After ABC canceled Nashville shortly before the fourth season had ended (on a pretty big cliffhanger by the way), fans were angered and devastated. Thanks to enough outcry from the fandom, CMT picked up the series for a fifth season, and all was well...or was it?

The fifth season of Nashville had been criticized for being a much darker and depressing season than the ones before it. Including the death of the main character Rayna James (meanwhile, you can catch Connie Britton on another show), Scarlett had a fling with a character nobody liked, got pregnant by him, and ultimately had a miscarriage.

It was sadness upon sadness for the duration of the season, with no light at the end of the tunnel (or at least not enough light). So, has season six of the hit series rectified these problems? Let's see.

Back in the saddle again

As the Claybourne-Jaymes clan take holiday photos (their first ones without Rayna), Maddie not-so-subtly brings up the idea of Deacon possibly dating again, and Scarlett eventually does too...and Zach. Basically, everyone is telling Deacon that it's time to move forward, and what better time to start than to find someone to share a kiss with when the ball drops? While he doesn't seem entirely against the idea, he also isn't in a hurry to start dating again. His attempt to have a fresh start with a new lady culminates in him even looking into signing up onto a dating website (although those are for hookups more so than actual dating these days), but he ultimately backs out.

He comes downstairs to see his daughters and niece ultimately choosing to bring in the New Year with him. Aww, problem solved...for now.

Deacon's new beginning focuses on life after Rayna, and most of us are pretty certain that this will come in the form of Jessie Crane (played by Caitlin Doubleday of Empire fame). These two have fantastic chemistry and Jessie is a likable character.

Next week already looks to start putting these two in more romantic situations. Is it too soon? How will this impact the others? Guess we'll find out soon enough.

The Exes go no contact

Gunnar and Scarlett really look like they're done for good this time (although we as the audience all know better than to think this) as they have decided to quit communicating with each other altogether.

Both of them use Will as the middleman as they ask about one another through them while also admitting that they both feel like they've lost something important without them playing together. Gunnar has a stage fright problem while Scarlett seems to not know if she wants to continue playing music period. Will tells the both of them that if they want to know about one another, then they should talk to each other, but of course, this doesn't happen yet. Will also coaches Gunnar and ends up helping him out on his first solo performance when it looks like he'll crack under the pressure. The duo ring in the New Year together at the Bluebird.

It was so nice to see Will involved with the core characters so heavily this season after really only being limited to being in the insufferable Zach's orbit for most of last season.

Watching him be such a good friend to Gunnar and Scarlett while also talking about his own confidence issues just show what a well-rounded character he has truly become (hopefully the days where every storyline he had dealt with his sexuality is in the rearview mirror now).

Maddie and Jonah...and Scarlett

Pop star Jonah Ford seems to be Maddie's new love interest, and he seems to easily charm her, revealing he's the one who got her the New Year's Eve gig and makes a big show of kissing her hand on stage for the world to see. Later, he stands her up after getting her number, only to make it up to her later by flying her home on the agreement that the two have a dinner date. In the meantime, when not being part of her entourage, Scarlett is thinking about not only Gunnar but life after The Exes.

Looks like our girl's going through an identity crisis.

It may be too soon to have an opinion on Jonah, but right now I'm indifferent, but leaning towards not liking him. Maybe it's his group of friends that make me suspicious of him, but I think he's going to be another one Maddie drops. She's a young celebrity in her own right though, so there will be plenty of fish in the sea. In the meantime, I'm curious as to whether or not Scarlett even wants to be involved in music anymore. I'm curious to see where the final season takes her!

Also, I absolutely loved Scarlett's involvement with her family in the premiere. She was also mostly in Gunnar's (and the British director who is so irrelevant that I forgot his name) orbit last year, and you almost forgot she was part of the Claybourne family. Kudos to the writers for having her involved with her family more.

Juliette's new journey

Juliette Barnes is a deeply complex character, and probably one of my favorites on television right now. For the last couple seasons, her overall storyline has been about finding herself. She used the church last season, and this season it looks like she'll be finding it in a cult...well, it's not that according to its leader Darius. After a performance ends with spectators from the crowd insulting her with signs such as "song thief" and "you're no Rayna," Juliette goes on a rant about love and validation.

The rant is perceived as a breakdown and Avery suggests that the two of them head to North Carolina to relax for a while.

It is here where Juliette runs into Darius in the hotel lobby late at night when she can't speak. His philosophical mumbo-jumbo is enough to interest her. After initially rebuffing him for being a stalker (he calls her at 2:02 in the morning, which is the same time she got up to go to the lobby when she couldn't sleep), she meets with him again and after an emotional talk, learns a technique from him to help her during stressful times.

She applies what she learns during a radio show where both the host and a woman calling her give her a hard time. She admits she suffers from depression and is postponing her tour to deal with it in the meantime. That night before putting Cadence to bed, she calls Darius and tells him she's ready for the next phase...this can't be good.

If there's one thing I want more than anything else before Nashville ends, it's that Juliette Barnes finds the peace and happiness she deserves before the series' final curtain call. She's had it rough from childhood to now, and I think she deserves to come out on the other side of this "self-motivation" foundation stronger than she's ever been before. We're hoping for the best!

Final thoughts and comments

Many people are already wondering if Rayna will show up one last time, but an article from Taste of Country tells us to hold our breaths. While it's not impossible, it's highly unlikely to happen. However, according to TV Guide, the writers had figured that this would be the final season, so fear not, Nashies! We will have a proper finale instead of a major cliffhanger like the fourth season finale.

Nashville has succeeded in making this season not as heavy-handed on the drama while still upping the stakes and setting the stage for the storylines our characters will go through one last time. This was a great way to start the season.

Catch Nashville on CMT every Thursday at nine.