One Tree Hill: There Is Only One

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One Tree Hill S09E13: “One Tree Hill”

In the past, the opening voiceovers on One Tree Hill sometimes made me cringe. Okay, more often than not, they made me cringe.

Not tonight.

To paraphrase Nathan Scott, “One day, you’re seventeen... and then someday it’s today and this is your life.”

There wasn’t much story left to tell when One Tree Hill kicked off its special two-hour series finale tonight. The writers did a nice job wrapping up most of the big storylines before the finale, leaving cast, crew, and audience with a nice chunk of TV time to simply celebrate the highs and lows of the past nine seasons.

And oh, what a party it was! Tric celebrated its 10-year anniversary, Clay and Quinn tied the knot during city hall’s lunch hour, and Julian surprised Brooke with a very special gift: her old house. There was much aww-ing, just as there should've been. You can’t end One Tree Hill without copious amounts of aww-ing.

I have to say, though, that precocious Jamie Scott stole the show. Between the party at Tric—which was, surprise surprise, an entirely fitting Gavin DeGraw concert—Jamie got a lot of quality time with the parental units. First, bonding with Papa Nathan over their shared kidnapping experiences in an exchange that was funnier than the subject matter would lead you to believe:

Nathan: “Mind if I kidnap you? Oh wait, you’ve already been kidnapped.”

Jamie: “So have you!”

They agreed that feigning another kidnapping to explain to an irate Momma Bear Haley would be both repetitive and, well, a bad idea.

Later, on the roof of Tric, Haley shared the secret wishbox hidey-hole with an utterly enchanted Jamie and encouraged him to add his own dream to the stash. He said he wanted to beat Nathan’s high score record at Tree Hill High. Remember that. It’ll be on the final exam.

During the introductory retrospective featuring anecdotes from the cast and crew, creator Mark Schwahn said that One Tree Hill was at its best when it was a “quiet ally,” and went on to explain a point that I touched on briefly in my own retrospective this week. Over the course of its nine seasons, One Tree Hill found itself wearing many different hats. Sometimes it was silly. Sometimes it was shocking. Sometimes it was exciting. And sometimes it was touching.

We all have our preferences and we all have, in our own minds, an idea of the kind of place the fictitious Tree Hill, North Carolina is, and what kind of people inhabit it. My Tree Hill is very similar to the town I grew up in, despite the fact that in actuality, coastal North Carolina and coal country Pennsylvania have very little in common. When One Tree Hill wore the quiet ally hat, it allowed us to thrust whatever traits we wanted upon its silent presence. It was a versatile presence. One Tree Hill often transcended genre to be whatever its audience needed it to be at a given time.

Tonight, One Tree Hill was a goodbye, but not the sad, sucky kind. And perhaps that’s the final message our quiet ally means to pass onto us. Goodbyes don’t have to be terrible, heartbreaking traumas. On the contrary, sometimes they can be timely and quite beautiful.

True, there were moments tonight that bordered on cheesy. I got some serious Harry Potter epilogue vibes during that time jump right there at the end, and I haaate the Harry Potter epilogue, but it worked for One Tree Hill. That’s how One Tree Hill rolls.

SPOILER ALERT: Jamie totally beat Nathan’s scoring record.

Of course everyone’s story ended on a happy, sappy, greeting card rhyme. There is only one Tree Hill, after all. We couldn’t leave it in ruins.

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