Nashville returned for its Season 5 premiere on a new network, CMT and we learned the fate of Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) after the shocking season ending plane crash.
If you haven’t seen the episode “The Wayfaring Stranger” please do not continue reading.
As the episode opens, Rayna (Connie Britton) is pulling up at a gas station. Before pumping gas for her, the young man there tells her how much of a fan he is of her music and asks for an autograph. Rayna agrees and then she hears an elderly blind man in the distance singing “The Wayfaring Stranger.” She goes over to talk with him. He asks her to join him in song but Rayna says that she rather listen to him sing. Something seems off about Rayna and the idea of her singing. We learned that this happened three weeks ago.
The next thing we see the aftermath Juliette’s plane crashed. The wreckage looks bad. There are some people lying on the ground not showing any signs of life. Then we see Juliette. Although badly injured, she opens her eyes a little. A woman is on her cell phone explaining about the crash and trying to get help for the injured. She spots Juliette. The woman covers Juliette so she doesn’t go into shock and then sings to her to keep Juliette from falling asleep.
Will (Jonathan Jackson) wakes up Gunnar and Scarlett (Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen) with the plan crash news. While across town, Maddie and Daphne come into Rayne and Deacon’s bedroom and all listen to a news report about the plane crash, which lists Juliette as the sole survivor.
Now, it is three weeks later and Juliette is in a wheel chair having suffered two shattered vertebrae. Avery is at the hospital with her as the doctor does tests to see if she has any feeling in her legs. Juliette doesn’t feel anything and fears that she will never walk again. But Juliette is connecting to her daughter Cadence, which appears to be the only bright spot in her life at the moment. Rayna comes to visit Juliette. “I caused this. I messed everything up in my life and this is the result,” Juliette tells Rayna, believing that this is payback for the less than decent life she has led. Juliette says that an angel saved her life. “If you were doomed, why would an angel come and save your life?” Rayna asks, giving Juliette food for thought.
Then, it’s on to the business of Highway 65 for Ms. James. Bucky tells Rayna that they had to pay $275,000 to get Maddox out of her Lennox Hill recording contract and as Gunnar and Scarlett were axed from Autumn’s tour, The Exes’ new album is not bringing in the kind of revenue they had hoped. “Are we in trouble?” Rayna asks candidly. “Bumps in the road” is Bucky’s response. In order to bring in money for Highway 65, Rayna agrees to perform at private charity event for a guy named Zach Welles, a self-proclaimed fan of Rayna James. However, while Rayna is singing, the attendees at the event are engaged in conversations, basically ignoring Rayna’s set. I felt badly for Rayna. But like a trooper, she finishes her song despite the non-interest.
After the show, Zach apologizes to Rayna and then asks her why she hasn’t recorded any new music. “I’m not recording anymore because I don’t have anything to say. I’ve worked so hard to keep my label afloat, I forget who I am as an artist,” Rayna says. She explains that Bill Monroe’s “The Wayfaring Stranger” was the first song she remembers that spoke to her as an artist.
Maddie is having trouble with the new song she is writing. She is angry when she hears Daphne sing her song (with additional lyrics that Daphne wrote). But after talking with Scarlett, Maddie apologizes to her younger sister for the way she acted and the two beautifully sing the new version of Maddie’s song together.
Juliette has a nightmare about the plane crash. She asks Avery to take her to the site of the accident so she can see it for herself. Every trace of the accident has obviously been cleared away. “I thought I was gonna die. Why didn’t I die?” Juliette cries to Avery. Later as she and Avery stop for some smoothies, Juliette hears heavenly singing coming from a church across the street. When she goes inside, Juliette sees the music is coming from the angel woman who saved her life. Juliette cries with emotion and gratitude.
Rayna is surprised when Deacon arrives at her hotel room. She tells him how she experienced a mini panic attack on the plane coming down there because of the turbulence (probably because of Juliette’s plane crash) and has decided to drive back to Nashville.
The next day (which is where the episode opened), Rayna hears the blind old man singing “The Wayfaring Stranger.” He encourages her to sing along with him as it may help her find the joy she’s been missing.
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