‘Nashville’ Season 5 Premiere: Rayna and Juliette Face Huge Life Changes

Thanks to its ardent fans, Nashville didn’t end with viewers wondering if Juliette Barnes would suffer the same fate as country-music legend Patsy Cline (who died in plane crash) who she played in a fictitious movie that got her a fictitious Academy Award nomination. After losing to another actress, Juliette boarded a small plane to reunite with her on-again, off-again love Avery and daughter Cadence only to have her plane disappear.
Fans initiated a fervent letter writing and signed a petition, and their loyalty paid off when CMT and Hulu bought the rights to the show. So, in the two-hour season 5 premiere, “Wayfaring Stranger; Back in Baby’s Arms,” we find out if Juliette lives to sing another day as well as what the future may hold for Rayna, Deacon, Scarlett, Gunnar, Avery, Will, and Rayna’s incredibly-talented daughters, Maddie and Daphne.


Juliette’s Brush with Death
So, did Juliette survive? Yes, her plane went down in a field 20 miles outside Nashville, and Juliette is discovered still strapped into her seat (Who knew that seatbelt rule really mattered?) by a local woman who sings to Juliette to keep her alive while waiting for help to arrive.
Juliette doesn’t walk away from the whole ordeal completely unscathed, though. Predictably, she’s confined to a wheelchair and even though Juliette survived, she’s not exactly grateful for her current predicament. She’s avoiding public appearances and sulking in her hospital room. A discussion with her doctor reveals that Juliette may very well walk again, it’s just going to take some time, but that’s not good enough for the singing star.
In spite of being a raging bitch for most of season 4, Juliette still has a good support system: her fans, Glenn, Emily, Avery, Deacon and Rayna – all of whom have been regular visitors to the hospital. Rayna stops by once again and assures Juliette she has no doubt she’ll walk again. Juliette confesses that she believes she caused this unfortunate turn of events in her life thanks to all of her self-destructive behavior. She’s messed everything up in her life and being confine to a wheelchair is the result.
Juliette also recalls that an “angel” saved her life. She’s even able to sing to Rayna the song the woman sang to her. Rayna questions that if Juliette was doomed, why would an angel come and save her life, and Juliette responds “That is a very good question.” It looks like Juliette will be figuring out her higher purpose – at least for the next few episodes – until she goes back to being the diva we all know and love.
Highway 65: Detour or Demise?
Rayna gets some bad news regarding Highway 65. It cost her over a quarter of a million dollars to buy Maddie out of the Lennox Hill deal. Gunnar and Scarlett’s rekindled romance got them kicked off Autumn’s tour which means little to no momentum or sponsorships for The Exes latest album. There is nothing on the horizon which promises to bring in any revenue, and it’s royalties from Rayna’s old stuff that’s keeping Highway 65 from shutting its doors completely.
Rayna’s Mid-Life Crisis
Not all hope is lost. Rayna has a fan in a Silicon Valley-based billionaire (He invented an app called Bugaroo) named Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins) who invites Rayna out to play a gig.

Rayna’s family life is also vastly improved. She and Deacon are stronger than ever, and Maddie is back and still determined to make her own music which means she continues to do her best to distance herself from little sis, Daphne.
Rayna has a bit of a freak out when her plane hits some turbulence, but she arrives safe and sound. Still, she’s rattled from the experience and when she describes her panic attack to Deacon, he reminds her where this newfound terror is coming from – Juliette’s brush with death.
Rayna pulls herself together and meets with Zach Welles who is a huge fanboy and makes zero attempt to hide it. He is gracious and accommodating and eager to please Rayna in any way. The event is a benefit for Scleroderma (so he’s even a philanthropist) shelling out all this money for a good cause. Rayna suspects there aren’t a whole lot of country music fans in Silicon Valley, but Welles assure her she has one: him. And he’s the one that really matters.
Sure enough, Rayna takes the stage, and she can barely be heard over the chatter and din of silverware and glasses clinking. Welles is enthralled but his enthusiasm isn’t exactly contagious. Welles is apologetic and he and Rayna spend some time getting to know one another. Welles isn’t just a Rayna James fan, he’s a fan of country music in general. All of Rayna’s collaborations with men seem to wind up with them crazy about her, but will the charmingly-geeky Welles be the exception? Welles is likely to end up infusing some much-needed money into Rayna’s label in some capacity.
Welles asks why Rayna isn’t recording anymore, and she claims it’s because Highway 65 takes up so much of her time, but Welles doesn’t buy it. Eventually, Rayna admits that the business has changed, and she’s struggled so hard to keep Highway 65 afloat, she’s forgotten who she is as an artist.
Welles asks Rayna the title of the first country song she ever loved, and she reveals it was “Wayfaring Stranger” by Bill Monroe. She felt Monroe was looking straight into her soul and seeing all the pain and loneliness inside that she was trying to hide. The song made her shiver. Welles suggests that Rayna may need to find a way to start shivering again.
A little insight into “Wayfaring Stranger” gives a good hint at what this season of Nashville will be about. The song is about an everyman/woman (depending on what version and who’s singing) just trying to make his/her way through life. It’s not an easy journey, but the rewards usually outweigh the sorrow.
Juliette Searches for Answers
Juliette is released and arrives home to throngs of reporters speculating on her condition. Mum has apparently been the word regarding her inability to walk. The long-suffering Avery is by her side, but Juliette tells him he doesn’t have to go. She’s convinced that his undying devotion may wane if she’s permanently paralyzed.
Juliette has a nightmare about the crash which also includes the calming appearance of the “angel.” She wakes up and insists that Avery take her to the site where the plane went down.
They make their way to the site, and Avery wheels Juliette out into the empty field. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for, but she’s determined to give it a shot. She’s distraught when nothing comes to her, and when Avery asks her what she expected, all Juliette can say is she doesn’t know. She begins to sob and questions why she didn’t die.
Sibling Rivalry Part Deux
Maddie is struggling with a new song and is open to suggestions from everybody but Daphne. Maddie still thinks she’s above collaborating with her sister. Daphne plays a bit of Maddie’s song along with her own touches, for Deacon, Gunnar and Scarlett. Maddie overhears and is livid and accuses Daphne of stealing her song. Daphne insists she was just trying to help, but Maddie storms off, aggravated by what she views as Daphne usurping her territory.
Scarlett has a talk with Maddie and tries to get her to see writing music from a different standpoint. Scarlett explains that there is nothing more humbling than trying to be a creative person, and she’s always been thankful for help she’s gotten when she’s needed it.
Search and Ye Might Find
Rayna calls Deacon and tells him there’s no way she can get on a plane to return home. He urges Rayna not to give in to her fear since it will only make it worse. She curls up in the dark, watching an old video of Monroe singing the song that triggered her love of country music.
The next morning, Rayna gets a surprise visit from Deacon who is determined to help his lady love get back on that plane. But even after some morning delight, Rayna isn’t budging. She explains that her refusal to get on the plane is more about being scared. She feels lost. She’s lost sight of what she wants in life, and everything that happened with Juliette has just served to remind her that life is short, and she wants to make the most of it. But she can’t do that until she remembers who she is. Rayna decides to rent a car and drive back on her own. Think Wild with a cool convertible.
Avery wakes up to find Juliette staring at him. She apologizes for making him drive her out to the field and asks him to take her home. They stop at a roadside stand, and Juliette hears the same hymn the woman sang to her after the crash coming from a small church across the road. Juliette enters and spots her angel – and if you want to talk about shivers – the look on Juliette’s face at seeing the woman is enough to make you grab a sweater.
Rayna stops at a gas station on some back road and hears something that catches her attention. It’s an elderly gentleman singing “Wayfaring Stranger.” He’s an old guy who has no idea who Rayna is, but he asks her to sing, advising her that singing is good for the soul, and it just might bring her the joy she’s looking for. He resumes the song, and after some pause, Rayna quietly joins in.
The Honeymoon is Over
Scarlett and Gunnar may be together, but their relationship remains complicated. Autumn Chase may have fired them, but that hasn’t stopped her from calling and texting Gunnar non-stop, much to Scarlett’s annoyance. Gunnar’s giving his ex-fling the cold shoulder per Scarlett’s instructions, but she’s still jealous.
Rayna Gets Inspired
Rayna arrives home in a good mood. A long drive and a run-in with a sage old man singing her favorite song is all she needed to come up with a new project. Rayna wants Deacon to co-write an entire album about their relationship. She also wants him to sing with her too. Given the rocky nature of their romance, this is bound to bring up some very nasty issues. If it ain’t broke, Rayna, don’t try and fix it. Deacon doesn’t exactly jump at the idea, but he doesn’t seem eager to face the consequences of turning down her request either.
Rayna still has a label to run, and she meets with Gunnar and Scarlett to discuss their options. Bucky is trying to find them another tour, but times are tough. Rayna is determined to keep The Exes momentum going by releasing another single right away. Unfortunately, the one she loves isn’t a favorite of Scarlett’s.
When Rayna pitches the idea of her duet album to Bucky, he’s got reservations. He’d like Rayna to do something more commercial; to partner up with someone who has a bit more of a fan base than local legend Deacon. Bucky reminds Rayna that she didn’t want people to view Highway 65 as a vanity project. Rayna doesn’t care what people think. She wants to do something personal and artistic, and she’s convinced that this is it.
After battling with Bucky, Rayna gets a call from Zach Welles. He’s interested in getting involved in the music business and is planning a trip to Nashville. Zach asks Rayna if they can meet, so he can “hack her cloud.”
Rayna recounts her day to Deacon, and she’s disgruntled. Bucky actually cares about making money and keeping the business afloat which annoys Rayna. She’s also not down with hanging out with Zach Welles since she holds him and his ilk responsible for the downfall of the music business.
Maybe Deacon figures he’s got nothing to lose by kicking a girl when she’s already down, he questions whether doing an album with him is the best way for Rayna to spend her company’s money. Deacon knows he’s not a huge draw, but Rayna assures him this project isn’t about the money, it’s about them. Deacon finally admits that he just doesn’t want to do the record. Deacon doesn’t want to revisit the bad old days. He’s just coming out of one of the worst years of his life, and he doesn’t want to wallow.
Rayna reminds Deacon that nobody knows better than him that some of the best music comes out of the darkest places. Rayna really doesn’t want to take no for an answer and pleads with Deacon to think about it.
Big Willy
For the first time in a long time Will Lexington is doing well. He stood up to the conservative talk-show host and she-demon, Cynthia Davis. He’s on everybody’s radar, and people are throwing free food, free clothes and themselves at him. Will’s back with Kevin, and they are dating out in the open. So, no more shame sex for Will. He’s also playing to huge, receptive crowds who aren’t throwing beer bottles at his head.
Juliette may have spotted the woman who found her after the plane crash, but she still doesn’t know who she is, and she wants Avery to find out. He questions why Juliette can’t do it herself, and she tells him that she can’t go out and let people see her in the wheelchair. Avery reminds Juliette that she’s lucky to be alive, and the fact that she survived is all that matters. He tries to reassure her that it doesn’t matter what people think. In fact, they’ll probably think she’s brave. Let’s face facts, this plane crash couldn’t have come at a better time for Juliette who had just admitted to her part in Jeff’s death.
Avery’s pep talk doesn’t lift her spirits, but Juliette does begrudgingly agree to go looking for her guardian angel herself.
Your Cheatin’ Heart
Scarlett is incapable of not sabotaging her relationship with Gunnar which is why she starts badgering him about the song they’re about to release. Scarlett knows it isn’t about her because the woman Gunnar wrote about has golden eyes. Gunnar says it’s not about any woman in particular. If anything, it’s about him, and his push-pull relationship with Scarlett. Either he’s trying to get over her or start over. Gunnar feels like he’s always in the wrong place with the wrong person and saying the wrong thing.
The Last of the Red-Hot Lovers
If the premiere is any indication, viewers are going to watch couples implode left and right. Avery doesn’t know where he stands with Juliette since she’s convinced he’s going to get tired of taking care of her and the baby. Will is basking in the attention of a very flirtatious fashion designer named Jakob Fine, and while Will’s lips may be saying no, his brain appears to be seriously taking the idea of stepping out on Kevin under consideration. And Deacon decides to spend a few weeks playing guitar for some young YouTube sensation which knocks the wind right out of Rayna’s sails.
But one couple is really circling the drain, Scarlett and Gunnar. She decides she doesn’t want to release the single. Gunnar is confused as to why she seems to suddenly have an issue when he hadn’t heard a peep out of her when they recorded it, or when they played it on tour night after night.
Scarlett unleashes a litany of complaints she’s apparently been holding onto. Primarily, why it is that ever since she turned down Gunnar’s proposal, he has been throwing his love life in her face. First, there was her best friend Zoey. Then there was the sound chick, Erin, and last but not least, Autumn Chase. Scarlett is trying to get past it, but that particular song is a painful reminder and singing it makes her want to slap the hell out of him.
Scarlett turns to her uncle for advice, and Deacon tells her that couples fight. Scarlett confesses she fears that she’s punishing Gunnar for things he can’t change. She’s worried she’s inherited her mama’s mean streak. Deacon is confident that Gunnar loves Scarlett, and they’ll get through this together.
While Deacon might be able to comfort his niece, the tension between him and Rayna continues to grow. He admits that she’s put him in a no-win situation. He either does an album he doesn’t want to or risks disappointing her, again. Deacon’s feeling a bit emasculated since he lives in Rayna’s house, and she pretty much calls the shots.
If You Wanna Know, Just Ask Somebody
After spending the better part of the episode accumulating reasons to stay single, at last there’s a respite from all the romantic turmoil. Juliette and Emily return to the church, and Juliette speaks to Pastor Lewis. She describes the woman who came to her aid, and he knows her well. She’s quiet and shy and didn’t want any media attention which is why she didn’t reach out to Juliette. Juliette promises she has no intention of disrupting the woman’s life. All she wants to do is thank her. Pastor Lewis offers to pass along the message. Juliette wants to call her, but Pastor Lewis refuses to give Juliette the number. He does agree to give the woman, Hanna Lee “Hallie,” Juliette’s number.
Pastor Lewis tells Juliette that God has a great plan for her, all she has to do is ask him.
Kiss, Marry, Kill?
Scarlett and Gunnar make a radio appearance, and when Scarlett arrives at the studio, she kisses Gunnar and promises him that she’s getting over it. The best part is we get to hear the duo sing, which is what they do best.
Rayna and Deacon also kiss and make up, and Deacon is on board with the album. But with Deacon and Rayna, history has a way of repeating, so don’t count on a happily ever after for them just yet. Rayna has an admirer/stalker who knows where she lives and sent flowers proclaiming that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved (She assumes they’re from Deacon.)
Do you think Rayna’s stalker is a deranged fan or someone she knows? Could it be Zach? Can Will be faithful to Kevin? Will Juliette start going to church every Sunday? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Nashville airs Thursdays at 9/8c on CMT.
(Image Courtesy of CMT)