One Tree Hill, due to its flare for the dramatic, has always been a series that gives that extra bit of effort for a finale. Showrunner Mark Schwahn and company hold nothing back at the end of the year, presumably in an effort to leave the audience blown away.
If "Know This, We've Noticed" is any indication of what's to come, we may be in for a final season of One Tree Hill that feels like the combination of each and every past finale. That is, 13 episodes of heart pounding, gut wrenching, big laughing, scary, silly, romantic, drama-filled action.
It's difficult not to think that way when the season begins with a burning building and Dan Scott cocking a loaded gun. I will leave the prognosticating of when that flash forward will take place for the end, but seeing Chase in the back of a cop car, Brooke destroying the cafe, Julian getting beaten to a pulp and Haley lifting up a sheet to reveal a dead body was certainly a great way to get our blood pumping.
"Hell is empty, and all the devils are here."
Nathan recited those words to open the episode, and again to close it. Both times Dan Scott was on screen. Both times it was absolutely haunting. Paul Johansson is an extremely talented actor, and it's a shame that the show hasn't found a way to keep him on as a regular cast member the past couple of years.
Whether his Dan Scott's almost dead heart is in the right place or not - considering he wants Chris Keller to leave the killing to him, it's probably not right now - Johansson and the writers always find a way to make this monster seem vulnerable. He has done a myriad of awful things in the past, most notably killing his own brother, but when Dan pleaded with Haley to help him, I couldn't help but want to see him get his way. Apparently neither could Haley.
If you noticed in Nathan's quote, he said devils. That's plural. And look who is back! It's Chris Keller! I don't know about you guys, but I have missed his sarcastic, peacock-looking, third person talking behind. Something this show has been missing for a while now is, for lack of a better word, a dick. Nathan became the nice guy a long time ago, and Julian grew out of his jerk mode after one season, so having Chris Keller back in the fold might be just the shot in the arm One Tree Hill needs. Sure, deep down he can be perceived as a good guy, but his brass attitude to our favorite characters is sure to cause some trouble in this final season... and I'm excited for it.
Meanwhile, our four happy, beautiful couples were all similarly dealing with their own personal issues. Which brings us to a new feature I plan to work into my reviews this final season…The One Tree Hill Relationship Rankings. This is where I will rank the couples from "most adorable" to "most annoying."
1. Chase and Alex
I swear this isn't because they're the most attractive couple. It's because they're my favorite couple. Now that Mia is finally out of the way, they had a chance to be Chalex, and they were cute. Alex teasing Chase through text, complaining about Chris Keller in bed, and Chase sitting in those tighty-whiteys put them to the top of the list.
2. Julian and Brooke
It was fun watching Brulian deal with the sleepless twins. Brooke's fantastic late night drives, filled with poignant voiceovers and stops at Sonic, put these two a close second all by themselves. Julian's jokes about getting rid of the babies only made it a more difficult decision.
3. Nathan and Haley
Nathan's away, and has become kind of lame over the past few years, so Naley is going to have a tough time competing with the two couples ahead of them. ans of this ship are diehard, though, and they are the crux of the show, so you have to give them some respect.
4. Clay and Quinn
Clinn just annoys me. I have never grown attached to either of these characters, so watching them suffer through Clay's sleepwalking problem was probably my least favorite part of the episode. Quinn can play all the angry birds she wants, because she's going to be sitting in this basement for a while.
The other thing that worked so well for "Know This, We've noticed" was that it did a much better job at accentuating the emotional moments than in recent memory. With the exception of "The Other Half of Me" - which was my favorite episode from last year - OTH as of late has had a tendency to throw huge emotional songs over the top of every moment on screen, and therefore reducing the impact of the times where the audience's heart strings were supposed to be tugged at.
In this final season premiere there were a number of moments of light scoring in the background, as well as plenty of music free scenes where the characters simply talked to each other. Who knew that could happen?!?! It made those conversations feel much more genuine, and made the big musical montages feel much more momentous.
We still have a long way to go, as this ninth and final season of One Tree Hill is just beginning, but we have so many questions! What is going to happen that will lead to that flash forward that began the episode? And when are we going to see the conclusion of those scenes? The finale? Or just before? That seems like a lot of carnage to end a season with, no?
In the more present future, we have to wonder what the appearance of Ted Davis is going to bring, who was opening Haley's doors and trying to break in, and what is Clay going to do about his troubling sleepwalking problem?
With all of this on your minds over the next week, I prescribe an iPod and a glass of wine (for those of age) to get to sleep.
What say you, TV Fanatics? What did you think of the final season premiere of One Tree Hill? Browse through our section of One Tree Hill quotes now and sound off: And who tops your Relationship Rankings?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.