Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 21

Nashville Recap: Hashtag Stressed

Need to catch up? Check out the previous Nashville recap here.

Are you there, Luke Wheeler? It’s me, a troubled Nashville enthusiast.

Before you say anything, yes. I was one of the people routinely calling you out as a ridiculous corporate whore who’d slap his name on anything for the right price. Yes, I often mocked you for talking about your “brand” and “Luke Wheeler Worldwide” (whatever that was) and all of that ridiculousness.

But now I see the terrible truth of it all: You above anyone else in Music City could’ve helped avert the crisis that arises in this week’s episode, an hour that finds Maddie balking against a sponsor’s demands that she change her song in order to achieve corporate synergy, or some other buzzword that doesn’t mean anything but gets thrown around boardrooms.

Anyway, my point is: You would’ve HAPPILY handed over creative rights to your songs in order to hawk vacuum cleaners or acne gel (“Luke Wheeler’s Wheelin’ Dealin’ Dryin’ Ointment!”) or God knows what. And if by some machinations you’d been a Highway 65 artist by now, you could’ve helped save Rayna’s beloved label.

Instead, Maddie raises a fuss, Deacon backs her up (don’t worry, I’ll take everyone to task about this later in the recap), and pretty soon the whole thing turns into a folie a deux that has all of the H65 artists voting for Zach to take his money elsewhere — even though it means the probable end of the record company.

Anyway, Luke, can’t we just let bygones be bygones? Call me, cool? And in the meantime, let’s review the highlights of “Farther On.”

A RETURN TO FORM (AGAIN) | Maddie is jazzed to be the face of a makeup brand called Mascara 24… until she has to actually be the face of Mascara 24. She complains about the wardrobe fittings and hair/makeup tests, then has more than her share of diva moments on set once the commercial begins filming. Sure, the director is stereotypically over the top, and I’m sure that having water rained down on you for hours at a time isn’t the most fun a person can have, but COME. ON. Millions of people are going to hear your song, girl! After such a successful U-turn in the character earlier this season, it’s really disappointing to see her bratty side return in full force. It’s even more disappointing that we’re supposed to feel bad for her, and that’s before the corporate ridiculousness starts in full force.

The Mascara 24 CEO is hell bent on getting Maddie to change some of the lyrics in her song so that she literally sings the name of the brand during the commercial. On the one hand, I get it: The request is lame, it’s silly and it makes absolutely no sense. One the other hand, it is not the kind of request that should cause a person to have a “total meltdown” (Zach’s words, not mine) and to leave the set for the day. The news sends Deacon running home from a rehearsal for his Grand Ole Opry performance.

“It’s my daughter,” Deke apologetically tells his backup band, and they fully understand, but I’m pretty sure they’re finishing that sentence with “she’s been in a car accident” or “she’s missing” or “she’s ill” and not “the water was a little chilly at her huge cash-grab commercial shoot and she’s being rather precious about the words to her song.”

Anyway, Deacon is FAR more understanding than I am, and though he approaches Mads about going along with what the makeup CEO wants, he ultimately backs up her refusal to comply with the company’s ask. But when Deke breaks the news to Zach and Alyssa, a furious Zach points out that the contract Deacon signed allows Mascara 24 to demand whatever lyric/music/whatever changes it wants. Oops.

Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 21Zach, frustrated to what seems like the point of tears, says that if Deacon can’t get Maddie in line, “I am done.” He’s ready to exercise that clause he and Rayna agreed to; once he officially gives his notice, he’ll be gone in 90 days. “And at the end of that 90 days,” he adds sadly, “Highway 65 will be out of money.”

LADIES LOVE COOL AVERY | Let’s take a break from the angst by joining Avery and Gunnar on tour. They’re having a great time — despite Avery having to field typically irate calls from Juliette every now and then — and hanging out a lot with a backstage worker (tour manager?) named Molly. Molly is the epitome of the cool rocker girl: She’s breezy and pretty, she drinks with the boys and flirts up a storm, particularly with Avery. She also doesn’t think much of Juliette’s dependence on her man, and makes it clear that if Avery ever wants to forget about his familial duties, she’s ready and willing. (Or, at least, I think that’s what she says to him in their last scene together. I was completely distracted by the sheerness of her shirt. Is it incredibly cold on that tour bus?)

Speaking of boobs, perhaps my favorite moment in the entire hour is when Gunnar excitedly signs a fan’s chest outside a venue, and then he and Avery exchange wordless looks that made me laugh out loud. Take that, surly Grandma! And my second favorite moment is when Juliette and Avery share a very sweet, loving, longing-filled call near the end of the hour.

DONE DEAL | Back in Music City, Deacon calls a meeting of the Highway 65 artists: Will, Scarlett, Maddie and Gunnar (via FaceTime). (Deke explains that he’ll talk to Juliette and Hallie later.) He explains Maddie’s situation and what will happen if she doesn’t acquiesce to the lyrics change, then announces “Now is the time we have to figure out what we believe” and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of artistic integrity.

Maddie, who seems to have realized exactly what a crapstorm she’s kicked up, quickly says that she’ll just do what Mascara 24 wants, but Deacon says she doesn’t have to. “I agree,” Scarlett quickly pipes up, and OF COURSE YOU DO, SCARLETT. Gunnar is also of the mind that Maddie shouldn’t have to go along with Zach’s plan. I hold out hope that Will will be the voice of reason, but nope: He’s on board, too, and agrees that he’ll go along with whatever decision Deacon makes.

You’re telling me that not one of those singer/songwriters had a self-interest-related thought about the label going under for such a comparatively small reason? OH WAIT, WE HAVEN’T HEARD FROM JULIETTE. “What, we’re all supposed to suffer because Maddie won’t budge on a few lyrics?” she asks incredulously. THAT’S MY GIRL.

Deacon is a tired, stressed, confused mess by the time Jessie shows up at Highway 65 and orders him to get into her car. Perhaps recalling their discussion in the last episode about how being outdoors helps him clear his head, she drives him to a state park and forces him to take an hour by himself in nature. He’s angry at first but eventually simmers down and is able to relax, confiding in her that he’s just trying to do right by Rayna’s dream.

Nashville Recap Season 5 Episode 21Anyway, he eventually gives an angry Zach the news that Highway 65 is done with branding in all its forms, and that if that means he’s going to take his money and run, so be it. Then, Deacon plays the Opry for the first time as a lead artist — though he’s performed there hundreds of times with Rayna as part of her band — and sings the song he wrote for their concept album way back at the beginning of the season.

Deke has a great set, and the crowd is enthusiastically on its feet by the time he leaves the stage. Zach, who’s standing in the wings with Alyssa, notices. And when Deacon comes off and hugs his daughters, then moves on to hug a proud Jessie, Daphne notices that with no small amount of displeasure.

OH, AND ALSO… | Because there’s no good place to put this, but it needs to be discussed, what did we think of Alyssa’s karaoke performance? There have been more elegant ways to have actors-who-sing-yet-are-in-non-singing-roles do their thing, but Rachel Bilson’s got a lovely little voice, no?

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Victor Field says:

    ANyone taking bets on when it’s announced Hayden Panettiere is leaving the series?

    • Ann A says:

      Well she’s barely in it already . Didn’t the synopsis for this episode say Juliette was making a commercial not Maddie? What a mess this show has become.

      • I think Juliette will volunteer to do the commercial and thus save the day. Since i read somewhere where else that Juliette would be doing a commercial

      • Ragamuffin says:

        Half the season was about Juliette and her recovery from the plane crash, her spiritual awakening, her attempt to do a gospel album and her relationship with Hallie. What else do you want?

        • Celina says:

          Really? Because the character appeared in like 5 seconds each episode (and I think there were episodes which she didnt appear at all) and she released an gospel album that we didnt see her recording at all (we only saw her writing one song) AND we only hear one song from this album.
          So I think it’s safe to say that “half the season” were NOT dedicated to Juliette.

          • Frances says:

            Well said that is 100% true. We also never saw her and Avery properly reconcile or talk and are the even married or divorced ??

    • Don’t think so. She will do commercial.

    • Celina says:

      I feel the same. She had no storyline and only 2 songs this season.
      It’s ridiculous!!!
      She is supposed to be the co-lead of the show.
      It seems like they are going to destroy her, so she would leave town or something.

  2. Michelle Tallchief says:

    I really like this show and hope it maintains.

  3. steven says:

    Was Zoey one of Deacon’s back-up singers? Because the female one looked just like her.

  4. Carol Meyers says:

    Am really hoping they get rid of Jessie. She is stalking Deacon. I started out liking her character but now I would like to see her gone. Connie Britton’s departure from the show has completely changed it.

    • Ragamuffin says:

      You must be watching a different show. She’s backed off quite a bit but Deacon was the one reaching back out to her, pushing her into the studio and working with her. She hasn’t pushed too much and she’s been respectful of his grieving.

      I think Jessie is a good character and I like the way the writers have shown the complexity of how a person navigates their feelings for someone new after a spouse dies.

    • Boiler says:

      Couldn’t disagree with you more! She may be one of the best additions in a long time.

      • Amy says:

        I agree with you both re: Jessie…well, said on all, Ragamuffin.
        I like her too. I know it’s “too soon” in everyone’s mind however…it seems not so far-fetched that life still moves on, new people come, natural “connections” happen no matter what your emotions, or heart, or family or circumstances are telling you to do or what’s “right” etc. It just evolves anyway…and I feel that is what the writers are attempting to do here. I’m not put off by it…interested to see how it all plays out. And also…chemistry, in terms of their banter etc (not saying physically yet) is good so far….natural. Only red flag I saw at first, besides “too soon” is that they are both “bruised” at this point and I was afraid that meant all they could really have would be more “co-dependent” than a healthy relationship. But even this may evolve both characters. So…I hope (with a new season picked up) we wait and see…..

  5. Kat says:

    Thanks for the recaps! You always say exactly what I think

  6. Sissy says:

    Temptation. Avery, don’t go there. Have fun, but leave the sexy ‘tour manager/vixen’ alone. She is trouble with a capital T; like TNT. You will crash and burn. Just sayin’.

  7. Frances says:

    I laughed out loud at some of this review this show has gone from the ridiculous to outright crazy ! Are there no other artists on Highway 65 ?! Didn’t it buy out Wheelin Dealin Records !! That’s Luke Wheeler for starters .

    I never thought these new guys could be worse than the old writers but there they are making it happen !!

  8. steven says:

    Where’s Bucky during all this?

  9. Charlene Ofstedahl says:

    I stopped watching Nashville when it moved to CMT but it doesn’t sound like I am missing much.

  10. ellajasper says:

    First, let me say, Deacon was excellent last night. And we finally got some music, more than 2 seconds of a song. But, if the new show people don’t get their act together, I’m not sure there will be a 7th season. We were promised music, and now they are talking about shutting down Hwy 65. Seriously? I was so proud of Maddie this year, she had really grown up. But not changing a couple of lyrics was irresponsible, especially when the whole company and its stars were depending on her. I don’t like Zach, have never liked him, but couldn’t we have found another way to get rid of him? Instead of damaging the careers of every person on a show that is suppose to be about the MUSIC. You have talented singers, let them sing! And Jonathan Jackson has at least 5 Emmys and he’s riding on a tour bus with Gunner? And Hayden, who is a great actress, is now limited to folding laundry and arguing with Avery on the phone? How many episodes were wasted with extras? Use your talented cast. I really do love this show, just very frustrated. And bring back Bucky!

  11. Boiler says:

    Unlike many of you I thought this was one of the best episodes of the 5 years. Kim, I totally disagree with you on Maddie’s reaction in this episode. Rachel does have a great voice. I think Jessie is perfect for Deacon but obviously, as in real life, his daughters may not like it. And do people really think Hwy. 65 will close down. Hopefully Zach gone but geez lets not over react. Anyway look forward to the finale and on to Season 6.

    • murn says:

      I agree with all of this. And I was surprised to see Maddie described as “bratty”. She actually behaved well despite all the repeated takes as she continued to keep having water poured on her. Yes, she cried to Deacon, but if you can’t be real with your dad, who can you be real with?

  12. So Happy to see some sort of news about Nashville. Since it left an aired Channel and went off I haven’t even been able to read about it. This is wonderful IF all I can do is read about it. Thank yall!!

  13. Ryan says:

    Can’t stand Maddie. Hate that character. The show is lame and a mess. Writing is terrible. I give up on it.

  14. Amy says:

    Well, I for one…was not mad a Maddie at all. For many reasons, I just am seeing it differently. For starters, these characters are vehicles for the writers to tell different stories, deal with different issues…I feel they are using this storyline, and character to portray a few things. First, it’s hard for a young performer, especially one, truly “her mother and father’s daughter”, more artiste than one seeking “stardom.” Last night showed how quickly “the Music Machine” takes over, making you the product, especially in this age of BRANDING…it can (and has) spin a young, sensitive, artistic soul and do damage…add to that, PEOPLE (KIM!)…she just lost her mom!! Her touchstone…who, btw…I think would be mama bear wanting to protect her from some of this and at least guide her properly. Not that Rayna didn’t bump up against this delemma constantly between art vs. commerce and the bottom line…but still.
    And Deacon and all the other artists who wanted to be on Highway 65, AND be true to Rayna’s vision for it…are all calling this issue into question through this (maybe silly) (maybe little) issue of changing the lyrics….I look at it as the vehicle for drama surrounding those bigger issues.
    And for the record…call me a bratty, diva, naive artististic soul….but I understand not wanting to change a (especially a debut) song that presents you to the world. It’s not an easy issue….Maddie’s experience last night was just the way for Nashville to tell that story last night.
    I hope this show continues…’s still the only show I tune in to each week and look forward to. Even with all it’s ups and downs, the biggest downer being Connie wanting to leave.

    • Agreed. I fully understood why the artists didn’t want to sell out. Zach has been a manipulative bully. I’m hoping he wises up. But then again I don’t think he’s had many people have the balls to stand up to him and tell him to shove his money and “my way or the highway” ways. Well, welcome to Hwy 65 Zach.

  15. christopher bee says:

    As I was a super enthusiast with the new writing/production Team, it leaves me now to called it stop there now Gents.

    It´s about some Realism or not?

    The Contracts of the Artists of Highway 65 with the Label are rooted in Reality.
    (the clauses,are just like my first Management/Record Deal)

    The whining and huffing of the TV Character-Artists are stupid and unrealistic.
    I own a small poblishing house and a Mascara 24 Advertising would never ad some stupid
    bland lyric to a song at my watch.

    But, like the TV Contract, Maddie has to obligate the terms.
    And for the dot dot (insert Stephan Colberts voice)
    Please shut down the Label to rise it with a greater glory later on.

  16. Amy says:

    Can I just take a pause from debating the pros and cons from last night to just give one big Holla’ and Amen! To Deacon Clayborne headlining the Opry and that last song finale…loved it!
    Deacon’s been due a “solo moment” to shine…last night was a good one. Maybe it turns some page for him…maybe it just “was” but also maybe it is a part of helping him cope, survive, move forward…
    I’m sorry next week is finale…hate waiting on new season. I guess I need more tv. addictions. 😏

  17. sarabakay says:

    Ummm… yeah. Those are my boobs. On set, they called me “boob girl”. 😂😂😂

    Super flattered that I was part of your favorite moment of this episode!

  18. Maria says:

    I’m loving Nashville more&more, evry week it gets better than ever, interesting story lines, one of the best shows on tv , keep them coming

  19. Pia says:

    They assured us that Rachel Bilson wouldn’t sing.