Warning: This recap for the “Let’s Put It Back Together Again” episode of Nashville contains spoilers.
A recording studio is a second home when you’re a musician. So it stands to reason that Nashville spent much of its third episode, “Let’s Put It Back Together Again,” getting comfy in the confines of Tracks Studios, a storied — but fictional — Nashville institution that has supposedly hosted such famous folks as Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan. In this episode, it becomes the temporary residence of Ashley Willerman, a YouTube celebrity looking to make the transition from viral video sensation to megaselling recording artist, a goal that Avery and Deacon have been enlisted to assist with as producer and backup musician, respectively. Maddie is also part of the team, as a studio intern, whose less-than-glamorous job duties include door buzzing and coffee fetching. Is it a surprise that she does neither of those particularly well? No — no, it’s not.
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Of course, not everything that happened in this episode happened within the walls of Tracks Studios. We also spent some time in Highway 65’s cozy offices, where Rayna plots the future of the Exes and gets introduced to the supposed magic of dubious-looking pineapple-infused “green drinks” that even the Hulk would eye suspiciously. And Juliette actually gets outdoors, paying a visit to her personal angel, Hallie Jordan, who stayed by her side in the wake of the plane crash that left her in a wheelchair. Still looking for a way to repay her kindness, Juliette initially chooses the monetary approach, buying her a new car that she didn’t ask for, though she could certainly use it. The vehicle is subsequently returned at Hallie’s insistence, and she redirects Juliette’s path back from near death in a more spiritual direction.
Best Storyline: Maybe it’s just the residual frustration from the emancipation storyline talking, but it was kind of satisfying to watch Maddie re-start her musical career from the position of lowly intern. It was a #checkyourprivilege moment that had been a long time coming for Rayna’s eldest daughter, who has regularly demonstrated Veruca Salt tendencies when it comes to getting the things she wants. But the writers, and Lennon Stella, also know the character well enough by now to realize Maddie’s not going to last very long in a position where she puts other people’s needs ahead of her own. So an outburst was inevitable, and when it arrived — directed at Ashley, who wasn’t exactly sympathetic, it must be said — it was dramatized in a way that let you recognize Maddie’s frustration, while not justifying her behavior. Look, teenagers are prone to annoying shouting fits; it comes with the territory of being a hormonal and emotional basket case for 6 to 8 years. Last season, the show made the mistake of letting Maddie’s ordinary teenage behavior go to extraordinary melodramatic lengths. This act of rebellion came from a more recognizable place, and feels like a natural part of Maddie’s ongoing growing-up process.
Worst Storyline: You know, Avery … maybe you just shouldn’t be producing other people’s music. Last year, he got on the bad side of rocker Markus Keen, and it’s only taken him three episodes to get into a scrap with another artist, Ashley, who resists his soft-spoken but stridently-phrased advice. The fact that this conflict fizzled out when Avery just stormed away was disappointing as well. (Although, to be fair, Avery has a history of walking out on situations when he feels his genius and self-sacrifice aren’t being recognized.) On the other hand, his vanishing act from the studio paved the way for the episode’s best scene — a reunion of Avery, Will, and Gunnar, whose adorable “three men and a baby” act was one of the few bright spots of Season 4.
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Best Bit of #RealTalk: “Am I turning into a bitch?” “A little.” Stay gold, Daphne. Stay gold.
Most Unintentionally Relevant Scene: Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz couldn’t have planned this, but Juliette’s thrill at feeling baby Cadence’s pee trickling onto her legs comes across very differently in light of certain real-world claims involving the president-elect. Also, Avery? You really could have offered to get her a towel after that golden shower.
Most Promising New Character: Maddie’s charming street-busker boyfriend-to-be, Clay (played by Joseph David-Jones), inspires all kinds of happy flashbacks to Once. I can’t wait to hear their version of “Falling Slowly.”
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Most Worrisome New Character: Better double-check the contents of those green drinks Randall’s whipping up for you, Rayna! Highway 65’s overeager social media expert revealed that his obvious obsession with his boss is even unhealthier than we thought, nabbing her jewelry box with Maddie’s face on it when he’s alone in the office.
Standout Song: Moved by Hallie’s faith, Juliette takes a first successful stab at a gospel number. Hey, if Tracks Studios alum Bob Dylan can cut a gospel album or two, so can Juliette Barnes!
Nashville airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CMT.