Juliette is sitting at the kitchen table and listening to demos because Glenn wants her to consider recording again. She can’t perform in the way that would do her usual style of songs justice, so she’s not feeling motivated. This is a great time for artistic growth, Juliette!
Avery is multitasking, managing to both hover over Juliette and get ready to go to the studio. He’s working on producing the young Youtube sensation we heard about last week. Juliette has had enough of his mother-henning, and practically shoves him out of the house. As soon as he’s gone, she switches to researching Hallie Jordan, the woman who saved her from the plane crash.
Maddie is starting an internship working the front desk at the studio. She has entitled attitude to spare. Ashley Willerman, the Youtube artist, shows up and announces that she’s hungover and needs coffee. She’s pleasant, polite, and grateful when Maddie agrees to go. Maddie has already declared that Ashley’s Youtube videos are stupid, though not to Ashley’s face.
Once they get into the tracking room, Ashley starts enthusiastically talking about the song they’ll be working on that day. Avery barely listens as he adjusts mic stands and what not. He’s not interested in her ideas for her own music, only in what he’s already decided is best for her album. He rolls his eyes at her at one point. They come to an impasse, because neither likes the other’s ideas. It’s clear that they aren’t a good fit. Ashley turns to Deacon for a tie breaker opinion. Deacon, wise in the ways of strong, opinionated women, opts out of answering. He’s just a session player on this one and isn’t paid enough to get involved in artist-producer wars. Maddie is in the next room taking coffee orders during the second half of this discussion, and clearly decides that Ashley is a horrible, rude bitch.
Let me note again, Avery was the one who was rude first, and they were both inflexible. Ashley is going to be portrayed as a spoiled brat for the rest of the episode, but everyone who spoke in that scene displayed some attitude. Ashley was the only person who hadn’t judged the others ahead of time. She was polite and enthusiastic until she couldn’t ignore Avery’s condescension and dismissiveness anymore. Avery may have acted like a saint for the last couple of seasons, but this is asshole Avery from season 1 making a reappearance. He’s frustrated with Juliette, but doesn’t feel like he can express his negative emotions to her. He’s spread so thin in his personal life that later he’ll tell Gunnar and Will that he doesn’t even know if he remembers who he is any more. The reality is that Avery shouldn’t be producing right now. He needs the personal fulfillment that creating his own music will give him. He’s been through a lot of life experiences in a short time, and he probably needs to get that out of his system as an artist. They show him realizing that at the end of the episode, but we don’t get the verbal acknowledgement that we should have. Ashley doesn’t get the apology that she deserves from him. Avery took out his personal issues on Ashley, instead of professionally realizing they weren’t good fit.
The Nashville producers took a young woman with a particular diet, which is usually chosen for ethical reasons (veganism), and chose to use it to imply that she was being unreasonable and entitled by asking for her food orders to be filled according to her needs. They also said that she had diabetes or hypoglycemia, in which case almost every food-related complaint she made was valid for medical reasons, rather than just ethical reasons. Even the hangover could have actually been the result of struggling with her blood sugar instead of drinking. She’s under no obligation to share her private medical diagnosis with them, but they should be decent human beings who are supportive of someone who’s in obvious distress. Instead, because she was a young woman, the show and the characters instantly judged her as difficult, silly and stupid.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, back to the episode. Maddie makes her coffee run, but she’s more interested in the cute guy who’s busking outside than in getting the coffee orders right. She drops one of them on the way back to the studio and chats with the busker for a minute. Maddie left her lyric notebook at the coffee shop, so later the busker brings it back and gives Maddie a disc with his music ,as well.
Juliette makes an unannounced visit to Hallie. Hallie is happy to see her, and that she’s doing well. Hallie’s on her way to volunteer at church, because she’s an actual angel, so they agree to get together soon. Juliette notices that Hallie’s car is old and has trouble starting.
The Exes are meeting with Rayna at Highway 65. She suggests they make a music video to become Youtube famous, since they don’t have a tour. Randall, the new intern/potential stalker, brings Rayna a green health drink, and promises to help with the video.
Back in the studio, Ashley is recording. Deacon and Avery are appalled to hear her singing with the kind of catch in her voice used by Britney Spears and other female pop stars going at least as far back as the fifties. Being the serious male musicians they are, they decide immediately that Ashley’s signature sound needs to go, despite Ashley and her posse telling them that it’s her signature sound and that her listeners love it. Call me crazy, but it seems to me like you probably shouldn’t get rid of the thing your listeners tell you they love about your music, when you’re making your very first album. This is, of course, portrayed as Ashley being completely unreasonable.
Ashley then realizes she’s hungry, and asks to break for lunch. She has the nerve to be a vegan, which, also just makes her that much more ridiculously entitled in the minds of the others. Maddie is busy goofing off with her busker friend, Clayton Jones, and barely stops to get menus for Ashley. If I were Ashley, I’d be done with all of them at this point. She came in excited to work on her first album, and they’ve done nothing but put down her and her music. Avery, Deacon, and Maddie are turning the experience into a nightmare. Whenever Ashley sticks up for herself, or has an opinion different from theirs, we are asked to believe she’s in the wrong. It’s very typical of how this culture treats young women. Maddie is usually the target of this attitude on this show. This week, however, Maddie is the one acting like an entitled spoiled brat.
Juliette sends Hallie Jordan a car as a gift to replace her old car. Hallie is offended and refuses to accept it. Juliette agrees to return the car. Then Juliette feels guilty and shallow.
Despite lunch already being late, Maddie stops to chat for a while more with Clayton after she gets the lunch orders. He tells her that he was raised by his grandparents since his mother was an addict. She stays until someone from the studio texts, looking for her.
Ashley is recording another song. Avery decides that her pitch is off and the reverb needs to be changed, this time. When Ashley disagrees with him, he pulls her into the recording room and starts ranting at her, telling her what she thinks and insulting her and her music. Then they have a pretension-off that only ends up proving that they are coming at this from completely different directions. He wants to produce the next legendary artist who will win a million Grammys, and she wants to make a trendsetting pop album. You can be both, see: Michael Jackson, but Avery isn’t giving her the respect she needs to find her own way as an artist. He’s trying to mold her into the artist he thinks she should be, and that’s not how someone becomes truly great. That’s how someone becomes Elvis Presley, a frustrated artist who’s famous and popular, but exploited and unfulfilled, never reaching their potential. He’s also ignoring music history, and how many of the greats started out writing and/or singing teen pop songs. Some of the music we view as great today was seen as frivolous in its day. Beyond that, I remember what was on those demos that Avery used to give to Deacon at the beginning of season 1. He’s being a complete hypocrite and a sexist ass right now. I have loved Jonathan Jackson since he was a 10 year old on General Hospital, and Avery is one of my favorite characters, but this is not okay.
Avery quits, and tells Ashley she doesn’t need a producer, just an engineer. He means it as an insult, but self-produced albums are an actual thing. She probably would be better off with a producer her first time out. She just needs one who’s on the same wavelength as her, instead of one who hates teenage girl pop.
Maddie finally shows up with lunch, lies about why she’s late, and has gotten the order wrong to boot. Ashley complains about white bread versus whole wheat and her diabetes. Guess what? That’s a real thing. Metamaiden is also a Type 1 diabetic, and her blood sugar is particularly difficult to control. That varies from person to person, just the luck of the draw. Certain kinds of foods make your blood sugar sky-rocket, and not necessarily the ones people think. White bread is one of the worst. At this point, Ashley is also just emotionally spiraling. She has low blood sugar and isn’t able to think straight, while she’s trying to figure out what she can eat that won’t make her blood sugar zip right past normal into the high range, where she also won’t be able to function.
Rayna and Bucky are stopped outside of Highway 65 by a fan looking for a photo. The fan is a little too interested in Rayna’s family life. New potential stalker candidate? Original potential stalker candidate Randall steals a memento from Rayna’s desk this week, so he’s not out of the running yet.
Avery and Juliette get into another argument about her injuries and prognosis. She hasn’t improved, and doesn’t think there’s any chance she will. In the middle of the argument, Cadence cries. Juliette holds her, and feels Cadence pee on her leg when the diaper leaks. It’s a warm, golden family moment.
The next day at the studio, Maddie tells Ashley off after Ashley’s upset that Maddie got her coffee order wrong again. Maddie gets fired. Deacon is scared to give her the lecture she deserves, because of the things she accused him of at the emancipation trial last year. Rayna tells Deacon to man up and talk to Maddie. The talk goes as well as you’d expect. If Maddie wants her job back, she needs to apologize to Ashley. Rayna tells Maddie that she needs to apologize to Deacon for her lies on the witness stand about him last season. Maddie goes to Deacon and apologizes. She never believed what she said. They talk things out and come to an understanding.
Juliette goes back to Hallie’s house to apologize for the car in person. She tells Hallie about regaining some feeling in her legs, and confesses that she doesn’t think she deserved to be the one who survived the plane crash. Hallie reassures her that she survived for a reason. She has a chance to change, to be a better person.
Juliette and Avery get home from her doctor’s office. The doctor said that she’d eventually walk again. Avery wants to know what they are to each other, but Juliette isn’t sure. Avery won’t be happy until she is sure. He leaves to pick up some of his things from Gunnar’s house.
Juliette writes and sings a new song while playing her keyboard. It’s montage time!
Avery looks at memorabilia from his time as a musician, and starts writing a song.
Maddie apologizes to Ashley. Ashley accepts happily, with a fist bump and a smile. Deacon looks on proudly.
Clayton tells Maddie that he wrote her a song last night. Maddie tells him she’ll have to wait to hear it until after work.
Juliette’s song is slow and thoughtful, very different from her usual style. It’s about being open to and ready for change.
Next week, the Stalker makes a move, Juliette finally tells Avery to back off a little, and things come to a head between Will and Kevin. But, we can keep Kevin, right?