'Nashville' Recap: Juliette's Spiritual Awakening - Rolling Stone
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‘Nashville’ Recap: Juliette’s Spiritual Awakening

Drama explodes around new character Ashley; Maddie and Deacon reconnect; and Juliette’s gift to Hallie is a non-starter

Hayden Panettiere, NashvilleHayden Panettiere, Nashville

Hayden Panettiere's Juliette slowly begins to emerge from her depression on 'Nashville.'


Ah, life is funny. Sometimes, when all you really want is a vegan menu and more reverb, what you get is singing lessons and a verbal smackdown. That’s what happened for demanding Nashville newcomer Ashley Willerman (Bridgit Mendler), a YouTube sensation and “influencer” who blows into the recording studio with a camera-toting entourage, an attitude (which Avery later tells Juliette makes her pre-crash self look like a meek sparrow) and a singing voice that would make kittens explode. Avery is charged with the task of producing Ashley, but could eventually be charged with crimes against humanity.

It’s Maddie’s first day on the job as studio intern/receptionist/gofer, and the internship is ostensibly a way for Deacon and Maddie to reconnect after taking her sometimes-hotheaded dad to court for her emancipation. Maddie keeps quiet about the girl who makes “stupid YouTube videos” for a while and Deacon is on hand to play guitar and observe the oncoming trainwreck over the rim of his reading glasses. He also delivers the funniest line of the night. Asking his advice (which she doesn’t really want), Ashley tells Deacon, “You’ve been doing this a hundred years.” “This April!” Deacon shoots back. Ashley is, naturally, oblivious to Deacon’s comic cleverness.

When Avery invokes the names of other acts who have recorded in the studio – Joni Mitchell, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan – and asks her, “Don’t you want to be great?” it’s abundantly clear she doesn’t. Avery promptly quits as her producer. Finally, Maddie, who has had enough, and has likely seen way too much of herself in Ashley, reads her the riot act about being a total bitch. Initially, Deacon tries to defuse the situation, but, mindful of the history with his daughter, he takes some time to let things cool off. Still, Maddie is fired. Back at home, Dad and daughter have it out and she tells Rayna she has no plans to apologize to Ashley. Rayna just wants her to make it right with Deacon after breaking his heart. They hug it out. Maddie gets her internship back and she and Ashley also hug it out (well, fist-bump it out). Maddie also has her eye on Clay, a bluesy street musician she meets cute after dropping her armful of coffee on the way back to the studio. We don’t know much about Clay yet, except that his mother, who had a drug problem, is dead and he was raised by his grandparents.

With lurid tales of golden showers in the news of late, it’s nice to witness a minor urine-induced miracle.

In impending weirdo news, Rayna’s social-media guy, who may or may not have a mad crush on the country chanteuse, floats in on a cloud of creepiness, bringing with him some kind of disgusting green-brown concoction that he mixed with pineapple to “cut through the bitterness.” Later, on the street, Rayna meets a guy with a demo who wants a picture with her. The way he mentions Maddie makes Randall look positively normal, until Randall steals Rayna’s paper clip-holder – and probably not because there’s no Staples nearby. 

At home, Juliette is listening to demos to motivate her recuperation, insisting that Avery stop asking if she’ll be ok at home alone. She looks up her “angel,” Hallie, on Facebook and goes to her house, which is, of course, not exactly ADA-compliant. But as she waits outside in her wheelchair with assistant Emily standing by, Hallie comes out and they talk. If Ashley’s voice can make kittens explode, Hallie, who has been played beautifully by singer Rhiannon Giddens, has a voice that could no doubt bring them bouncing back to life. But she’s not exactly flush with cash and her truck makes a sound that is probably close to what Ashley will be singing like in a few years. Juliette, who means well, surprises Hallie with a brand-new SUV. She politely declines the generous gift and things, naturally, get a little awkward. At home, Juliette feels shallow about buying the car and is sick of being patient and constantly being asked to wiggle her toe. When baby Cadence pees on her leg, however, and she can feel it, she starts to feel hopeful again. With lurid tales of golden showers in the news of late, it’s nice to witness a minor urine-induced miracle.

Juliette apologizes to Hallie about the SUV and confesses that because she’s been a terrible person, the feeling she had in her legs might – and probably should – go away. As the episode ends, Juliette sings a potent and hopeful gospel song: “I’m on My Way.”

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