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Throwback Thursday - One Tree Hill - The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

Throwback Thursday is a weekly feature at SpoilerTv where contributors look back on past episodes of TV that made an impact on them. This week I want to take a moment to look back on a One Tree Hill season 7 episode, The Last Day of Our Acquaintance.

It’s no secret that I LOVE One Tree Hill, I even run a podcast where I binge and discuss it. Maybe it’s cheating because it’s so easy for me to talk about because I do it regularly, but I couldn’t help but decide that for this article, I needed to talk about this episode. Season 7 of OTH is a mixed bag at best. There’s new characters and zany plots that show the age of a show that is struggling to adjust after losing two leads. I didn’t remember much about this season when we started our rewatch, but I did remember the powerful story involving the James sisters and the death of their matriarch. The Last Day of Our Acquaintance definitely impacted me the first time I watched when I was younger, but seeing it now as I approach my 30’s and face the reality that I will lose those closest to me one day, the episode really hits me hard and stays with me.

Quick Recap: Lydia James, mother of Haley James Scott, Quinn James and Taylor James returns to town because she has cancer and not long to live. She accepts the fact that she is dying, while her three daughters deal with it in very different ways. Lydia just wants to spend her last days at peace and happy, and once she collapses in the kitchen while making Haley’s traditional birthday soup, she starts to slip over the course of the episode, but when she does go, she goes surrounded by the people she loves including her daughters who have now mended fences and she drifts off to the afterlife to meet her husband while a slideshow of pictures of her life and “Landslide” plays in the background.

The string of episodes leading up to Lydia James death are all difficult to get through, but this episode, the one where she does make her way into the afterlife is especially difficult because of the reactions of her daughters. I know what it’s like to have someone close to you dying and there’s nothing to do but wait and the confusion that comes with it. I’ve been Haley, breaking down because there’s so much I don’t know that I wish I had time to learn from my relative and wishing I could do more. I’ve been Jamie, watching a grandparent pass on and feeling sad that my mother was losing a parent. What hit me the most, was the interaction between Taylor, the black sheep, and Lydia. Taylor feels like a screw up and not as special as her siblings and struggles to love herself and she feels lost, but Lydia on her deathbed comforts her and tells her she sees so much of her self in her. I lost it at that point, having similarly felt the same way when a death impacted my own family.
Sure, there are other things happening in this episode, like Brooke and Julian finally getting back together after a tough patch involving Alex, but the death of Lydia James is the most impactful. The acting is some of the best acting in the season, the soundtrack is moving and the tight shots are great at highlighting the character’s emotions. After spreading her ashes, we see Haley continuing the soup tradition with Jamie, a nice way of reflecting that in life, we honor those that move on by continuing with traditions. I seriously had to take a moment after watching this episode to reflect on if I’m doing enough with my life, or if I’m truly valuing the ones I love. I wondered how those around me would remember me, and if I had anything that I felt should be recorded so should anyone ever want any answers, that they could have them. I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared to lose a parent, I don’t know who is, but Haley’s line during her breakdown summed it up nicely, “When she goes, so much goes with her”. It’s tough to think about, but the episode challenged me to think about it and assess if when that time comes, have I said enough or done enough so my mom knows that her legacy will live on, that I’m okay or that she did her best with me and my sisters?

It was such a great episode and I think that Bethany Joy Lenz, never got a lot of credit for the acting she put in on this show, but she deserves to be acknowledge for how she was always able to elevate the minor details when it came to laying Haley James Scott. She truly had an amazing range on the show and a lot of times her stories were tied to Nathan, so it was great to see her emotionally tear into such a significant story and excel, especially in this episode and the ones that follow. I'd also like to give Lindsey McKeon who plays Taylor some credit, because for her just being a recurring character who appeared in just a handful of episodes, it could've been hard to feel anything with her reaction because she has been a side character, but her acting was spot on and I was floored and moved.

For me, a good episode of TV is one that moves you to laugh, or to cry, or to think and despite being a glorified soap opera in season seven, this particular episode of One Tree Hill did that. Maybe it was the use of “Landslide” or “I shall Believe” or maybe it’s the fact that when confronted with our mortality we are bound to get emotional. Either way, I encourage you take a moment and reflect on your own life and see if you’re living it in a way that when it does come to an end, you can say “I did good” just as Lydia did as she passed on to meet her husband in the afterlife surrounding by her loved ones. I know this is a pretty sad episode to cover for TBT, but I'm glad I did.

We'll be talking about this episode in a few short weeks on my One Tree Hill podcast which you can find here. (Sorry for the shameless plus, except not sorry)

Have you seen this episode? Were you impacted by Lydia’s death? Do you miss One Tree Hill? What were your thoughts on season 7? Sound off below.

All episodes of One Tree Hill are now streaming on Hulu in the US.

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