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One Tree Hill: Oh, Danny Boy

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One Tree Hill S09E11: “Danny Boy”

Melodrama, thy name is One Tree Hill. But since I would expect nothing less than the finest of melodramatic flair from this vintage series, and I love having my expectations met, I’m okay with that. It’s Season 9. It would be silly to change form now.

So rip my heart out and stomp on it some more, C-Dubs. It’s okay. I’m ready.

I told you Dan was a goner.

In other news, Clay tried to be a real dad to Logan, Brooke’s dad continued his long tradition of being a douchebag aaaaand I don’t care. This week, OTH was The Dan Show. See? The writers even put it in the episode title for us.

There was a lot of forgiveness flying around in the aftermath of Dan’s death sentence, except in the case of Lucas, who refused to fly down to Tree Hill for his Official Dan Scott Deathbed Apology because I’m assuming Chad Michael Murray was busy the week they filmed this episode. Don’t worry, everyone else made it.

Highlights from the Official Dan Scott Deathbed Apology Tour:

1. Dan apologized to Nathan for putting him a position where he was forced to take a life by not rescuing him sooner.

2. Dan apologized to Haley for shooting Keith, trying to ruin her marriage, and generally just being a Monster-In-Law.

3. Dan apologized to Deb for being a bad husband. Also for shooting Keith.

4. Dan apologized to Nathan (again) for being a bad dad. Aaaand for shooting Keith.

Actually, the scenes between Nathan and Dan Scott were touching as they imagined themselves on a basketball court, having their heart-to-heart, and just playing the game without regard for the score. Dan was finally letting go of his insatiable competitiveness. He admitted that he killed his brother, Keith, back in Season 3 out of jealousy and misplaced suspicion. Nathan responded, “There’s a lot of people that you need to say sorry to...but I’m not one of them,” in a fine demonstration of the sort of unconditional familial love that TV enjoys snuggling up to as a soapy drama winds down.

Cheese-tastic, but effective. Nathan and Dan’s relationship came full circle. How else could it have ended? Dan has come a long way since his slimy days of Seasons 1 through, well, all of them, and it’s important that we send him off with an acknowledgement of that fact. I poke fun at One Tree Hill because it’s part of a genre that I spend a large chunk of my time avoiding like an overly friendly internet stalker, but the characters who inhabit Tree Hill are delightfully nuanced, complicated and human. You don’t get to stay on the air for nine seasons with cardboard cut-outs.

I was 14 when One Tree Hill debuted and since I was that angry 14-year-old who got sent to the principal’s office for refusing to remove her spiked choker, I didn’t get into the series until much later, but there are certainly legions of loyal fans who have been watching the whole time and who essentially grew up alongside the Tree Hill Ravens. The series hasn’t been about high school in a long time and I’m willing to bet that a good chunk of the original viewers who tuned in back in 2003 have long since tossed their mortarboards.

It’s taken Dan a little longer than most to grow up, but he has grown, and out of the wreckage of his train-wreck life, Dan Scott’s friends and family (whose existence he openly doubted in the beginning of “Danny Boy”) will craft a legacy that he can be proud of. Holding his granddaughter, Lydia, Dan remarked, “It’s too bad she’ll never get to know me...then again, maybe that’s a good thing.”

Maybe.

Dan has done terrible things. Terrible things. As a fan who essentially worked through the series backwards, I was heartbroken when I realized that Dan Scott spent most of One Tree Hill being a jackass. His apologies don’t erase his actions. Sacrificing himself for Nathan doesn’t magically bring Keith back to life or undo all the pain and damage that he spent years inflicting on those around him. But at the same time, his sacrifice isn’t for nothing.

Haley had the most telling line of this episode, deftly summing up all that Dan is by assuring him, “When [Lydia] asks about her Grandpa Dan, we’ll tell her about how much he loved his grandchildren.”

She didn’t deny the darker side of Dan or pretend that he didn’t do things that hurt her, but she acknowledged the good that he brought to her family in recent years. Her children don’t have any bad memories of their grandfather and she is an awesome enough mom to understand that it would be cruel and unfair to burden them with her own baggage.

Of course, the final stop on the Official Dan Scott Deathbed Apology tour could only be one person.

I literally screamed, “HI KEITH!” at the television.

And then I groaned a little because really?

Really. One Tree Hill got a little supernatural to send Dan into the wide blue yonder when dead bro Keith showed up to make sure Dan didn’t take the wrong exit. Forgiveness hogged the screen time as the two Scott brothers walked into the white light (yes, also really) shoulder-to-shoulder. Behold the power of cheese.

So, did you blow through an entire box of tissues or just bask in the glow of a well-told story that was nine seasons in the making?

What do you mean there’s two more hours of this?!

I’m gonna have to buy more tissues.

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