A hallmark of great television is character development and a show's ability to draw you into layers below the surface of those personalities you've already fallen in love with. Just look at Don Draper on 'Mad Men,' Tony Soprano on 'The Sopranos' or Walter White on 'Breaking Bad.'
'Nashville' is showing the same ability to deftly build well-rounded personalities within the realm of enjoyable pop-soap television rather than the darkly dramatic genre of more critically acclaimed shows.
Rayna Jaymes has always been richly played by Connie Britton, and the season's third episode gives her a chance to show her flirtatious side as she and producer Liam McGuinnis let sparks fly, both in the studio over her new album and between the sheets. Liam offers Rayna a fresh start following her just-made-official divorce from Teddy Conrad and doomed love with Deacon Claybourne.
Juliette Barnes, meanwhile, has already shown a dynamism, floating between unabashed wicked diva and scared child. Hayden Panettiere continues to shine in the role of Juliette as 'Nashville' writers keep the audience guessing on just how much Juliette is in on her own joke. After Avery Barkley, her lowly guitar-player-turned-pseudo-friend, calls her on some of her issues, Juliette stays true to form by not disappointing in the bad decisions department. After initially spurning a come-on, Juliette decides to bed the husband of the anniversary couple she just spent the night serenading. It's a choice viewers must love to hate.
Deacon, played by Charles Esten, finally reveals what viewers may have long suspected: His father was an abusive drunk and it's cast a pall on how he's reacted to learning that Maddie Conrad is his biological daughter with Rayna.
Deacon was the knight in shining armor for Rayna and Juliette in season one, but in season two, the audience has been introduced to Deacon's demons. While still struggling to recuperate from his hand injury, Deacon is pushed to share a harrowing story of abuse from his childhood.
"Here I am, a drunk just like him. And here I am, hurting people I love, just like him," a tearful Deacon tells his Alcoholics Anonymous group. "But I'll tell you something - I ain't never hurt any child and I'll be damned if I ever will."
One of the characters showing the most development and depth is Scarlett O'Connor, played by Clare Bowen. Already she's gone from a cooing, fragile songbird to strong-willed caretaker of her Uncle Deacon, but in episode three, Scarlett shows off her dry wit and sultry singer sides.
Prepping for the big studio showcase, Scarlett walks past Will Lexington with his new artist- makeover clothes on.
"Ladies, how do I look?" the closeted cowboy cheekily asked.
"Where's the bachelorette party?" Scarlett responded, dryly delivering the line without displaying a hint of humor.
In the final song set of the show, Scarlett eschews the pixie-like performance viewers have been accustomed to in favor of a more adult, saucy tone befitting her new wardrobe.
If there's one twist viewers could likely do without, it's the ongoing saga of Teddy and his pretend-pregnant ex-girlfriend. She's one character not worth developing.