Nashville‘s Season 4 premiere was — true to form — a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll and a whole lotta good. Not only did the glitzy episode answer several lingering questions (yes, including Deacon’s fate), but it also tackled a bevy of hot-button topics, proving it’s much more than just a country soap opera.
Truth be told, it was tricky just narrowing down my favorite moments from the premiere. It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of the show since the series premiere, so I’ve been waiting impatiently since last season’s finale to find out what happened during Deacon’s liver transplant, whether or not Juliette was going to get the counseling she needs and much more.
More: 10 Reasons Nashville has changed country music
Happily, the irresistibly twangy series did not let me down. Here are 10 scenes that were so good, I very nearly packed my bags so I could move to Music City and
stalk shadow the stars.
1. Deacon is…
Not dead! Hallelujah! Although they had us on the edge of our seats for the first five minutes, we discovered that the complication during Deacon’s liver transplant had to do with his sister, Beverly. She had an aneurysm and is in a medically induced coma, and Deacon is alive.
Seriously, though. This show would not be the same without Deacon, and it definitely wouldn’t be the same without Deacon and Rayna.
2. Juliette’s spiral
In an emotionally gripping moment, Juliette Barnes lets own her guard for a minute, goes into a bathroom stall, gets sick and calls Rayna hysterically crying. It’s the kind of compelling acting fans have come to expect and adore from petite powerhouse Hayden Panettiere. And, clearly it furthers the conversation surrounding postpartum depression, which is necessary and relevant and important.
3. Avery and his parents’ heart-to-heart
Last season ended on a bad note for Avery and Juliette, when she ran off in the throes of postpartum to pursue fame and the spotlight. Now, we learn, Avery is with his parents in Ohio, where he is constantly being barraged with images of Juliette in the media. At one point, his mom walks into the kitchen, and the two begin to talk. “You took a vow to be a husband, not a martyr,” his mom says, “and you can’t be a husband to someone who’s not here.” His dad chimes in, telling Avery he and his little girl, Cadence, could stay in Ohio. “I know it’s not a glamorous life, but it’s a good one,” the dad says. It’s a really touching scene (even if the dad is a tool sometimes), and an important reminder of the importance of home and having a solid support system.
4. Steven Tyler, y’all!
Listen, I love country music. I’ve been a fan my whole life. (Hi, my name’s Julie. I’m from Charleston, South Carolina, and I’m a country-music-aholic.) You know what else I’ve loved my whole life? Music by Aerosmith/Steven Tyler. So, yep, I’m totally on board the rock-star-on-the-country-stage train. (For the record, I love Tyler’s new country sound, too.) Also, can we just talk for a minute about how Panettiere totally held her own next to this rock god? That girl is good, you guys.
5. Gunnar and Scarlett’s chemistry
It’s not that I don’t like the hunky doctor Scarlett is dating. But the fact that I could not tell you his name probably serves as an indication that I am totally Team Gunnar and Scarlett. Garlett? Gunnett? Whatever their ‘ship is called, these two are so good together. I will happily buy any music they put out, “exes” or otherwise. The steamy kiss they shared tonight hints at otherwise, and that’s OK by me. And also apparently by all the other Nashies out there, too.
6. Deacon’s brotherly love
Now that Deacon’s liver has apparently successfully transplanted, he is feeling better — but he hasn’t left coma-stricken Bev’s bedside. Actor Charles Esten brings so much empathy and sincerity to the role of Deacon! Whether it was strumming the guitar and singing Beverly a sweet song or letting his emotions take over when she starts to wake up, Deacon had some heartrending scenes.
7. Between two worlds
After the kitchen convo, Avery has a lot to think about. Walking through his childhood home and looking at memorabilia from his youth, it’s hard to gauge which way he’s leaning — even when he first sits down with his mom and dad, telling them about how good he knows his life would be “if we stay here and teach Cadence how to swim at First Pres, like me.” But ultimately, he says, Nashville is home. “When Cadence looks at me, I don’t want her to see someone who gave up his dreams without a fight or walked away from his marriage when it got hard… Nashville is home, whether Juliette’s there or not.” I, for one, have so enjoyed watching the arc of Avery’s evolution over the past four seasons. He’s come a long way, and he is finally coming into his own.
8. The rage of Juliette
Juliette Barnes is to Nashville what Cookie Lyon is to Empire. She has the sass, and she has the talent to back it up. Both women are at the top of their game in their respected genres, but that comes at a cost. In Barnes’ case, when witty one-liners and scathing insults fly, trouble is brewing beneath the surface. Panettiere is, once again, brilliant in this scene (and her skin is flawless).
9. Will’s identity crisis
Nashville isn’t content to just churn out an incredibly entertaining show, which they do. Rather, they are bringing more to the table — much like postpartum depression, and they’re jumping into important social dialogues. And, thus far, they’re handling Will’s identity crisis with fantastic nuance. Having come out at the end of last season, Will (played by the ever-adorable Chris Carmack) struggles to find where he fits in. In this particular scene, he tells Kevin, “I don’t belong in my old places. I don’t belong in there. I just… don’t belong.” It’s heartbreaking and poignant.
10. The potential spin-off of our dreams
Although Will looks decidedly less enthused than Gunnar about Avery and little baby Cadence moving in, this looks like the start of something beautiful to me. Can I get an amen for this potential spin-off idea?