‘Nashville’ Season 5, Episode 15 Recap: Too Late to Apologize?
After the jaw-dropping moments in Episode 14, Nashville is keeping the drama going in Episode 15. The newest episode of the CMT TV show focuses mostly on the video of Maddie Jaymes (nee Conrad, played by Lennon Stella) confronting a police officer over what she considered a racially motivated traffic stop. By the end of the hour, everything is still pretty much up in the air, which means that fans can expect these storylines to start hurtling along quickly in the season's final episodes.
The episode opens with Maddie’s home completely swarmed by reporters. In the aftermath of the video going viral online, she is still trying to figure out how to respond and, in the meantime, staying completely silent. As such, Highway 65 investor Zach Welles (Cameron Scroggins) schedules a meeting with a Nashville councilman to help iron out the controversy. If only it were that simple …
When Zach and Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) meet with the councilman to talk about Maddie’s scandal exit strategy, he insists that Maddie has to apologize and suggests hosting a press conference, complete with a representative from the NAACP, the city’s police chief and a long-winded apology. When Zach and Deacon present that idea to Maddie, however, she flat-out refuses to apologize for standing up for Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones), insisting that she’s done nothing wrong.
At home, Maddie gets a surprise visit from Bucky Dawes (David Alford), who was canned from Highway 65 in Episode 14. Maddie tells Bucky that she’s been dropped from a radio station, and he reminds her of what happened to the Dixie Chicks after Natalie Maines made her comments about then-President George W. Bush in London in 2003. Maddie seems to think that Nashville has come a long way since the Chicks were essentially blackballed, but Bucky reminds her that the business can be unforgiving: “God, country, military, police -- those are still no-fly zones," he says.
Hallie Jordan (Rhiannon Giddens), the woman who found Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) among the wreckage of her Season 4-ending plane crash, is also experiencing an upheaval of sorts, though it’s decidedly more positive. After working with Juliette on her poorly received gospel album, Hallie is pursuing a career of her own: Juliette sets up a performance for Hallie at the Bluebird Cafe, which has previously hosted pretty much every fictional music star on Nashville (and plenty in real life, too). As she plays, Deacon and Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) decide that they’re interested in working on an album with Hallie -- but there are plenty of other record label executives in the audience who could be vying for a piece of the ridiculously talented woman, too.
New to the Nashville universe this week is Alyssa Greene (Rachel Bilson). Alyssa is a marketing guru from Silicon Valley, who apparently has the kind of expertise that helps struggling companies turn it all around. Her plan for Highway 65’s revival involves what she calls “brand partnerships,” which means having the label’s artists partner with companies to produce music together. Juliette and the rest of the crowd are visibly skeptical, but Deacon -- who is now serving as the de facto head of Highway 65 after the death of Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) -- tells everyone to get with the program and at least give Alyssa’s plan a try.
“[Bob] Dylan does it,” Deacon says. “Y’all better than him?”
After the meeting at the label, Deacon hosts Hallie and the rest of Highway 65’s artists for dinner at his home, in hopes of persuading Hallie to sign with him. There, Avery sells himself to Hallie as the producer for her debut album, but also drops a pretty major bomb: As is revealed for the first time in this episode, Hallie is in a complicated relationship with the guitar player in her band, and Avery wants her to ditch her current roster of musicians in favor of a lineup of legendary session players. To help further convince Hallie, Avery invites her into the studio to play with those musicians, and the results are truly transcendent. (The addition of Giddens’ voice to this season of Nashville has to be one of the best decisions that showrunners have made during its entire time on air.)
The controversy around Maddie continues to swirl, complete with plenty of online hate and rumors about her identity, but it turns out that some of the abuse is coming from inside her own home. After getting into an argument with Maddie, Liv, the homeless teenager that Daphne Conrad (Maisy Stella) befriended while skipping school, makes a GIF of Maddie and posts it to social media; it, like the police stop video, goes viral, inspiring hordes of internet trolls to make their own versions. Daphne demands that Liv take the photo down, but the damage is already pretty much done.
Throughout this episode, Maddie attempts to make contact with her love interest and fellow unwitting viral star Clayton, but he isn’t handling the attention well. News reports of a prior incident involving Clayton surface, including audio of a 911 call made during a domestic violence incident involving Clayton’s stepfather. Maddie eventually visits Clayton, who appears to be struggling with his mental health, and ends up getting dumped. Clayton insists that he cares about Maddie, but it’s clear that he doesn’t want to be wrapped up in the storm that will no doubt continue to follow her.
And, of course, the tension between Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) is as high as ever. Despite Gunnar’s best efforts to support Scarlett after learning that she is pregnant with another man’s child, Scarlett still feels cold toward him; whether it’s the pregnancy hormones or something else, Scarlett still doesn’t seem quite sure that the two of them are going to end up together. When she asks Deacon for advice, he tells her to wait it out and see how things go, which seems like a good idea, at least until the pregnancy hormones settle down.
The situation is equally fraught between Zach and Will Lexington (Chris Carmack), who have been pursuing a relationship for at least a few episodes now. Zach wants Will to help convince the rest of the artists on Highway 65 (aka, his best friends) to be a little more welcoming of Alyssa’s ideas for the label, but Will isn’t sure that he wants to sing about selling mops. He is a little more open to the idea when Zach tells him that Budweiser is interested in working with him; apparently the beer brand is ready to welcome an openly gay country artist into its folds, alongside big acts such as Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line.
Ultimately, Maddie decides to deliver that apology -- but in her own way. She starts broadcasting live from her bedroom and apologizes for using bad language and escalating a situation that was already tense, then starts to sing a song with Daphne. Only time will tell whether or not that apology is enough to silence her critics; however, while she sings, Clayton packs his car and appears to head out of town.
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