Millions of fans said goodbye to One Tree Hill this week as the two hour series finale made it to our television screens. The finale began with a special one hour retrospective with creator, Mark Schwahn and the cast. Not often does a creator of a hit show and the cast come together to talk about what makes their show and the experience of making it so special, with their connection to the fans at the forefront. As Bethany Joy Lenz wrote on her blog, “In a strange way, an indirect way… I supposed we raised each other.”
“It’s about falling in love, it’s about making someone proud of you, it’s about being proud of yourself. It’s about that quiet voice that tells you, you could do better.” – Mark Schwahn
Schwahn said it best when he said, “What’s real about it are the emotions behind it and the people.” Getting to look back on these aspects of the show, along with the music, the time jump, and so on with the cast and crew was confirmation that these writers and this cast were as passionate about these characters and this world as the fans. Each week over the years, fans could see that Schwahn really took the time to give us what this show deserved and then some. This retrospective was a great testament to that. He’s consistent with story and character and is so brilliant at weaving in and out of certain moments over seasons. It’s really a beautiful thing to know that so much heart went into this show… and was reciprocated. Not every show can say that. And so that brings us to the series finale, which surrounds itself around the tenth anniversary of Tric. Can you believe it? The tears began to fall about 40 minutes into the retrospective but they certainly began to fall more frequently once the clock struck nine.
“One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today.” – Nathan
Our last time seeing Tric, the halls of the high school, the river court, our last time getting to hear Haley sing… it all came down to this hour. And what a beautiful love letter this episode was. It was wonderful to see what Schwahn did with the shooting of An Unkindness Of Ravens. It was perfect, being able to see the actual characters as the high schoolers we fell in love with rather than seeing new characters play them. Of course we all know that actual actors did take these roles in the Tree Hill world and that this was just a beautiful, clever way of letting us have a full circle moment with these characters. And the sets! Getting to go back into Peyton’s room… what a treat, especially since there was no sight of Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) or Peyton (Hilarie Burton), disappointing as that was – but it worked out beautifully anyway. Remember Brooke’s boyfriend wish list? Those were the days.
It wasn’t all sad and bittersweet. We had some good laughs between Nathan and Chris Keller (Tyler Hilton), Keller and Chase (Stephen Colletti). Keller got the last laugh, getting back into familiar ground and undoubtedly becoming a success at it soon with Haley by his side. The fear of being the person that he doesn’t want to be anymore caused him to stop going after and living his dream. But now is the time more than ever to break down those walls and be free. His firing was more comedic than many may have expected because there were so many mixed feelings when he came back to town for this job to begin with. And at this point, his position on the job seemed so natural – that is when you don’t take into account the zero artists he managed to find. But he’s getting back on track and surely, Haley won’t be far behind him.
But we knew about Haley’s heart before we knew about her music. One in the same now but the music unlocked later and first came Haley and Nathan. Naley recreating one of their most memorable kisses, a kiss in the rain was beautiful. We couldn’t have asked for more. But wait, that wasn’t even the best part. Watching Nathan (James Lafferty) tell James (Jackson Brundage) to play sports for himself and not anybody else… Nathan broke the chains. James’s entire life was officially shifted in that moment whether he knew it or not. But wait, that’s not even the best part. The floodgates burst open as soon as Haley took out the loose brick on the rooftop to show James her own time capsule full of hopes and dreams. That rooftop means so much more to me than words can explain right now. The best way to describe it would be to say that it was in this scene that I realized for me, the rooftop was my river court. So much of my heart is on that rooftop. It was truly gut wrenching to get through that scene. My stomach made knots that it has never made before, tears flowed as if they were my last ever and it hit me hard that this is it. What was your defining moment in the series finale?
Then there’s the lovely Brooke (Sophia Bush). We all knew that one day Brooke Davis would find love and love on her children more than her parents ever did growing up but for us to see it unravel this way… aside from wondering how Julian (Austin Nichols) was able to afford the house, this moment was almost overwhelming. The launch of Baker Man right across from Karen’s Cafe we could not imagine happening any other way. But coming back to the white house with the red door… Brooke left pieces of her heart here and finally, her heart is full, genuinely full. She said it best when she said, “This house always wanted to be a home… and now it will be.” What a moment. Thank you Mark Schwahn. Thank you.
One character that viewers may have been anticipating the most of the supporting cast is Mouth (Lee Norris). To find that he not only got his head on straight and began to respect his body and treasure his health again speaks volumes. He was in a dark place but he did something about it. He took his life back, with the help of Millie (Lisa Goldestein) and the pieces fell together after that. Being given $500,000 by anyone is not an act that can be taken lightly but be given this grand amount of money by the late Dan Scott, it shows that Dan Scott always had the best hopes for this young group of people and was listening to them. He may not have been listening to them in high school but he sure did in his final years. For Mouth to use this gift to create a scholarship fund says a lot about Mouth’s character and makes us appreciate him more than ever. Thank you for such a fulfilling ending for Mouth.
Finally, hearing Logan call Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) “Mom” was almost more satisfying than seeing Clay (Robert Buckley) reassured by Logan that he wanted to stay with them. And watching Quinn and Clay get married, it seemed so fitting the way that it happened. Sure, we all would loved to have seen the grand wedding that Quinn had always dreamed of. But let’s not kid ourselves. These two are going to do that on one of their milestone anniversaries when they renew their vows. Yeah?
If we thought that Logan was the final Tree Hill baby we’d get to see, we were in for a surprise when after another flash forward, it was revealed that Millie and Mouth were expecting! It also looked like Skills (Antwon Tanner) and Bevin were together. If so, it’s too bad we couldn’t have seen this relationship bloom a little sooner. But we do have to leave something to the imagination. Aside from Prince, what a pleasure it was to see the familiar face of Gavin DeGraw as well. The final episode would not be complete without DeGraw’s presence and it would certainly not feel full without seeing the cast sing along to the theme song of our favorite show in Tric. These moments truly are priceless.
Everyone’s presence, every word spoken in dialogue, body language, and voice over, every setting, all of the throw backs, everything about this series finale was truly magnificent. For nine seasons, Mark Schwahn has taken the ordinary and made it extraordinary. These characters have opened up and changed our hearts, helped shape who we are and how we see people and the world. These characters have made us better people, better writers, music lovers, dreamers, and so on. So while the series may be over, and what a rewarding finale it was, Tree Hill lives in our hearts, always and forever. Thank you Mark Schwahn, cast, and crew for delivering an incredible nine seasons and pouring your own hearts and souls into the finale. It showed and it showed so well. The moon is up and definitely over One Tree Hill.
“One Tree Hill” Promo Photo Credit: Fred Norris/The CW