Episode 11: “We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me!)
It’s the 30’s movie episode! Objectively, this is just a terrible episode. It’s written and directed by Chad Michael Murray, for one thing, which, I mean, everything about it is fine, but at least allows for it’s tonal weirdness. The conceit is that Lucas falls asleep while watching Casablanca and dreams of an alternate universe, where the gang are all 30’s movie types. Lucas runs Karen’s Café as a suave Bogart type. Brooke is a down on her luck designer (still), Haley is the club’s singer, Skills the piano player, Nathan is a bar tender, Mouth is a gossip columnist, and Dan is the crime boss, Peyton is a girl he takes care of, and Julian his enforcer. Also Owen is a dirty cop (this is the analog that makes the least amount of sense).
Peyton and Lucas play out their star crossed romance, complicated by Dan just being the worst and Brooke selling them out. Also Nathan and Haley get married super fast right before he ships out to war. The whole exercise only works at all because the cast appears to be having a ball, and because it gave us a preview of Agent Jack Thompson, CMM in vintage suits, with his hair slicked back, running around irresponsibly pointing his gun at things. (RIP Agent Thompson, also #SaveAgentCarter). Seriously, the only episode I like less than this one is the It’s A Wonderful Life episode back in season 4. This one is at least a little fun.
Episode 12: “You Have To Be Joking (Autopsy Of The Devil’s Brain)”
“If there’s one thing I know, it’s that audiences get crazy over who ends up with who.” And thus we meet Adam, who I am completely convinced actually is Dawson Leary, who developed a drug habit after his TV show got cancelled, and he’s just waiting for Joey and Pacey to show up and pull him out of it. Anyway, Julian send Lucas to meet with Dawson, I mean Adam, who’s high on coke and loves Ravens but wants to change everything about it. Namely, he wants Lucas and Haley to get together, or to kill Haley, or at least one of the younger characters. This furthers the DC headcanon, Dawson is extrapolating his experience onto Lucas’s. He can’t decide if Haley is Joey or Jen, thus she either must die (Jen) or get together with Dawson (Joey,) although not how the story actually ended, how Dawson always made it end. Seriously, every damn time, Dawson told that story. But since Haley is neither Joey nor Jen, it doesn’t really work. (Honestly, Brooke is Jen, and Joey is kind of split up into Haley and Peyton. Also, Nathan is Pacey, complete with Daddy issues.)
Meanwhile, back in Tree Hill, Julian has set his sights on Brooke, professionally of course. He wants her to design the costumes for the movie. She doesn’t trust him so she turns him down. Also, like, everyone keeps acting Julian is this huge asshole, when really, he’s behaving like a perfectly sane adult. Not telling Lucas that he used to date Peyton is vaguely weird, but nothing else the dude has done has been sketchy. Anyway, Julian befriends Sam, who’s been hanging out with Jack Daniels, who is pretty damn adorable. Sam learns though that it was Jack’s brother who attacked Brooke, and we, the audience learn that he killed Quentin.
Nathan goes to a combine and kicks all the butts. Jaime tries to play piano in his talent show and tells jokes instead. Oh, and Millie finally snaps on the whole Gigi thing and gets drunk and sleeps with Owen, who’s crushed because a frantic Brooke finally told him she was absolutely done with him. Julian, meanwhile, is quietly looking for Sam on his own. And Peyton thinks she might have cancer.
Episode 13: “Things A Mama Don’t Know”
Turns our that Peyton does not have cancer. She’s just pregnant! Hooray! She spends the episode giving everyone pep talks because she’s sooo happy. Also, still in LA, Lucas meets Julian’s father who tries to convince him to fire Julian. Lucas, knowing from shitty fathers, tells him to shove up, but with way more agnst and eloquence because Lucas.
Millie tells Mouth that she slept with Owen when he tries to apologize for it and he can’t decide whether to forgive her or not. Also, Owen has been drinking, it turns out his spiral was pre Brooke fallout, which I actually like a lot better. He’s been on pain meds after a slamball injury, and Chase takes over at the bar so he can go get his act together. (Become a hot werewolf in Louisiana.)
Brooke decides that tracking down Jack would be a good way to find Sam. She goes to his house and has a weird creepy conversation with Jack’s brother, who has Sam tied up in the closet for reasons? Look, I’m just saying the every time the show tries to recreate the Psycho Derek dynamic it falls very short. But, Brooke winds up pulling her gun on Jack’s creepy brother. Also Julian shows up with Jack just in time. The police find Q’s wallet in the house and Brooke is about to have an existential crisis about that.
Nathan gets picked by a B Team in Charlotte, and has a rough first day. Mia is trying to write some new songs and also she and Chase bond and OMG OMG OMG. Also Jamie and Andre go to see Quentin’s grave. This is very sweet and sad.
Episode 14: “A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene”
It’s a hangout episode! Lucas and Peyton babysit Jamie and Andre to “practice.” They get worn out. Chase and Mia go on a double date with Haley and Nathan and Brooke and Julian hang out and bond over their terrible parents. It’s pretty great.
Sam and Jack say goodbye as Jack gets ready to go into foster care and it’s pretty tough on her, and Millie and Mouth break up over the sex with Owen issue. It’s totally heartbreaking and sad and I want to hug them. I also want to hug Nathan and Chase when they get up on stage and sing “Bust A Move,” it’s not quite the strip tease to “It’s Tricky,” but it’s so much fun.
There’s not a lot going on plot wise in this episode but it’s a fun one, and that counts for something. Also, I wish we got more of Sam and Jack, they were really cute.
Episode 15: “We Change, We Wait”
“I am here for the girl in the book.” Julian and Brooke is amazing, and I don’t know why I ever denied that. (To be fair I didn’t, not really, I’m just obsessed with Brooke and Lucas is all…) Anyway, they’re together now, making out on Brooke’s couch and he gives her the Ravens jacket she made for him, and it’s the best thing ever.
Meanwhile, Lucas and Julian are having trouble picking a director. They don’t like anyone, and when Dawson rolls back into town with Julian’s dad, he winds up with the job. Literally no one is happy about this, but I do remember tweeting at the time, “if there isn’t a shot of Lucas standing in a rowboat I’m out of here.” That never happened, and it seems like a missed opportunity to this day.
Lucas also gives Peyton an engagement ring, which she gives back, instead asking for the Keith/Karen ring. So that’s cute. Nathan finally gets some playing time and Dan tells him that he’s proud of him. Which is actually kind of nice. Good for Dan. Mia writes a song and she and Chase are adorbs. Also it turns out that Paul and Peyton are kind of tight, which is a detail that I’ve always liked.
But mostly, you guys, Dawson in Tree Hill.
Overall Analysis Of This Arc
I love the movie arc, and not just because of the Dawson’s Creek stuff, although that doesn’t hurt. Julian is such a great character and the Mia and Chase and relationship is so stinking adorable I can barely stand it. I also love the Nathan comeback. This is just a really nice, fun run of episodes, with the exception of Jack’s brother, who never rises to the level of greatness of Psycho Derek, nor the complete bonkers fun of Nanny Carrie.