When the going gets tough — you’re probably in Nashville. There were many questions to be answered on the season 5 premiere of Nashville on Thursday, January 5, and it definitely delivered. What will life look like for Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) after surviving the plane crash? Will Highway 65 be able to recover from the series of blows it suffered last season? (ICYMI, Rayna’s label took several hits, ranging from Juliette and Markus Keen quitting, to Sadie Stone taking time off, to the Exes being fired from tour.)
And then you have all of the relationships: Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio), Will (Chris Carmack) and Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey), and Juliette and Avery (Jonathan Jackson). Will they live happily ever after or become the stuff of country songs?
CMT’s two-hour premiere was action-packed, to say the least. Here are the best five moments that were sure to make fans’ hearts melt, or ache, or — best of all — both.
1. Avery Stays by Juliette’s Side — Over and Over
Yes, she lived, but her life would never be the same. Cooped up in a rehab facility, Juliette was spending her days confined to a wheelchair (waiting to see if she would ever regain the ability to walk) and telling herself the plane crash was her fault. “I messed everything up in my life, and this was the result,” she told Rayna, who assured her she was mistaken.
Avery was also on hand, with Cadence, to encourage and support Juliette on the road to recovery. When she returned home and demanded Avery take her back to the site of the crash, he complied. When her wheelchair got stuck in the mud at the crash site, he picked her up and carried her to the spot she wanted to see. When she broke down in tears asking, “Why didn’t I die?” he held her in his arms. Despite her repeated comments making it clear that she didn’t believe he would stick around for long, Avery remained by her side, seemingly resolute in his decision to be with her. If Juliette stops spending her energy anticipating the moment Avery lets her down, they might make it yet.
2. Rayna Loses Herself in Silicon Valley — and Deacon Comes to Find Her
After getting a list of more bad news about Highway 64, Rayna (Connie Britton) headed to Silicon Valley to perform at a charity event helmed by a millennial tech-guru-turned-billionaire. Though it was clear no one at the event cared about country music except the host, he did do Rayna a big favor by asking her why she was no longer recording music — and not accepting her first answer.
At first, she said she was too busy, but after he pressed further, she admitted she didn’t feel like she had anything left to say. “I’ve worked so hard to keep my label afloat, I forget who I am as an artist,” she realized. She then called Deacon (Charles Esten) to tell him she couldn’t get on the airplane to fly home because she’d had a panic attack on the flight there.
To her surprise, Deacon showed up at her hotel determined to help her get on the flight. Instead, she ended up telling him she can’t fly — not because she scared, but because she needs to drive back, alone, to try to find herself again. Deacon said he was worried about her, but gave her the space she needed.
3. Scarlett Tells Gunnar How She Really Feels
From the beginning, it was clear that Scarlett was wary of her relationship with Gunnar. When Autumn Chase texted him, Scarlett freaked out — even though he hadn’t written back. “We are a thing!” Gunnar shouted. “Let’s just leave the past in the past, and get back in the bed.” Scarlett did get back in bed with him, but wasn’t ready to let the past go.
Naturally, more fights ensued, most notably about a song they were about to release as a single. Scarlett was convinced Gunnar had not written the love song about her, and was not happy about it. “Singing that song makes me want to slap the living hell out of you!” she said. It wasn’t a particularly nice thing to say, but it was honest, and it allowed her to acknowledge some of the not-so-nice feelings she was harboring around their romance. After a quick chat with Deacon, she saw the error of her ways and apologized to Gunnar. #Scunnar forever!
4. Will Resists Temptation
While out for Will’s birthday, Will and Kevin were approached by a dashing menswear designer. Well, to be accurate, Will was approached, while Kevin watched. The designer blatantly hit on Will in front of Kevin, who began to realize what Will’s fame would mean for their relationship. Before backing off, the designer invited Will to a trunk show of his clothing, and in an effort to prove to both Will and himself that he trusted his boyfriend, Kevin insisted Will go.
Will did go, and the designer did make a remarkably bold pass at him. While it was clear that Will was tempted, he said he had to pass. He returned home, where Kevin asked if the designer had tried to sleep with Will. Will assured Kevin that nothing had happened, and then suggested that they move in together. It was rather spur-of-the-moment and may not have been the best idea, but Will gets points for doing the right thing and not cheating … at least for now.
5. Deacon Agrees to Make a Concept Album With Rayna
Rayna arrived home with a new lease on life, completely excited about making a concept album with Deacon all about their relationship. To her surprise, Deacon didn’t want to do the album with her. He argued that the last year had been tough for him, and he didn’t want to relive all the pain through music. Rayna begged him to at least think about it, which he said he would.
When she kept bugging him, however, he finally snapped. “I go your way, or I live with disappointing you,” he said, arguing that wasn’t fair. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, but it’s just, I live in your beautiful house with your beautiful girls. It’s your label. It’s your world, baby. I’m just living in it. You make all the decisions.”
In the moment, Rayna said she wasn’t going to take the bait on his pity party, but after thinking about it, she came back and said that she was sorry for pressing him. He then said he would do it.
Tell Us: What did you think of the two-part season premiere of Nashville?
Nashville airs on CMT Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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