Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Character Study: Dan Scott

When I write, I can never bring myself to make a character truly evil. I don’t know whether I just don’t know how to write an evil character, or I just don’t have the heart to inflict pain on my other characters. The writers of One Tree Hill, however, have no problems with this. Dan Scott is a one-man show when it comes to wreaking havoc on everyone in Tree Hill. He’s not only evil, but downright mean.


Backstory: When Dan was in high school, he dated Karen Roe. He was a basketball star on the high school team, and soon left Karen in the dust for college. While Karen was at home, pregnant with Dan’s child, he dumped her. He got involved with Deb, and got her pregnant too. Dan and Deb moved back to One Tree Hill, and Dan has been rubbing his “real” family in Karen’s face ever since. Now Dan owns Dan Scott Motors, the local car dealership. His smiling face is plastered all over town, but all is not well in the Scott household.

Dan tries to relive his high school years through his legitimate son, Nathan. He pushes Nathan harder and harder until Nathan comes to his senses and moves out. With no one else to push around, Dan moves on to Deb. Deb files for divorce. The stress of his family falling apart causes him to have a heart attack. This wouldn’t be Dan Scott unless he used the heart attack to his advantage, though. The doctor tells Dan that he is fully recovered, but he never tells Deb, who stays with him because of his fragile state.

At this point, Dan was probably bored with no one to terrorize, so he sets his sights on Lucas, his child with Karen. He terrorizes him, and when he sees Nathan and Lucas become friends, he uses Lucas against Nathan. Lucas has a heart condition that requires him to take very expensive medicine. He doesn’t want his mom to know about this because she’ll make his quit basketball. Dan sees this as an opportunity to turn the knife deeper in both Karen and Nathan’s already gaping wounds. He tells Lucas he’ll pay for the medicine if Lucas will move in with him.

Analysis:These are just a few examples of how Dan is able to break down the spirit of every person he comes in contact with. I admire the way the writers are able to make a character so undeniably bad. Just when I start thinking – “why doesn’t anyone ever retaliate against him?” “why is he still allowed to live in this town?” – the writers introduce a character that takes him on. In Season 2, there was Andy, Karen’s oh-so-hot boyfriend/college professor. Dan threatened him with deportation and I haven’t seen him since. Then there was the finale of season two where someone tries to burn Dan alive. That was unsuccessful, too. In Season Three, things start to heat up when Dan decides to run for mayor. He forces Deb to play the “adoring, faithful wife” while Whitey (the schools beloved basketball coach) and Karen take him on. I know there are some dastardly deeds in Dan’s future, for sure.

Even with how terrible Dan acts, I think he drives the plot. Almost every character in the show has had some sort of altercation with him, and they carry it with them. It shapes the story, and gets the characters to realize things about themselves.

Classic Dan Scott quotes:

Dan Scott: How much are you lifting?
Lucas Scott: 160
Dan Scott: Wow, I didn't know I had a daughter

Priest: May the grace of god be with you.
Dan: Yeah, OK. I gotta tell you, padre, this isn't exactly my home court, you know. I never had much use for religion. I guess what you call kindness, I call weakness. But .. no man is bullet-proof. I know that. After all, they crucified your boy, didn't they?
Priest: What troubles you, my son?
Dan: What troubles me -- is how I've made mistakes. How I lie awake at night, keeping company with regret, fallibility. I've not been the man I intended to be. That troubles me.
Priest: And you've come seeking absolution?
Dan: Yeah, I suppose I have. Let me ask you something; is it possible to grant forgiveness for sinful acts yet to be committed?

Deb: You know, there is a chance that Lucas and Nathan could get along if their father encouraged it.
Dan: True. But there's also a chance that hell could freeze over.

Dan: Nathan. Remember, 20 shots, no less.
Nathan: Got it, Dad.

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