Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

If you’re still wondering who flatlined during that liver transplant, Nashville fans — was it Rayna’s boyfriend Deacon (Charles Esten), or his sister? — the cliffhanger will be quickly resolved when the country drama returns for season 4.

“Rayna’s love life is going to become very clear within the first five minutes of the first episode,” star Connie Britton told EW.

Could that mean wedding bells for Rayna and Deacon? Britton wouldn’t say, but did share that the season opener picks up about a month after that season 3 finale scene in the hospital.

“For Rayna, career-wise, things were really going great but she was also really directing her energies towards her personal life, which was for her, I think, a very important choice. So when we pick up in this season I think we’re gonna feel the ramifications of that,” the actress added. From here, the country star will “be moving forward with renewed desire to make Highway 65 the label that she wants it to be.”

That includes signing an indie rocker (played by True Blood actor Riley Smith), to her label — but, as showrunner Dee Johnson warned, “Anytime you sign a huge star anywhere there might be some complications that arise as a result.”

Meanwhile, fellow country diva Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is back on top of her game professionally … but personally, not so much.

“She starts on top of the world, interestingly enough,” said Johnson. “One of the things that we’re looking at is, it looks fantastic from the outside, but what’s it like on the inside when you’re a star?”

Season 4 will see the return of Zoey Dalton (Chaley Rose) for at least one episode, and also explores the aftermath of Will Lexington’s (Chris Carmack) public coming out during the season finale.

“The first part of the season he’s trying to figure out who he is in this new world order,” said Johnson. “The only place I think Will ever feels completely comfortable is on stage, and now there’s a very real possibility that’s not going to be his life/career anymore. It’s a real struggle for him.”

Nashville returns Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Want more? EW’s Fall TV Preview mega-issue has the scoop on 115 shows! Pick up your copy on newsstands now, or buy it here.

RELATED VIDEO: Sam Palladio has a thing for Jess from ‘New Girl’

WANT MORE EW? Subscribe now to keep up with the latest in movies, television and music.

Episode Recaps

Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
  • TV Show
  • 6
stream service