Kristin clued us into the Dale/Shane dynamic when she chatted with me just prior to Lost Without You, describing the "tentativeness" between them about "how much of a [concern]" they are to each other with respect to Oliver, yet its their mutual love for him, and deep respect for each other, that is on full display from the minute Shane dials Dale's desk number.
No doubt the O'Toole men missing in the wilderness are some of the highest possible stakes either woman could be facing, let alone facing together. With emotions running high, we might expect history to repeat itself.
Remember that when Oliver went missing in the woods as a child, his parents struggled to keep it together, and, when they should have clung to each other, they did the opposite, turning on each other instead. During this incident, Oliver's mom and dad at least had the benefit of knowing there were two of them capable of looking for their son in broad daylight, and that when last they saw Oliver he wasn't injured.
During their conversation each woman has the chance to emphasize or exaggerate their connection to Oliver, inciting insecurity or jealousy in the other, but it doesn't seem in the nature of either woman. In fact, they sit sharing the one drink that connects both of them to Oliver---coffee. Though the stakes appear much higher than when Oliver was a child, unlike Oliver's parents, these two women demonstrate an extraordinary level of respect in their interactions with each other.
They also responded to each other with love when given the chance. When Shane questioned the purpose of prayer, dare I say Dale seemed to happy to answer, "I don't pray to change God, I pray to change me." Words, which, as we know, may have very well contributed to Shane's change of heart, making Dale's willingness to share it all the more powerful, seeing how faith seemed the last thing connecting her with Oliver exclusively.
What makes their exchanges so extraordinary is that not one insult or accusation passes between them as to how the O'Toole men came to be in this position, nor any disagreement about whether one or the other was really doing all they could to find them, as we might normally expect from this kind of situation---especially on television. Instead there was patience, understanding and even a nod of thanks exchanged when the whole ordeal was over.
Perhaps Dale's greatest act of love and respect for both Shane and Oliver was her admission that she wished she "could take the credit" but that "Shane made the call." Dale had every opportunity to make a last ditch effort to make her case with Oliver. But instead she seemed to see where Oliver's heart was going and, in a sense, reassure him that he was making the right choice. Shane did, after all, "make the call."
Both Dale and Shane's love for Oliver held not only for him, but in their interactions with each other in his absence, the impact of which has even more important consequences than readily apparent...