When last we left Nashville the show had descended into so much slippery soapiness: Gunnar had confessed his musical crimes to his producer and tried to propose to his pissed-off girlfriend, Scarlett, to mend their broken relationship, Juliette's mother had essentially committed murder-suicide to protect her daughter's reputation, Deacon had fallen off the wagon and taken Rayna down with him. She was driving and they were fighting, so when he crawls out of the wreckage, dragging her unconscious body along with him, of course he tells the cops it was all his fault. The second season opener spends a lot of time dealing with the fallout from last season's dramatics, setting us into a more believable story space so that the second episode can (hopefully) make some forward narrative progress.
And that's not even the half of it: there are still shady political dealings happening in the shadows (last season we learned that the car crash that killed Rayna's mother happened whlie she was cheating on her father with another man; now it seems that the father may have orchestrated the crash, making him the villain once again), and Peggy Kenter lost her baby but she's lying to Teddy about that fact. Maddie knows that Deacon is her father and she tells Juliette, who finally stops trying to leverage Rayna's coma for her own ends and pays Deacon's million dollar bail to show him that there are people who haven't given up on him just yet. Nashville is mostly a frivolous indulgence but it deals with addiction and its aftermath better than almost any TV drama I've ever seen-- certainly one that's not supposed to be about anything serious in the first place, and Hayden Panettiere is still stunningly good in her role, fragile and furious by turns.
It wasn't a fantastic episode and the music wasn't particularly memorable but the peices are back in place, now: Scarlett and Gunnar are broken up, Avery's back on the scene (and still playing guitar in Juliette's band), Rayna's awake and okay, Deacon is out of real jail but still deep in his own prison of self-loathing. There are fake babies and injuries that won't heal coming up, and a new rival for Juliette, and Gunnar's violently repressed gay roommate on the scene. It's a big ensemble of a cast and a lot of storylines to hold together, which means that the thing can get unweildy very quickly, but for now its in a reasonable place for a strong second verse.