Westside season 1, episode 5 recap: Pressure


After Taz bounced back in the last episode of Westside, Austin gave a super uncomfortable performance of the unfinished material. Hopefully, he brings more in this episode.

The fifth episode of Westside opens with Austin out for drinks with his manager and some people his manager wants him to meet. It’s, of course, another opportunity for Austin to complain about what he sees as a lack of talent within the ensemble—a group he claims he’s holding together.

As Arika and Alexandra sit down for ice cream they talk about how Austin’s attitude is starting to get on people’s nerves. Arika also confesses that she doesn’t like that she goes home and cries after workshops because of how vulnerable she’s been.

Shift to Sean getting ready for the next workshop which brings us to the first run through of the show after weeks of work. Pressure is building.

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A conversation between Sean and his husband, Andy, shows Sean again grappling with the group’s perception of him, artist versus producer. He is also very frustrated with Austin coming to the workshop unprepared. Andy talks with Sean about different strategies to be an effective leader, including trying to talk with Austin as a friend.

As Keith and Arika discuss her grappling with the reality of being open and vulnerable with her ensemble, the scene jumps over to Arika talking with Alexandra, Caitlin, Pia and Taz at a pool get together. After some prodding, Arika tells them a story where she got in a fistfight at a party.

With Keith, Arika says she doesn’t want to come across as a victim, even if her song is about being raped (which she had put as one of her stories on the whiteboard).

Taking a break from a boxing workout, Alexandra tells Taz that things are starting to get tough between her and her boyfriend, Indy. A FaceTime conversation between Alexandra and Indy shows them trying to talk through the effect the distance is having on their relationship. Taz agrees that she’s also having issues balancing the need to work on her music with her boyfriend’s want of her attention.

Speaking of relationships, Pia and her husband, Jimmy, go on a hike and talk about a tour opportunity that has come up for Pia. Though it’ll mean time apart, Jimmy is completely supportive of Pia following her dreams.

This leads into Pia’s music video “Candle in a Hurricane” about getting through tough times together with her husband.

Coming out of the video is a dinner with James, Caitlin and Sean, the first since they ate together after the ensemble got together for the first time. It’s another opportunity for Sean to talk through his conflicted feelings about how to deal with Austin being unprepared—he hasn’t sent in his monologue yet.

It gets awkward since James hasn’t turned in his lyrics. James has to step out from the dinner to write lyrics to meet Sean’s deadline. Inside, Caitlin and Sean grapple with being mad at Austin while not getting mad at their friend who has done the same thing.

In Alexandra’s one on one, she works with Keith on a song about her home. She tells him about the struggles she had and the limits of being a performer where she was, which caused her to search for success in L.A.

Elsewhere, Leo and Austin hang out in a park. Leo talks to Austin about how overconfidence can come off the wrong way to bother people. It’s a warning born out of what Leo did growing up in his boy band.

Leo’s music video “Future is in My Hands,” about growing up and becoming a man after being almost famous, comes out of this conversation.

It’s group workshop time and the ensemble gathers again at the Jim Henson studio. The nerves in the room are at an all-time high. It’s two and a half weeks before the final rehearsal.

Alexandra starts the session by singing “Divebar Dreamer,” followed by Leo’s “The Rooster.” A side scene shows Leo’s mother talking to Leo about how he’s been through the grind of the studio world and made it out and is happy now.

Before James’ song, the episode cuts to a short conversation between James and his sober friend about how James is still struggling with staying sober. Back in the workshop, James sings “My Black Motorcycle.”

After a short snippet of Pia slaying “Avatar” (of course), Austin is up. But before he gets up, the episode cuts to a private conversation between Austin and Sean. Sean takes a friendlier approach and tries to find a way to get on the same page with Austin.

For this workshop, Austin has something to show. He sings “Life Goes On” and there’s a bit of relief from the room and smiles on the faces of his friends.

Arika performs “Good Now” and, though she’s rocking the song, she yells at Keith for messing her up. They get back into the fierce, passionate song, but by the end, she looks completely drained emotionally.

As the group takes a break, Keith pulls Sean aside to express concern about Arika.

During that break, when the cameras weren’t rolling, but the mics were still on, Arika tells Leo she feels frustrated that she has to rip open these wounds of her life for this show. She’s angry and it seems to come from a fear of being exploited so people can use her pain.

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As the episode ends, Keith sits down with the ensemble to check in. As he’s talking, he breaks down and cries. He talks to them about how hard it is to create art like this. He says that a feeling of being exploited happens and makes the artistic process even harder, but that’s not why they’re here. They’re doing this because the art they create can then help others who get to hear it.

Is Arika going to make it through emotionally? Or are Keith and Sean asking too much? What are your thoughts on the episode? Let us know in the comments.