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Gold Stars: One Tree Hill “The Drinks We Drank Last Night” 

Photo Credit: Fred Norris/The CW

I came to One Tree Hill as a fan of the parental actors — Moira Kelly, Paul Johansson, and Craig Sheffer — but as the cast has rotated out over the years, the next generation of actors has come up and into their own. Sophia Bush has always been a strong link in the OTH family, and she, alongside Bethany Joy Galeotti and James Lafferty, have continued to bring it as one of the remaining members of the original cast.

Sophia’s character, Brooke, has been through the ringer in eight years, often on the receiving end of love geometry drama. With the departure of Hilarie Burton and Chad Michael Murray, Brooke has been allowed to find a life of her own not tied to Lucas and Peyton, and now she’s getting married (to an ex of Peyton’s who came to Tree Hill for Peyton but stayed for Brooke, but still…). This week’s episode was a nod to The Hangover with a bachelorette party that no one could remember, and for a few brief moments, Brooke doubted herself and was sure she had torpedoed her happiness.

Anybody who’s been watching the show a while, and who knows Brooke, knows that was a bulls–t misdirect, but Brooke believed it, and Sophia sold the hell out of it. Brooke has evolved from a petty, bitchy spoiled teen into a worldly, sympathetic, and empathetic friend and mom figure. I was disappointed when the show dropped Brooke’s foster mom arc with Samantha after only one season, especially because Brooke has since discovered she can’t have kids.

  • Sophia’s performance in the first part of the wedding arc gets a Gold Star because she vacillated seamlessly from loving every minute of her party and being blissfully happy to earth-crashing grief that she’d lost everything.
  • I’m also loving that Sharon Lawrence has come on board as Brooke’s boozy mom-in-law-to-be without a filter, Sylvia (and I just realized she was another great Sylvia on NYPD Blue, too), whom Brooke can talk to without all the drama her own mother carries. She gets a Gold Star for being game for anything — love, love, love her.
  • Chad Graves gets a Gold Star for directing an episode that was alternately silly and moving and handily integrating the flashback reveals of what actually transpired.

Midway through its eighth season, One Tree Hill isn’t phoning it in.

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