Young New York doctor Zoe Hart's rapid pace to become a cardiothoracic surgeon skips a beat when, in the opener, Hart (Rachel Bilson) reluctantly ends up sharing a small practice in charming, but quirky, Bluebell, Ala., after she's told that she needs to see patients as "people to help, not problems to solve."
Zoe rides on a float with Mayor Hayes during the Founder's Day Parade, hoping to charm Bluebell's residents, but her plan crashes along with the float, which she accidentally wrecks; and George tells her she could lose her half of the practice to Brick if she doesn't draw at least 30 percent of the business.
Zoe enters a gumbo contest in yet another attempt to prove she can fit in as a Bluebell resident; Lavon has a crush on Zoe and Brick's new receptionist, and the news sours Lemon; and Zoe and Brick must look past their differences to save someone's life.
A heat wave hits Bluebell, and Zoe learns that it lowers inhibitions, including hers, and especially when she's around Wade. Meanwhile, Lemon prepares to meet George's parents, but she gets flustered when Lavon shows up at the same restaurant with his beautiful date.
Zoe exposes a scandal when she discovers a secret involving a local minister and his wife; and Lemon tries to raise funds to restore a historic bridge destroyed by Katrina, but she has to persuade Lavon to pick her proposal over other causes.
Zoe hits a man while driving, only to find that he's vanished, and then she's told he's been dead for a year; Lemon and George's hopes of buying the house of their dreams fizzle when Lavon refuses to authorize the purchase because the home's a historic property; and Zoe's mom arrives to make amends with her.
Zoe is asked out on a date by a local veterinarian; there's an opening for the annual turtle race when race-car driver Brian Vickers (who appears as himself) drops out, and Lemon thinks the mayor is the perfect person to fill in for him; and Wade gets an unexpected visitor.
Zoe hosts a pre-game homecoming party at Lavon's request, and she gets help from a New York friend, but her friend's New York party style clashes with what Bluebell considers a party. Meanwhile, George and Wade plot revenge on a high-school nemesis, and Lemon wants to take part in the plan.
Bluebell prepares for "Planksgiving," while Zoe hopes to return to New York for the holiday, but she must meet her quota before leaving or lose her practice to Brick; George's dad offers him a job with his firm in Montgomery; and Lavon tells Wade to confess his feelings to Zoe.
Zoe and Lemon's rivalry heats up when they coach Lemon's sister and Rose separately for a pageant that Lemon's sister is the favorite to win; and Wade and George go in search of a Christmas tree for the town square.
Zoe avoids going to the Sweetie Pie Dance with Judson by having a girls' night with Rose. Meanwhile, Lemon sneakily sets her father up on a date for the dance; and George loses the save-the-date cards Lemon ordered for their wedding.
Wade has Lemon masquerade as Joelle to pull something over on Joelle's ex. Elsewhere, George asks for Zoe's medical expertise regarding one of his clients; and Lavon wants Zoe to uncover some information about Didi.
George is named the town's Man of the Year, and Zoe volunteers to help Lavon host a party for him. The party doesn't go off without a hitch, however: Magnolia pleads with Wade to compose a song for the event, and Zoe delivers a dreadful unplanned speech.
Zoe's dad arrives in Bluebell to operate on George's father. Meanwhile, Lemon tries to bond with Zoe so that Zoe will keep mum about Lemon's fling with Lavon; and Wade and Shelley face off in a cocktail contest honoring the Rammer Jammer's anniversary.
Zoe agrees to go on a lunch date with a patient. Elsewhere, Lemon dictates very specific instructions for her bachelorette party, but Magnolia gets creative with her plans; and Wade organizes a hunting trip for George's bachelor party.