For a show ostensibly centered on the dynamic between an aging country star – Connie Britton's Rayna Jaymes – and the next hot, young thing - Hayden Panettiere's Juliette Barnes – "Nashville" has both grown and regressed in its second season.
This week's episode featured Juliette dealing with her own young up-and-comer, Layla Grant, with each trying to out-diva the other. But it left the Rayna-Juliette storyline languishing, even though the show sparkles most when the two stars face-off.
Layla, a reality show star turned record label act, irritates Juliette by running over her opening act time with a song dedicated to pseudo-boyfriend, Will Lexington, America's favorite (only?) sexually ambiguous cowboy. Juliette retaliates by pushing Will's set into Layla's plumb spot for the next show. And when Layla tries to arrange a duet with Will, Juliette simply jumps in instead – complete with a hair-extension fueled, elegant high-sass ponytail. Lesson? Don't try and out-diva a diva.
But it's Layla who may end up with the last laugh as the show ends with her placing a call to celeb-stalkers TMZ tipping them off that billionaire Charlie Wentworth's recently announced divorce is the fault of his philandering with Juliette.
The rest of the show was a mish-mash of the dangling storylines, none of which was majorly advanced, except Scarlett O'Connor witnesses her best friend, Zoey Dalton, making out with ex-beau Gunnar Scott.
The audience is treated with the expected daddy-diva-off between Deacon Claybourne and Teddy Conrad, the former the biological father of Maddie Conrad, Rayna's daughter she raised with Teddy.
"You think you can just swoop in here and dazzle her with this music crap?" Teddy whines to Deacon, after both watched Maddie peform. "Rayna and I have no interest in co-parenting with you. And I don't care that you're sober."
Rayna, meanwhile, has to sit the two men down and play peacemaker. It's a role we all have grown to expect from Rayna (and any Connie Britton character), but it's beginning to get a little too comfortable.
Will remains one of the "Nashville" characters who can surprise viewers, with tension building with his male ex-lover who also happens to be his handler dispatched by his record company. Riffing about his kind-of relationship with Layla to Juliette, Will says, "Maybe someday, if I'm lucky, I'll find someone who makes me feel like the best version of myself."
The philosopher cowboy's observation prompts Juliette to end it with Charlie – who had professed his love. He walks away pretty easily, with them both thankful their tryst was never made public. Oh, Layla.