Advance Review of One Tree Hill Season 9 Premiere “Know This, We’ve Noticed” + Cast Q&A Summary

It can’t be denied that the season eight finale of One Tree Hill was designed as and ultimately seemed like the finale of the entire series. Watching it, one felt as if their journey with these characters was complete. True, there was no grand reunion with Lucas and Peyton, but there was that wonderful, echoing shot of Jamie dribbling a basketball over the bridge, like his father and uncle before him. I would have been happy to leave Tree Hill’s residents right there.

But with the addition of a thirteen-episode season nine premiering on January 11th, our time with these characters is not, as we thought, over. I admit, I was little apprehensive about this idea, but after watching the first episode, “Know This, We’ve Noticed,” I’m pleased to say that I think we’re in for a short, but exciting ride.

There is a jump ahead in time, but not a very big one; Brooke and Julian’s twins are still adorable babies. But before we take that small leap, we’re treated to preview of life several more months down the line. A flash-foward, if you will, and in all honestly, a confusing one, as it was mixed with a present day fire in Dan’s sad little truck-stop restaurant.

But if you can figure that bit out…what’s in the present, what’s in the future…there are some shocking, and still unclear things in store for the town. For Haley in particular, who is seen sobbing over a dead body in the morgue. No one wants it to be Nathan, but considering that this is the real and true final season, who knows?

We’re treated to the return of Chris Keller, which depending on where you stand could be a blessing or a sign of the apocalypse. Either way, he is as wonderfully portrayed by Tyler Hilton now as he was when he left several years ago. His scenes are some of the biggest highlights of the episode.

The regulars are all back, with some special additions such as Brooke’s parents (Daphne Zuniga and Richard Burgi), but will they be happy by the end of these thirteen episodes? I have my doubts; some of what is seen in the teaser seems insurmountable, even for a full season.

Regardless, this season is clearly going to be for the fans; it almost seems like a giant “thank you” for eight years of loyal viewing, through two networks, several major cast changes and one donor heart that turned into a doggie treat.

ONE TREE HILL

After the screening of the episode, there was a Q&A session with the cast that revealed a few surprises and disclosed some secrets from the set.

As I suspected, creator Mark Schwahn confirmed that this season was designed for the fans, but he also says that it won’t just be an excuse to look back. Despite confirmed appearances by Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton), we can look forward to serious storylines with real consequences.

Tyler Hilton says that it’s okay to keep hating Chris Keller; he just wouldn’t say why exactly. It was noted that a true villian, or even just a great antagonist, has been missing during the last few years. Season Nine has at least two: Chris Keller and Dan Scott.

Mouth will have gained some weight, for undisclosed reasons. (Sympathy weight-gain? Could Millie be pregnant??) This required Lee Norris to spend several hours every day in the makeup trailer.

Sophia Bush directed the second to last episode, and apparently cried throughout filming. She was quite emotional when talking about her nine years in Tree Hill, but she claims to love where her character ends up. She also notes that Brooke has always been fantastically loyal to her friends, but now that she’s a mother, you will see just how far she will go to protect her babies.

When asked about their favorite episode, almost everyone in the cast pointed to the school shooting in Season Three. Mark Schwahn believes that episode is the reason they were picked up by the CW, and if it hadn’t been an episode of a show called One Tree Hill, it would have won an Emmy.

What struck me the most about the evening was the heightened level of emotion, not just from the fans, but from the cast. In one of the sweetest moments of the night, Sophia Bush offered some of her tissues to a sobbing fan. Whatever else you can say about this show, it has touched many people far more deeply than any critic will ever recognize. I’m glad it’s gotten this final season to say goodbye.

What’s next for the cast? As Tyler Hilton suggested, “Two Tree Hill?”