PEN15 season 1, episode 4 recap: Solo


In the last episode of PEN15, the girls struggled with keeping secrets from each other. PEN15 moves forward and makes Anna and Maya deal with boys and performing music in front of an audience.

Episode four of PEN15 starts by showing a fax exchange between Maya and her father, Fred, who is on the road with his band. Maya updates him about her life and he says he misses the family.

In band class at school, Maya tells Anna that Alex broke up with Heather. Anna is clearly excited because this is her chance to go out with Alex.

Before they can talk too much about it, the teacher tells everyone to settle in and he announces that this Friday is the “Night of Amazing Music” where the band (where Anna plays french horn and Maya plays timpani) and the choir perform in front of the whole school. Additionally, the teacher says they’ll be performing an original piece written by him.

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The band tries to play through the music for the first time, but the teacher has to stop them because Maya is messing up her part on the timpani. He flippantly tells her to just play it like her dad and her face drops a little.

This cuts to Anna and Maya at their lockers where, when Anna asks if Maya wants to watch her practice for her chorus audition, Maya says she has too much on her plate. She needs to focus on her three note solo for band. She reassures Anna that Anna’s the best singer she knows.

As they talk, Brendan (another kid in band) comes up to talk to Anna. She introduces herself, but he says that anyone who does music at the school knows who Anna is. It’s a short, awkward conversation. It seems like he might be interested in Anna.

Later, in Anna’s bedroom, she warms up her voice. She hears her parents talking and sneaks down the stairs to see her parents actually getting along and joking with each other.

Over at Maya’s, she’s practicing her timpani part by using a metronome and banging on an upside-down pot. Her practice is interrupted by a fax coming in from her dad. He asks her how things are going and she tells him about the upcoming concert—while claiming she has a “huge solo.”

At dinner, Anna’s parents are still in a good mood, teasing each other. Anna tells them about the concert and her band solo and (potential) choir solo. They both seem excited for her and say they’ll go for ice cream after the concert.

Maya’s dad, so proud of his daughter following in his musical footsteps, writes back to Maya that he’s coming home early from his tour to see her concert. Maya drops the fax and puts her head in her hands.

This transitions to another band practice, which sounds much better than the first (including Anna doing well with her solo). But Maya is very timid in the back and she messes up again. The teacher stops the song and gets increasingly frustrated with Maya as he tries to show her what she’s doing wrong (while doing no actual teaching, mind you, just yelling).

The bell rings and Maya asks if Anna will help her figure the song out after school. But, since Anna has choir practice, Anna asks Sam to help Maya. Maya doesn’t want Sam’s help but reluctantly agrees.

Before they leave, someone walks up and hands a note to Maya. Maya gets excited, only to find out the note is for Anna. They leave before finding out what the note says.

In science class, Anna tries to figure out what’s on the note, but it’s written in incredibly tiny print. Thankfully they’re using microscopes so she can try to read it. She doesn’t quite get to reading the note when the teacher says that Anna will be partnering with Alex for the day’s classwork.

Trying to be cute, Anna asks Alex to read the note for her since she doesn’t know how to use the microscope. The note is from Brendan, who wants to hang out with her sometime. She’s uninterested because she’s more into the now single Alex.

Changing the subject, Anna awkwardly asks about Alex breaking up with his girlfriend. She then invites him to the music concert—which is a mandatory school event.

In the band room, Sam works with Maya. He has her focus on her breathing and then has them listen to a cd through his headphones, which forces them to be head to head to listen. Maya then puts the headphones on and drums along with the music. Sam says it was good.

Elsewhere, Anna isn’t the only one auditioning for the choir solo. Another girl is trying out and sings a rendition of the Happy Birthday song. Anna is next up and sings her version of Happy Birthday which seems to blow the choir teacher away. Anna is given the singing solo while the other girl is given the sign language solo that accompanies it.

Later, Maya is working on homework with her family when her dad comes home. As he settles in, he asks Maya if she needs help practicing and says he’d love to see what she’s working on. But she says she’s killing it. He presses and she finally relents.

After dinner, the two set up in Maya’s room with a hamper standing in as Maya’s timpani. She starts freaking out and getting mad at her dad for speaking or looking at her. She tells him to look at the wall.

As she finally raises the mallets to start playing, her dad stops her because she’s holding the mallets wrong. They start arguing because, as a professional drummer, her dad is incredibly particular. By the end, Maya says she’s going to suck at the concert because of him.

Cut to the concert. Maya and Anna are backstage. Maya is very nervous, but Anna is just happy to see her parents came together. They also spot Alex in the crowd holding a rose.

The concert starts with Anna singing Ave Maria while Maya paces in the wings. As her solo ends, Anna sees her parents whispering and arguing in the crowd. Her mom gets up and leaves.

Meanwhile, Maya’s hands have cramped backstage and she can’t even pick up the mallets. It’s the band’s turn to play and Maya begs Sam to take her solo, but Sam tells her to just remember what he said (she doesn’t remember).

As the band settles in, Brendan compliments Anna on her solo. Anna takes the compliment, but mostly brushes him off.

The band starts the song and Maya is just as lost as ever. (Anna is nailing it, of course.) Panicked, Maya looks over at Sam who tells her to just breath. She does and…she starts playing like a crazy person.

Think: the end of Whiplash. She’s completely off-script. Drumming like crazy. The entire rest of the band stops and stares at her. Once she’s done with her spastic drumming, she motions for the teacher to go back into the song, but everyone else is now so thrown off that they play out of tune and the song is ruined.

The song peters to an end and Maya throws up on herself. It’s a disaster.

After the concert, Anna stands looking around. Brendan walks by, drops off a note and tells Anna not to read it right now. She grabs the note as her dad walks up. He says her mom had to leave early—she was in a mood.

Anna sees Alex heading toward her with his rose. But Alex walks right past her to give the rose to his ex.

Backstage, Maya’s dad goes to check on Maya. Maya confesses that she made up the long, improvised solo to impress him. He tells her that she didn’t need to do that to impress him. Before they can talk more, Sam comes up to Maya and Maya’s dad ducks out.

After joking around with Sam about what happened, Maya and Sam are joined by Anna who has Maya look at the note she was given. It’s Brendan asking Anna if she would like to go out with him.

Next. PEN15 season 1 premiere recap: First Day. dark

Anna circles yes on the note. This episode of PEN15 ends with them handing the note back to Brendan and Maya and Anna running off giggling about having a boyfriend.

The credits scene shows Maya’s dad and his band playing poolside for a grand total of around four people.

What did you think of this episode of PEN15? Let us know your thoughts on this first season of PEN15 in the comments.