CODA*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Alex
Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a senior in high school and the only hearing member of her deaf family, including her father Frank (Troy Kotsur), mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin), and older brother Leo (Daniel Durant). She works on her father’s fishing boat with her father and brother and enjoys singing as she does so. She translates for her entire family and for their business to the hearing people on the docks, and when money doesn’t come in like they think it should, Leo suggests selling their own fish directly. Meanwhile, Ruby spends her days at school with her best friend Gertie (Amy Forsyth), where some of the other kids make fun of her for smelling like fish and for having a deaf family.
Ruby has a crush on Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and so when she sees him signing up for choir, she does so as well. After school, her parents pick her up in their truck with the music blasting, embarrassing Ruby. She accompanies her parents to a doctor’s appointment and has to be deeply embarrassed when having to translate the information that they have jock itch (a common ailment among fishermen for being in damp clothes) and the doctor orders them not to have sex for two weeks, which they say is impossible. As the family has dinner together, Leo swipes on Tinder.
Choir class begins, and the teacher, Mr. Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) asks each student to sing a little so he can learn their vocal parts When it’s Ruby’s turn, she becomes too nervous and emotional and runs out of the room. She goes to the water and sings by herself, but then returns home to discover her parents arguing over money, having credit cards being declined and bills mounting. Frank says maybe they sell their boat. Meanwhile, at the docks, all the fishermen are told that they are going to have to pay eight hundred dollars a day out of pocket for federal observers to come to make sure they are following all their regulations, deeply frustrating all the fishermen who say they can’t afford it.
Back at school, Ruby goes back to Mr. Villalobos and explains when she was little she used to get made fun of for the way she sounded because she spoke like a deaf person, and she sometimes gets nervous. Later, Mr. Villalobos finally hears Ruby sing and is very impressed with her voice. He eventually chooses her to sing a duet at the fall concert and pairs her with Miles. He instructs them to practice together. At the docks, Ruby finds that Leo is selling the fish for less than they are worth and yells at him about it. She runs into her father outside smoking weed.
At school, Mr. Villalobos has Ruby and Miles sing their duet from him and finds they are totally out of sync – they practiced separately, not together. He tells them to fix it and afterward asks Ruby what her plans after graduating are. Ruby says she isn’t going to college because her family can’t afford it. He, an alum of the Berklee College of Music, says they have auditions coming up and have scholarships. He asks her how she feels when she sings and she signs her response. He offers to tutor her to prepare her for the audition but warms her not to waste his time. She accepts.
When Ruby tells her mother, Jackie doesn’t seem excited, hurting Ruby’s feelings. Jackie wonders if she was blind if Ruby would take up painting. Meanwhile, Leo has the idea to start a co-op for their sales, but Frank says it would never work because the other fisherman thinks he’s a joke. Angry, Leo goes with the fisherman to their local bar, but can’t really communicate with them. When someone spills their drink on him, he gets into a bar fight, Gertie, who works at the bar, talks to him after – communicating via text – and the two ends up making out in a back room.
Miles comes over to work with Ruby on the duet. Slightly uncomfortable and not knowing where to look, the two sing back to back. It begins to work until they are interrupted by the sounds of Frank and Jackie having sex. Ruby stops them, humiliated, and is further humiliated when the two sit Ruby and Miles down to have a sex talk with them that Ruby is forced to translate. At school, other kids begin making fun of Ruby about her parents and she angrily confronts Miles for telling. Miles insists he just told one person but Ruby storms off. At practice, Ruby works on her piece, “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. Mr. Villalobos encourages her to get angry and sing from emotion.
A council address the fisherman about the observers. Frank ends up standing up to speak, which Ruby translates. He tells the council to suck his dick, and decides to use Leo’s idea – he says they’re starting their own co-op and tells everyone to bring their catch to him and he will sell it for double. At home, Jackie is horrified. Leo says they can finally be part of the fishing community, but Jackie says they aren’t and will never be since they can’t communicate with them. Frank points to Ruby as their way of communicating.
Ruby begins working constantly on the new business doing all the translating and keeping up her very busy practice schedule. Jackie tries to communicate with the other wives but feels left out. Mr. Villalobos gets angry with Ruby for being late and not taking the work seriously. He warns her if she is late one more time he will be done tutoring her. Miles finds Ruby and tells her he’s sorry, that he actually admired that she has a family who all love each other, unlike his family.
At the business, a news crew comes to interview Frank and Jackie. Ruby needs to get to practice and Jackie yells at her that she can’t go. She accuses Ruby of wanting them to fail. Guilty, Ruby stays and translates for the interview then rushes to Mr. Villalobos‘s house, but he doesn’t answer the door, done with Ruby not being committed. At school, she goes to see him to apologize, but he refuses to continue with her, saying he doesn’t need a lesson in failure.
At home, Ruby tells her family about how much she loves singing and has a fight with the family about being their interpreter and how exhausted she is. Later, Jackie and Frank argue about Ruby going to college, with Jackie not wanting her to go, wondering what if she’s an awful singer. She says she doesn’t want her baby to go, and Frank says she was never a baby. Angry with her family, Ruby doesn’t go to work and the observer shows up to monitor Frank’s boat. While Ruby and Miles go swimming together and eventually kiss, the observer realizes there is no one hearing working on the boat and calls the coast guard – neither Frank nor Leo hear the sirens.
Frank’s license is suspended and he is levied with huge fines which he won’t be able to pay back without getting back on the water. The only way they can do that is with a hearing deckhand, which Jackie says they can’t afford to hire. Frank says Ruby is the hearing deckhand. Ruby becomes incredibly emotional asking how they can say it’s Ruby’s fault. When Frank says he’ll sell the business, Ruby agrees to give up on college and stay and work on the boat, insisting she’s excited. Leo gets angry and storms out. Jackie buys Ruby a nice dress for her concert and explains to Ruby that Leo just feels left out. Ruby says if anything she’s the one out. She asks Jackie if she ever wishes she was deaf, and Jackie tells her that when she found out she was hearing her heart sank because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to communicate with her, but she loves her the way she is.
Ruby goes to see Leo, who says Ruby can sing and needs to follow that. He says he hasn’t been able to do anything with the business and is tired of being babied and not being allowed to participate. Ruby says it’s only because it all involves talking to hearing people, and Leo says he doesn’t care, let the hearing people figure out how to talk to them. At the concert, the family can’t hear Ruby perform but Gertie tells them she’s doing good. Afterward, Mr. Villalobos introduces himself, attempting to say nice to meet you in sign but accidentally saying fuck you. He tells them they’re making a terrible mistake not letting Ruby go to school, but Ruby doesn’t translate it.
After the concert, Frank asks Ruby what her song was about and asks her to sing it for him. The next day, the whole family takes Ruby to her Berklee audition. The family is told they can’t go into the audition room with Ruby, who goes in and finds Miles, who says he choked at his audition. The audition begins and Ruby realizes she left her sheet music. She’s unsure how to go on when Mr. Villalobos enters and offers to accompany her. She starts off a little rough and Mr. Villalobos messes up the piano on purpose to let her start again. Her family enters up on the top row of the theater, and Ruby sings “Both Sides Now” while signing the words.
Frank trains a new hearing deckhand and the business begins going well. Jackie even bonds with the other wives. Miles learns some sign language. Ruby gets into Berklee and says goodbye to her family as Gertie drives her away. She stops and runs back to share a group hug with her family. She signs goodbye as the car drives away.
Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a senior in high school and the only hearing member of her deaf family, including her father Frank (Troy Kotsur), mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin), and older brother Leo (Daniel Durant). She works on her father's fishing boat with her father and brother. She has a love for singing and begins training with her teacher Mr. Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) to audition for a music college scholarship, but finds herself torn between wanting to do something on her own and the responsibility of being the translator for her entire family. She eventually gives up singing, but her family comes around to support her and she gets into school and leaves her family for the first time.