One Tree Hill: The Slippery Slope Continues 16

Posted by: haro1d

Royal Tenenbaum once said, “I’m dying, Etheline. I’m sick as a dog. I’ll be dead in six weeks.”

Or something like that. This week OTH delved deeply into the “Dan is dying” issue. But before we get into that, an update on what else went down in Tree Hill:

Peyton tried to convince Lindsey that Lucas only has eyes for her (Lindsey, that is). Lindsey subsequently tried to convince Peyton to read Lucas’ new manuscript, giving it to her without Lucas’ consent and in the process violating virtually every sacrosanct moral/ethical law for publishers, not to mention stupidly letting an asset potentially leak, diminishing its value in the market. Quentin wised up, apologized and decided to play ball after li’l James gave Skills the idea to shoot nothing but three-pointers, with Quentin as point guard. Mouth got his shot at several on-air sports spots at the TV station. He duly flubbed the first, but when Millicent showed up at his work and they immediately admitted her to the studio without any sort of security restrictions whatsoever, a few encouraging words set his mind at ease and he was able follow through properly on the second go-round. Brooke went with Lucas to bring baby Angie for a preoperative checkup and consultation regarding the potentially life-threatening (but necessary) surgery Angie is scheduled to undergo. Afterward, Brooke brought baby to her latest presentation, where Angie was a smash and magically helped Brooke to sell her idea for — surprise! — a new line of baby clothes.

And, well, yes, Dan Scott is dying. Thankfully, at least at first, almost everyone’s immediate reaction was literal disbelief. After all of the stunts he’s pulled, you would have hoped that the Scott family would have been wise to Dan’s machinations at least four seasons ago. Lucas checked into things with Dan’s physician and found that his six-month-to-live prognosis is accurate — to which Lucas’ response is, “Good riddance.” Haley is torn about letting little James get to know his grandfather before he loses what could be his only opportunity ever to do so. Nathan is more of the “No way” way of thinking.

Dan’s idea, of course, is to try bring the family together, all warm and fuzzy, just like Royal Tenenbaum wanted to do in “The Royal Tenenbaums.” But Dan Scott’s evil streak makes Royal Tenenbaum look like Santa Claus by comparison, so that’s going to be a bit of a hard sell for everyone involved. (And even when he does die, he’s setting himself up to look evil in the afterlife, smugly arranging for a herculean-sized tombstone with his smiling face etched into it to be set beside the one marking his brother’s grave, dwarfing it in every respect.)

The implications for the series are multiple. OTH without Dan Scott is like “It’s a Wonderful Life” without Lionel Barrymore rolling around as Mr. Potter, cackling about how some people are worth more dead than alive. Sure, there’s enough drama in OTH for the show to continue, but is there any point? Dan Scott is the blackness, the Screwtape (C.S. Lewis reference for you “Narnia” fans) who insidiously gets into everyone’s psyche with a knife and twists away. Without him, I think the show has to end.

Why is that? Well, because, as I’ve said before in this space and for years, now, I believe that OTH ultimately is about the redemption of Dan Scott. Lucas, Nathan, Peyton, Haley, basketball — all of it is scenery. Eye candy to draw in the young audience and sell them Sunkist products and tepid, watered-down music. But the big question that runs through the series is what is the legacy of this stinker of a guy who couldn’t get over his own high-school experience three decades after they’d ended, who somehow showed nothing but contempt for his family and community.

But that leaves the question of how all of this will end. Dan has created a tidal wave of misery in Tree Hill, even aside from murdering his brother. So heinous are his misdeeds that his entire family refuses to have anything to do with him, even when his intentions appear to be good. Add Keith’s murder to that, and Dan’s subsequent attempt to get back together with Karen, and you have a person for whom the scenario in which he could possibly redeem himself to his family and in the eyes of the viewer looks pretty impossible.

Except one, and it’s so obvious that I’m almost hoping I’m wrong: Before Dan dies his expected natural death, I think the situation will arise in which li’l James’ life will be in immediate jeopardy — an oncoming car/bus/train/plane … or COMET — and Dan will sacrifice his life to save him. He’d be out of the way (“Good riddance”), he would have endeared himself to pretty much everyone for saving his grandson, and in dying to save another, would have done the best he could to atone for Keith’s slaying.

And then all he’ll need is an epitaph that reads something like:

“Died tragically rescuing his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship.”

And then, maybe we can all watch as OTH sinks under the waves.