George & Tammy (Episode 2): The hardest feat, perhaps–while reliving a doomed romance of famous people in a real-life chronicle–is to not hope for a better outcome for the two. It is quite telling of the alarming complexities of the human psyche when we expect the story to take a brighter, more wholesome turn when we know for a fact that it isn’t heading anywhere good. But such is human nature. And although she didn’t necessarily know how her relationship with George was going to be, Tammy’s hope for a fairytale love and a lasting romance indubitably generated from the same hope that has been perpetually pushing mankind to take a leap of faith.
“Stand By Your Man” is the early sign of trouble in paradise. Country music pioneers George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s historic romance had a lightning-speed introduction and progression on the first episode of the Showtime miniseries. They met, fell in love, and eloped as fast and as impulsively as you would expect. Shocking no one but hurting many, episode two comes as the inflexible eye-opener that was bound to be caused by the recklessness that is the trademark facet of bigshot artists.
George & Tammy (Episode 2) “Stand by Your Man” Recap
We are reminded of the sad state of women back in the 60s America when George couldn’t just “steal a man’s wife.” He spent the night in his home alone so as not to subject Tammy and her children to the harassment of Don and the police that stood outside his house all night. Getting engaged at the breakfast table in a local diner, the couple is recognized by the waitress, who as it turns out, is a fan and will keep her mouth shut. Despite the waitress’ reassurance, Tammy knows that a scandal like this will ruin her career, while it will be just another anecdote for George. George proposes that they run away to Mexico, where Tammy can divorce Don and marry her new man on the same day. Things are looking up for the country couple. The lovers of love and the flocks of fans are rooting for their electric romance.
Right before a duet, George plays a romantic hero on the stage and declares his undying love for Tammy. They may be breaking the law, but the passionate crowd’s cheering welcomes the songbirds with open arms and no judgment. George wastes no time, and before Tammy’s reputation can be harmed, he takes her to Mexico, and the two get married. Tammy’s music producer Billy sees the goldmine that can be exploited if George and Tammy start singing duets for his label. They’re incredibly loved even as individual artists, and with their love being the latest talk of the town, their duets will be massive hits.
Standing in the way of the couple singing together is George’s ongoing contract with Pappy. If he is to back out of it now, he will be giving up a huge sum of money. And if one thorn in the path wasn’t enough, the lawyer comes back with the grim news that George and Tammy’s marriage isn’t legal. The state of Tennessee refuses to recognize divorces done in Mexico. Therefore, Tammy is still legally married to Don. Billy urges George to look over and appreciate Tammy’s sacrifices and tells him that it is time that he, too, lets go of things that are standing in the way of the two being together. Richey offers his help in sorting out the legal issues of their marital status if George reconsiders his stance on which label he would sing for.
Don’s greed follows Tammy, and he shows up to blackmail her using the pictures he had clicked of Tammy in the shower. He threatens Tammy with complete ruin if she doesn’t convince George to sing a couple of his songs.
Haphazard, with the fear that if George sees the pictures, he will leave her, and her life will be a complete mess, Tammy pleads to the non-existent good side of Don. But the scorned ex-husband isn’t one to budge. Under the pretense that if George sings the songs written by Tammy’s ex, his fans will be all over it, Tammy tries to convince George to give Don’s songs a chance. But George understandably doesn’t know the urgency of the situation and doesn’t want to be involved with Don at all.
However dark their future will be, George loves Tammy at the moment. He loves her enough to bid adieu to Pappy and his record contract with the label. In exchange for his freedom to sing duets with his wife, George gives up everything he owns, including his own house. Instead of coming clean about it right away, George hopes that the old house he bought will impress Tammy. But seeing that Tammy is expressively unhappy that he bought an old house in the middle of nowhere, George opens up about his sacrifices. The couple who is now broke forget their worries in love’s embrace with the hope that making money will be just as easy as losing it.
George & Tammy (Episode 2): Ending Explained
The honeymoon phase comes to an end pretty quickly for George and Tammy. He falls right back into his pattern of destructive alcoholism and awful behavior. One instance of losing in a simple board game on the tour bus ends with him flipping the table and storming off. Love doesn’t change a person, and Tammy realizes it soon enough with her inebriated husband wrecking the hotel room and shoving her on the wall in a rage.
Afraid of her safety, Tammy runs out, and George is too drunk to chase her without tipping over. Her protective instinct still draws her to him to ensure he’s okay, but she gets a handle on it quickly. Tammy had always known of George’s demons, but she had hoped he would stay sober. And even if he didn’t, she at least didn’t expect him to lay a hand on her. Panicked, Tammy calls Billy, and before she can beg him for help, Billy congratulates her on being Mrs. Jones. The news of her marriage finally being legal couldn’t come at a worse time for Tammy. She didn’t wait long enough after her previous divorce and got married to Don before the legal period of separation was over. That effectively dissolves any credibility of her marriage with Don and subsequently makes George and Tammy’s marriage perfectly legal and acceptable.
Set straight by the news, Tammy comes back to George the following morning. Echoing the tell-tale signs of manipulative apologia, George once again makes a promise that he evidently will not be able to keep. He assures Tammy that if she decides to stay with him, he will give up alcohol. Standing in the room still holding the haunting reminders of last night’s chaos, Tammy recalls her running away from abusive, controlling partners. A pensive reminiscence of her own mother having her institutionalized and forcing her to get electrotherapy when she tried to leave her first husband takes over Tammy on top of the depressing realization of her current state. She’s once again in love with “just a man”-and his one word of love can still make her stay.
Singing for all the women of her time with the problematic morality stance of endurance, Tammy begins recording one of her biggest hits, “Stand By Your Man.” With George’s abuse still on her mind, she can’t understand why the woman in the song will continue to stay and love her man. She works with Billy and walks through the lyrics with her own justification for staying in a toxic relationship. Turning it into a song that she needs to convince herself that she should stick around and love George, Tammy sings the tunes of the unconditionality of women’s love that overcomes the hard times.
While Tammy records her hit, George makes good on his promise to protect her from any harm that comes her way. She had perhaps confided in him the morning of their reconciliation that Don was blackmailing her. George breaks into Don’s house to beat him up, retrieve the pictures and save his wife’s reputation. With the photographs burning, Tammy’s doubts about George turn to ash. The couple once again chooses to let love take over. But if we know anything about George’s catastrophic patterns of self-destruction, their happiness will be as fleeting as their dreams of a fairytale marriage.