Nashville returns to CMT this month, which, is probably a huge relief to fans. Season 5 marked the show's move to cable after its cancellation from ABC. It also moved to CMT with new showrunners, a huge cliffhanger left over from the end of Season 4, and a 22-episode slate to fill, which is pretty atypical for cable. So you may need to recap Nashville Season 5 for a quick refresher on all that went down. But the show managed to juggle all its challenges last season super successfully, along with the departure of Connie Britton, who after four seasons wanted to leave the show on good terms to work on other creative projects.
Writing off your lead character isn't easy but Nashville made it work by refocusing the show as a character-driven ensemble narrative, giving the Stella sisters way meatier storylines (and, to their credit, they rose to the acting challenge and knocked it out of the park), and getting away from the twisty-turny plot-driven drama the primetime soap was known for at ABC. They also beefed up the cast with the additions of Empire alum Kaitlin Doubleday, The O.C. star Rachel Bilson, and Big Little Lies' Jeffrey Nordling in guest arcs. Season 6 returns with a more manageable 16 episodes, but here's a quick rundown of Season 5's major plot points.
Juliette Survived Her Plane Crash With Serious Injuries
In Season 4's cliffhanger, we learned that a plane carrying Juliette Barnes went missing, leaving fans in major distress when the show got canceled. Luckily, CMT picked it up and rescued Juliette: her plane went down in a field outside Nashville and she was the only survivor. She sustained serious injuries which left her temporarily paralyzed, so a big part of the season focused on her recovery. Another cool guest star in this subplot was Jen Richards, who played Juliette's physical therapist, and brought some much needed transgender representation to the show.
We Met Hallie
Juliette was rescued from the plane wreckage by a pastor named Hallie, who also happened to be a gospel singer and in a roots band. After attending church with her, Juliette felt inspired to make a gospel album, which both flopped and earned her criticism for cultural appropriation. She decided to manage Hallie as a performer and enlisted Avery to produce her album. But when Hallie and Avery hit it off artistically, Juliette grew jealous and started self-sabotaging. Avery took some space by going on tour and in the end, Juliette learned to trust him and they grew closer.
Rayna Hired Zach Wells
Rayna Jaymes' artist-led indie record company Highway 65 was struggling, so she accepted a gig performing at a private event hosted by app developer and Silicon Valley billionaire Zach Wells. They were an odd match, but Rayna relied on his digital expertise (and his money) to help her revive the label in exchange for 20 percent ownership. After Rayna's death, Zach brought on Alyssa, a branding expert, to help, but the artists were all turned off by the idea of doing branded content. They eventually revolted and Zach pulled his funding for Highway 65, but Deacon noticed that Zach was acting out because he's lonely. So he proposed a new partnership to keep Zach a part of the Highway 65 family.
Maddie Got A New Boyfriend
After ending things with Colton, Maddie met and started dating a street musician named Clayton Carter. He suffers from Bipolar Disorder and is a few years older than Maddie, but their relationship-threatening conflict arose when Maddie went off on a cop who pulled Clayton over while driving in her neighborhood. Maddie believed she was doing the right thing by challenging racism, but she neglected to take into account how she was endangering Clayton's life while relying on her privilege to argue with a police officer. They end the season by taking some space from each other.
Will Found (And Ended) A New Relationship
After getting cold feet about moving in with his boyfriend Kevin, Will Lexington realized his hesitation stemmed from deeper doubts about the relationship. They broke up and he started dating Zach, but after Zach's betrayal of the Highway 65 artists, Will broke up with him, too.
Scarlett Suffered A Miscarriage
The Exes shot a provocative music video with renowned director Damien George. Scarlett and Damien clashed when he tried to elicit more sexuality out of her than she was comfortable expressing, but she eventually snapped and unleashed a whirlwind of powerful emotions she'd been repressing. She was angry at being pushed out of her comfort zone but also intrigued by the man who got her to do it. After realizing they have chemistry, she broke up with Gunnar to pursue Damien. They slept together but she also slept with Gunnar around the same time, and Scarlett wound up pregnant. Both men wanted to raise the child, and when a paternity test revealed Damien to be the father, he offered to buy a mansion so the three of them could coparent together. Unfortunately, Scarlett and Gunnar got mugged before she gave birth and she suffered a miscarriage after the traumatic event.
The biggest thing to happen in Season 5 is, of course, Rayna's death. After struggling with fending off a stalker all season, Rayna finally escaped his clutches when he was arrested for holding her hostage. But, just when we thought she was safely on her way home from her harrowing ordeal, Rayna got into a huge car accident. Her injuries were severe and although she woke up after a four-hour surgery offering a glimpse of hope, Rayna went into organ failure soon after and died. This obviously left her family devastated, but it also left her concept album with Deacon about their love story unfinished. The Highway 65 artists all rallied behind Deacon and finished recording the songs together.
Daphne Learned She Suffers From Depression
After Rayna died, Daphne took it particularly hard and began to rebel by skipping school and hanging out with a group of homeless teens. Concerned, Deacon took her to therapy, where it was discovered that she suffers from depression and the death of her mom triggered her destructive behaviors. Daphne began to manage her mental health.
Deacon Found New Love
Deacon strikes up a romance after Rayna's death with an old friend and musician named Jessie, who has just gotten out of an abusive relationship herself. The pair find solace in each other since they're both grieving, but right before Season 5 ends, Highway 65's branding officer Alyssa planted a kiss on Deacon, too. He was caught by surprise but this might suggest a love triangle down the road.
Overall, Season 5 ended on a pretty uplifting tone after a dreary and dark season. It'll be interesting to see where Nashville goes from here, and you can catch it when it returns to CMT this Thursday, Jan. 4.
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