In a crooked turn of events, the fate of Highway 65 and its entire roster hinged on Maddie’s brand partnership with the cosmetic line Mascara 24.
Thursday’s (Aug. 3) episode of Nashville started with an overworked Deacon waking up to several texts involving business, including an invitation to make his Grand Ole Opry debut as a solo act. But Highway 65 needed his immediate attention.
Meanwhile, Maddie was filming her first commercial for Mascara 24. But nothing seemed to be going right on set. Stylists struggled to squeeze her into a beautiful red gown over her wet suit so she could stay dry while crews showered her with fake rain.
Maddie was barely in her dress when Mascara 24 execs barged into her dressing room to invite her to a party later at the karaoke bar Charlie Mae’s. She really didn’t want to go, but Alyssa promised Maddie she wouldn’t have to stay long.
When they arrived at the event later that night, annoying Mascara 24 staffers immediately started pawing all over Maddie, telling her that she’s so poised for a young woman her age. That’s when the company CEO Tom pulled Alyssa aside and broke the news that he didn’t like Maddie’s song because it didn’t mention his product. Alyssa said she would have to get back to him on that because his co-workers started chanting for Maddie to sing karaoke.
Alyssa rescued her by saying Maddie had a sore throat and would have to go home to rest for day two of the shoot. The Mascara 24 folks then started chanting for Alyssa to sing, and she came through with a killer karaoke version of “You Don’t Know Me.”
The next day on set was a total bear for Maddie. The director called for more fake rain and take, after take, Maddie couldn’t stop shivering. The only shot she nailed didn’t work because her hair was in her face. The same Mascara 24 employees who barged into Maddie’s dressing room pulled Alyssa aside and asked if Maddie was cool with everything. Alyssa assured them that Maddie was a consummate professional and that they didn’t need to worry about anything.
Then they dropped a bomb and asked if Maddie wouldn’t mind changing her lyrics from “Got me racing my heart now and I’m fading out,” to “I got my Mascara 24 and I’m not fading out.” They said that their CEO Tom was over the moon about the changes and emphasized that Maddie needed to be OK with the edits.
Avery was having a hard time balancing life on tour and at home. The tour was getting extremely popular, but Juliette was at home with their sick baby girl Cadence, and Juliette was due to record in the studio. She kept calling Avery about every decision that had to be made regarding their child.
Avery had hit wall, and his tour manager Molly could tell he wasn’t having fun anymore in his relationship with Juliette. While in Houston, she told Avery, “You’ve got to trust your partner can take care of themselves. You don’t always have to solve everything for them.”
It was good advice that brought Avery closer to Juliette, but Molly had alternative motives. Molly wanted to be with Avery. After he smoothed things over with Juliette over the phone, Molly told him that she would be there for him if he wanted something, “a little less complicated.”
A phone call from Zach at Highway 65’s branding department interrupted Deacon’s Grand Ole Opry rehearsal. Deacon had accepted the invitation to make his Grand Ole Opry debut. Zach told Deacon that Maddie was upset that Mascara 24 wanted to change her song and that he needed to talk to her.
Deacon left in the middle of his rehearsal and met with Maddie at home. She was beyond distraught over Mascara 24’s changes, and said their edits would be a complete misrepresentation of her art. And how the world hears her song would shape her whole career.
That’s when Deacon said, “Sweetheart, this is not me making you do this. This is me trying to help you understand that being a grown up means having to do things you don’t want to do.”
“Then I don’t want to be a grownup,” Maddie said.
Deacon met with Alyssa and Zach to tell them that Maddie wasn’t going to change her song. But unfortunately, the contract she signed gave Mascara 24 total liberty to change, add to, take from, rearrange, modify, vary, alter, format or reprocess the material in any manner the company saw fit.
Deacon placed blamed on Zach saying that he lied to them. Zach said he’d give Deacon his 90-day notice if Maddie backed out of her Mascara 24 contract. But if Zach left, that meant Highway 65 would have to buy him out with all the money the company had left, affecting the fate of Rayna’s label.
Deacon met with the Highway 65 roster at his house and told them the news. Maddie said she would change the song, but everyone sided with her. She shouldn’t have to change her lyrics just for a commercial.
Later, Jessie met a stressed-out Deacon outside the label and demanded that he get in the car. He didn’t know what to do about Zach and was despondent. If Maddie changed the lyrics, he would let his daughter down and if she didn’t that meant the end of Rayna’s label. Jessie took him to the Harpeth River State Park and encouraged him to hike off the stress. She asked him, “Do you think Rayna would want you to be in so much pain that you forgot yourself?”
After an hour to himself, Deacon had made his decision. Highway 65 was done with branding.
The show ended with Deacon’s victorious Grand Ole Opry debut. Pam Tillis welcomed him into the hallowed circle where he performed three songs. His finale was a Gospel song he wrote 15 years ago with a three-person choir and horn section.
The season five finale of Nashville airs Thursday (Aug. 10) at 9 p.m. ET.