Daisy Jones & the Six Recap: The Making of ‘Let Me Down Easy’

Daisy Jones and The Six

Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Daisy Jones and The Six

Season 1 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Vulture; Photo:Lacey Terrell/Prime Video/Lacey Terrell/Prime Video

Now that Daisy is officially in the Six, which should perhaps make the band the Seven, Daisy Jones & the Six the series is evolving into a two-hander, the sinner and the saint competing for screen time. Billy is the model rock star. When his morning alarm sounds on studio day, he goes for a jog to get the creative juices pumping. Daisy is the degenerate. When the concierge delivers her wake-up call, she swigs what’s left of last night’s Beaujolais and looks distressingly surprised to find a half-naked dude in bed with her.

Daisy and Billy even pull into the studio parking lot looking like flip sides of the same coin. Billy arrives early, with enough time to smoke a contemplative cig. He watches as Daisy emerges from the back of a cab and washes down a linty pocket pill with Champagne she stole off the hotel-pool deck. Neither of them looks particularly cool, nor does the show, which comes at us this week with all the subtlety of a D.A.R.E. commercial.

Still, Billy musters a gracious speech welcoming Daisy to the family band, which the klepto interrupts to say that she’s written some songs. But the band has, too. In fact, they have 13 songs for the album ready to go, which Billy suggests they play so that Daisy can weigh in. In the doc footage, Billy remembers himself as being nice that day, which seems accurate to me. I’m clearly a more deferential person than Daisy, but the idea that he’s being some huge dickhead feels far-fetched. It’s your first day on a new job, sweetie. Why not sit back and collect a few weeks’ pay for free before anyone realizes you work there?

Alas, I guess it’s more Stevie Nicks to blow down the door and insult all Billy’s love songs. And she has a good point that the new album needs a point of view. But Daisy’s still a paradox. For example, she says she wants the album to belong to everyone but can’t be bothered to learn Eddie’s name. In truth, I doubt Daisy and Billy are different at all. Daisy doesn’t really care if Karen or Graham gets a say as long as she gets her own thumbprint on whatever the Six puts out.

Of course, none of this is communicated via curt email as befits a professional setting, but in an increasingly screechy conversation that Teddy’s sick of listening to. He kicks Daisy and Billy out of the studio to work on a new song somewhere he doesn’t have to listen to their tedious bickering. Essentially, school’s out.

The rest of the band scatters. Warren and Eddie go see Rollerball — the James Caan sci-fi sports film that will one day be reimagined as The Hunger Games — again. And Karen gamely tags along on Graham’s beach day with his pretty new girlfriend, Caroline, to prove that no weird energy is lingering between them. Caroline, for her part, seems chill. She’s pre-med at UC Santa Barbara and thinks Graham is sexy. On the downside, she doesn’t like swimming in the ocean and does overesteem the musical stylings of crooner Barry Manilow.

Unfortunately, seeing Caroline through Karen’s music snobbery poisons Graham against his sweetheart. Seeing Graham through Caroline’s eyes, however, makes Karen horny. They share a romp-y make-out sesh while Caroline waits in the car, hopefully out of earshot. It’s not like I thought Graham + Caroline = 4eva, but I wish when Karen and Graham got together, it didn’t feel so … cheap? I would not blame Caroline for driving off with Graham’s surfboard, which I hope she puts it in a safe place because someday it’ll be worth a lot of money.

As for Daisy and Billy, they’re not nearly as sick of their tedious bickering as Teddy was (or I am). They fight over everything, most of it cliché: what to listen to on the radio, what to order at the Apple Pan. They fight even over whether or not it’s good for the band that they’re fighting all the time. (Daisy is, unsurprisingly, the one who is pro-strife.) But she is shrewd. She perceives that Billy writes about his wife for some darker reason — a betrayal or inferiority — but when she asks him about it, she does it brusquely, like she has no personal experience with human emotions.

On this day in music history, Teddy learned a valuable lesson: Don’t tell Daisy Jones you’re busy all day if you don’t want her to break into your house. In search of a place to work that isn’t Daisy’s crowded hotel or Billy’s family home, she takes her reluctant writing partner to Teddy’s slick mid-century manse, where she copiously drinks his drinks and swims almost naked in his swimming pool. I still don’t know Daisy well enough to be sure about that last move. Is she trying to make Billy uncomfortable? Is she trying to entice him? Or is she just a rock-and-roll baby doing what she wants when she feels like it? As she warned Warren earlier, “It’s not my job not to turn you on.”

For his part, Billy is trying to make this new reality work. Neither of them knows how to write a song together, but he starts playing her a riff that Graham’s been working on. Daisy isn’t as hostile once they arrive at Teddy’s, but she is cagey; she calls Camilla “your wife” rather than by her name, which sounds artificially arm’s-length considering the last episode she brought her a pineapple. Daisy doesn’t want to sing about Billy’s boring marriage; Billy doesn’t want to sing Daisy’s overwrought nature metaphors. “It’s okay sometimes to just say what you mean,” he tells her. It’s a nice line, the kind that, in a better series, would be dripping with subtext. But here, it’s just confusing. Daisy’s been telling Billy exactly what she thinks of him since the moment she met him.

Eventually, they find some conversational common ground, but it’s pretty bland stuff. The first album she ever bought was the Dixie Cups’ version of “Iko Iko”; his was “The Doggie in the Window,” which he threatens to deny if Daisy ever tells. It’s hard to believe this is a dialogue between musical geniuses and not teen-movie drivel. “We don’t have to be friends,” Daisy offers. “But if we’re going to write together, we can’t be strangers.” To prove she’s serious, she invites him to ask her anything he wants, then immediately judges him for inquiring about her pill habit. To deflect, she flushes the pills in her pocket down the toilet, only to sneak more later from a different stash. Strangers it is, then.

Daisy does tell Billy the true story of how she cut her hand breaking into her parents’ house, or the house that used to be theirs. When he hurts her feelings by calling her “broken,” he levels the playing field by divulging his own story of parental abandonment to prove to her that they’re not so unlike. “Broken” was maybe the wrong word; it doesn’t capture what makes them so singular. Daisy and Billy are people with plenty of excuses to shatter but who have kept on going anyway.

No, Daisy won’t call herself broken, but she senses she’s flawed like Billy is flawed. In their breakthrough moment, she implores him to stop singing about the perfectly committed husband he longs to be and start writing as the messed-up guy he is — the one who makes mistakes, the one who let Camilla down. It’s a simple idea. Too simple. Billy asks Daisy who would want to hear a song like that, but the answer is obviously everybody. The songs that have provided the series’ most meaningful needle drops so far, like “Ooh La La” last episode and even “Too Late to Turn Back Now,” the song that is literally playing in the background as they have this conversation, are all about uncertainty. Billy must already know this because Billy owns a radio.

From here, we dip into montage because montage is the easiest way to get anything done, from a makeover to training for the big fight to writing a hit. Daisy and Billy laugh; they sing. As tempted as they are to fight, they clearly like how it feels to be on the same side. Even in the doc footage, the magic of that day feels close by for them both. The song they write is about why we do things that are bad for us. Not a groundbreaking idea, but a good one. Teddy likes it enough that when he discovers they’ve broken into his house at the end of the day, he calls the band to the studio and not the cops to press charges.

The Six record “Let Me Down Easy” that same night — a night of firsts. The first night Karen and Graham got together. The night Billy let Eddie revise his own bass part. The night that Billy let Daisy in so they could write a song that meant something to both of them, that will one day become a song that means something to their fans.

Across these past few episodes, I’ve noticed something of an emerging trend when it comes to endings. Episode four closed with Camilla asking the camera, or the anonymous interviewer behind it, if it had been a mistake all those years ago to trust Billy and Daisy together. Personally, if the answer is unclear two decades later, just take the W and go home — marriage is hard. In episode five, the cryptic declaration belongs to Karen, who says it was “obvious” that Billy and Daisy made each other better … until they didn’t anymore. But these lines don’t foreshadow anything intelligible. Rather, they seem designed to gin up the emotional stakes of a cliffhanger without the series putting in the effort to build one for real.

At least “Fire” gives us something a little more concrete: a one-second-too-long hug between Daisy and Billy, initiated by Daisy, who is overcome with the joy of making something beautiful together. But the gesture makes Billy uneasy. There’s something familiar about Billy, Daisy tells us earlier in the episode, that made her want to join the Six in the first place. Here, we see a guy who shares that feeling, but has the opposite instinct: to run away from it. The show sends him directly home and to bed, where he urgently makes love to Camilla. Maybe he’s just a victorious rock star bedding his wife on the night he wrote a hit song, or maybe the subtext is the same one that plagues his boring love songs. (I lol-ed to learn one was called something so dopey as “She’s the Storm.”) Billy wants to be a man who only has eyes for his wife and not his enchanting, infuriating colleague. He’s proving it — to her? to himself? — in bed.

Daisy Jones & the Six Recap