‘Nashville’ Season 5 Premiere, Part 1 Recap: New Network, Same Drama Level
When it was announced that Nashville, canceled by ABC in May, would return to TV, this time on CMT, it seemed like there were more questions than answers: Considering the cliffhanger at the end of the show’s fourth season — after which viewers were left wondering whether or not Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette Barnes would survive a plane crash — and fans' petitions to bring the beloved drama back, it was almost inevitable that the show would return. However, with a new network, new showrunners, a few of the TV show's stars declining to return and still more new faces joining its cast, fans have been wondering what a resurrected Nashville will look like.
The first half of Nashville's Season 5 premiere -- which aired three weeks early, on Thursday night (Dec. 15) -- starts off with just as much drama as the show's previous four seasons should have prepared viewers for: A weary-looking Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) heads to an old-timey gas station for a fill-up when she hears a blind man playing “Wayfaring Stranger,” which seems a pretty ominous entry point. Then, we see the wreckage of Barnes' plane.
Viewers quickly learn that Jaymes has got plenty of chaos in her life as well: In the midst of Barnes' plane crash and Jaymes' attempts to free her daughter, Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella), from the claws of a predatory record label in Season 4, there comes the news that the Exes (Gunnar Scott and Scarlett O'Connor’s band-slash-limitless well of romantic tension) have been kicked off their tour with Autumn Chase (Alicia Witt), and that Jaymes' record label is flat broke. So, to make a little cash, she flies to Silicon Valley to perform at a fundraiser thrown by tech executive Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins), who describes himself as a “fanboy,” though pretty much no one else at the party seems to really care about the performance.
Meanwhile, Barnes ... well, you're going to have to watch to learn what's going on there, but here's something worthwhile: Her ex-husband, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), seems like he's made some progress from Season 4, when he was romancing Layla Grant (Aubrey Peeples, who is not returning for Season 5).
It seems fair to say that every Nashville relationship will see its fair share of drama this season: Maddie Conrad, now back at home with Jaymes, is feuding with her sister Daphne (Maisy Stella) over breaking away from their partnership and coming into her own as a solo artist. Scott and O'Connor are back together ... but if previous seasons are any indication, that won’t last too long. And even Jaymes and the nerdy tech exec seem to have plenty of chemistry, which could spell trouble for her relationship with Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten).
The most drama, though, might just be in Jaymes' relationship with herself. After refusing to fly back to Nashville following her trip to San Francisco, she heads out on a road trip across the country to find herself, and encounters that blind man from the beginning of the episode, who serves as an oracle of sorts. She sings with him and has a revelation that viewers will likely find out more about in the second half of the premiere episode.
The writers of Nashville manage to cover a whole lot of ground in Season 5's first hour, answering a lot of the questions that remained following Season 4's shocking cliffhanger and raising plenty more that will be fascinating to watch play out throughout the new season. To be sure, it’s going to be as crazy a time as ever for your favorite fictional country music stars.
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