them are both. Scarlett can be pushed around, but only for so long, she knows what she wants and she is not afraid to say it. Juliette on her hand lets her insecurities about Scarlett and Avery blur her business decisions by not aknowledging Scarlett as the fine artist she really is.
Just like Scarlett confronts her fears on stage, Juliette confronts Avery with hers.
In their first interaction back stage there is no doubt that Scarlett is the strong one and Juliette the weak, Scarlett just has better self-esteem and Juliette gets so worked up and defensive. Scarlett is not afraid to put forward her views, it’s just that she usually gives in after a while. In this case she wants to test her new song Falling, but Juliette says there is no time to test a low-key ballad when they need an energetic show that makes reviewers write about it. ”It’s my set” Scarlett replies and ”your set yesterday wasn’t reviewed either”, she frankly continues, which makes Juliette threaten to fire her.
Inspired by this exchange Scarlett finds the courage to do it her own way and this is of course where my favourite Scarlett line is pronounced: “Miss Juliette Barnes has asked me to come out here and make a whole lot of noise for you, but I’m the kind of artist who prefers to whisper.” Not only has she reached the point of where she doesn’t care about pleasing anymore, she also makes it clear that she knows exactly who she is and who she wants to be on stage. Adding “this one’s for you, Juliette” shows us just how well she also gets Juliette, that she is jealous because giving her heart away, like she has to Avery, makes her scared and vulnerable.
I just can’t seem to help myself
I wear my heart for all to see
Maybe you’re that someone else
Another hopeless case like me
The one who always falls in love too fast
The one who thinks that this time love will last
Falling, falling, I can’t keep myself from falling
Follow, follow, follow me down, down
down, down, down
And right there Juliette can’t escape the facts of Scarlett’s accomplished songwriting, the beautiful, catchy piano tune and her captivating voice. The anger of Scarlett daring to defy her quickly turns into admiration, even though she will not admit it right away.
First we see another great scene between the two where Juliette starts off being really cocky and bossy: ”Dedicating the song to me. You got a lot of nerve!” ”It’s something I thought you would have done”, Scarlett replies, but Juliette won’t have it: “Well, let’s set the record straight. You are not me. You have not cut any record, let alone sold any.” It’s like she needs to distance herself from Scarlett, not wanting to admit her talents and that they are also alike, because that’s scary. Jealousy and rivalry makes her continue their argument and the powerplay is on again.
Scarlett begs Juliette to fire her. She hates it, she says, the cookie-molding, the hotels, the parties as I wrote before. She loves the 20 minutes on stage, but she hates the other 23 hours and he wants nothing but Juliette to fire her so she fails and can go home to where she is comfortable. Around here something changes. Scarlett sounds desperate and determined at the same time and Juliette knows what it feels like being pushed to conform. She also realises that while giving in to Scarlett might feel like a win-win situation for both of them at first, it actually is a lose-lose, and Juliette doesn’t like to lose. It’s probably driven partly by selfishness not giving in to Scarlett, but mostly there is an acknowledgement that it is Scarlett’s strength that should be acknowledged and encouraged, not her weakness.
Juliette’s one-eighty turn in regards to Scarlett is my second favourite thing of this episode. ”No such luck” is her resolute answer to Scarlett request to be fired. Scarlett will just have to stay on the tour, because she has ”it”. It took courage to admit that, but Juliette knows when she sees something good and when push comes to shove she will not let her insecurities impact her work. Scarlett is a great artist and she adds a lot of value to her tour. Juliette might be competitive and jealous, but she also appreciates great talent when she sees it.
Business beats personal insecurity and having the courage to appreciate Scarlett gives Juliette the courage to talk to Avery about her fears. Just like Scarlett confronts her fears on stage, Juliette confronts Avery with hers, that she is scared when it comes to them, that she is afraid to lose him. When having admitted to Avery that she was jealous and having been reassured by Avery, it’s like Juliette allows to see Scarlett as a person, someone she actually admires a little bit and not only as a threat to her private happiness. Maybe this is what makes her take a closer look at Scarlett that evening at the party, the reason she becomes the person, not Avery, that suspects that something is not quite right with Scarlett, or that at least that she is high.
Juliette and Scarlett, different in some ways, but still with and ability to understand each other. Their initial roles are restored at the end of the evening when Juliette is telling Scarlett what to do. Scarlett is the quiet introvert: “I’m not much for parties”. Juliette is the boss telling her what she needs to do: “You are now.” But some respect and admiration for each other have inevitably started to grow.
The episode is written by David Gould and directed by Julie Hébert.
Epilogue – Scarlett and Nashville season 5
The reason I stopped watching Nashville after nine episodes of season 5 was not mainly because of Rayna, even if I liked nothing about that either, but because of Scarlett.
Scarlett struggled to be confident as an artist and having the courage to do it her way, not letting anyone dictate to her how to do it. In this episode in season 2 she kind of figured it out, that she did not need to be what other people told her and knew she “preferred to whisper” on stage and not to shout. Unfortunately her mother came back and her path as an artist came to a stop for a while. But she came back and Scarlett was never insecure about who she was and this is what I wrote about her in the Nashville Forever character defence article:
Growing up with an abusive mother can leave all sorts of scars, and for Scarlett it meant bad self-confidence and also I believe a fear of conflicts. Scarlett doesn’t shout and fight; she is the mediator, the one keeping up the good spirits in a relationship, keeping her own emotions inside while making sure everyone else is happy.
She probably learnt this very well as a child defusing bad situations to avoid upsetting her mother. This kind of behavior becomes a habit but Scarlett does it only to a point. Enough is enough, and then she politely tells people so! Cause one thing her upbringing did not give her was low self-esteem. Scarlett actually has great self-esteem. She feels secure being herself…If only people would let her!
Back to season 5 and the introduction of Damien. Scarlett did not need an arrogant video director to tell her who she really was, while her boyfriend and her mentor, if not cheered on, but let her know this was something she had to endure and probably could learn something from. Scarlett already knew who she was and she did not suffer from any bad self-esteem. What she did lack was a bit of self-confidence in her work as an artist. She needed to hear she was allowed to be an artist on her own terms, as her own self, not needing to transform to someone else to please the masses. But no one told her that and really, this was something she figured out already on her own on the mini-break from being an artist, by the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3.
Then getting up on stage probably always means that you in some way put on another persona, but that is exactly where she might have needed encouragement, to find that persona she felt comfortable with, not being pushed to be someone else entirely. And the fact that the show had Scarlett realising that her true self was actually being an extroverted sex kitten was just plain absurd and misogynist in so many ways. Like there is only one way to be sexy, that all women want to be sexy in that exakt way and if you are not like that you are repressing your true self.
Sorry, Nashville on CMT! I couldn’t watch that!
This was my second Favourite Nashville post. Here is the first:
My Favourite Nashville: I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) (1×02)
Did you like ER? Want to revisit? Read my posts about Abby and Luka!
ER’s Abby and Luka, part 1: Luka’s story through 10 episodes
ER’s Abby and Luka, part 2: Abby’s story through 10 episodes