Photo: Nashville

It wasn’t a fever dream. As we previously reported, CMT really is saving Nashville from ABC’s cancellation and forcing—we mean allowing—Connie Britton to play the role of Rayna Jaymes for at least one more year. And now the show’s fifth season has an official premiere date, further crystallizing the reality that a scripted CMT series is keeping Britton from offering her talents to more worthy projects. Instead she’ll be diving deeper into Nashville’s soapy world in a two-hour CMT premiere set for January 5 at 9 p.m.

The fifth season premiere will have to wrap up a rather big loose end from ABC’s finale. For those not keeping up, the season finale—which at that time was potentially a series one—ended with the news that Juliette Barnes’ plane issued a distress call and then went missing. Whether the two-hour premiere will go full Grey’s Anatomy and center on a horrific plane crash is still yet to be seen. But given that Hayden Panettiere has been announced as a returning main cast member, it seems likely that Juliette will miraculously survive whatever plane-related incident may have occurred.

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In addition to Britton and Panettiere, the entire main cast is returning as well. That includes Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella and Chris Carmack. However the show is changing creative hands this season, with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz taking over showrunning duties from Dee Johnson.

[via Variety]