So how was that the case?
Think back to the few scenes we see Dale in early on in the film. She and Oliver seem to click in a way Shane and Oliver aren't after their rather disastrous dinner. Dale knows the alternate translation on the Dark of Night award, and she is impressed by Oliver's receipt of the award, which he seems flattered by.
"That's what I love about you, Oliver."
At first it didn't quite click. Now I realize it was a deliberate attempt to make the connection between she and Holly, and even hint at feelings Dale might have for Oliver. But more than that, Dale is also a woman of faith that he sees at choir practice once a week, and whom he has known for at least fifteen years. Oliver even greets Dale at her office with a hug. More than simply admiring Oliver, Dale is extremely familiar with, and to, Oliver. And, of course, who could forget the fact she echoes that iconic line from the Pilot about hearing of "cop bars, [sports] bars but never a postal bar." Thankfully for all of us, Rita interrupts before Oliver can utter the response about "decompressing with one's peers." How much more of a throwback could one possibly be? Dale isn't a risk---in fact, she's more of the same.
Gently reminded of Shane through the dessert Rita hands him, Oliver painstakingly re-lived that last part of his dinner with Shane. That performance. Those feelings.
At once, Dale becomes a holistic representation of where Oliver has been versus where he's going. And isn't it interesting that she's also seated with Oliver's father, someone with whom Oliver is also connected via the past? In the end, Oliver foregoes the familiar to pursue the new, the risky, his practically perfect fit, using love, power and a sound mind to do so.
So while Dale helped advance the plot in superficial ways, she also played a critical role in Oliver's development throughout One In A Million---and in ways that were dramatic for completely different reasons than I initially anticipated!
That said, we will definitely be seeing Dale in Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Lost Without You. Clearly a search of the woods will require the help of the authorities, so there's still some room for the other kind of drama moving forward---especially if Oliver's in danger!
Simultaneously Low-Key Celebrating A&D's 300th Post,