Previously on Nashville: Rayna used her sheer stubbornness to pressure Deacon into writing a concept album with her; Avery was taking care of Juliette after her plane crash, and Juliette was trying to get in touch with her savior; Will suggested to Kevin that they look for a place together; Rayna got a dweeby social media assistant named Randall; and Maddie told the court that she feared for her safety around Deacon.
A newly platinum-blonde Juliette is on her laptop when Avery leaves her, asking if she’s sure she’ll be OK. She’s listening to demos, thinking about recording again at an unseen Glenn’s behest. The song she’s listening to now isn’t good because it requires a miniskirt and six-inch stilettos. “Sorry, I’m just having a morning,” she says. “You’re entitled to have a morning,” he says. Good, because she’s been having A Morning (and An Afternoon, and An Evening) almost every day for twenty-two years. It transpires that Avery’s gig, whatever it is, involves both Deacon and Maddie, who’s starting an internship at the studio in the hopes that it will calm her down. “Good luck keeping that genie in a bottle,” Juliette drawls. Heh. As soon as she’s alone, she goes back to Facebook stalking Hallie, her savior, who apparently doesn’t entirely understand Facebook privacy controls.
Maddie’s internship is apparently being a receptionist at this studio. She’s getting trained by a hipster lady who will never be seen again. She hugs Avery and thanks him for setting her up with the internship. Then she realizes that Ashley Willerman is here to record and laughs, “The one who makes all those stupid Youtube videos?” Yup, that’s the one. Avery says gently, “You might want to let her in.”
I suspect that the duties of an intern-slash-receptionist are going to majorly interfere with Maddie’s current lifestyle of being a gigantic brat twenty-four hours a day.
Avery and Deacon, meanwhile, don’t exactly look proud to be working with the Youtube star, who bounces in with an entourage, greets everyone happily, and then complains perkily about a hangover. She asks for coffee. Maddie is sent out to get it. “I will worship the ground you walk on,” says Ashley. Everyone exchanges judgy Looks.
While Maddie takes coffee orders from the producing room, Avery sets up with Ashley and she happily announces that she wants a certain song to be her single. Avery’s disinterest is palpable; he’ll barely meet her eyes. Everyone is acting like this girl is Tha Worst and so far she’s actually been totally polite to everyone. She asks for his thoughts, and he deflects by asking her about the “noise” on her songs. She has apparently recorded train sounds to put in her songs. Well, now we know why people are embarrassed to work with her, I guess.
I think it’s time for a Friends reference, because you can never have too many of those in a dark time:
OK, so anyway, Maddie listens through the glass as Ashley argues that she thinks her voice sounds good with the noises, and Avery, still talking in a near-monotone and focusing his eyes on the equipment so that he can make her feel maximally disrespected, says that “We talked about doing something more raw and unadorned.” Ashley says, “You talked about it.” She asks Deacon what he thinks, and Deacon says he’ll let them decide. Ashley says she likes it the way it is in the demo, and Maddie shakes her head disapprovingly and leaves.
I’M SORRY, but what is wrong with a young woman expressing an OPINION about her own damn WORK? This is clearly supposed to be an episode about how the Young Starlet is a Spoiled Brat, but in this scene, Avery seems like a huge jerk, Deacon seems like a wimp, and Maddie seems like a snotty teenager who is going to get her ass fired (spoilers, sorry).
Then at the coffee shop, this literally happens:
Barista: OK, so do you want extra whip on your nonfat vanilla latte with caramel drizzle?
Maddie: I have no idea what any of that means, so, go for it.
Let’s review, shall we? This young woman was born to a wealthy white family in the US in approximately the year 2000, and is acting like she has never heard the words “extra whip” or “vanilla latte” before AND is pretending she’s too stupid to figure out what they mean from context, merely in order to act like she is cooler than someone who would order an elaborate drink? Is this show seriously that lazy?
Anyway, Maddie oh so casually flips open her like Moleskine journal while paying for this coffee, and the barista asks if she’s a poet. “Today I am just an intern,” she says, then asks after the hottie playing a guitar outside. The barista commiserates with her on being an intern and on the hottie: “He’s dreamy, isn’t he? Just wait until you hear him sing.” (The barista is a boy, for those keeping score at home on how well CMT is doing with representation compared to ABC.)
Maddie walks outside with her tray of coffees and ogles the guitar-playing hottie so intently that she drops one of the coffees. He rushes over to help her pick it up, and asks where she’s going. She tells him where the studio is, and says, “Sorry I interrupted. You sound amazing.” Before she can leave, he asks her name, and she gives a big grin before telling him. He has a good voice, but I’m even more impressed with his accessories game. He is wearing a green jacket, a fun hat, and a bandanna, plus some jewelry. That’s how you know someone is a bohemian musician.
Juliette is rolling herself up to a house in the ‘burbs that she realizes has a porch. Emily, behind her, offers to help but Juliette refuses. Then Juliette’s rescuer, Hallie, comes out of the house and greets her happily, ignoring the fact that Juliette is basically stalking her at this point. She demurs when Juliette thanks her, but Juliette insists she was an angel. Hallie concludes this interlude by telling Juliette she’s praying for her. Juliette suggests that they get together, and Hallie agrees explains that she’s on her way to volunteer at the church. They hug good-bye. Hallie introduces herself to Emily on her way, which is a nice touch. Emily is wheeling Juliette back to her car when they witness Hallie attempting to start her finicky, old-ass car.
Scarlett and Gunnar are in a meeting at Highway 65 with Rayna and Bucky, discussing the possibility of doing a music video. It is hard to tell which of their hairdos is sillier. “As long as I get to wear clothes, I’m in,” Scarlett says. Randall interrupts to bring Rayna, and only Rayna, a green smoothie with pineapple juice in it to cut the bitterness, and the ever-Southern Rayna graciously introduces Randall to Scarlett and Gunnar. He has lots of ideas for them gleaned from The Internet, about which young people, you may have heard, are invariably experts.
Back at the studio, Maddie buzzes in her new friend, who somehow figured out that she left her notebook at the coffee shop and brought it to her. He gives her a tape, and she thinks it’s a demo and promises to get it into the right hands. But she’s wrong—it’s for her. Maddie smiles at him, utterly charmed.
In the recording studio, Ashley Willerman is recording her song while her friends film on their phones, her voice filled with vocal fry. Avery makes this exasperated face, rubbing his nose, while Deacon looks dubiously out from a pair of adorably nerdy glasses. He leans forward and asks, “What’s that thing she’s doing with her voice?” Avery compares it to Britney Spears. “Sounds like she’s chokin’,” says Deacon. The groupies agree, “Isn’t it awesome?” Avery says they have to get rid of it, and the groupies say that everyone loves it. Basically, Avery and Deacon are the present-day equivalent of a cranky uncle who shows up at Thanksgiving in the nineties to opine that that Madonna really oughtta put on some clothes, and rolled their eyes at anyone young and female in the family who happened to have a different opinion from them. But we’re supposed to be on their side, because, well, they’re Avery and Deacon.
Avery comes in and interrupts Ashley, who’s ecstatic, saying that it felt so good. Avery asks her to go again without that vocal thing that she’s doing. “Which vocal thing?” she says. When he explains, she says, “Oh. That’s called emotion.” Hah! Okay, that was funny. Avery concern-trolls her, saying, “You have a good voice, you don’t need to do all these vocal gymnastics.” Ashley storms out and asks Deacon what he thinks, and he hedges for a moment before admitting he agrees with Avery. She asks why they’re fighting her, and has to tell her groupies to stop filming. Then she asks for a break, saying she’s hungry. Her groupies follow her.
Outside, Maddie is doing a fabulous job on her first day as an intern, flirting with musician guy about his album. Then she is clearly offended when Ashley gets her name wrong. Ashley asks for a lunch menu; Maddie doesn’t know where they are because she’s been too busy flirting to learn her actual job, so Ashley tells her. Then she says, “There’s no vegan menu. I can’t eat any of this, this is like heart attack stuff. Could you please get me a vegan menu?” I’m transcribing this because, although it’s framed as a sort of “zomg the teenaged star is such a brat situation,” it actually includes a “please” and is in no way a criticism of Maddie. Nor does Ashley evince any disapproval about Maddie not knowing where the menus are. She is actually being, not charming, but perfectly professional towards Maddie and Avery, while Maddie is slacking off and Avery is making rude faces during Ashley’s recording. So whatever. I’m team Ashley and I don’t even care who knows it. Also, this show apparently doesn’t know what “vegan” means because this morning Ashley was drinking a (non-soy) latte.
At home, Juliette picks up her phone and it’s Hallie on the other end, a little shocked to have received the keys to a brand new SUV in the church parking lot. Juliette says it’s a gift. Hallie says she can’t accept it, and Juliette pushes her to do it, saying it’s just a car and she saved her life. Hallie admits that she’s uncomfortable, and asks Juliette to take the car back, and says she hopes it doesn’t make things weird between them. Juliette hangs up and says sadly for Emily to call the dealership and have them take the car back.
Maddie’s version of fetching a vegan menu for Ashley is to go to lunch herself with her new friend Clay. It comes up that one of his cute bracelets was made by his mom in a transitional program for homeless people, and that she’s now dead. Maddie also compliments his performance and says that more people should hear him sing. Then he asks about her and her notebook full of lyrics. She gets a text and realizes she has to go. Um, yeah, because it’s your job. Clay asks if he can see her again, and she says he knows where to find her: in other words, “Please come flirt with me at my place of work.”
Back at the studio Ashley is singing, slightly less energetically. Avery tries to get her to turn off her reverb because it’s interfering with her finding her pitch, and she sinks into a chair and says it’s fine. “Actually, it’s a little under, at the moment,” Avery says, which… isn’t the word “flat”? Ashley suggests autotune, and says she doesn’t need him to tell her why people like her music. Avery pulls her into the recording area, and says she doesn’t know why people like her, and that she thinks it’s all the videos, but that she has talent and she doesn’t need to be afraid people won’t like her for her voice. He tells her not to bury it under garbage. She argues that her garbage has given her fifteen million followers and consistently viral videos. He says that this is an album, not a video, and asks her if she wants to be great like Buddy Holly and everyone else who has filmed in this room. Ashley looks upset and says, “What I want is the goddamn reverb, okay?” So Avery stomps off and announces he’s leaving. He tells Ashley she doesn’t need a producer, just an engineer who can push the levers up and down.
Just then Maddie arrives back with the food and says, “I am so sorry that took so long, they were so busy.” Maddie is THE WORST, guys. This is her first day at an internship and she is already the nightmare employee that everyone is afraid their intern will turn out to be: rude to customers, acting like her job is beneath her, and doing it REALLY SLOWLY because she’s too busy flirting. Anyway, she hands the food to poor Ashley, who then objects that it’s not whole wheat and she’s already waited for an hour, and she’s about to pass out in a diabetic coma. She says everyone thinks she’s kidding about her blood sugar. So Deacon gives her his sandwich, and says he’s not that hungry. How lucky that Deacon, Mr. Down-Home American Dude, happened to order a whole wheat sandwich! Ashley looks a lot more guilty for taking Deacon’s freely offered sandwich than Maddie does for slacking off on getting a diabetic girl her lunch and then messing up the order, by the way. #TeamAshley
That evening, Rayna and Bucky leave the studio chatting about Gunnar and Scarlett’s videos when they’re accosted by a man with a demo. He asks for a picture when they refuse, and finally Rayna agrees to this. He mentions something about Maddie being back home, and Rayna frowns and tells Bucky that she hopes the internship works out so that they can all get back to normal.
FAT CHANCE, is all I can say. Maddie’s at home complaining to Daphne and Deacon about Ashley. Daphne’s sort of rolling her eyes and asks if she’s really that bad. Deacon, oh-so-generously, says, “She’s got a lot on her plate.” Maddie rants that her videos are stupid and she was bossing Maddie around all day. “Isn’t that your job?” says Daphne. “You’re an intern. That’s literally what you get paid to do.” Daphne, will you be my best friend?
Just then Rayna arrives home in time to hear Maddie flounce off, saying that Daphne clearly knows more about it than she does. (Which is… true.) Left alone, the parents wryly confer. Deacon says it wasn’t a great start and then says sarcastically, “Ashley Willerman’s the smartest person in the world, you didn’t know that? … Never gets anything wrong, always right.” For God’s sake, it’s her album. I don’t feel like when Deacon records he just does whatever the hell the producer says, you know? But then again, he’s an adult male so of course he’s allowed to have an opinion without everyone shitting their pants over it. At least he recognizes that Maddie didn’t help the situation.
Back at home, a tired Avery grabs a beer and tells Juliette she’s a “meek sparrow” beside Ashley. Um, I’ve already expressed enough opinions about this, so let’s just move on. Then Juliette tells him about buying Hallie the car, and says it was stupid. Avery makes a sympathetic grimace and says, “Why would you think she’d want a car?” Excellent question. “Don’t rub it in, OK?” Juliette says, “I’m an idiot, it’s obvious.” Then she switches back to her favorite subject, the fact that she doesn’t think Avery wants to be with someone in a wheelchair. He reminds her to be patient because it’s not forever. Juliette says she’s sick of being patient and that she’s never going to get better, and that he’s be better off if she’d died in the plane crash. “Don’t ever say that!” Avery begs her. Then Cadence starts crying, and Juliette insists on going to get her, leaving Avery teary-eyed on the couch.
After a bit he comes in while Juliette’s changing Cadence. He tells her that if she can’t see her way through, he’ll see it. Then Juliette says, “She just peed on my legs. And I felt it!” Um… what a magical moment? “I felt it!” she cries again. They smile at Cadence, and then touch foreheads, both crying happily. It’s pretty cute for a scene that revolves around rogue urination.
Back at the studio the next morning, Deacon is recording his part, and Ashley stops him and says it didn’t have enough energy. Deacon looks annoyed, but won’t admit it. “You say play, I say how loud, that’s all I’m doing today,” he says. Well, that and trading passive-aggressive glances with the other guitarists. Ashley sinks down onto the couch, frustrated. Then Maddie comes in and asks if a coffee will cheer her up. Ashley looks at her and says, “I don’t eat whipped cream!” Then she says she hopes Maddie isn’t making a career out of this, which IMO is the first time she’s been out of line this entire episode. Maddie loses her temperature and asks Ashley why she’s treating everyone like this, and acting like a bitch. “Get out,” says Ashley. “Gladly,” says Maddie. The groupies look at each other, clearly delighted with the show. “I don’t want to see you back here, and I’m gonna tell your boss about you,” Ashley says.
When Deacon calls to tell Rayna about it, Rayna fingers an old arts-and-crafts jewelry box with a picture of Maddie on it and says, “Lordy.” Deacon says he’ll talk to “Gary” and see if he can salvage it, but that he’s afraid to talk to Maddie because he’s afraid she’ll run off again. “What she did to you was dead wrong, but you are still her father,” says Rayna, who has conveniently forgotten any revelation she may have had last season that it actually might be frightening to kids when their parents are self-destructive alcoholics with temper issues.
At the Bro Castle, Avery stops by to get his coffee grinder. Will tosses them all a beer to celebrate that he and Kevin are moving in together, and they’re looking for a place. Gunnar’s already heard about him quitting on Ashley. They tease that he’s a “wacko magnet”: Sadie Stone who “killed a guy” (her abusive ex-husband, but who’s counting?), Layla (fair enough), and Ashley. Avery tells them about Juliette getting the feeling back in her legs, and they congratulate him sincerely. Gunnar suggests he focus on himself now. “Who the hell is that?” says Avery with a weak smile. “I don’t remember.”
Juliette has shown up at Hallie’s door again to apologize for making her uncomfortable. I’m sure the uninvited drop-by will help. She starts to cry and says she has no right to talk to Hallie about this. “Are you kidding?” says the saintly Hallie, sitting down to listen to Juliette. Juliette tells her that she’s getting her feeling back in her legs, but that she’s afraid she doesn’t deserve it. “I’ve been a terrible person in my life,” she says, “and I’ve never cared about anyone but me. Why did I survive when everybody else didn’t?” Hallie takes what I think is the courageous route; instead of simply reassuring Juliette that she’s a good person, she accepts this at face value and says, “I think that someone wanted you to have a chance to change.” Then she basically suggests Juliette ask God for help. It’s preachy, but also, it feels more realistic to have at least a couple genuinely religious characters on a show about country music. Also, Hayden Panettiere’s acting is phenomenal.
In the Jaymes kitchen, Deacon asks Maddie to talk about the fact that she got fired so quickly. “You really tihnk I planned on working in a recording studio the rest of my life?” Maddie says. I mean, no, but how about the rest of the week, kiddo? Deacon says, “I was taught you do your best at everything you do,” and tells Maddie that she was out of line. “She was mean to you too,” Maddie says. Deacon points out, not inaccurately but with an unattractive hint of self-pity, that Maddie usually doesn’t care about that. After an awkward moment he adds that she can have her job back if she apologizes to Ashley. Maddie, to put it gently, does not seem open to this idea.
Later that night, Rayna knocks on Maddie’s door while she’s doing homework on her bed, and asks her what happened. Maddie exclaims that she’s not going to apologize to Ashley when she doesn’t mean it. Then Rayna says, like the SUBLIME IDIOT that she is, “I’m not worried about Ashley right now. I’m worried about your dad. You gotta make things right with him. It’s time and he deserves it.”
Once again, LET’S REVIEW. Today, Maddie got herself fired for doing a shit job at her brand-new internship that friends of the family pulled strings to get her. And Rayna is going to use this as an opportunity to… make her apologize to the man Rayna married despite Maddie’s stated concern about his temper. (And yes, Maddie clearly was lying about being actively afraid of Deacon, and that was just one in a long line of stupid and shitty things she did that year, but the way Rayna makes it all about Deacon’s feelings instead of trying to figure out why Maddie does the things she does is such a classic move on her part.)
So, anyway: Rayna goes on and on about how much Deacon loves her and how much she hurt him, and that she’s lucky to have a father who loves her. Maddie appears slightly touched by this.
Daphne’s reading by a flashlight in her bed when Maddie comes in and climbs in next to her. “Can I ask you something?” she says. “Am I turning into a bitch?” Daphne gives her an adorably knowing smile and says, “A little.” Maddie sighs and they smile at each other. It’s super cute. Daphne is my favorite person on this show.
Bucky’s leaving the office late when he sees Randall, who says he’s setting up Rayna’s Snapchat account. As soon as Bucky leaves, he goes into Rayna’s office, fingers the jewelry box, and takes it. You know how it seemed like this show had too many characters last season and that was why there were some really underdeveloped plotlines? Now it turns out that getting rid of Luke and Layla has left a little too much room, if they’re filling it with subplots about random dweeby interns who steal homemade jewelry boxes.
Back at the Jaymes mansion, Deacon is messing around on his guitar when Maddie comes in and compliments his playing. She pulls up a chair and says that at the trial, she never believed the things she said, but she said them because she felt trapped. She cries and says she feels like they could never go back and he’ll never trust her again. Deacon thanks her, tearing up, and says he’s not blameless, that he’s a hothead and should’ve been a better dad. Can he maybe send that memo to Rayna? Maddie puts her arms around him, and they hug.
Avery pushes Juliette into the house after a doctor’s visit, expositing that the surgeon said she would walk again. Juliette promises she will get to a happy place about this, and that she’ll be fine while Avery goes to get his stuff from Gunnar’s. Then he spins around and asks what they are. She says she’s not sure, and asks if he’s OK with that. He says no, but he doesn’t seem upset about it.
Left alone, she sings and plays on the keyboard about her newfound desire to pray.
Montage time! Maddie and Deacon hold hands as they walk to the studio. Avery packs up his stuff in his studio and finds some pictures of himself performing. Maddie apologizes to Ashley, who smiles and gives her a fist bump. Avery picks up his pen and begins to write in his lyrics notebook. Maddie emerges from the cafe and Clay tells her he’s written a song about her, but she says she can’t hear it right now and he can play it for her after work instead. Yay, newfound responsibility! The episode finishes with Juliette singing, “I’m on my way.”
Well, I think I’ve made my feelings about this episode pretty clear. It was sloppy and lazy in the writing, and worse, it was sexist as hell. And we’ve seen this plot where Maddie starts to become a better person too many times, only to have her turn back itno the same old brat again. Meanwhile, though, I actually do find Juliette’s story interesting. She’s acting the hell out of it, and as I mentioned, the lack of mention of religion in the first four seasons was somewhat unrealistic for a show about country music singers. The Randall storyline is stupid, but since I’m writing this recap several weeks late I have the comfort of knowing it wraps up reasonably quickly. So… C plus?
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