Who knew making a music video would be no fun?

By Ruth Kinane
January 26, 2017 at 10:00 PM EST
Mark Levine/CMT


S5 E5
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Guys, the making of The Exes’ hotly anticipated, groundbreaking music video is happening. I, for one, am very excited — Making the Video is only the best MTV show ever — so let’s get right to it.

The set for the video is a beautiful plantation-style mansion. Fancy English director man, Damien, is prepped and ready to tell the story of the woman “who is wild” and “who acts out her daydreams and her mood swings upon the world.” (He really got all that from the song about a girl with golden, or maybe just blue, eyes?) Anyway, in order for Scarlett to release all that crazy, or whatever, she needs to be dressed in a barely-there, “more of a slip than a dress” silk number. She is not pleased. Then again, when you really think about it, when is Scarlett ever really pleased? At least her eye makeup matches Gunnar’s.

Down at Highway 65, Bucky is telling Rayna a list of costs the music video will incur (doesn’t she have an accountant?) when she notices that her trinket box with Maddie’s face on it is missing. She seems to know exactly where to look for it (she doesn’t even pause to check if it fell on the floor) as she heads straight to Randall’s drawer. What follows actually hurts to talk about. I truly feel bad I ever mocked sweet Randall and his excitement over discovering YouTube. When Bucky and Rayna confront him about stealing Ray’s trinket box, he breaks down crying and explains he only took it as a souvenir for his mom, so she’d believe that he and Rayna are friends. SEE? NOT A BIG DEAL AT ALL. Actually, it’s kind of sweet. It’s so pitiful to watch, but it’s also oddly endearing, and I’m totally not tearing up. When Bucky questions him about the letters (there have apparently been four or five sent offscreen by this point) and flowers, Randall has no idea what he’s talking about. To double check, Detective Buck has him write, “Their friends are sitting over there,” testing his handwriting and grammar, since the stalker apparently couldn’t get “there,” “their,” and “they’re” right. Don’t you just hate that in a stalker? If you’re going to write persistent letters, at least make sure they’re eloquent and correct. Anyway, Randall passes on both counts — yay for basic grammar skills — but Rayna still thinks they should fire him. Sob.

Back to video! Scarlett is downing wine, tossing her glass over her shoulder and crawling across a fully set dinner table to get to Gunnar, who looks so creepy in his eyeliner and gelled-down hair that I’m not surprised Scarlett yells cut before she reaches him. She feels really weird and needs her “pleasure-seeking, destructive” persona explained to her. Damien just tells her to dig deeper.

Elsewhere, Maddie and cutie busker boy Clayton are listening to music in his car. He impresses her with artists she’s never heard of and then suggests they go check out Jo’s — a bar that probably isn’t the “best place” for a girl like Maddie, but his are some sweet tunes. So they go, and Clayton is quickly ushered onstage to perform. Maddie is smitten. For once, I can’t blame her; the boy can sing.

Later, he takes her to an old, disused parking lot (it’s not as sinister as it sounds) to give her a brief history lesson on The Grand Ole Opry and its humble beginnings. Maddie asks him why he likes all of this history so much, and he explains that he was a bit wild before he went to live with his grandpa, who taught him to play guitar to instill some discipline. He’s in the middle of telling her the rest of his story about his mom’s death, etc., when Maddie leans in and kisses him (rude), but he pulls away, telling her she’s underage and it’s illegal. Awkward. But later, when he calls her and she plays him a song she’s working on, he tells her to come over and play it for him in person because it’s too good to hear any other way. Talk about mixed signals. Clearly Maddie is confused, as once she finishes playing him her song she goes in for the kiss again. He pushes her away AGAIN. He tells her that he wants them to get to know each other better (that’s going to be hard since she keeps interrupting his stories to kiss him), but Clay’s real issue with them being together is a racial one. He doesn’t get how she doesn’t see it as a problem that he’s black and she’s white, calls her out for her life of privilege, and pretty much kicks her out. Ouch.

NEXT: Tempers rise on set

Back on set, Scarlett’s no fun having no fun. Damien wants her to let loose and get feisty, but she’s struggling to grasp what he means, until she seems to get it all too well and slaps Gunnar in the face — well, she did threaten to do it earlier in the season; maybe this experience will be cathartic after all. It’s a wrap on day one, and Damien and Gunnar head to a whiskey bar to celebrate. Scarlett gives Gunnar a death stare when he asks if it’s cool that he goes and tells ask him coldly, “Why would I care?” Eek, don’t do it, Gunnar.

But he does. At the bar, Gunnar and Damien shoot whiskey and share boyhood tales. Damien says everything he knows, he learned when he was 14 and ditching class to watch the newest American release. Why am I not surprised he hasn’t learned anything since he was 14? He goes on a bit about voyeurism being the key to cinema before asking Gunnar to define his relationship with Scarlett. He shares very little with the director other than that he messed up a little, thinks she’s saintlike, and wonders where they’d be if he hadn’t convinced her to put her poems to music, but you can tell it’s going to come back to bite him in the ass later. Hell hath no wrath like a woman forced to be a music video she doesn’t like.

The next day on set, Scunnar is waltzing. Scarlett is supposed to be making Gunnar jealous, but Damien doesn’t buy it and is frustrated that Scarlett isn’t cutting it as a seductress. She’s holding back. She tells him that the things he wants her to do and the way he wants her to move are degrading. Director boy disagrees and thinks embracing her sexuality is empowering, à la Isadora Duncan and Madonna, and she should just own it. Scarlett doesn’t want to own it. She doesn’t see why she should listen to a dude who has “screwed-up views about women all being secret sexpots” and who believes he’s on a “spiritual journey to awaken all of them.” For someone who claims to always be nice to everyone and always do things to make other people happy, Scarlett sure lets rip at Damien, calling him out for his privileged upbringing and oppressive attitude toward women.

She heads outside for some air, followed by creepy-eyelinered Gunnar. She tells him she’s okay with being super nice to everyone (but mean to Gunnar all the time) and pretty much perfect and doesn’t need to change that, when Damien interrupts to say there’s method in his madness. He just needs her to trust him enough to give in to it. I have a feeling they’ll come to an artistically rewarding compromise by the end of the shoot.

Elsewhere, Clay’s screening Maddie’s texts, so she goes over to Juliette’s place for advice. Miss Barnes — who can now lift her left leg a little bit — tells Maddie that if a guy isn’t treating you right, you take him at face value and move on; it doesn’t mean there’s some sweeter, nicer version of him under there and it’s your job to try to find him. (I wish I’d known Juliette during my last breakup.) She does concede that screwed-up men are sexy, though — we’ve all been there — and that they might have a greater purpose.

Speaking of screwed-up men, Clay is busking out on the street when two seemingly racist white dudes approach him and demand that he play “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Oh, boy. They’re demeaning and gross and won’t take no for an answer, and and next thing we know, Maddie is discovering a beaten-up Clay back at his apartment. She calls 911 and spends the next few hours waiting for him at the hospital. When he finally emerges, Clay tells Maddie that he thinks they should go their separate ways and that he’s not a normal person because he suffers from severe mood swings. Maddie realizes he has bipolar disorder and suggests medication, but Clay tells her he can’t take meds because they make him unable to feel anything, and he can’t write or sing like that. Maddie, once more, isn’t listening; she thinks he’s scared of his feelings for her. He asks her what she sees happening. Does she want him to walk up to her door and say, “Hi, Mom, hi, Dad, I’m your daughter’s broke-ass older boyfriend, and by the way, I’m off my meds.” That is exactly what Maddie wants, because she cares about him “so much” — I believe it’s been two weeks since they met, but such is the life and love of teenagers. He leaves with a limp, but later shows up at her door to introduce himself to the parents in a button-down and nice jacket. Aw, he’s super cute, and I can’t help but be happy for an overjoyed Maddie.

NEXT: And the stalker is…

When Rayna stops by the shoot, she immediately notices that Scarlett is upset, but when she brings it up to billionaire Zach, he blows it off, saying they have to give Damien the freedom to do his thing. Day one as business partners and they’re already clashing… Meanwhile, Will (who doesn’t currently have a storyline since his breakup with Kevin) is chilling outside at the video shoot, where he strikes up a conversation with Zach, who tries to hook him up with some contact he has at the New York Times. Will’s flattered but turns him down. Meddling Zach puts his number in Will’s phone (even straight men can’t resist Mr. Lexington this season, it seems) and tells him to reach out whenever.

Back inside, it’s time for the big showdown — but first a meltdown. While Gunnar is tied to the headboard of the bed, Damien is fed up with Scarlett’s meek ways. He pretty much yells at her that she’ll never be famous if she doesn’t take her pain and desire and lay it bare. He also brings up her poetry, thereby landing Gunnar in it (while he’s tied to a bed and can do little to defend himself or comfort Scarlett) and tells her to stop acting like a doormat. Anyway, he says enough to provoke Scarlett, as she screams at both of them to shut up, and suddenly the cameras are rolling and she’s contorting her body into weird positions and smudging her lipstick while getting up close and personal with a dirty mirror. Mostly she looks furious; her nostrils are actually flaring a little. After they wrap, Damien’s full of praise for Scarlett, but she’s having none of it. She asks him what gives him the nerve to treat people that way. All Damien has to say is, “Wait until you see the video.” Eyebrow raise. Curtains. BUT CAN WE ACTUALLY SEE THE VIDEO, PLEASE?

At home, Gunnar is making pancakes — sweet and savory — and raising his coffee cup to the video finally being over. Scarlett’s in a mood because Gunnar told Damien about their past, and she’s worried people will think she’s a weak person for taking him back. Hold up. She dumped him and broke his heart, and then he dated other people while she was almost getting engaged to a doctor. I’m not totally sure why she gets to be the injured party here? Anyway, he apologizes and tells her she’s “so damn strong” and he’s thankful for that everyday. Scarlett doesn’t look fully convinced.

And now, the big moment! Rayna and Bucky are chitchatting over the costs of the video (it went over on time every day — good one, Scarlett) when a man tries to rush up to Rayna, asking if she got his letters. It’s the same dude from episode 3 who tried to give her a demo, asked to take a photo with her, and made a creepy comment about Maddie being home again. He’s a bigger guy than Bucky and on a fervently impassioned mission, but somehow the Buckster still manages to usher him out as Rayna yells to call 911.

That can’t be the end of the stalker saga though, right? If it is, it’s a little anticlimactic. I really wanted there to be bigger conspiracy going on here, including Zach and Randall — but not Randall anymore, because he’s adorable and I don’t want any trouble for him. Oh well, I guess we’ll see how it all plays out next week.

Episode Recaps


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