It might have been annoying at certain points in this final season of One Tree Hill, but Nathan getting kidnapped and the subsequent events it caused over the first nine episodes were all worth it for what was maybe the most heroic rescue mission in television history.
I would be extremely surprised if I needed to convince anyone else of the greatness of Dan Scott - and Paul Johansson's portrayal of the character - after his performance during "Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will."
This was what we have all been waiting for, and what I've been writing about since "Catastrophe and the Cure" back in February: Dan Scott's redemption. I knew he would save Nathan, I just didn't know how. I knew it would be uber cool and super studly, but I couldn't have ever imagined how awesome it would be to watch him slowly walk through the building going through bad guys one by one with his shotgun.
Dan Scott is the man, and so is Johansson.
The journey we all took, watching Dan get to that point, was just as fantastic. Whether it was teaching Julian and Chris Keller how to shoot, using the third person after realizing neither knew what he was doing, or locking Julian out of the car and telling him to go home to his family, this was a great episode before we even got to the rescue mission.
Then it happened. Chris Keller caused a great diversion by slamming that big dude into the wall, Dan heroically walked through the building taking out bad guy after bad guy, and then, in a fit of genius, Dan switched Nathan with the drug dealer to throw off Dimitri.
While I had to remind myself to breathe once again after all of that was over, the action and emotion was far from over in Tree Hill. First, Dan proudly told Nathan that he wouldn't let anything happen to him. Then, Nathan said to his dad, "It's good to see you." Man, they got me. I'm such a sap.
The action continued as they still had to make it out of the building safely, and that's what made this story so exciting. I had no idea how it was going to end. From the time I knew Dan was going to rescue Nathan, I thought he wasn't going to make it out alright, but I was never quite sure. That worrying was what made it so fun to watch.
Dan jumping in front of Dimitri's bullet to save Nathan was truly heroic, and as Chris Keller mentioned a number of times earlier in the hour, the hero is always the one that dies. Sure, we're not sure whether Dan is gone or not yet, but it doesn't look good. If he does die, I think Dan Scott would be okay with that. He saved his son's life, and made Haley's, Jamie's and Lydia's lives better because of it.
Unlike the intense rescue of Nathan by Dan Scott, the attack of Brooke Davis by Xavier was not all that interesting. First, Xavier is a terrible character and this story hasn't been entertaining since they brought it back this season. Secondly, the ending was so obvious that even I picked up on it immediately.
As soon as Tara showed up in the episode I said to myself that she was going to save Brooke from Xavier. There's no other reason to have her show up, and there is no other way to attempt to redeem such a terrible person so quickly. She had to save Brooke's life.
Before getting to the semi-interesting stun gun savior by Tara, we had to endure an unbelievably over the top and "scream at your television" worthy parking garage stalker/fight scene.
Let me go Seth Meyers on you all for a second here... Really, Brooke? You are so afraid of this guy that you don't want him working across the street from you in the daytime, but you are willing to walk through an empty parking garage in the dark? Really? You followed him to his house and called 911 when he let himself in his own window because you thought he was that much of a danger to you, but you lock up your store and leave all by yourself at night? Really?
Brooke, you're better and smarter than that. I could understand the "I don't want to be protected for the rest of my life" argument, but if you truly think this guy is a danger, then it won't be for too much longer. Xavier will be the criminal that he is - for example, attacking you in the parking garage - and screw himself over. You should have taken much better precautions, Brooke Davis. I'm disappointed in you.
I sure am glad that Xavier is gone.
While one major story of "Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will" fired on all available cylinders, the other sputtered like a clunker on its last leg. Thankfully, the few moments we had with Clay and Quinn, and the flashbacks we had to Nathan's high school press conference, were nice additions.
How about that ending? Haley answers the phone with "Hello." I assume that is going to be a call telling her that Nathan is alive, if it isn't Nathan himself. How many tears are you going to shed during that conversation? I am too proud my own answer to that question.
What did you think of the episode overall? How will you remember Dan Scott if he is no longer with us? Now that the Chase, Brooke and Nathan plots are all basically wrapped up, what do you think is in store for us in the final three episodes in the history of One Tree Hill?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.