In one of the most memorable visuals from The Great Gatsby, Great American Novelist and inveterate drunk F. Scott Fitzgerald described the gigantic set of eyes adorning an old billboard advertising a local optometrist. “The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic,” Fitzgerald writes, “They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose.” Those eyes might represent an absent deity, an old god casting judgment upon the amoral characters; they might also symbolize the rise of Capitalism, a new American god; they could indicate a tip of the hat from Fitzgerald to T. S. Eliot, author of The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and several other poems you refused to read in high school; or they might just be a huge, freaky pair of eyes.
I was reminded of the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg when I watched Juliette Barnes slink-dance through a rendition of her hit single “Telescope.” She was a set of ivory-white Daisy Dukes with a glitter-bust top, flanked by a dancing girl-gang dressed in red and blue; Together, they comprised a singing, dancing, writhing, lip-syncing American flag. The song itself, presumably written by a Swedish dude who wears sunglasses at night, had lyrics which were nominally directed at a cheatin’ boyfriend, but which actually constituted a threat to any one who would dare to cross Juliette Barnes:
You can’t hide from me
There ain’t no tricks that you can try on me
I know your every move before you even breathe
Thinkin’ you know something I don’t know
But my eyes, my eyes, my eyes
Are like a Telescope
Juliette Barnes is everywhere. She is inescapable. That’s true literally – Rayna drove by the music video, a look of profound disgust on her face. But it’s also true figuratively. The kids can’t get enough of her. A member of the film crew thankfully proclaimed that there were only two more set-ups, and he’d never have to hear that song again. “Fire him,” said Juliette. “Now.” But the second episode of Nashville made it clear that Juliette is more than just an empty-vessel vanilla-sass pop princess created by publicists. She’s an empty vessel vanilla-sass pop princess created by publicists who wants to be a real musical artist. Like pretty much everyone else in her generation, Juliette thirsts for authenticity. The key to that authenticity is Deacon. The fact that she also wants to take Deacon to bed is a plus. The fact that getting Deacon would be a punch in the face and a stab in the heart to Rayna is icing on the cake.
But Watty has a plan for Deacon and Rayna. I figured that, after he saw Scarlett and Gunnar sing their song at the Bluebird Cafe, that “plan” would involve buying the song right out from under them and handing it to Rayna. But no: Watty just had a flash of inspiration. Rayna’s arena tour isn’t selling, so why not scale down? “You and Deacon should go out on the road together, just the two of you,” he said. It was a canny move: If they booked smaller venues, they would be sure to sell out. It would be cheaper. And it would present Rayna in the warming light of retro-authenticity. She can’t compete with the young pop stars for pure spectacle; so why not beat them on content?
But when Deacon and Rayna used to tour together, they were in love, singing songs about their love. Things have changed a bit since then. For one thing, Rayna had to run the idea by her husband of many years. Teddy wasn’t happy about the idea. Running a mayoral campaign had also stressed him out. He had a meet-the-candidate cocktail party. He needed to prepare for a Vulnerability Study. And he also has to prep his debate with his main opponent, Coleman Carlisle, who has a slight advantage over Teddy: He’s been a politician for many years, and not since last week.
NEXT: Tammy Wynette’s land is besmirched