July 31, 2016

Does this darkness have a name? This cruelty, this hatred. How did it find us? Did it steal into our lives or did we seek it out and embrace it? What happened to us? That we now send our children into the world like we send young men into war, hoping for their safe return. But knowing that some will be lost along the way. When did we lose our way? Consumed by the shadows, swallowed whole by the darkness. Does this darkness have a name? Is it your name? -Lucas Scott Voiceover

Something happened in the last 90s and into the 2000s. It was the turn of the century and the new millenium happening all at once. I never went to school and felt like I had to fear for my safety while there. That’s not so much the case for students anymore. I don’t know if it’s increased violence or increased awareness or both, but it’s made it so that TV shows sometimes can’t show an episode because it hits too close to a current event or they increased the amount of episodes made to mirror a current event. The Dawson’s Creek kids didn’t really have to address a school shooting because violence on campus were extremely few and far between. Just a few seasons after it’s off the aire, it seemed like something was happening every other week. Skylines changed and how we felt leaving the house changed. So we have today’s episode of OTH which at the time it aired it didn’t really hit me. But as times have changed it struck more of a chord this time around.

It’s a scary episode. It’s TV and Tree Hill HS is lucky that Jimmy Edwards didn’t come to school with a gun for a body count, he actually had no plan at all. He was angry and sad and he had a gun. He shot it only once and the magic bullet hit Peyton in the leg. Brooke got rushed away by someone in the panic. The basketball team arrived to school on a bus from morning practice. Nathan ran back in to find Haley in the Tutor Center and Lucas ran back in to find Peyton in the Library. Brooke got thrown on the bus by Whitey. It all happened unexpectedly and instantaneously. Unfortunately for the kids in the Tutor Center, they are in the room with Jimmy Edwards. They have no idea he was the kid with the gun.

Haley locks the door and turns out the lights because it’s procedure. But they must not practice a lot or maybe the rules have changed. Part of procedure is to not let anyone else in the door, just to lock it, turn the lights out, and remain silent and unseen. I work at a school and these scenarios run through our mind everyday. What would we do? The Lockdown drills are always the scariest and most uncomfortable to run. And the worst part of the scenario that runs through our minds is that for all the preventative measures we take, should a Lockdown be necessary due to an active shooter, we know it’s not going to end like a drill. It may end with some of us not making it out alive. The drills are to practice for when all of our watchful eyes and security measures can’t stop tragedy from unfolding, they’re to help prepare students and staff to prevent further loss of life. And when teachers ask What if questions at trainings and you have to admit that despite all of the reading and prep you’ve done that you don’t have all of the answers and a lot of what should be done will rely on their gut instinct…well, it sucks!

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Tree Hill HS has no security system in place. They talk about having unarmed guards, but we never see them. They don’t have metal detectors, or security cameras. Unoccupied classrooms are left wide open with the lights on. A student in the TC thinks that locking the door means they are in the room. Now it may not be so. See, back then, it was still something that happened over there, it wasn’t something schools saw happening to them. But look, it happened at Tree Hill High School. And they are all left to wonder why.

Two viewpoints are brought up in this whole situation. Is the shooter to blame or are the people who drove him to it to blame? I think the show seeks to say there may not be a right answer to any of this other than what has to change starts at an individual level. Could Jimmy have been the one to reach out? Mouth and Rachel make good points that there’s supposed to be life after high school. Going to school is such a finite amount of days. College is a choice and how long you attend that is up to you as well. But HS ends, we move on and as Mouth says, we’re supposed to have a chance to take back all the crappy stuff we said and did. Jimmy is stuck in a reality he can’t shake, but it’s not everyone’s reality. We’re all stuck in an individual reality we can’t shake and sometimes it causes us to lose sight of the world that exists outside of ourselves. And sometimes we are part of the problem. It’s a vicious cycle.

Jimmy points out that Nathan said some pretty nasty things about Haley on the Time Capsule, but of course guys like Nathan can get away with it. Jimmy doesn’t know the whole story though. He doesn’t know that Haley had a really hard time when she got back. She was behind but she’s been working to keep up. She got bullied by a group of girls she didn’t even know. She was belittled and rejected by her husband because his feelings were hurt. He doesn’t know that Nathan did have to talk through with Haley the kind of place he was in when she left and when she got back, why he said the things on the Time Capsule that he did. He doesn’t know that Haley’s feelings were hurt and she had to take some time before she went to TALK it out with him. Haley let her feelings be known and she started a dialogue.

In this show, Jimmy is blaming everyone for his lack of action. He’s blaming people for something they had no control over. But at the same time, Jimmy feels out of control. His life isn’t the one he saw for himself. He’s depressed, he’s lonely. He doesn’t know how to ask for help. Somewhere along the line, Jimmy stopped knowing how to be Jimmy. He stopped seeing himself as someone that could be a person in this world.

This episode is sad all around. It doesn’t ask you to sympathize with the person causing harm. But it does ask you to take a good look at yourself and wonder if you’re being the best person that you can be. You can’t know and be friends with everyone, but it’s important that you be kind to everyone. Don’t act like the people around you don’t exist. Don’t be cruel to someone simply because they seem other. Just smile and nod and be on your way. That can mean a lot to someone. The only person I feel badly for in this episode is Brooke. She’s a popular girl, she’s Student Council President, she puts herself out there to be known. Not everybody does that. She can’t know everyone, so it stinks that she’s put in a position to feel bad about that. She’s good to her friends, she’s there for them and helps them. And since she met Lucas and Haley, she’s not really mean and cruel to people. She’s already done some soul searching and started a change for the better. She’s tries her best to be kind to everyone she talks to now…except Rachel, but Rachel is AWFUL! That should be enough. But somehow it’s not. And then we have to ask ourselves when is enough enough? And I guess the answer is that it’s never enough.

Peyton is bleeding a lot. Lucas has to get her out of there before she bleeds to death. Since she thinks she’s dying she tells Lucas she loves him and them gives him a little kiss. Lucas just lets it happen and it’s really kind of sweet and innocent. It’ll be a big deal later, I’m sure, but in this moment, it’s really not. It’s just a moment. Lucas does get her out and after he hands her off he’s taken down by the cops to be patted down. It’s a scene that depicts something we know not to be necessary, but the cops don’t know that and in real life no one would really know. It’s scary and it’s sad, but in the moment even Lucas knows it’s necessary so he doesn’t fight it. After all, in most of these school shootings and in the one depicted in this episode, the shooter is someone that was supposed to be there or was approved to be on campus. They’re usually the kids.

And that’s what one of the kids in the tutor center is trying to wrap her head around. There’s a guy in there that won’t relent. As much as Jimmy opens up, the meaner the guy gets. And the Abby girl says how words can hurt, why be so cruel, we’re just kids, kids aren’t supposed to have it in them to be so cruel. She later needs her insulin and Jimmy allows her to leave. As she leaves Nathan texts Dan that there are no other shooters, it’s just Jimmy. He catches Nathan and gets angry. As more time passes they think they are getting through to Jimmy. Haley is trying to make him remember that he wasn’t always this way, in his heart he’s a good guy. Nathan and Haley also do this thing where Nathan kind of stands or sits in front of their and whenever the gun goes up she puts her hand to Nathan’s heart. It’s sweet and crazy to think about having to do for someone. They’re just kids. Jimmy tells them that it’s the next person he hears in the hallway will die. That’s when door to the Library slams shut. As Jimmy leaves the room to go make good on his promise, he tells them he’ll be remembered as a monster, but he wonders how the world will remember all of them. I didn’t really get that before. Like is he saying that in a way to like ask if they’ve made any sort of contribution to the world, or is he like calling them out for not stopping him from going to kill someone? Is not playing the hero how they’ll be remembered? Or have they been playing the hero, it’s just their efforts failed, they couldn’t reach him enough to make him stop on his own. In the end, it is Jimmy acting alone of his own volition.

He catches Lucas carrying Peyton. He tells Jimmy that she’s going die and he knows Jimmy doesn’t want that. As it is, as Haley said, Jimmy’s still a minor and as far as they know he hasn’t killed anyone. He needs help, he might be able to get passed this. Then Dan does manage to get Keith inside the school. Keith kinda just pops out of hiding, it almost kinda takes you out of the moment, but quickly you’re back in it as Keith stands in front of Lucas and walks in front of him to get them out of the building. Keith doesn’t follow them out though. He pleaded with Dan to find him a way in because he wanted to help Jimmy. He didn’t want all of the SWAT and cops and whoever else to bust up in the building and scare Jimmy. He wanted to help remind Jimmy of the kid he remembered. Jimmy tells him that it just hurts all the time. And Keith gets that. Keith’s a born loser that’s managed to turn it around lately. He gets that it can be hard and he’s been to the point where he thought the only way to solve the problem was to kill it. But he didn’t, he found a way to turn that around and he found a way to find peace and stop letting the problem that is Dan hold him back. Jimmy just can’t though, he just can’t see how anything up to this point could get better and he shoots himself. The people in the TC hear the shot and it all just got really real.

I think that what ends the episode is why it didn’t really hit the mark for me on initial watch. This is before I got into finding things like spoilers and stuff. Not everybody talked about this and that and I definitely did not see the end coming. The shock of the wholly unnecessary moment took me out of the episode completely. Now that time has passed and I know how it all ends, it’s not so upsetting in the way it was then. It still is, but it’s already played out and is what it is. Do I think it should’ve happened? No. Do I think it if it had to happen that it could’ve happened in a different episode? Yes. I think that having Dan turn full on cartoon villain at this point makes it so that the whole kid shooting at kids and then taking own life didn’t resonate as much as it could’ve. The show wasn’t about the show before this point and this made it all just a backdrop to get a gun in Dan’s hands and alone with Keith and a scapegoat. It stops the conversation that could’ve been had, that needed to be had, and starts the conversation of Dan killing his big brother in cold blood…Keith goes over to Jimmy and he’s dead, there’s no saving him. Dan walks into the hallway. He hates Keith. He can’t stand that Keith has the life he thinks he wants. He picks up the gun and points it at Keith who stands there confused and in disbelief. And then Dan shoots Keith dead.

DVD featurette for the episode.

Until next time…tooda loos!

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