In the uniquely structured season premiere, a torn Rayna must choose not just between two men, but two directions that her life could take. Juliette, struggling to repair her relationship with Avery, auditions for the leading role of a film biopic. Meanwhile, Scarlett, determined to start fresh, embarks on a road trip home and bonds with an unexpected stowaway, and Will and Layla manage the fallout from his on-camera confession.
After Will's debut album bumps Rayna's to second place, she's more determined than ever to make Highway 65 and her record a hit. In turn, she decides to pursue some new and unexpected opportunities for publicity, including a visit to "Good Morning America" where her friend Luke Bryan surprises her on stage. Layla becomes especially disgruntled about her fleeting career and pressures her husband Will, Edgehill Records' new #1 artist, to help her rebuild it. Meanwhile, Juliette deals with some life-changing news and prepares for a big audition, where she runs into some familiar competition. Then later, Maddie continues to act out while Deacon deals with the brunt of her adolescence, and Zoey becomes paranoid about Gunnar's past with Scarlett. Her suspicions are only heightened when she finds them collaborating again on a new song.
Rayna sets a wedding date which reverberates through the lives of those she loves. Juliette struggles to manage her secret which could prevent her from getting a career-defining movie role, and she meets the leading man who would play her love interest if she got the part. Luke's new back-up singer, Pam, makes her presence known, Gunnar gets a visit from his first love, Kiley, and Layla decides to wield her power over Will.
Rayna goes after Sadie Stone as a new artist to sign to her record label Highway 65. In order to woo her, Rayna invites Sadie out for a girl's day on the town, which she thinks may help to seal the deal. Juliette continues to try her best at hiding her pregnancy but when she starts to have stomach pains and mood swings, she has to let down her wall. Later, an assertive and sultry backup singer takes a liking to Deacon but his down in the dumps attitude does nothing but shut her out. Then, Zoey witnesses odd behavior between Scarlett and Gunnar and lets her inner jealousy get the best of her. She tries to mend things at the Bluebird but they end up backfiring terribly. Meanwhile, Avery continues to use alcohol to drown his sorrows, which only takes him to new lows, and Jeff has ulterior motives as he pursues Teddy and the girls.
Juliette frets over hiding her pregnancy before filming a sex scene with movie star Noah West. Rayna flies her kids to meet her on tour, but learns that her increased fame now that she's engaged to Luke is making Daphne feel entitled, while Maddie is simply miserable. Kiley tells Gunnar she's leaving town, Will starts making careless mistakes in his personal life, and Scarlett is inspired by a homeless man she meets while songwriting.
After a health scare, Juliette decides to ask Avery if he wants to be a part of her life as the baby's father. Then, Gunnar deals with some recent life changing news and seeks advice from Scarlett. Meanwhile, Rayna sweeps the nominations for the CMA Awards but is up against her fiancé Luke for the most prized "Entertainer of the Year" category. Her glory is abruptly interrupted when she finds out Maddie and Daphne have been misbehaving back at home. While out on tour, Deacon finds his purpose in music thanks to the help of Pam, a backup singer in Luke's band and country music star Sara Evans guest stars as herself, performing "Put My Heart Down" with Luke. Later, Scarlett befriends an unlikely new friend.
Rayna's campaign to raise Highway 65's sales and profile finds her performing her latest single on "Dancing with the Stars". But when she agrees to be shadowed by a reporter all weekend for the cover of a magazine, just as Luke hopes to rekindle the romance, she realizes she may have pushed her public access too far. Juliette struggles to prepare for motherhood alone, and Will and Layla brace themselves for the premiere of their reality show.
It's country music's biggest night of the year at the 48th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville. Up for a total of 11 awards between them, Rayna and Luke's evening begins with an unfortunate hitch when Rayna stumbles upon Luke's pre-nuptial agreement documents, causing for some friction between them. Later, Avery's parents are in town for the show as Avery is nominated for a CMA Award. What should be a lovely reunion takes a turn when Avery introduces them to Juliette. Meanwhile, Gunnar and Zoey's relationship is tested and Deacon and Scarlett watch the awards from home.
Rayna continues to pull out all stops in self-promotion, this time by agreeing to do a televised Christmas special from her home for charity, with Luke and the children. But when she invites Deacon to join in, things get awkward fast. Her magazine cover story has reverberations for her personal life. Meantime, it's Nashville's Winterfest and Zoey, Gunnar and Avery have an opportunity to perform. With Scarlett's coaching, Terry sings for the crowd and blows them away, but cannot handle the limelight. Will and Layla go to Winterfest and each find solace, but separately.
When Luke finally returns home after wrapping up his Moon or Shine Tour just days before he and Rayna tie the knot, Rayna starts to feel conflicted about leaving their kids to go out on the road again, especially after she discovers that Luke has been making parenting decisions without her. Meanwhile, Will invites Layla on tour in an effort to keep her close but when he sees her flirting with his boss at a party, he begins to feel like he's losing control of their situation. Then, Teddy uses his Mayoral powers to track down a recent flame and Sadie crosses paths with an unexpected ex. Later, after getting some advice from his mom, Avery makes an unexpected decision.
Now that Rayna has cancelled their wedding, Luke is not going quietly, and Rayna's own daughters don't take the news well, either. Juliette and Avery adjust to married life with a few bumps along the way, and Gunnar fights for custody of Micah. Sadie tries to take control of her own problems with her ex by buying a gun, and Deacon gets dire news about his medical condition.
Rumors start to fly surrounding Rayna and Luke's breakup but Rayna's determined not to let them bring her down and finds a way to return to the public eye on her own terms. Juliette's pregnancy is starting to make her stir crazy and she's eager to get her career back on track, but at what cost? Then, Scarlett plans a surprise for Deacon, but it doesn't pan out as she had hoped. Later, Gunnar travels to Austin to mend fences with his estranged nephew and Teddy stops by Maddie and Daphne's recording session at school where he unexpectedly runs into Jeff.
Rayna is furious when she finds out Jeff Fordham's plans to sign Maddie to Edgehill. Luke enlists Gunnar in his efforts to forget his heartbreak, first by writing revenge songs, and then by carousing and they bring a cautious Will along for the bar hopping. Sadie is tormented by her stalker ex-husband and brings her expensive recording session with Avery to a standstill, jeopardizing his job. And Deacon's secrecy over his illness causes him to push Maddie away.
After Rayna forced Jeff's hand by revealing his indiscretions to the board members, Edgehill Republic begins to crumble along with Jeff's career. Later, Deacon considers a clinical trial he may be eligible for to receive alternative treatment. To cope with her stress, Scarlett turns to writing again and reconnects with Gunnar, who's doing the same. Avery begins work producing Sadie's new album, while Juliette keeps busy by posing for a Vogue Magazine spread. Then finally, Sadie opens up to Rayna about her ex-husband.
Rayna's anniversary of her induction into the Grand Ole Opry is cause for celebration and guest starring cameos by country stars Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan as themselves. Rayna reaches out to Deacon and her daughters to perform with her, prompting the girls' hopes of the couple reuniting romantically. Will is uncomfortable when he's paired with an out gay man to collaborate on songwriting. Sadie is interviewed by Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" and goes public about her private battle.
Rayna refuses to let Deacon wallow in his condition, but her support only frustrates him and pushes him away. Meanwhile, Avery, Gunnar and Scarlett are opening for Rascal Flatts on tour, but, when her past public meltdown haunts her on social media, Scarlett becomes wary of performing again. Meanwhile, Jeff and Layla continue to blur the lines of business and pleasure, sending Layla into a state of confusion. Will is enjoying his new writing partner Kevin, but hits a bump in the road when Kevin is mysteriously no long available. Then, Sadie finds herself in a dangerous situation with her relentless ex-husband.
Juliette is excited about Rayna throwing her a star-studded baby shower, but when Rayna gets pulled into Sadie's drama instead of hosting, Juliette starts her own mama drama. Bucky and Luke Wheeler both are interested in signing rising singer/songwriter Ron Pope (who guest stars as himself). Gunnar is upset by Scarlett growing closer to Dr. Rand, and Sadie finds a kindred spirit in an old friend.
With the arrival of his former fiancee in Nashville, Jeff finds himself face-to-face with Jade St. John. A powerhouse pop-star in Nashville on tour, Jeff is forced to revisit his past and work with the woman who once played a large role in both his personal and professional lives. Meanwhile, Deacon continues to cope with his cancer diagnosis - a secret that weighs heavily on his family - especially Maddie, who struggles with the news herself. While Juliette is eager to get back to work following the birth of her daughter, she quickly finds balancing motherhood and a music career challenging to say the least, while Avery struggles with his own responsibilities and his Triple Exes bandmates.
The brightest stars of Nashville have gathered in support of Teddy's music education initiative, "Note By Note", where Juliette plans her return to the spotlight - and Layla finds herself thrust into it - alongside Jade St. John. At the gala, Rayna, Deacon, Maddie and Daphne get ready to take the stage and perform, but before they can, Deacon receives the call he's been waiting for containing some life-changing news.
Rayna travels to Natchez, MS to try to help Deacon and we learn how her past with him affects his life-and-death struggle today. Jade invites Luke, Jeff and Layla to her beachfront bash in her home in Malibu which turns into an all-night rager. Back in Nashville, new mom Juliette tries to jump-start her career with a last-minute rooftop concert, and Kiley returns to Gunnar with news that changes everything.
Juliette is back in the news - and back to feeling like her old self - following her rooftop performance high above Highway 65, but while she enjoys the attention, her team has growing concerns that she may be suffering from postpartum depression. Meanwhile, Will is surprised with an unexpected visit from his father, and learns his private life is about to become public when a tabloid obtains photos of Will and Kevin together. With Deacon's cancer diagnosis no longer a secret, he and Rayna grapple with the future and the real possibility that their time together will be cut short.
Juliette is laser-focused on finishing her album - and when she puts everything and everyone she loves behind it - Avery makes a decision that impacts their lives forever. Deacon's life hangs in the balance, but Rayna and the girls are by his side. With the clock ticking and the future uncertain, will they celebrate a life together?.