Hart of Dixie Season 1, Episode 5 (“Faith & Infidelity”)
As a non-religious person who grew up in Alabama, I got pretty good of dancing around the question when it was inevitably asked of me. I would literally get asked by total strangers where I went to church. Luckily there was more than one church in my town so the heathens weren’t so obvious. This episode starts showing Zoe (and Wade) as the lone heathens in town who don’t go to church. Zoe thinks the Mayfairs are only interested in pushing her to go to church. But instead of getting preachy or really making the conflict about religion at all, the episode becomes about community, which in the South is often found through church. But the important point here is not that you have to go to church to have community, or that you will be judged if you don’t, it is that having faith in people fosters community.
No one seems to care that Zoe doesn’t attend church. Even the Mayfairs say they would like for her to come, but it isn’t a requirement for them to be welcoming to her. What she is judged for is not having faith in the Mayfairs’ marriage. She accuses Reverend Mayfair of being unfaithful to his wife due to the fact that he has contracted syphilis. Zoe is convinced that the only way that he could have contracted syphilis was if he cheated. Everyone else in the town has faith that he didn’t cheat and that there must be another explanation. Through some interesting circumstances, it is revealed that he didn’t cheat and that the real explanation was much less scandalous. The show uses the church in this episode to show Zoe that having faith in people fosters community, even when the evidence points against them. She needs the community to respect her so that she can get patients, automatically assuming the worst of the most respected man in town isn’t going to help her. She even ends up attending church at the end, again not because she has suddenly seen the light, but because it will help her to become a part of the community.
The show continues to broaden its scope by rounding out the town and giving more for the other characters to do. In this episode we met Crazy Earl, the town drunk and Wade’s father. Every month when Earl gets his government check he blows it all on liquor, gets drunk, stands on top of a roof in the town square, and threatens to jump. The only person who can get him down is Wade by singing “Moon River” to him. But Wade isn’t the only one who shows up. A crowd of townsfolk do as well. Even though this happens every month and it ends the same way every time, they still show up to support. This storyline is primarily setting up Wade and Earl’s relationship and fleshing out Wade’s character. Wade is annoyed and angry at his father for having to be the adult in the relationship. He hates that he has to sing him down every month, he knows this only enables him. As much as he wants to say he is finished saving him, he knows he can’t and he will be back up on the roof next month.
Despite the doubts she showed last episode, Lemon seems committed as ever to George even as the cracks in their relationship are starting to show. They are at odds over what they think the town’s redevelopment funds should be used for and it highlights their differences. George wants to use the funds to widen the road into town. He has tasted life outside of Bluebell and he wants to broaden his horizons. Especially since Zoe came into town, he is being reminded of all the good things about New York, and just city life in general. Lemon wants to use the funds to repair the cover of an old bridge, because it is historic. She wants to maintain Bluebell as it is and George wants to modernize things. She is afraid he wants more than Bluebell, but it is all she wants.
This was a good early episode of the show. It isn’t my favorite, but not my least favorite either. The show is still establishing itself and the characters but we are starting to get some more depth in some of them. The first couple of episodes painted Lemon is being Zoe’s adversary and kind of ridiculous. But they are starting to give her more credit. Wade also moved beyond just being Zoe’s flirty neighbor and was given dimension through his relationship with his dad.
Episode Grade: B
Does Bluebell Get It Right?
- There is a lot of talk in this episode about the roads between Mobile and Bluebell. First there are major roads that go between Mobile and the Eastern Shore, it is not as rural as they are making it out to be. For anyone not familiar with coastal Alabama geography, the Eastern Shore refers to the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, I provided a potentially helpful map below.
- Highway 98 is a real highway and is the major road that connects a lot of the small towns on the Eastern Shore! Them saying they had to take a road off of it to get to Bluebell is what I used to guesstimate where it is.
- I think I have mentioned this before but there are hospitals much closer than Mobile. Fairhope has a hospital as well as Gulf Shores which they also seem to be near.
- Finally, they often on this show like to talk about Mobile like it is a big city with lots of amenities – it is nothing of the sort. It only has ~200,000 people, and I don’t think they have ever had a tapas place.
- “Hi, I’m Lavon Hayes and I’m itch free… where it counts”
- Addy is introduced as the nurse – she was in the previous episode though. They must have originally meant for this episode to run before the previous one
- Zoe/Earl: “I think you could use a nap” “Last time I tried that I got run over!”
- Lavon, Dash, George, and some other random dudes were playing basketball together?? Like George and Lavon sure… but Dash?
- Zoe: “I’ll take the whole bottle. To go.”
- “Pretty lady! This is goodbye” oh Earl, he is a gem. I feel for Wade and totally get it, but he is fairly harmless for a town drunk.
- Lavon was willing to risk the ridicule of doing the jock itch commercial just so Lemon wouldn’t get kicked out of the Memory Matrons.