juliette barnes, hayden panettiere, nashville, season 5There's going to be a lot of upheaval on the next season of "Nashville," what with two regular characters leaving the series and headlining star Connie Britton reportedly also set to exit the show after appearing in less than half of the new episodes. But in Rayna Jaymes's absence, Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere) will apparently have plenty of time to shine, with a couple pieces of key intel about season five hinting at a major story arc for the country crooner.

When we last saw Juliette in the season four finale, she was flying home to Nashville on her private jet, set to reunite with her babydaddy, Avery (Joshua Jackson), and their daughter, Cadence. But in the episode's closing moments, Avery was informed that Juliette's plane was missing, ending the season (and at the time, what was thought to be the series finale) on a major cliffhanger.

Thankfully, with the announcement that Panettiere would be back for season five, fans could breathe a sigh of relief, and reasonably assume that Juliette had likely survived the crash. Now, a new report suggests that the aftermath of that ordeal will play a crucial role in her season five storyline.

According to TV Guide, Juliette's recovery will be anything but quick.

"The crash landing has left her with a lot more than just scrapes and bruises... and her injuries are going to have a significant impact on her personal life and career," the site says. "Don't be surprised if the starlet never steps onto another stage ever again."

If true, that would be a huge upheaval for Juliette, since the star has devoted so much of her life to performing. We can't imagine she'll deal with such a significant change well.

That brings in the second part of TV Guide's report: A new character will be introduced to help Juliette through her recovery, and producers are casting a trans woman for the part. Not many details about the role have been revealed yet -- is this woman a doctor or nurse? A physical therapist? A psychiatrist? -- but TV Guide says she'll "play a significant role" in Juliette's path to recovery. She'll be the first transgender character to star on "Nashville."

"Nashville" season five will debut on its new home CMT on January 5.

[via: TV Guide]