As Nashville’s fifth season plugs along, the relationships between the show's fictional country music stars are being tested just as much as they’ve ever been.

Episode 7, "Hurricane," opens up with Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) working on the album of duets that will be Rayna’s big country music comeback, following a long break to deal with all of the ongoing drama in her life. Highway 65’s new investor, Zach Welles (Cameron Scroggins), has suggested that a (vaguely creepy) filmmaker named Gene Buckholder film the duo as they record the album ... and he randomly shows up at the front door. Ever private, Rayna isn’t exactly excited to have Gene and his camera constantly breathing down her family’s neck, so she tries to set some boundaries, both with Zach and the filmmaker -- but that doesn’t seem to be the real issue at play; rather, Rayna and Deacon are trying to figure out how the hell they’re going to write this album together without inflicting too much pain as they retread their past.

The Exes, fresh off the release of their tumultuously made music video, wake up to realize that it has gone viral, racking up more than one million views online overnight. Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott’s (Sam Palladio) phones ring at the same time, bringing opportunities to appear on NBC and on the cover of a magazine. Scarlett asks Gunnar if he ever wishes that he’d done something different instead of being a musician, as if she’s not sure what the future is going to hold for herself or the band; as viewers start to wonder whether this video is the Exes’ big break, Scarlett seems determined as ever to hold the band back.

Meanwhile, the budding romance between Maddie Conrad (Lennon Stella) and street musician Clayton Carter (Joseph David-Jones) continues its up-and-down spiral. Clayton, who is well aware of the challenges that his bipolar disorder would bring to a potential relationship (not to mention their major, possibly illegal age gap) isn’t having a particularly easy time fending Maddie off: He says that he doesn’t want to fall for Maddie, but that ship has sailed, and Maddie is quite aware of it.

Rayna, however, isn’t so sure. As she’s tossing and turning in bed, no doubt worrying about how she’s going to record this album, figure out that whole stalker situation and parent Maddie, Deacon seems to think that things will all work out ... and Rayna abruptly brings up how easy it used to be for the two of them to write together before they were married and settled into domestic life. As the couple continues to try to write together, it becomes clear that they’re telling different stories, because they had different experiences in their years of estrangement: While Rayna was married and raising her children, nursing the heartbreak of not ending up with the true love of her life, Deacon was a drunk who was pining after Rayna. To break their writer’s block, Deacon and Rayna skip out of the writing room and head out on a date without a plan; they end up at a bowling alley, where they flirt and giggle together like a couple of teenagers (and end up making out behind the bowling alley).

Then, it's time for the Exes' appearance on Today with Damien George (Christian Coulson). Damien admits to “torturing” Scarlett while filming their viral music video, to force the vulnerability and passion out of her, and Scarlett agrees. After the interview, Gunnar -- who clearly thinks that Scarlett and Damien have a budding attraction -- insists that Scarlett go out to dinner with Damien while he finishes writing a song; the two have what seems like an innocent interaction, until Damien begins to shyly reveal that he sees something special in Scarlett.

Back at Rayna’s, Maddie and Daphne (Maisy Stella) are home alone when Maddie invites Clayton to come visit. The girls bake a cake, and all is well ... until Rayna and Deacon have their bowling alley date interrupted by the security company, informing them that their smoke detector has gone off. Maddie isn’t answering her phone, so the two rush home and realize that Maddie let the cake burn (probably because she was upstairs canoodling with Clayton). Rayna isn’t happy, but Deacon and Clayton have a moment, as Clayton recalls a show that Deacon played years ago -- which also probably makes Deacon think that he is too old for Maddie.

For a moment, it seems as though the Scarlett-Gunnar-Damien triangle is going to die down, until Scarlett and Damien run into each other outside of Highway 65's offices. Things are innocent — just a hug! — until Damien goes in for a kiss. As always, nothing is ever (ever!) settled between the Exes.

Because they’re still trying to figure out how to write music together again, Deacon and Rayna head to a rooftop for a little inspiration, and Deacon suggests that they write individually and then come back together. It’s a complicated subject, considering that Rayna wants to “touch on their pain without hurting each other,” and Deacon doesn’t seem to think that’s possible. The two end up in a fight, not speaking to each other, and filmmaker Gene captures it all ... until Rayna gives him the boot.

Later, Deacon is writing (or trying to write), door locked, when Rayna tries to get into the music room. When he opens the door, she's gone, and they have one of those really cheesy across-the-door moments. Deacon falls asleep on the couch, and Rayna comes in with her notebook and cuddles up with him, and admits that she thought it was going to be easier to tell their story; Deacon, then, points out that it wasn’t easy to live it. Rayna and Deacon are solid, but the future of this album is less set in stone ...

... That is, of course, until each of them admits that they wrote a song for the other. Of course, the two song parts fit together perfectly. Rayna and Deacon have found their groove and are working like old times, smiling and laughing and arguing and, ultimately, heading into the studio to write a song called “My Favorite Hurricane” together, which seems a pretty apt descriptor for their relationship. All is well.

All is less well, though, for Gunnar and Scarlett. Gunnar is jealous of Damien -- and he probably should be, because Scarlett admits to having feelings for him. The kiss they shared somehow slips her mind, but her affection comes as no surprise to Gunnar. But, Scarlett says, Damien's gone, and it won't be an issue ... but of course it still is. When the two head out to lunch together, they get in an argument; surprisingly, Scarlett summons a backbone and tells Gunnar to grow up, and that she’s staying with him.

But, of course, things get complicated. As Scarlett and Gunnar are ... ahem, "making up," she gets a series of texts from Damien, who -- surprise! -- never left because he’s in love with her. The saga between these two is really never over.

Episode 7 concludes with Rayna and Deacon headed into the studio to record “My Favorite Hurricane” together -- and It. Is. Gorgeous. The onscreen chemistry between Britton and Esten has always been obvious, but when they sing together, it creates a sort of cheesy magic that's impossible to dislike. Even the most cynical anti-romantic can’t help but smile at these two, even six seasons later.

Country Stars Who Have Acted in TV Shows and Movies

More From TheBoot