‘Nashville’ Season 5, Episode 16 Recap: Trouble on the Way Up
As the series’ fifth season hurtles to a close, Nashville is definitely still keeping thing interesting. Episode 16 focuses heavily on the up-and-coming Hallie Jordan (Rhiannon Giddens), who is working on her first solo album at the insistence of Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). The two butt heads over whether or not Hallie, who has been presented as more of an Americana-style artist, should produce an album that is more commercially viable than the roots-y tunes she’s used to playing.
Juliette, fresh off the major flop that was her foray into gospel, pushes Hallie to release a song that she thinks is guaranteed to be a hit -- but when she plays that song for Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), who has just signed Hallie to a deal at Highway 65, Deacon thinks that it doesn’t authentically represent who Hallie is as an artist. Left in the middle is Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), Juliette’s husband and the producer of Hallie’s album, who agrees that the song isn’t the right fit for someone as talented as Hallie Jordan.
As Hallie is on the rise, Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) have their own newfound fame -- this time, not for their music -- to deal with. While they’re at a gas station, the embattled couple sees Scarlett’s baby bump being broadcast to the world on an episode of Access Hollywood. Of course, because Scarlett and Gunnar are a couple, their growing legion of dedicated fans think that Gunnar is the father of Scarlett’s child (which, of course, as Nashville fans know, isn’t true).
Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella) is also continuing to see success, this time in a much more positive light than with the police video that went viral in previous episodes. After her heartfelt apology online, Maddie is being flooded with offers to perform across the country, and has brought on Bucky Dawes (David Alford) to serve as her manager, even though he was just fired from Highway 65. She’s also doing a number of interviews ... even if the reporters are more interested in Maddie’s brush with online fame than her forthcoming EP.
Things aren’t all sunshine for the oldest Conrad daughter, though: She finds out that her younger sister Daphne (Maisy Stella) and friend Liv were behind the nasty, viral GIFs making fun of Maddie that spread across the internet. Maddie is understandably furious, and kicks Liv out of the house. When Maddie tells Deacon what her sister has done, he hands out his first real punishment since the death of Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and grounds Daphne from her cell phone for a month.
Even though she ultimately agreed to allow Hallie to record her own music, Juliette’s skepticism mounts as she sees the woman who rescued her from the wreckage of a plane crash grow closer with Avery, who can only rave about how talented Hallie is. After learning that George, Hallie’s former guitarist and (married) lover has split, Juliette decides that Hallie is an opportunist who is just using her to get famous. Avery, ever level-headed, reminds Juliette that she practically stalked Hallie into working with her from the beginning. Juliette eventually confronts the two and gets some sage advice from Hallie, who tells her to stop pushing her own problems onto the people who love her.
And of course, the secret between Scarlett and Gunnar is eventually sleuthed out by a reporter: Scarlett shows up for a lunch interview, only to learn that the woman interviewing her has also had an affair with Damien George (Christian Coulson). After doing a little mental math, the reporter puts two and two together and discovers that Gunnar isn’t the father of Scarlett's baby, and promptly reports her findings. Gunnar confronts Scarlett with the news, and she tries to convince him that she didn’t actually tell the reporter the paternity of her child; he believes her, but only time will tell whether or not the Exes’ fans, who are obsessed with the relationship between Scarlett and Gunnar, will be able to accept this decidedly messy situation.
In her path toward maturity, Maddie squashes the beef between her and Daphne by the end of this episode. The two sisters realize that they’re hurting each other because they’re both still grieving the loss of their mother and aren’t sure how to make it without the strong, wise presence of Rayna. By the time Deacon gets home from work, Daphne and Maddie have reunited and are already working against him: Daphne might be grounded from her phone, but that doesn’t exactly have the same impact if Maddie is willing to lend Daphne her phone.
This episode ends with Deacon taking a little respite in the tentative peace that has been brokered in his house after intense fighting between Maddie and Daphne. It’s unclear whether or not Deacon, who has really been too busy to grieve, is putting on a show or is actually adjusting to life without Rayna. Also up in the air is the future of Hallie, who may or may not be able to keep her relationship with Juliette afloat. As the show’s final Season 5 episodes prepare to air, perhaps these questions will be answered more definitively in the coming weeks.
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