Nashville Season 5 Premiere Recap: “The Wayfaring Stranger” / “Back in Baby’s Arms”

After a huge cancellation at ABC, we’d thought Nashville was done forever. We’d thought we’d never see our beloved Juliette, Rayna, Deacon, Scarlett, Gunnar and the great country gang again. But the country gods stepped in, and CMT was happy to pick up where the show had left off last summer. And now the 2-hour season premiere has come and gone, leaving us breathless and wanting more. The first hour answers the main question of Juliette’s disappearing plane, as well as share new questions of Rayna’s identity crisis. The second hour, while very important for the minor characters, acts as a filler for what the rest of the season sets up for.

The opening scene begins with Rayna alone in her vintage convertible, sunglasses and baseball cap in all, pulling into a gas station. The manager notices Rayna as the country goddess she is, and asks for an autograph. Then she hears bit of a familiar song and wanders behind the station to find an old, blind man strumming a ukulele to “Wayfaring Stranger.” It’s a strange but beautifully haunting scene, especially since Rayna doesn’t want to sing along, just listen.

But before we can guess anymore, the scene flashes back to three weeks earlier, the horror of Juliette’s plane crash. The only survivor of the accident, she’s badly injured, hanging on for dear life. Thankfully, a woman shows up, calls 9-1-1, and finds Juliette. She spreads a white blanket over her while singing a gospel song that not only keeps her alive but drives us to tears. In pure ‘Nashville’ fashion, the crash was just a few miles from the main part of town, so of course everyone knows.

In the next scene, Juliette is wheelchair-bound, where we find out she’s shattered 2 vertebrae. The doctor is not sure if she’ll ever walk again, but Juliette’s attitude might not help matters. This is Juliette Barnes, after all. She’s grown a lot on this show, but not that much. Rayna, Avery and Cadence visit her almost every day, but it’s not enough to keep her spirits up. Rayna especially is more affected by her friend’s major setback than she is.

It doesn’t help that while Juliette is struggling through recovery, Rayna’s brainchild Highway65 isn’t doing well either. Since Scarlett and Gunnar got kicked off Autumn’s tour, Rayna has to figure out ways to bring in revenue. So she flies to Silicon Valley to do a corporate show for the tech app Boogaroo (what kind of name?). However, on the plane, Rayna has a panic attack! Poor girl always has everything on her shoulders.

She meets Boogaroo founder Zach Wells (Cameron Scoggins), who gives off creepy and overly-friendly vibes. He’s apparently a big Rayna fan, but his guests sure ain’t. They completely ignored her show, laughing over her deep and touching music. After the show, Zach gives a little too much advice about Rayna’s career and where he thinks she should go. Ok dude, we know you’re a big fan, but back away a little bit.

Back in her hotel room, Rayna tells Deacon on the phone that she doesn’t think she can get back on the plane to come home. It breaks my heart to see such a strong woman like her have fears and insecurities. Where’s the confident country music vixen we saw in season one? You’d think she’d finally be happy now that she’s married her true love. Plus she’s got semi-great kids (I’ll get to them later), and a beautiful home. Deacon also sees this as an issue because the next morning, Rayna opens the door to find him there!! So sweet!! They have a short reunion, but Rayna wants to go back home alone, so she sends her man off, packs up in that red convertible and hits the road.

Remember Maddie, that sweet, little girl we’d grown to love and adore last season? Me neither. Because she’s still being a little overdramatic brat. Especially to her little sister, Daphne. After all that had happened in season four — fighting with both parents, emancipation, moving in with Cash, almost getting with that sleazy producer, to finally coming home — you’d think she’d learned something. But nope, she’s back to being an insufferable pain in the ass. This week, the drama circles around her new song that needs a chorus. Daphne, still as adorable as she is, comes up with the perfect chorus, but Maddie gets upset because it was ~her song~. Can I remind her that these two girls were a duo back in the day? They’d wrote songs together all the time, and now Maddie is bothered? Thankfully, Gunnar and Scarlett show her that music is a team effort. It’s not just a one-man-show; anyone can be involved. Maddie eventually realizes, apologizes to her baby sis, and they do the song together. It’s lovely, perfect and awesome, but it’s only a matter of time before Maddie goes off on Daphne, or someone else. Or maybe she’ll surprise us with some character development. Who knows?

Meanwhile, Juliette finally comes home, amidst media traffic outside her house. But she suddenly has an need to go back to the crime scene. While her wheelchair gets stuck in the muddy grass, Avery carries her in his arms (squeal!!!) to the exact spot of where she was found. But there’s nothing there. She cries in Avery’s shoulder, “Why didn’t I die?” and I want to hug my television screen. The next morning, when I’m so certain that maybe Juliette’s angel-person wasn’t real, she hears the gospel again and opens the church doors to find her!! Sangin’ to the choir!! Hayden Panettiere’s tears of quiet joy make my heart burst out of my chest. Please someone, give this girl an Emmy!!

Also, I’d be here for a gospel album, Juliette. No pressure though.

Episode two highlights the minor characters we’ve missed in the first one, particularly Will, Kevin, Scarlett and Gunnar.

“Back in Baby’s Arms” starts with Will playing shows. It looks like he had nothing to worry about, because those fans were screaming how much they loved him. But Kevin isn’t happy about it. The worst part of it is that Will gets approached by a coifed, suave fashion designer who wants more than a deal with him. Don’t do it, Will!!

Scarlett and Gunnar’s relationship this episode is just confusing. It should be glorious that they have finally gotten their shit together and got back together. But Autumn Chase keeps texting Gunnar in hopes of just him coming back, but no dice. Rayna wants to release their track “All of Me” as the second single, but slight problem: Scarlett is so sure that Gunnar wrote it about someone else, not her. She doesn’t have “gold eyes”. Gunnar pathetically tries to defend himself saying, “Nobody has gold eyes.” Were you writing a song about the Cullen family from ‘Twilight’ then, because there must be a better reason.

But after a few chats with good ol’ uncle Deacon, Scarlett turns around and somewhat forgives Gunnar. The weird thing about this whole thing is, they didn’t really talk about the song and why Gunnar had written it. They just kissed, made up, and that was it. And they barely addressed Scarlett’s need to pick a fight with him in the first place; it’s just a song!! It could have been written for someone else, but who cares at this point? Scar just doesn’t know a good thing when it’s staring her in the face. I hope this doesn’t turn into a toxic relationship, but we’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile, Juliette tries to find out more about her angel-person, but all we know is that she sings in choir and is very shy. Luckily, the pastor (James Moses Black) promises to give Juliette a good word for her. Bless that poor child.

Finally, the episode ends with Deacon and Rayna struggling to get back on it. Rayna comes home fresh full of ideas, even a concept album with Deacon about their relationship. But Deacon is hesitant about the project because he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his dark past as a recovering alcoholic. Deyna go back and forth between “thinking” about the project or not. Deacon even talks to Scar about it, which she calls him an idiot!

And I kind of agree because Deacon should want to share his story and influence others, especially the fans. And it’s telling how Deacon had given Scarlett advice on her love life when his isn’t all that great. But in the end, he agrees to do the album with his wife hooray!! Of course, it’s after Rayna apologizes again for hurting Deacon’s bruised, fragile ego again, but hey! At least we’ll get a Deyna duets album.

So that were the first two episodes of the Nashville season five premiere. Although the second half ruined the hope and prayer of the first half, it was still a very good opener for an interesting season. I can already tell that it will be a much different scene than when the show was on ABC. Thank you to CMT for not giving up on a show we love so, very much.

What were your thoughts on “The Wayfaring Stranger” and “Back in Baby’s Arms”? Leave comments below.

Next week’s promo for “Let’s Put It Back Together Again”:

Maddie begins an internship at a recording studio and meets a street musician; Avery struggles producing a young YouTube sensation; Juliette meets her guardian angel.


Gifs by: whentherightonecomesalong

CMT’s Nashville airs Thursdays at 9/8c.

My accomplishments include an Associate's Degree from Middlesex County College 2014, with a major in Liberal Arts. Also, while learning about books, fashion, movies, and music, my hobbies include reading YA books, catching up on episodes of favorite TV shows, and embracing every opportunity to share my creativity through writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, check out my websites: 'PoetryBooksYA' and 'Paramore RK Life' on Blogger.