'One Tree Hill' Season 8: Brooke earned her happiness, Nathan is back in the game

one-tree-hill-james-joy-cw.jpg"One Tree Hill" executive producer Mark Schwahn has never shied away from cliffhangers, as evidenced by his Season 7 finale, which ended with two characters shot and bleeding despite a still uncertain Season 8 pickup.

This season, Schwahn may be a little more cautious. "I'm not a fan of ending our series on a cliffhanger," he assures Zap2it. "I don't intend to do that. Do I think that this is our final season? Right now, my instinct says yes, but anything can happen. We still love making this show, and if the network wants us back, we'll keep going."

In the meantime, the "One Tree Hill" team awaits word from The CW on whether or not they'll receive a full 22-episode order. Reports have been conflicting. "Right now, we're already talking about Episode 11 in the writers' room," Schwahn says. "We're trying not to let the 'will-we-get-picked-up' question impact the way that we tell our stories, but it's coming down to the wire."

After so many years, we've gotten pretty invested in the Tree Hill gang, so when we got Mark Schwahn on the phone, we had a whole lot of ground to cover. Here's what we got out of him!

Haley does not have an easy road ahead. After her mother's death, Haley became so depressed that she was almost unrecognizable, in a memorable performance by Bethany Joy Galeotti. Just as things are looking up -- especially with a baby on the way -- Haley's world is about to be rocked again when she learns that her sister has been shot.

"Our intentions were for the character to move on from the darkness," Schwahn says, "But then Clay and Quinn had some trouble." No kidding. "Our decision to go there with Clay and Quinn had a lot to do with Haley. She was just coming up for air, and now, with something so threatening, there's the possibility that it'll affect her emotionally and affect her pregnancy. She could grow stronger, but this could also be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

Hopefully, we will meet the newest Scott baby. With only 13 episodes to work with so far, there are some challenges in telling the pregnancy story, but Schwahn would ultimately like Haley to have her baby. "I like Nathan and Haley's family growing," he says. "We've got the drama and the struggle that comes with the pregnancy, so we'd like to see the payoff. It does depend on the episode count.

We'd love to see a sibling for Jamie ( Jackson Brundage) -- after all, when "One Tree Hill" began, it was at its core a show about brothers.

Nathan still loves to play ball. In early seasons, "One Tree Hill" centered on the actual sport and the team camaraderie, but in recent years Nathan's ( James Lafferty) focus has shifted to the politics and pressures of being a professional athlete.

"Nathan has always been oriented for the game," Schwahn says. "We were compelled by both sides of it this year. What does the game mean to Nathan? It's important to his identity. It's in his blood, and that's what's really compelling to me and to fans of sports. He's become a public role model of sorts, and now we get to see how that affects his family life."

Red Bedroom Records will welcome a new musical protege. "One Tree Hill" has always nurtured musical artists -- most recently Kate Voegele and Wakey! Wakey!, but let's not forget Tyler Hilton, The Wreckers, and even Galeotti's band Everly. This season, a new face will step behind the microphone. "We love the opportunity to shine a light on acts that are underserved and underappreciated," Schwahn says. "We're doing something similar this year, but I won't say who it is, because that story line is built around the surprise. Music is always front and center for us. We've still got bands on stage at Tric."

We're disappointed to hear that there are no immediate plans for Michael Grubbs to return to the bar or to the piano, but Schwahn says the door is always open. "He's a great guy and a very, very good friend of mine," Schwahn says. "We'd love to have him back."

Brooke is no longer flying solo. Wedding plans are underway for B. Davis ( Sophia Bush) and Julian ( Austin Nichols). "There are definite hurdles on the horizon for Brooke," Schwahn says. "But in the past, where she's stood on her own and had to be her own advocate, now she'll be facing the challenges with Julian. They're it for each other. Brooke has found the love of her life, absolutely."

Julian's mom may rival Victoria in the difficult parent department. Oh, in-laws. Brooke is going to go to every length she can to make Julian's mom (played by the incomparable Sharon Lawrence) like her. "This is her potential relative, so Brooke wants to get along with her," Schwahn says. "But as the wedding approaches, it's okay for Brooke to be a little bit selfish about those things, too. You know what? She's earned it."

He pauses. "Nobody comes into town to not stir up trouble. Julian's mom isn't the exception to the rule."

OTH fans, check back with Zap2it tomorrow for even more "One Tree Hill" dish. We've got you covered! In the meantime, check out our TV Rehab: 12 Steps to a Better "One Tree Hill" gallery.

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Photo Credit: Getty

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