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S5 E3
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Brace yourself, Nashville fans. This week’s episode mostly revolves around Maddie — as does the world, didn’t you know? It’s not pretty, but it’s definitely petty. Here we go … Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

First, let’s see what’s going on with another country-music gal with a bad attitude. Juliette is listening to demos to motivate her recuperation from the plane crash. It’s Glenn’s bright idea, of course; after all, he may be her friend/father figure, but above all things, he’s her manager. She’s having a morning, but Avery thinks she’s amazing! The poor guy is her personal servant and cheerleader.

She’s actually doing more cyberstalking than demo listening by scrolling through her “angel” Hallie’s Facebook page. (Hey there, theme of the season so far!) Conveniently for Juliette, when she Googles Hallie’s address, it pops up as the second item on her search. It’s not “15 Heaven Road, Heaven,” but it’s pretty close.

Elsewhere, Maddie is starting an internship at the recording studio where Avery works. It’s her parents’ smart plan to “slow her roll.” Bless them, such a hopeful pair. Basically, she’s in charge of pressing some buttons — four buttons, to be precise. She seems a little stressed by this.

Just when you thought Maddie was the only entitled brat in town, in walks YouTube sensation Ashley Willerman (Bridgit Mendler) — or, as Maddie describes her, the one “who makes those stupid YouTube videos” — to record her first album with Avery and Deacon. This should be interesting. Ashley’s discernibly cool: She’s only 21, has a hangover, and is wearing metallic pants. Avery’s exasperated from the get-go while Maddie is sent on a hangover-curing coffee run she obviously thinks she’s too good for. (The kid needs to watch The Devil Wears Prada and take some notes. We can all learn something from Meryl this week.)

On her way back from the coffee shop, Maddie spots a “dreamy” young man (Joseph David-Jones) playing guitar and singing to a small crowd on the sidewalk. Cue the meet-cute! She spills her coffee, and he comes over to say hi. I’ll bet the nonfat vanilla latte with caramel drizzle and extra whip Maddie just bought that either 1) he’s going to be the next addition to Highway 65, or 2) Maddie will stand in the way of his success because she wants him all to herself. It’ll probably be the latter for at least five episodes. It’s not long before cutie busker shows up at the recording studio to return Maddie’s lyric book she left at the coffee shop and drop off a demo — not for the studio, but for Maddie’s own personal collection.

Speaking of Highway 65, Rayna and Bucky have grand outlandish plans to get Scarlett and Gunnar’s careers back on track. They’re going to make a music video. Did you fall off your seat? The overeager and slightly creepy Randall St. Claire — Highway 65’s new social media and digital marketing manager — stops by to bring Rayna some gross-looking green drink and is very excited about The Exes’ new video. He tells them to stop by his cubicle on their way out to watch videos of kittens falling down stairs/other people singing to a camera.

Back at the studio, where Maddie’s been busy interning flirting, Avery is having a horrible time with Ashley, who has a very particular and grating way of singing. It makes your hairs stand on end in the wrong way, and even worse, the song actually gets stuck in your head. Deacon and Avery have this hilarious exchange:

Deacon: “What’s that thing she’s doing with her voice?
Avery: “It’s like what Britney Spears used to do.”
Deacon: “It sounds like she’s choking.”
Avery: “We’ve got to get rid of it.”

But when Avery asks Ashley about it, she tells him it’s “emotion” he’s hearing. Oh boy, it’s going to be a long day at the studio. Ashley’s not willing to listen to reason or anyone with any experience in the music business; she’s too hungry, poor lamb. She goes to ask Marcie (a.k.a. Maddie) to order some food. Here’s a weird moment: While Maddie’s rummaging in a drawer for menus, cutie busker boy reaches over her desk and either takes something or puts something there. This incident is never again addressed this episode, so I kind of feel like I’m just being paranoid and imagined the whole thing. Maybe the stalker theme is getting to me? Also weird: By the end of the episode, Maddie still hasn’t asked this kid his name.

NEXT: Nashville’s the name and stalking is the game

Juliette shows up at Hallie’s house unannounced, but luckily the church-singing do-gooder is happy to see her. They hug, and Hallie tells Juliette she almost called multiple times but was intimidated by the singer’s superstar status. Nonetheless, she’s been praying for her recovery and tells her to hold onto the “toe wiggle” — she’s seen miracles hang on less. After a few attempts to start her car, Hallie drives off leaving Juliette with the perfect idea to repay her for saving her life: She’ll buy her a new car. Not just any car, a souped-up SUV. Unsurprisingly, the gesture makes Hallie feel uncomfortable and she promptly makes Juliette return it to the dealership. Juliette’s flummoxed. Money solves all problems, no?

Meanwhile, Maddie’s surprising everyone by having a great attitude and really buckling down on the first day of her new internship. Oh, wait, she’s out on a lunch date with cute busker boy, complimenting his jewelry and hearing all about his dead mom. Maddie blows past this huge topic of conversation and instead asks if he ever performs for bigger crowds. He’s reluctant since he feels like people around here are trying to be someone they’re not. Maddie hears him … She’s so deep.

He asks her if she sings, too. “In another life,” says the newly enigmatic Maddie. Another life? What is she, 16? Inexplicably, he wants to see her again, and Maddie’s all “You know where to find me.” Then she tosses her hair, falls over, and drops the sandwiches. (Just kidding, that doesn’t actually happen. I’m just imagining fun scenarios. Maddie gets away unscathed.)

Back at the studio, Avery’s making precisely zero progress with Ashley. She’s adamant she has perfect pitch, which is clearly some next-level delusion. Poor Avery — all he does is deal with divas who think they know best. She tells him she knows what makes people like her music and doesn’t need him to tell her. (So why even hire a producer?) Avery’s not having it and calls her out for not really knowing anything about music and thinking it’s only about the videos. Someone should send a memo over to Highway 65 and let them know their new marketing ploy for The Exes lacks integrity.

Avery says she’s burying herself under all the garbage, but she’s an influencer and Avery’s not, so what does he even know about anything? Well, he knows Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan recorded at this studio and all she’s concerned about is using autotune. He tells her she needs someone to push the faders up and down, not a producer … and with that, he quits. Way to go, Avery! Can you throw a nonfat latte with caramel drizzle and extra whip over Maddie on your way out, too? He heads home to Juliette, whom he deems a “meek sparrow” by comparison, and officially files Ashley under the “life’s way too short” category — a filing system we should all have.

Season five Rayna is just a weirdo magnet. As she and Bucky are leaving work, a rando stops Rayna in the street and asks her to take his demo. Bucky steps in to tell him they don’t take unsolicited material — he’s been watching Mr. Robot, too, and knows taking CDs off men in the street is how hackers get into your system and corrupt all your data. The rather pushy stranger asks to take a pic instead; when Rayna tells him she’s in a rush to get back home to her daughter, he mutters, “That means she’s back home then.” Where are all these creeps coming from? Is there a convention in Nashville Music City Center or something?

Speaking of creeps, it’s after hours at Highway 65 and Randall’s still there, setting up Rayna’s Snapchat account — you know, something he couldn’t possibly do from home in less than three minutes. He then proceeds to steal a trinket box from Rayna’s desk with Maddie’s face on it. Great.

NEXT: Urine for a treat

Over at Juliette’s, she’s back to telling Avery she’s never going to get better and he can’t really want to live like this. We’ve been over this, Juliette. She’s sick of being patient when she knows she isn’t going to walk again. Hasn’t it only been, like, three weeks? She tells Avery she should’ve died in that plane crash, that he’d be better off, she’d be better off. She seems to have temporarily forgotten she has a baby, but then the little girl in question comes to the rescue. As Juliette changes her, Cadence pees on Juliette’s legs and she feels it! They’re all hugging and proud and not in a rush to clean up. Yay! Urine sure is playing a significant role this week, huh?

After a check-in with the doc, Juliette goes to apologize to Hallie. She tells her about regaining some feeling in her legs but says she’s worried it’ll go away again — she’s been a terrible person and doesn’t deserve it. But Hallie thinks God wanted her to have this chance to change, and that’s why she survived when no one else did. Juliette goes home and writes a song about being on her way and changing. It seems to be cathartic for her. I really hope Juliette’s next album is called “Music and Miracles: How an Angel Saved My Life.”

Meanwhile, Maddie has decided Ashley’s the worst person ever and a total diva. (She’s clearly suffering from amnesia and forgotten she sought emancipation from the world’s best parents last season.) Basically, she’s not a fan of being sent for coffee. Daphne gets it: “Isn’t that your job? You’re an intern.” Either that kid is smart beyond her years, or Maddie just keeps making her look better and better. Anyway, Maddie legit yells at Ashley and calls her a “total b-tch.” Pot, meet kettle. She gets fired from the gig that allowed her to take long breaks, flirt with cute boys, write lyrics and, oh yeah, GET PAID. Deacon wants to fix things, but he’s scared of even looking at Maddie in the wrong way in case she runs off again. Sounds like a solution to me.

It’s time for the Maddie/Deacon showdown. Maddie can’t accept being in the wrong and yells that she doesn’t want to play “slave” to some “ungrateful brat who’s not half as talented as I am.” This is the same girl who was overwhelmed by four buttons at the top of the episode. Deacon’s getting nowhere, so it’s time to bring in the big guns. Rayna tells Maddie she owes her dad an apology and has to make it right with him for distorting the truth in a court of law and saying horrible things about him (last season).

Finally, Maddie seeks out Deacon to apologize. She tells him she never believed the things she said about him in court, but she said them anyway because she felt trapped. Now she worries they can’t go back since there’s no way he can trust her after she lied like that. Luckily for Maddie, Deacon is obliged to love her super forgiving and says he wishes he’d been a better dad, but Maddie tells him she wouldn’t trade him for anything.

So, Maddie heads back to the recording studio to apologize to Ashley. They high-five and bump fists because they’re cool, teenage YouTube sensations. They’re totally going to be recording a duet by next episode. I don’t know if I can take it.

Tune in next week to find out cute busker boy’s name. (A quick IMDb search will reveal the answer, but why ruin the fun?)

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