By Allan Colpaert (@AllanAJM)
It’s good to have Nashville back! Nashville’s fifth season, after the much-publicized news of it heading over to CMT, starts off by showing viewers that it’s still full of heart and can trigger plenty of emotions. From the first few minutes of the premiere, it feels as though the show has returned to the authenticity from back as it was in the first season.
There is an almost “cable-show” feeling to it with this move over to CMT, and in my opinion, fits Nashville better than when it was previously on ABC. The scenes now seem longer than usual, lingering on the characters, and yet, not so much that one could get bored by the dialogue. The storyline for the season is set up with Rayna off on a journey of discovery while facing a new normal with Deacon and their girls and Highway 65 struggling financially. Also, Juliette’s shocking plane crash creates a wave of emotions which result to new challenges for her and Avery.
CMT’s version of Nashville seems to feature less “drama for the sake of drama” and the reflection of both protagonists - Rayna and Juliette – on the meaning of their life feels right and almost real in the relationship process. The emotional levels are right where they need to be for a show like this.
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the country music featured on the show. With the shift to CMT, the music is far more elaborate and in line with the season 1-style of country music.
The understanding of characters and relationships seems to have become a priority for new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick.
Rayna and Deacon (Connie Britton and Charles Esten) are in a much better place following the events of seasons past. They are a finally a “normal” couple - as normal as they can be in the country music industry that is. It’s a relief to see that they’re on the same page and not struggling with alcohol addiction problems. It’s nice to see them laughing and teasing each other, especially in scenes of episode 2.
Rayna, thanks to her journey to return to her roots, is appealing as always. There are scenes in the premiere where she reflects on her career as a once top artist now in decline and her struggling label. As a fan, these scenes were beautiful to watch and I hope the show continues to highlight her rise.
Deacon is yet another character who has seemed to find peace with himself even if there are some small issues to solve in his couple with Rayna. It allows us to see him bound with his niece Scarlett (Clare Bowen) during some encounters in the premiere. Ultimately a logical family reunion that we’d missed between these two in the last seasons.
Even though the writers decided not to focus on Maddie and Daphne Conrad (Lennon and Maisy Stella), they surely are going to increase their lost sisterly-bond as suggested in the premiere with their cute duet “Your Best.”
As for Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett, things are a bit more complicated – as usual. They are together but things get tense especially for Scarlett. Although she’s a fan favorite, the second episode shows us a different, not so nice side of Scarlett. Fortunately for everyone, she quickly realizes it and drops the attitude. Musically speaking, her career as a part of a duo is on the right path thanks to Rayna’s Highway 65.
Their friend Will Lexington (Chris Carmack) seems to be free of his old demons as a gay country singer. He finally feels comfortable with himself and is seen going out on a date in public with his boyfriend Kevin (Kyle Dean Massey) as well as performing in front of an ecstatic crowd. There is a sort of soap opera cliché that gets avoided in episode 2 by the writers which gave Will some credibility, something which may not have happened on ABC.
But perhaps the most important part of the Season 5 premiere was certainly Juliette (Hayden Panettiere). She’s been through a lot since the show first started but she may have her silver lining after all. The plane crash she survived is so rightly written and wonderfully acted that fans can almost put ourselves in Juliette’s skin. She’s on the road to redemption now and her character feels far more grounded than before. This is further shown through her relationship with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) who remains compassionate and patient with her and surprisingly, Juliette accepts his help and support.
Overall, ABC’s cancellation but CMT’s rescue could be a fresh boost that should please all the Nashies. Let’s see what’s coming up next…