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Moment of Goodness

It’s Complicated: Dan Confesses to Nathan, One Tree Hill “Danny Boy” 


Photo Credit: Brownie Harris/The CW

For Dan’s final episode, there was a pivotal moment where he finally explained [to his son, Nathan] why he killed his brother, Keith. And an interesting thing happened — Heather and I both ended up with different interpretations of the same scene. Did Dan and Nate actually have this conversation? Or did it all take place in his mind as he was about to take his final breath?

Heather’s Take

So, I’ve written before about my longstanding fandom of Paul Johansson, and how he, Craig Sheffer, and Moira Kelly were the draw for me as a viewer when One Tree Hill launched in 2003.

I’ve come and gone over the years but tuned in tonight because it was expected to be a tour de force for Johansson, and it was. But the biggest moment didn’t happen. It was a rook, and I’m annoyed.

We’ve waited six years for Dan to explain the why of Keith’s murder, and tonight, on his deathbed, he finally confessed it all to Nathan. Except that it all happened in Dan’s mind. So Nathan not only didn’t hear it, he didn’t get any closure about it with his dad. FAIL!

I get the thematic intent of staging the scene on the River Court, but it was a disservice to the character of Nathan that he didn’t get the goodbye he so needed, that he’d just told Haley he feared would elude him.

I’m glad they’re wrapping up, because this surely would’ve nagged at Nathan going forward.

Everybody else, even Deb (in a really pitch-perfect scene that reflected their love/hate relationship over the years and that she knew him longer than anyone, save Karen and Keith) got their goodbyes.

Also–it’s been a while since I’ve watched an episode all the way through, but was the music excessive tonight? DISH didn’t broadcast closed captioning so I couldn’t crutch on reading the dialogue, and the music seemed to drown out a lot of it.

Also #2–I haven’t seen Keith’s murder episode since it aired but was Dan’s take on Keith’s “it gets better” dialogue to Jimmy a fudge in light of the recent IGB anti-suicide campaign?

Aside from that, kudos to the cast for being appropriately mournful and forgiving as Dan died (particularly Bethany Joy Galeotti, who was amazing as usual–I really liked that Dan acknowledged who Keith was to Haley). It was also a treat to have Sheffer back–especially since he and Johansson are longtime buddies. And it was particularly sweet to dedicate the episode to Johansson’s mom.

Johansson was a big part of OTH, not just as Dan but also as one of its repertoire of directors.

I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Tina’s Take

I choose to think Dan’s confession to Nathan wasn’t just in his mind. That it actually happened there in the hospital room. But, for extra poignancy, the show transported the conversation to the River Court. Basketball had been such a huge part of Dan’s and Nathan’s lives. It’s only fitting that we saw them come together on the court when so many times basketball and everything that came with it, drove them apart.

One of the great things about “Danny Boy” was how Dan was so upfront about being the one responsible for Keith’s death. His final confession and his explanation for why he killed his own brother was really well done. Not sure if it makes up for what happened, but I’m satisfied that he realized the magnitude of what he did. Paul Johansson, once again, turned in a wonderful performance. He and James Lafferty have always had this effortless father-son chemistry even though most of the time the Dan-Nathan relationship was rocky, turbulent, shaky, destructive, and any other troubled adjective there is. It’s a testament to Johansson that I’m happy Dan got his closure.

I’m not going to lie. This death felt significant. Dan had been a (crazy) part of Tree Hill life since the very beginning. We saw all the horrific things he did to his family. Yet, a sliver of the character remained sympathetic and gave us hope that someday he would change. He did change — not all the way — but he changed enough. So much so, it’s understandable why Jamie had a soft spot for his grandpa. And it’s equally as understandable why Lucas didn’t want to make the trip to see his bio dad on his deathbed. Dan Scott was never a one-dimensional character. There were so many other times the character could have died. I’m glad he was there to (almost) the end.

When Craig Sheffer’s Keith popped up, it gave those of us who watched the show in the early days a sense of satisfaction. It had been such a long time since we saw Dan’s older brother. Seeing them walk off together with Dan as Keith’s plus one was a great way to end Dan’s story. Dan died knowing he was loved. And for the longest time, who knew if that was going to ever happen.

Two more episodes remain. One Tree Hill airs Wednesdays on the CW at 8/7c.

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