Our prayers to Connie Britton's hair were a success, people: Both Britton and Hayden Panettiere have signed on for season five of Nashville, now brought to you by the folks over at CMT. With Britton and Panettiere’s contracts squared away, it’s a safe bet that season four’s anger-inducing cliffhanger, which saw Juliette’s plane go missing just as she was making headway on the Avery Apology Tour, will end with Jules alive and continuing to spread panic in the hearts of country ingenues once more. Or, you know, she’ll be suffering from amnesia or something, in which case, I am here for that also.
Season four of ABC’s prime-time soap — which was bogged down by the Maddie Situation and struggled to deal with the loss of Panettiere for a string of episodes while the actress dealt with personal issues — was uneven at best. But like one of those scruffy upstarts who wanders into Highway 65 looking to kick-start his dreams, there’s still a potential for greatness here. Here are a few tweaks that might bring us back to peak Nashville:
Get Rayna and Juliette in a room together, ASAP.
The leading ladies of Nashville are magic together, and early Nashville knew that. Whether as adversaries or allies, the show works best when Panettiere and Britton are sharing screen time. The only good thing to come out of the entire Maddie debacle was that one glorious scene in which Rayna fell to pieces on Juliette’s doorstep. Put Rayna and Juliette on tour together and let those gals do what they do best — which is, of course, slay (all day).
Pack up the kids’ table for a little bit, please.
Everyone can agree that Maddie Conrad is the Absolute Worst. Her emancipation story line was relentless and infuriating. Don’t get me wrong, I’d watch Lennon and Maisy Stella sing all day long, but how about we dial back the teenage angst in season five? I come to Nashville for the angsty adults.
The revolving door of guest stars needs to slow down.
Nashville has the perfect premise for bringing in guest stars — especially those in the music biz — who come on for a quick multi-episode arc and then split, but at what cost? It’s hard to get attached to any new character, because if history’s taught us anything, that person will sing us a song or two and then be on his or her way after killing her ex-husband, having her car set on fire, or being Elton John.
Give Deacon a win.
That. Poor. Guy. Yes, Deacon’s brought a lot of trouble upon himself over the years, but his sponsor turning against him to help Maddie win emancipation was just downright cruel. Maddie being terrible I get, but et tu Frankie? It’s tough watching a guy who’s trying his best to get beat up both literally and figuratively. Deacon deserves a win, preferably career-related. Let the industry legend remind us how he earned such a distinction.
Now that Scarlett and Gunnar are together, please let Scarlett and Gunnar be together.
Scarlett and Gunnar are the worst kind of "will they or won’t they" because we’ve always known that they most certainly will again and again. Scar just can’t resist Gunnar’s plume of product-enhanced hair and everyone in Nashville is hip to it. Does anyone even remember the name of the baby doctor Scarlett pretended to be into? No. We were all just biding our time until the exes got over themselves long enough to get back under each other.
Avery and Juliette should find their way back to one another ... eventually.
Avery and Juliette have to be the endgame here, but a quickie reconciliation rings false. There are a lot of trust issues that need to be addressed before they should fully commit to one another again. Plus, remember how fun their courtship was? Juliette went out into the streets of Nashville incognito, you guys. Not only is she a country superstar, but she also has magical powers like putting on fake glasses and becoming unrecognizable. Let’s do more of that, please.
Give Will Lexington (and Chris Carmack) more to do.
Over the course of four seasons, Will Lexington has gone from closeted gay country singer to openly gay country singer. While it’s an important story, and Chris Carmack has played the hell out of it (Will finding closure with his dad was especially moving), it’s time to give the guy more than one defining characteristic. With Will Chase’s departure from the show, maybe Mr. Lexington will be in need of a new label. Send him over to Highway 65 — we all know they could use an act that sticks around.
Find a worthy adversary for Juliette.
Juliette Barnes (and Hayden Panettiere) is never more fun to watch then when she’s deemed an underdog. There must be someone within the Nashville city limits who can give Juliette a run for her money. Even as Layla crept into Single White Female territory, she was never a real threat to Jules’s fame or family. Juliette Barnes deserves better, and we all deserve the chance to watch her dress someone down for being a hack in a public setting again.
Set Scarlett’s sweaters on fire.
Last but certainly not least, can we get rid of Scarlett’s knitwear collection? The girl lives in Nashville, Tennessee, yet her heavy sweater and crocheted hat collection knows no bounds. Set your clavicle free, girl!