The Best Episodes of One Tree Hill. Ever–Part 2

There’s only One Tree Hill. If there’s one thing to say about this teen soap, it’s that it stuck around even if it never truly got the respect from critics or viewers it deserved. After nine years of love triangles, car crashes and psychopaths, the CW’s favourite small town family is packing up for good as the first episode of its final season begins tonight, so here’s a look at the very best the show has offered us in the past eight years: #10-1

#10 718 The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

The 7th season was very much a transitional one for our North Carolina friends. With Lucas and Peyton jetting off to tour the world, fans were given a fresh batch of talent to fill the void.  One of these new characters came in the form of Quinn James, Haley’s kind-hearted photographer sister. For years we had heard about her Brady Bunch-sized family tree but now fans actually had to the chance to see where Haley came from (Haley‘s other sister, Taylor would also make an appearance later in the year). Things were cranked up 10 notches when Haley’s mother, Lydia came back to town to tell her family she was dying of cancer. With that came the most emotional episode of the season as the James girls came to terms with their mother’s death, delivering some of the best performances of the season (Lindsey McKeon [Taylor] especially). Oh yeah, and Brooke and Julian got back together.

#9 623 Forever and Almost Always

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, One Tree Hill knows how to do a wedding episode! To be honest, this episode started out a little ordinary. Nathan and Haley were happy as always, Lucas and Peyton were finally making their union official, Brooke was dating Nick Lachey to make Julian jealous, but who doesn’t get goose bumps in the final moments when Lucas bursts into his room on his wedding night to find his pregnant wife collapsed in a pool of her own blood? The soundtrack is also fantastic, the use of Ingrid Michaelson’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” adding the perfect touch to a wonderful wedding scene.

#8 413 Pictures of You

In the nine years One Tree Hill has been on the air, they’ve experimented with the format of their episodes quite a bit from separate acts to out-of-order timelines and it doesn’t always pay off but when it does, it looks like this. Pictures of You simply centers around a class project. Each student is paired up with a classmate and forced to spend an hour getting to know them. It was one of the few episodes purely based on character development with little-to-no plot in the entire hour. Instead, fans got to know the characters on a deeper level while new relationships formed and old ones grew stronger.

#7 613 Things a Mama Don’t Know

A stark contrast from the previous one, this episode is almost all plot but what a plot it is! In the season six fall finale fans were left with one hell of a cliffhanger. Brooke’s pseudo-adopted daughter revealed to her that her boyfriend’s brother was the man behind her brutal attack and ran away with them (oh yeah, and that brother also happens to have killed Quentin). Furious at herself for letting Sam leave, Brooke embarks on a mission to find her, coming face-to-face with her attacker in an epic struggle. Peyton also finds out she’s pregnant but that’s not really important.

#6 510 For Tonight, You’re Only Here to Know

What would you do if the love of your life was marrying someone else? Now tell me what you’d do if you were locked in a room with her? In what was by far season five’s (or “the adult years”) most gripping episode, Peyton and Lindsey’s feud heats up when they’re locked in the Tree Hill High library with Brooke, Haley and Mia. After what feels like hours of arguing, things come to a head leading to a tear jerking monologue from Michaela McManus’s Lindsey and the inevitable resolution between the two enemies.

#5 309 How a Resurrection Really Feels

Sometimes a episode is great because it takes you to unexpected places, sometimes it’s great because it takes you where you’ve wanted it to go all along. Season three’s fall finale was all about long awaited resolutions as Nathan and Haley decided to give their marriage another try, Deb was revealed to be behind Dan’s dealership fire and Brooke finally let her guard down long enough to let Lucas. In what was one of Sophia Bush’s finest moments as an actress, Brooke gives Lucas 82 letters she wrote to him, one for every day they were apart. Awww.

#4 811 Darkness at the Edge of Town

Probably the most action-packed hour in Tree Hill ever, this episode is by-far the best of the post-high school years. When the Carolina town is hit with a massive hurricane, Brooke ventures out to the streets after an argument with Julian, where she finds Jamie trapped in a crashed car. Though she tries her best to save him, it’s up to Julian to save them both when a hit and run driver sends the car barreling over the bridge and into the water below. Meanwhile, Crazy Katie returns for a final face-off with Quinn.

#3 421 All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Remember when the “series finale” finales were a refreshing and novel concept on One Tree Hill? This is probably the only one to have truly been done right. Following an eventful graduation, the gang gets together at an end-of-school house party to contemplate the rest of their lives. Brooke plans to take the fashion world by storm, Nathan and Haley have a new bundle of joy to take of and Lucas and Peyton hope to realize their dreams together. It was an emotional, heartwarming ending to the high school years, an ending so perfect some still argue this is how the show should have gone out.

#2 322 The Show Must Go On

The best One Tree Hill finale. Ever. It’s a beautiful day for a wedding…or not. As Nathan and Haley prepare to walk down the aisle for the second time, everything seems to be falling apart around them. Brooke cuts all ties from Peyton after finding out about her feelings for Lucas and Lucas comes clean about their kiss, putting the final nail in his relationship with Brooke. However, nothing could prepare fans for the final moment when a drunken Rachel steals the bridal limousine and drives it off a bridge, forcing Nathan to spring into action and risk his life minutes after saying “I do.”

#1 316 With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds and Tired Souls, We Slept

Could there be any other number one? The most famous episode of One Tree Hill ever is also the best written, acted and most shocking episode to date. An episode that changed the series forever and started the show’s long downhill journey. Jimmy Edwards is a character that was always in the background. After being introduced as one of the river rats early on in the series, he was kind of forgotten about. Suffice to say it was a bit of a shock when his character resurfaced in the midst of season three only to shoot up Tree Hill High School. The episode featured three connected stories: Brooke dealing with her guilt of being the only person to get out of the school, Lucas and Peyton stuck in the library after she was shot in the leg, and the rest of the high schoolers held hostage by Jimmy in the tutor centre. However what was most beautiful about this episode was how heartfelt it was. With material that could have so easily been played for shock value, Schwahn used it as an hour of character building. Jimmy wasn’t a horrible, gun wielding monster, he was a misunderstood loaner, desperate for love. This was the hour that changed everything and in the final moments when Dan Scott picks up Jimmy’s gun and kills his brother, fans knew they’d be returning to a very different Tree Hill.

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The Best Episodes of One Tree Hill. Ever–Part 1

There’s only One Tree Hill. If there’s one thing to say about this teen soap, it’s that it stuck around even if it never truly got the respect from critics or viewers it deserved. After nine years of love triangles, car crashes and psychopaths, the CW’s favourite small town family is packing up for good as the first episode of its final season begins this Wednesday, so here’s a look at the very best the show has offered us in the past eight years: #20-11

#20 120 What is and What Should Never Be

One Tree Hill’s freshman season saw car crashes, betrayals and blowouts galore but one of it’s most exciting episodes dealt with one character’s internal conflict. After being cheated on by both her boyfriend and her best friend, Brooke feels out of the loop when she’s uninvited from Haley’s first house party. Things heat up when she joins forces with Jake’s crazy ex, Nicki leading to a knockdown-dragout girl fight and Peyton finally swearing off Lucas for good (well…at least until season three).

#19 108 The Search for Something More

It’s the date rape episode! Another gem from season one, this may feel like “a very special episode” but it also marks Tree Hill’s first psycho-run in and the birth of Brucas, which makes it worthy of a mention. Sick of the boy drama in her life, Peyton agrees to go to a college party with Brooke but when she strikes up a connection with a fellow metal-loving partygoer, things take a turn for the deadly!

#18 210 Don’t Take Me for Granted

Haley kisses Chris, Lucas dumps Anna, this is not a good episode for couples BUT watching Jake return to save Peyton from a drug deal and Brooke and Felix getting back together just as Lucas realizes he has feelings for her makes for an addicting TV moment.

#17 722 Almost Everything I Wish I Said the Last Time I Saw You

After three straight years of (mostly boring) “series finale” endings, you couldn’t help but wonder if Papa Schwahn had a real finale in him. Well he certainly proved us wrong, giving fans one of the best cliffhangers of the series. After spending a week at the Sundance Film Festival where Brooke and Julian got engaged and Haley finally put the death of her mother behind her, Quinn and Clay were ambushed at their home by Clay’s crazy stalker and shot, seemingly left for dead…but we knew they’d pull through.

#16 213 The Hero Dies in this One

Chaos unfolds when The Wreckers infiltrate Tric…okay not really but who would have guessed that a simple performance could pull apart Tree Hill’s most solid super couple? When Chris Kellar’s opening act gives Haley the opportunity of a lifetime (touring around America with them) Nathan issues his wife an ultimatum: Go on tour and we’re through. Haley goes on tour. That final montage still gets me *tear*.

#15 603 Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly

The first two outings of season six were mostly shock after shock but when silver-tongued basketballer, Quentin was shot in a gas station robbery, the following episode went straight to the heart, focusing on how his death affected the people around him. From Nathan and Haley struggling to tell their son that his friend was gone, to Brooke coming to terms with her recent attack (later revealed to be by none other than Quentin’s killer) it was a heartbreaking episode. Anyone who doesn’t tear up when Jamie grabs Brooke’s hand is simply made of stone.

#14 216 Somewhere a Clock is Ticking

If there’s one thing Tree Hill does well, it’s a wedding episode, and when the wedding is as scandal-filled as Keith’s faux-engagement to Jules the con artist, fans are in for one explosive union. As the day approaches, Jules (who was paid by Dan to break Keith’s heart but wouldn’t-ya-know-it fell for him instead) must decide whether she’s prepared to get married under false pretenses. There’s much drama to be had but none more shocking than the final twist: Brooke’s family is moving to LA, forcing her to leave Tree Hill forever! Yeah, right.

#13 416 You Call it Madness but I Call it Love

Now this is how you do a psycho-episode folks! Season four found our perpetual damsel-in-distress, Peyton being stalked by a man who claimed to be her brother but was actually obsessed with her. Gross. The storyline gave Tree Hill’s prom episode an exciting twist as Psycho Derrek kidnapped his object of desire, tying her up in the basement. Luckily it’s Brooke Davis to the rescue??!

#12 313 The Wind that Blew My Heart Away

It’s a shame our favourite single perennialed hill didn’t do more natural disaster episodes, it turns out they were pretty good at them. After a major thunderstorm causes mass black outs across the town, each couple is isolated and forced to deal with their own issues. Brooke and Lucas struggle with a massive blowout while Nathan and Haley repair their broken marriage and Peyton prepares for her mother’s imminent death (which ended up closing the episode). Between two epic rain kisses and one hell of a performance from Hilarie Burton, it’s no wonder this episode has become an instant classic.

#11 601 Touch Me and I’m Going to Scream-Part 1

Season six started off with a bang in what was without-a-doubt the most action packed premier of the series. Lucas and Peyton finally reunited for good and Brooke was violently attacked in her store but none of it compared to the horror that awaited Dan Scott. After being hit by a car seconds before his heart transplant beeper went off, Dan awoke to find himself being held captive by crazy Nanny Carrie in her childhood home. Few of the following episodes really lived up to the insanity of the premier but it was one hell of a way to kick off a season.

A Love Letter to Brooke Davis

It’s hard to believe that nearly five years ago I came upon the most influential television character in my life. Brooke Davis has been so many things to me: a teacher, a friend, a shoulder to cry on. Whenever life just isn’t working out I can count on a classic B. Davis episode to put things into perspective and in a mere four months, she’ll be gone forever.

Brooke came into my life at a time when I really needed someone. When I was 16, my group of mostly male friends found out I was gay and while lying and racism were qualities they accepted in a friend, loving another man was something they just couldn’t get passed. Losing a friend, no matter how flawed, is always difficult but losing all of them at once was absolutely traumatizing. Being still in the closet with no one to talk to I decided to turn to the one thing that never failed to pick me up, television.

Yes it’s a silly thing to care so much about but the TV addict in me couldn’t help it, spring break was coming up and I needed something to numb the seven days of isolation. I chose to pick up a new series, One Tree Hill. I went through the majority of season one simply enjoying the dynamic relationships and fun situations but even early on, Brooke was my clear favourite. She’s beautiful, fun and didn’t take people’s crap, basically she was who I wished I was but then something happened, a new side to her emerged, a side I knew all too well.

In the 18th episode of season one, To Wish Impossible Things, Brooke wins Mouth in a date auction. After a night of partying and drinks she breaks down in their limo, still hurt from her break-up with Lucas. “Remember when I told you what girls want?” she says to Mouth. “Girls just want someone to want them back, at least I do.” That line stung deep. Even after everything that happened, all I really wanted was my friends back. All I really wanted was to be wanted.

It was so strange connecting with this character. Brooke was fundamentally my exact opposite, she was beautiful, popular, confident and had a legion of friends yet somehow she felt like my TV persona. We’d both been deeply hurt by the people we trusted the most and struggled to repair that bond. We both loved our friends so deep yet found it hard to truly trust people. We were both secretly insecure and yearned for the approval of others. For the first time since losing my friends, I felt like I had found someone I understood. Watching Brooke navigate through her issues was almost therapeutic as if all my problems could be answered by Brooke Davis simply getting her happy ending. I mean if she could find happiness, was all hope really lost for me?

Half a decade later and I truly feel like me and Brooke have grown up together. Both of us have straightened out our lives and gone on to bigger and better things (she is admittedly way more successful than I am but give me time, she’s got six years on me). My social life no longer consists of TV marathons and crying, I have friends who not only embrace who I am but are excited by it and our journey together has inspired me to become a television writer so I can create a character for other people to connect to. Who knows where I’ll go from here, Brooke may already have her happily ever after but the future is still limitless for me and for the first time, that excites me.

Television’s Best High School Girls–Part 2

As long as there’s been high school shows, there’s been engaging, interesting and downright entertaining female characters that propel the shows into must-watch territory. Let’s face it, this isn’t a genre that lets the guys have all the fun. Next month will see the return of One Tree Hill, Pretty Little Liars, Glee and The Vampire Diaries; shows driven by their exceptionally talented female casts, so lets look at the 20 most exceptional females television has given us over the decades: Numbers 10-1

#10 Kelly Taylor (Beverly Hills 90210)

How can I not mention the first quintessential California dream girl? This spoiled mall princess may have began the series as a popular pot stirrer but over the show’s 10 seasons developed into a sympathetic character anyone would be proud to call a friend.

#9 Effy Stonem/Mini McGuiness (Skins)

Two for the price of one, these troubled characters from across the pond have a lot in common. Aside from both being incredibly beautiful, they’re also seriously messed up with complex problems that go deeper than the typical “insecure mean girl” further proving the UK just does it better.

#8 Faye Chamberlain (The Secret Circle)

Talk about a killer witch. Not much stands out about this witchcraft-centric Vampire Diaries retread but the show’s saving grace definitely comes in the form of witchy bad girl, Faye Chamberlain. She’s so captivating, we’re willing to forgive the fact a girl who was born and raised in Washington mysteriously has an Australian accent.

#7 Summer Roberts (The OC)

If there ever was a definition for “valley girl” it’s Orange County’s Summer Roberts. Sure she’s essentially a walking punch line but there is something so sweet and genuine about her, audiences couldn’t help but fall in love with Seth Cohen’s unattainable dream girl.

#6 Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

She saved the world…a lot. The eternal vampire slayer managed to attend class, save the world from the brink of destruction on a regular basis and looked damn good doing it. And you thought you had problems.

#5 Katherine Pierce (The Vampire Diaries)

Okay, so this is a bit of  a cheat but doppelganger of a high school student sort of counts right? Kat is by far the most volatile person listed, ready to put a knife (or sink her teeth) into anyone who stands in her way, because at the end of the day Katherine Pierce only cares about one thing and that’s Katherine Pierce.

#4 Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)

Part Sherlock, part Gilmore Girl, this spunky teen sleuth is certainly the snarkiest female on my list. Her penchant for lightning fast quips and saving the day has made her a stand-out favourite even despite her show’s criminally short run.

#3  Santana Lopez (Glee)

Rachel may have the voice and Brittany may have the blissfully dim one-liners but when it comes to sheer awesomeness, no one can touch this fiery cheerio. The reigning Queen of Lima Heights Adjacent, Santana can cut any opponent down to size with  a swift death glare or pitch-perfect insult and we wouldn’t have her any other way.

#2 Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl)

It’s not every day one finds a TV character that’s both a deliciously conniving, teenage schemer and the moral centre of the show. This princess (soon literally) of the Upper East Side has been Gossip Girl’s runaway favourite since episode one and it’s no surprise thanks to her endless wardrobe, snarky quips and hidden vulnerability.

#1 Brooke Davis (One Tree Hill)

After following Tree Hill’s resident It Girl for nine years, is there any high school character on television more fully-formed than the one-and-only B.Davis? The cheer captain may have began Dawson’s Creek 2.0 as a trampy pot stirrer but that didn’t stop viewers from falling for the girl with the perfect dimples. Over the course of the series Brooke was given the ultimate redemption storyline going from troubled party girl to business-savvy fashion mogul and finally (in one of the series’ most rewarding moments) to mother.