The OC on TVGuide
This page features recaps of the OC’s Final Season from TV Guide
February 22, 2007: Right Back Where They Started From
I had been dreading this final episode of The O.C. all week. I was so curious about how it would all end, yet not wanting it to end at the same time. But as the oh-so-wise Sandy said, “Nothing lasts forever.” OK, so if it had to end, I wanted a really good finale. And I’m tough on series finales: They have to be both happy and bittersweet, and look back with nostalgia while they move forward. I’m happy to report that I was not at all disappointed.
They hit us with a lot of surprises right off the bat: Ryan and Taylor had broken up; Julie was preggers and about to marry the Bullitt. I loved the “Buffet of Bullitts” — all 12 of his sons, named after (mostly) Texas towns. For a little while, I was afraid this last episode was going to turn into a sap-fest, but The O.C. didn’t let me down. They, of course, piled on the drama: Julie was pregnant with Frank’s son, not Bullitt’s. But Frank wimped out, and Bullitt was there for her to pick up the pieces. Always a fan of team Bullitt, I was really feeling bad for him last night. After already losing Julie once, she stops the wedding mid-ceremony. I was happy she didn’t wind up marrying Frank instead, on that same day — now that would have been sappy. “Julie Cooper, single gal” had a nice ring to it for a change. (And bonus points for this plot twist because I didn’t see it coming — I thought for sure Julie would walk down the aisle again before the credits rolled.) I really liked how they let her character grow and go to college. And both the Bullitt and Frank were among her “Team Julie” supporters in the graduation audience. I’m glad she kept them both in her life. An interesting and possibly complicated scenario, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Julie.
Julie and Summer shared a few heartfelt moments last night. The eye-tearing scene where Summer gave Julie the locket with Marissa’s picture…. Well, it just felt right. I know the show moved on from dealing with Marissa, but she just had to be a part of the last episode. And then Julie’s honest admission of regret for marrying too young — this revelation helped both her and Summer. Wise move for Summer and Seth not to get married at 19, because they were just too young. They let each other go, and grow. And it worked out for the best, as we saw in the flash-forward that they did indeed get married several years later, when baby Sophie was a little girl. (Sophie Rose — pretty name, and I’m so glad they didn’t name her Marissa as some of you predicted and others feared). So it turns out they were indeed each other’s “destiny.”
Likewise, it was good to see Ryan and Taylor get back together, yet also not get hitched at 19. And neither sacrificed his or her dreams: Ryan went to Berkeley as planned, and Taylor returned to school in Paris, as was best for her.
But it wasn’t all romance, drama and personal growth last night. There were plenty of lighthearted moments as well, such as the adorable gay couple that owned Sandy and Kirsten’s old house. Could their professions have been more useful? A midwife and a wedding planner, just what Kirsten and Julie needed! Also fun were Summer’s favorite TV shows: her new discovery, “Briefcase or No Briefcase” (hmm, what show could that thinly veiled title be mocking?), and her old favorite, “The Valley.” Of course, Summer’s fave fared better than it’s real-life stand-in, having just gotten picked up for five more seasons. “These teen dramas, they just run forever,” she explained. (Unfortunately, not in the real world, Summer.) And then the show-within-a-show reference went even further when Rachel Bilson delivered the line, “Aww, real-life Jake broke up with real-life April.”
Nevertheless, the “in-jokes” as well as the drama had to eventually come to an end. It seemed like things were wrapping up, but then I looked at the clock and saw there were still about eight minutes to go. That’s when Ryan entered the old house and the flashbacks rolled. Not too many, but just enough. You really need some flashbacks in a series finale, as it helps things come full circle. Seeing those iconic O.C. images — scruffy, beat-up Ryan (with bangs!) in a wife beater; in front of his pool house; in the car with Sandy, looking at Marissa as he pulls away — they all brought back a lot of fond TV memories.
It also brought to mind a movie, as did several scenes last night. First, when Frank attempted to stop Julie’s wedding, I immediately thought of The Graduate, with a nice modern cell-phone twist (and a Berkeley background to boot). Then, when Summer got on the bus and Seth watched her go, I couldn’t help but think of Forrest Gump and Jenny. And finally, when Ryan walked through the Cohens’ front door one last time, the closing scenes of Titanic came to mind, when a ruined structure came to life with memories of the past.
So with the memories we had the bittersweet elements, yet still a few minutes remained on the clock. And that’s when we had the flash-forward, which is also always a nice touch in a series finale. To see where these people (OK, characters — I know they’re not real people, though sometimes they feel like it) end up down the road. And it was all good: Julie graduating college, Seth and Summer getting married, Ryan fulfilling his dream of becoming an architect, Sandy teaching (what a perfect job for him!), and the Cohens living in Berkeley — truly “back where they started from.” Oh, and let’s not forget about Ryan “paying it forward,” possibly helping out a troubled kid like himself, just like the way Sandy reached out to him years before. Nice shot to end on.
And just like that, it ended. I’m going to really miss this show, as I know all of you will. And I’ll miss this blog — I’m grateful to have been able to host it for this show’s final season. What a great season it was, and what a great show it was. I definitely think it went out on top (in spite of this season’s ratings). I hope we get to see the cast members in lots of new TV and movie projects. And so, California, there we go… may The O.C. have a long afterlife on Soapnet and DVD. Can’t wait to read all of your comments on this final episode.
February 15, 2007: Blood Brothers
“Dude, it’s bad,” Seth told Ryan. While having a piece of glass lodged in your back is not a good thing, this scenario led to the best scenes of this post-earthquake episode. And not surprisingly, they were all Seth-Ryan scenes. The relationship between these two so very different foster brothers was the initial premise of The O.C., and it has always remained the heart of the show. I was glad they were paired up for this next-to-last episode; I wouldn’t have minded if nearly the whole hour focused on them. From Ryan quietly text-messaging Seth for help, to Seth valiantly letting nothing stop him from reaching his brother, it was all good. Then when Seth, who’s not great in high-pressure situations, began to fall apart, an injured Ryan was there for him, trying to talk him through how to fix a flat (which of course did not go well). But their endless obstacles (including Seth’s shortcut that got them lost) were lightened by moments of humor, a tricky balancing act that this show has always excelled at. Seth’s “make a list” coping technique led to a fun walk down memory lane when Seth suggested to Ryan they “make a list of everyone you ever punched in Newport.” Ryan tried to gamely play along, as he always does with Seth, and I must point out Ben McKenzie’s impressive portrayal of injured Ryan’s worsening condition as things progressed.
To echo Seth, “I was never scared” that things wouldn’t turn out just fine for Ryan (of course, Seth was lying about that, and well, I’ve read spoilers so I knew he’d be OK). But that didn’t take away any of my enjoyment of the Seth-Ryan “now we’re blood brothers” hospital scene. Needle-phobic Seth donated blood for Ryan, and Ryan’s now as fast at sarcasm as quick-witted Seth:
“All of a sudden I have this strange urge to listen to Death Cab and read comic books.”
This led to a classic O.C. winkingly self-referential moment, when Seth (Adam Brody, fast and humorous as always) joked, “That’s too bad. Because if we could have turned this into a body-swap comedy, we could have squeezed another year or two out of this.” Dare to dream, Seth. Then from comedy they switched to a genuine heartfelt moment in which Ryan didn’t even have to say thank you…. Seth had completed the thought already and mentioned all the times Ryan saved him.
Speaking of being saved, I’m glad the writers decided to have no harm come to Kirsten’s unborn baby. Kirsten and Sandy seem really excited about this next chapter in their lives. Awww, and they’re having a girl (to balance things out after raising two boys).
Hopefully this little Cohen girl won’t grow up to act the way Summer and Taylor did in this episode, which was mostly whiny and weak. Taylor is apparently so bad in a crisis that Ryan had to hide his serious injury from her so that she wouldn’t freak out. Meanwhile, Seth couldn’t tell Summer about said injury, because she’s deemed so untrustworthy it was assumed she would blab the secret to Taylor. While Seth was getting Ryan to a hospital and Sandy was chasing down doctors for Kirsten, the girls spent their time looking for a rabbit and getting scared by a medical skeleton. Sure, the girls eventually got to the hospital, too — to seek help for Pancakes and Veronica (who was only hurt because Taylor shot her with a flare gun). It was nice that Taylor and her mom were finally able to say “I love you” to each other, but Veronica’s so nasty that I just wasn’t feeling too emotionally vested in their bonding scene.
The Cooper gals didn’t fare much better, stuck with Gary the ice-cream guy who progressed from weird to gross to annoying (I can’t believe Kaitlin kissed him goodbye at the end, after all the crap he pulled). And Julie and Kaitlin never thought to check things out when he told them they had floated away from the pier? Thankfully, big strong Frank came to “save” them.
Luckily, in the end, everyone was saved from the earthquake… everyone but not everything. The Cohens’ beautiful house fell victim to the quake, its insides turned into so much rubble. That was a hard sight to see. But houses, unlike people, can be replaced. So at least we didn’t have to say goodbye to any of our favorite characters… until next week, that is, when we have to say goodbye to all of them.
February 8, 2007: Scary Clowns and Shaky Ground
The last few minutes of this episode, even though we knew they were coming, were definitely the highlight of the night. They were darkly lit so we couldn’t see much, and they left us hanging, but they were good.
And thankfully, they put a stop to Taylor’s endless whining. Tonight she finally crossed the line from endearingly neurotic to just plain annoying. Things were good between her and Ryan, so why couldn’t she just be happy? Why did she have to pressure Ryan to say something he may not have been ready to say, and stoop to trying to get him drunk in order to get him to say it? She pushes way too hard and doesn’t let things happen naturally. When he did finally tell her that he loved her, it seemed natural. But of course, she was too drunk to know for sure that it happened, so she needed him to say it again. Oh, and she mentioned going to Berkeley together, adding even more stress to the situation. But I shouldn’t complain, because if it wasn’t for her heavy-handed approach, Ryan wouldn’t have resorted to a backup birthday gift of a dictionary. And that led to the funniest line of the night when he explained, “The guy said it, uh, had more words than others.”
I wonder if that dictionary had a listing for “clown porn,” because before this episode, I never heard those two words used together. At least I’m not alone, since Julie also admitted to never hearing of these circus-inspired fantasies. Clowns are scary enough, but naked clowns? Those materials that Kaitlin planted in Frank’s “dirty convict bag” were seriously creepy. But bad Kaitlin makes for good TV, and she was cracking me up when giving Frank a hard time, questioning him about prison showers and such. He took it well, though she did go a little too far when she started putting up flyers of his mug shot — flyers that mentioned the clown porn, no less. But I was equally impressed by the dramatic turn in Kaitlin, when she quickly went from bratty to emotional while explaining to Julie her fears about being abandoned by another father figure, as well not having enough time for her and Julie to bond on their own as a family of two.
Kirsten was also dealing with some fears regarding her expanding family, only hers involved a fear of the next-generation Newpsies, who were almost as scary as clowns. This wasn’t your typical older mom feeling insecure around younger moms situation, this was a sane woman trying to not be recruited by Holly and her pregnancy-weight-fearing “hos” to join their “six-pack pact.” Kirsten was correct in her assessment of this generation of Newpsies being worse than Julie and the rest of her season-one pals. Run, Kirsten — run far, far away from this crew, even if it means moving to the East Coast. Oh, and stay away from Jason’s self-absorbed young wife, too.
As for Kirsten’s first offspring, Seth, well, there’s not much to say. For most of the season, he and Summer have been tied up with various animal subplots that haven’t really gone anywhere. There were bunnies, otters and groundhogs, and now Seth was stuck filming dolphin and shark rafts in his pool for most of the episode. There was some mention of him being directionless and lost, but mostly I found myself losing interest in his story line.
But when those rafts started trembling in the pool, and the signs, lights and buildings came crashing down — the earthquake had me on the edge of my seat! Everyone was in possible danger, and then they faded to black. I’m truly looking forward to next week… even though I realize that that means we’re sadly down to the final two weeks of life in The O.C.
February 1, 2007: A Case of the Franks
So were you rooting for Team Bullit or Team Frank? Or Mondale and Ferraro? But we’ll get to the ‘80s Democrats in a minute. Up first: Julie’s double-engagement dilemma — and on Valentine’s Day, no less! I really enjoyed the playful tug-of-war between Bullit’s top crusader, Kaitlin, and Frank supporters Taylor and Ryan. The deception, the GPS tracking, the hot-dog stand versus the private plane — it was all in good fun.
I only wish I could use the phrase “fun” to describe Frank as well, but I can’t. He’s adorable and… boring. On one hand, he reminds me a lot of Ryan: the physical resemblance, the quietly distant persona. But while Ryan’s detachment and sulkiness come off as appealing, Frank’s come off as just kind of… well, blah. I don’t think the fault lies with Kevin Sorbo. The main problem is that we viewers haven’t gotten much of a chance to know Frank (though he was more charming the last time we saw him). And what we do know of Papa Atwood is a bit of a contradiction: he’s a former bad boy with a record for larceny and domestic abuse. I guess years in prison really mellowed the guy out, because now he’s pretty laid-back. I don’t think he would have even fought for Julie if Taylor and Ryan hadn’t helped him. He certainly wouldn’t have thought of any creative schemes.
Nevertheless, the show made it pretty clear that Frank was the one meant for Julie, because she had “a case of the Franks” and was in love with him. I’m just not sure why (other than his looks). True, there was that common background they share. But I feel like this relationship was forced on the viewers, without giving us a chance to become invested in it. Now, if Jimmy Cooper had come back and tried to win Julie back (yet again), that would have been more believable. And he would have proved a far more interesting foe for the Bullit. Like Kaitlin, I’m gonna miss that rich, ping-pong-playing Texan. He had a big personality, which seemed to be a good match for drama queen Julie. I think Julie did try, but alas, she didn’t love him. At least Julie has gotten over her habit of marrying for money.
So no more of the old gold-digging Julie Cooper. But we did get to see glimpses of the old Kirsten, Sandy, Seth and Summer. I don’t think The O.C. has ever gone the flashback route before, and it was done well here. Particularly Kirsten’s story. I completely forgot that back when Theresa became pregnant, Kirsten alluded to having an abortion years ago. Now that Kirsten finds herself pregnant again, it did seem like a good time to explore that story further. So it was Jimmy’s baby, and she never told him. And she never told Sandy — until now. I would have liked it if they’d explored that story even deeper, plus seen more of political activist Sandy circa 1984. We could have sacrificed some of the Seth 1998 flashback, which was just OK. (Although little Summer’s Spice Girls song-and-dance was adorable.) Question: where was little Marissa? Apparently every other Newport fifth-grader was in that class, even little Taylor and little Luke! It was just weird that Marissa was missing.
Ultimately, it seems like Valentine’s Day was a success for most Newport couples: Seth and Summer, Ryan and Taylor, Sandy and Kirsten, and Julie and Frank. They all seem to be on solid ground… until next week, that is (yes, pun intended).
January 25, 2007: Groundhog Day Escapades
Groundhog Day is an often overlooked holiday in the television landscape, so tonight’s episode of The O.C. was a real treat. But, as with most holiday celebrations, some things worked and some did not. Let’s start first with the good: Taylor stalking Ryan in that adorable giant groundhog suit. Of course, Taylor’s stalking practices are not limited to costume capers; we learned that she also loiters in malls, keeping logs of her target’s activities. She does this not with malice but out of love, because, as she shared with her therapist, “Sometimes when I like someone, I stalk them.” Her psychobabble in the shrink’s office actually made some sense when she explained that the lack of nurturing she received from an absent father and cold, critical mother leads her to latch on to anyone who shows her the slightest bit of love. This also put her quickie marriage in France into perspective. I understood her desire to work things out while being on her own. But at the same time, Ryan was so understanding there was almost no reason for her not to be with him. (Loved that he missed her so much he pulled out that scrapbook she made for him.)
Nevertheless, I had no love for Che and Seth Newport’s Chuck-stealing escapade. Summer and Che’s rabbit-freeing debacle was one of the low points of this season, so why would this near carbon-copy subplot fair any better? And this story line took way too much time. I was ready to say goodbye to Che weeks ago, and yet, still he lingered. I guess his chanting in the opening scene was supposed to be funny, but instead it was just annoying. Che not only had me missing Everwood’s Bright Abbott, but he almost had me missing Oliver. The jail scene with him and the girl groundhog communicating without words – how stupid was that? Thankfully, I think we’ve finally seen the last of Che.
And thankfully, we got the return of Bullitt. I like this crazy Texan. He and his peanut Kaitlin are still adorable together. I only wish he and Julie had that same chemistry. Maybe they’ll get there. I’m glad that Julie answered his wedding proposal with a ‘no’ for now, but perhaps later. Obviously, she doesn’t know him well enough yet, but it’s good to see she’s giving him another chance. And really, how can she be mad at Kaitlin for sending deceptive e-mails to Bullitt when her actions were at the level of a Julie Cooper-like scheme? Julie now sees how much Kaitlin wants him as a substitute dad, but I hope she doesn’t say yes to him for this reason only. On the other hand, she was sneaking around with Ryan’s dad?! With his abusive, ex-con past and her tendency to break the law (running prostitution rings, playing a part in trying to off Volchok, etc.) – as I’ve said before, I don’t think any good can come from the teaming up of these two.
Speaking of teams, it looks like team Cohen is about to get a little bigger. At first, I thought this plot twist was a bit cliché – it reminded me of countless ‘80s sitcoms in which the parents of teens suddenly realize they are going to have a baby. But Kirsten and Sandy have always been one of my favorite couples on this show, and they seemed genuinely happy to abandon their empty-nest plans and welcome this big change.
And perhaps we can welcome yet another O.C. holiday before this series comes to a close. In this season alone they’ve already tackled Thanksgiving, Chrismukkah, New Year’s and Groundhog Day. Here’s to hoping for one wild and crazy President’s Day episode.
January 18, 2007: The Power of Might
Ryan might one day be able to tell Taylor that he loves her; some of Julie’s former clients might have an STD; Che might be into Seth. There was a lot of uncertainty in this episode of The O.C. — an episode that was light on both the rapid-fire humor of recent weeks and the intense drama of this season’s early episodes. But it was an episode that involved the repair of a lot of the damage done to relationships last week, and it set up yet another stumbling block to one romance.
I was glad to see that Julie and Kirsten’s friendship, the relationship most strained last week, was back on track, albeit with a few nasty lies told to get it there. When Julie first suggested that she and Kirsten deliver some bad news to their clients together, I thought perhaps this was all a plan of hers. Then I said no, not even conniving Julie would stoop so low as to make up a chlamydia outbreak. After four years of watching her schemes, I should have known better. But hey, at least she did it for a good cause, and rationalized it as only Julie could: “They might (have chlamydia) — they did have sex with male hookers. Plus, I picked the five meanest women in Newport.” Their reconciliation did seem to happen rather quickly, but when you’re down to the last six episodes, time is of the essence.
I think time also played a part in speeding up Henri-Michel’s exit. I really wish they had made him a more appealing character, so that Taylor could have been genuinely torn between him and Ryan. Instead, Taylor outright admitted to Summer that she didn’t love Henri but was trying to convince herself that “maybe I can force myself to fall in love with him.” And who could blame her — the guy was an unattractive, self-centered, pretentious snob who supposedly had an odor. Sure, Henri could write romantic poetry, but we found out that Ryan was a bit of a budding poet as well. I was worried when Ryan first announced he was going to read his poem aloud in the bookstore, because that was so out of character for him. Thankfully he pulled an Ethan Hawke from Dead Poet’s Society and choked during the delivery; now that’s our Ryan. At least Taylor got to read the whole thing: “Then there are three little words I’m not able to say, but Taylor, this is what I can tell you today: Though I can’t say those words to you tonight, please stick with me, because I feel someday I might.” So sweet. And let me not forget to mention the Quickie Mart gift that Ryan got for Taylor, which included not only a teddy bear, but a mini balloon and a mug filled with gummy bears! The guy was trying. Like Summer said, he’s not big on gifts, but how cute did he look holding that bear and mug?
While Ryan was preoccupied with stuffed bears, Seth was dealing with imaginary sea otters. Che and Seth’s whole camping-quest subplot was a bit strange. Talk of the “spirit world” combined with hallucinations reminded me of a kooky scene from Young Guns, and if the sea otter had spoken I would have accused the show of cribbing from The Sopranos. Actually, they still might be — is Che gay? Because of the otter and his frog dream, he’s apparently now crushing on Seth (did not see that coming). I read about a love triangle that no one expected, so I guess this is it.
Meanwhile, Kaitlin’s still crushing on a band geek. I thought they were pretty cute together, but then she went and ruined things, calling him “king of the dorks” in a noble but misguided attempt to not steal him away from the other band geeks. Her story line is OK, but I think I find myself not really vested in it because she’s all alone in it — she doesn’t get to work with any of the other regular cast members while she’s in her school setting. And now that we have only five weeks left, I’m not too interested in new characters — I want to spend as much time with the regulars as possible.
January 11, 2007: A Season for Peaches
Should we start with the peaches or the prostitution? Let’s begin with the erotic novel: A Season for Peaches sounds like it might be a really good read (“The Bridges of Madison County meets The Notebook meets porn”). Aren’t you dying to know what was on page 47? I can’t blame Ryan for going back on his promise and reading the book — how could he not? Especially after meeting Henri-Michel? Initially, I couldn’t see what in the world Taylor saw in this pretentious non-bather, but then the more he and Taylor talked, I saw how much they really clicked, chatting passionately about art, poetry and philosophy. And for the first time I realized how little Taylor and Ryan have in common. I’ve always been distracted by how cute they are together, but now that I think about it, what do they talk about? It’s not like Ryan’s the “corn-fed farm boy” Henri described him as, and he’s just not into many of the same things Taylor is. (Though how sweet was it that he was making an effort, reading French philosophy?) And while Taylor’s usually charmingly nervous, it was great seeing her so at ease and totally in her element, gabbing on a French talk show. Sure, they’ve got the opposites-attract thing going for them, but the fact that Taylor did lie to Henri about Ryan writing philosophical essays was a bit troubling. Ryan wasn’t wrong to point out to her that she’s not fully accepting him for who he is. I’m glad the cheesy slow-motion scene near the end was just a dream. I’m not saying that I want to see Ryan and Taylor break up, but a few stumbling blocks will make their relationship more interesting.
Relationship trouble seemed to be a theme of the night, underscored by Seth and Summer finally ending their sham of an engagement. Hats off to Seth for executing his plan of acting like a 16-year-old so well, telling Dr. Roberts that Summer was “cool” and “pretty easy on the eyes.” It was good seeing Dr. Roberts again, and I liked that the show is following through with its winks to Grey’s Anatomy (“seriously”), although as I laughed at hearing about his patient impaled by a unicorn, part of me cried inside thinking about how Seattle Grace is partly responsible for The O.C.’s cancellation. But then I immediately went back to laughing at Summer and her new gal pals the “Newpsieweds” — they were one scary bunch of self-proclaimed ho’s, willing to sacrifice endangered owls for a hot tub! Summer was actually starting to resemble the daffy alternate-universe Summer of the Chrismukkah episode. And just like in the holiday episode, there was Che again — why? That character feels like he’s overstayed his welcome by now. I hope they’re not trying to say that Summer still has feelings for the rat who turned on her and got her kicked out of school. And while it’s good seeing that Summer wants to work more on finding herself, it’s hard seeing Seth finally realize what he wants (Summer), and watching it slip away.
But of all the relationships on the rocks last night, the one that seemed to suffer the most damage was Julie and Kirsten’s friendship. And all because Julie let a little thing like prostitution get in the way. I liked Kirsten’s detective-like way of uncovering the truth — it reminded me of something Sandy would do. (I wonder how long that guy waited for her to come back with her toys.) How long did Madame Julie really expect to keep this illegal side business going? Now she not only lost her job but her best friend Kiki as well. This time, Julie may have damaged things beyond repair.
January 4, 2007: Who’s Your Daddy?
Obviously they weren’t going to convince Maximus to do TV, despite making several references regarding his alter ego’s resemblance to Ryan over the years. So I guess Hercules is a pretty good second choice to play Ryan’s dad. (Though I’m still holding out hope that Russell Crowe, Simon Baker and Ben McKenzie play brothers in a movie one day — wouldn’t that be terrific casting? But I digress…. ) Every time Kevin Sorbo and Ben McKenzie shared the screen they looked more and more alike. However, Ryan and his dad seemed to have very different temperaments. Frank was more of an outward charmer and less of a brooder, eager to share tales about old family car trips. He was so charming that I started to like the guy, and that’s where the show kind of backed me into a corner: I was almost rooting for the guy to indeed have a terminal illness. Because if he didn’t, that meant that he was a liar and manipulator who was hurting Ryan. Knowing his troubled ex-con past, it wasn’t surprising when he did hurt Ryan, emotionally. What was surprising was that former domestic abuser Frank was the one who got hurt physically — and by peace-loving Sandy, of all people! I loved that Sandy punched him, and that Ryan stepped in and broke up the fight. It was like things coming full circle from Season 1: All of Sandy’s lectures to Ryan throughout the years, cautioning him not to resort to violence, have finally sunk in for Ryan (for the second time this season, the first being with Ryan not killing Volchok). Seeing the tables turn with Sandy not heeding his own advice and throwing a punch (and hurting his hand) was a fun bonus. And then, just after things got all “intense,” as Taylor put it, this show did a 180 and went all sweet with Sandy and Ryan chatting, and Ryan saying to him, “My dad is right here.” Just one of the many reasons I’m gonna miss this show.
Speaking of missing things, why was Seth not at the big dinner? After four years, he’s never met Ryan’s dad, and then he blows his chance. Wasn’t he curious to learn what Frank was like? Didn’t he want to support his “brother”? I know, he was busy with his comic marriage subplot with Summer, but still, he could have worked the dinner into his schedule. The marriage subplot is mildly amusing, but it’s getting old quick. It has to be obvious to both Seth and Summer that each is faking their marriage enthusiasm (if you can call it that — they’re faking it so badly) and simply playing an elaborate game of chicken. Just call it off, already. Hopefully bringing Dr. Roberts into things (will we actually get a visit?) will be the last straw.
Calling it off — well, as I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Fox has decided to cancel our beloved O.C. But the good news is that it’s not immediate. This shortened fourth season will get to play out through February, so loose ends can be tied up, and a proper finale can be had. And a lot can be said for the popular school of thought that says it’s best to go out while on top. Many shows have lingered long after they should have said goodbye, producing a season or more of material that it’s best to pretend didn’t happen. (I’m thinking of Dawson’s Creek, Party of Five, Beverly Hills, 90210 — I could go on.) While the ratings may have dipped this season, the story lines and writing have been at a peak. And that’s the way I want to remember The O. C.: punches thrown during parties or dinners; sweet moments like the Cohen family watching Meerkat Manor; and witty, ad-libbed-sounding banter like that between Seth and Ryan during the silly Pancakes scene:
“Don’t listen to mean Uncle Ryan, Pancakes. That’s just the ‘roids talking. They do make him huge, I know.”
“Will you get him out of here, please, before he ends up in a quesadilla?”
December 21, 2006: Baby New Year
Just to clarify: Seth’s not about to become a daddy, but Frank already is one. Let’s start with the main focus of the night, Seth and Summer. Is it wrong for me to sort of wish the pregnancy test had been positive? Purely for the reason of having a good soap-opera story line play out, because Seth’s and Summer’s relationship has been a little…well, boring this season. Not that they were ready to become parents, especially with Seth’s “gimme a high five” reaction when he thought the test was Taylor’s and not Summer’s. Seth, Seth, Seth – I was so disappointed in him. Well, at least he redeemed himself at the end, after he was able to figure out his true feelings for Summer (thanks to Ryan’s help) and propose to her before looking at the test results. The alien ring, Seth’s declaration of his love, Summer’s surprise and acceptance – it was all very sweet, if for just a moment. And then, suddenly, it all felt…wrong. The chemistry between them just seemed to vanish. Now it’s like they’re getting married simply because they really don’t have anything else to do before they head back to college in the fall. The negative pregnancy test “saves us from having to have a shotgun wedding, now we can just have a normal wedding,” Seth declared. That’s all well and good, but I don’t watch The O.C. too see “normal” things. Normal’s for everyday life; The O.C. is for fun, heightened drama. Summer’s earlier panic-stricken question of “How did I go from being an Ivy League Al Gore-in-the-making to a knocked-up college dropout?” sounded like a more interesting road to pursue dramatically. However, Seth and Summer’s lack of enthusiasm after they became engaged suggested that all will not be smooth sailing ahead, so maybe there’s some fun to be had there.
Let’s move on to the most in-sync couple of the night – no, not Ryan and Taylor, though they were adorable as always and they seem to be progressing in their relationship. They had their first fight! And, they made up and got past it (“So you don’t think I’m a whore?”)…awww. But the surprise pairing of this episode was Kaitlin and her new surrogate father, Bullitt (I’ve been thinking it was “Bullet,” but I checked the FOX Web site). I was actually feeling bad for little Kaitlin: her dad’s too busy partying out of phone range to call her; her mom leaves her at a party to go deal with business; her prince dates turned out to be less than charming; and apparently the girl has no friends. But she has Bullitt, who calls her “Peanut,” invites her to his party and gives her money to get a new dress. In return, she offers him tips for dating her mom. Then, he actually spends time with her at the party. The scene with him teaching her the two-step was too cute.
Nevertheless, Bullitt’s son seems to lack his father’s charm. He and his male prostitution ring are leading Julie down a dangerous road of Risky Business, and the last thing Julie needs in her life is a bad influence. I understand Julie’s desperate to make money, but this illegal venture cannot end well. (Though it does allow her to get in some classic Julie Cooper lines: “I may be a madam, but I’m not a whore.”) After all, it’s already leading her to meet a shady ex-con who’s using an alias: Frank Perry, a.k.a., Frank Atwood, a.k.a., Ryan’s father. We’ve met Ryan’s mother and brother in past seasons, and since they’ve always mentioned that his dad was not dead but in prison, I’ve been waiting for the day when we were going to finally get to meet him. Now, that day has arrived. This is gonna be good. But since we didn’t find out that Frank was Daddy Atwood until the closing lines of this episode, I’m going to wait before commenting anymore on this developing story line. Until next year…(remember, no new episode next week; the next new episode is on January 4).
December 14, 2006: It’s a Wonderful Chrismukkah
‘Twas the night before Chrismukkah,
when people worried through The O.C.
Because Ryan wasn’t stirring,
stuck in a coma was he.
Chrismukkah is always very special on The O.C., and this installment didn’t disappoint. This year they borrowed a popular page from the TV Christmas Handbook and did their own “alt-universe” spin on It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey stand-in Ryan was able to see what life in Newport would have been like if he never arrived there, and it wasn’t pretty. But it was funny. Funniest of all had to be Summer, Chester’s “mindless bimbo” of a bride-to-be. Every time the clueless, bling-loving junior Newpsie was on screen I cracked up. And although the save-the-earth Summer that we have come to know the past few months can be a bit of a downer, this episode showed how things would have been much worse if Summer had gone in the opposite direction.
Likewise, it showed Sandy going in a direction that strayed far from the ethical, crusading-for-the-little-guy Daddy Cohen we all know and love. (It reminded me of the dark, compromising road that Sandy was headed down last season with the bad Newport Group-hospital story line.) But this was a more amusing take on that Sandy, since we got to see a poster of Mayor Cohen posing with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Interesting that his “wife” Julie wasn’t really all that different in this skewed universe. She was her same old cheating and conniving self, interested in thongs — oops, I mean T.H.O.N.G. (aka, The Homeless of Newport. Go.) I kind of always wondered what the pairing of the equally outspoken Sandy and Julie would be like, so it was fun to see that for just one episode. Plus, their marriage sort of completed the transformation in which Sandy sold his soul to the devil.
Speaking of the devil, is Veronica Townsend the devil herself? That constantly critical woman is pure evil, in both the scenes that took place in reality and those in the alternate universe. It was bad enough that she didn’t want to see her daughter for Christmas, but to not want to be at her hospital bedside when she was in a coma? Like Ryan, I was proud of Taylor for telling her off, even if she only did it in her dreams. Although Taylor was in the same boat as Ryan coma-wise, she was sort of playing the part of a Clarence stand-in, acting as Ryan’s guide. And after the catharsis of yelling at her mother, it was almost like she earned her wings. Taylor can now simply accept her mother’s limitations and not let her mom upset her so much, as evidenced by Taylor’s reaction to her mom in the hospital.
And although I thought that Ryan had been free of Marissa for a few weeks now, I was wrong. Apparently down-on-himself Ryan was wondering that perhaps life would have been better for Marissa if he had never met her. But he was wrong. Turns out he really did rescue her — because of him, she got three more years to live and didn’t OD in Mexico. This show has done a really good job of balancing the humor with the comedy this season. The end of this episode, as it dealt more with Marissa, got more dramatic. On the one hand, I like how they didn’t simply dismiss the death of a main character in one quick episode — they’ve made her death a realistically lingering subject that they keep revisiting. On the other hand, I keep feeling like we’re being a little cheated on this subject. Just as we didn’t get any flashbacks to Marissa’s funeral earlier this season, tonight we didn’t get to hear exactly what her lost letter said. Julie’s summary of it didn’t quite cut it. I wasn’t expecting a Mischa Barton cameo like the Tate Donovan one we got last night (nice to see you, Jimmy Cooper!), but I wanted something more than Ryan reading the letter to himself on the beach. At least have him read it out loud (or in an internal voice-over), and have it say something memorable or profound. But that was not to be. Oh well… at least now it looks like he was finally able to say goodbye to Marissa and let her go.
Ryan sprang from his coma
after Marissa’s letter he read,
His family said all would be OK
as they gathered ‘round his bed.
Though unspoken, their actions exclaimed as the screen dimmed from bright:
Happy Chrismukkah to all, and to all a good night!
December 7, 2006: Blog Smog
So it’s really no surprise that Taylor keeps a blog, one that no less details “the erotic memoirs of a soulful college girl” (even though technically she’s not in college at the moment). What is surprising is how this show manages to keep Taylor and Ryan’s budding relationship so refreshingly adorable. I love how Taylor doesn’t even realize that Ryan’s asking her out at first, and gets all apologetic about their kiss (“I’m a lip-biter… sometimes I draw blood”). She’s self-deprecating, while he’s inadvertently insulting, calling her “weird” and “strange.” She stages elaborate soap-opera schemes (“What if I did rent a homosexual for the evening, and pay him with rare collectibles from Asian cinema?”), while he has fantasies involving roller skates and soapy window-washing that Seth deems “pedestrian” and “average.” This opposites-attract plotline isn’t an original concept, but it is something new for Ryan, and it’s just what he (and The O.C.) needed. In the past, pairing Ryan with mopey girlfriends (Marissa, Lindsay, Sadie) resulted in things soon getting boring. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a Ryan fan.) Taylor, on the other hand, seems to really keep Ryan on his toes. It’s as if her inherent comedy spills over to him and makes him funny, too. Now, cute can easily cross the line into annoying territory, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen here. This show has managed to keep Seth and Summer’s relationship cute yet annoying-free for years. Plus, I think Ryan and Taylor have the necessary chemistry to be not only cute but hot as well.
Now let’s talk about that original teddy bear of a couple, Seth and Summer. I’m all for continuing education, but if Summer’s forced leave from Brown and Seth’s voluntary delay of the spring semester at RISD means that we no longer have to suffer through their strained long-distance relationship and stolen-bunny story lines, then to hell with college. Though I am upset that Che (or should I call him Winchester?) basically got away with putting all of the blame on Summer for their crimes. It’s not fair that she has to pay a steep price while he pays nothing. But how sweet of Seth to try to play Ryan and seek out Che to beat him up. There was actually quite a bit of role-playing going on in last night’s episode, what with both Kirsten and Sandy auditioning to be the “substitute Seth” for a needy Ryan. I was glad those two renewed their vows at the end of the episode, even if it was unplanned. Their romance going rocky was one of the low points of last season, so this show definitely needs the Cohens firmly together.
Speaking of low points, I’m not too crazy about Kaitlin’s new classmates. Snotty Riley and her clique of wannabes all felt so phony and one-dimensional. I still like Kaitlin, though. And the party she threw was fun, but mostly because of the last-minute chaperones. I laughed out loud when Taylor, shopping around her Pictionary and her “get high on life” slogan, had water thrown on her. (Although it was way too much liquid to be a drink – maybe someone jumped in the pool? Whatever it was, it was funny). Meanwhile, Che was passing out condoms and don’t-drink-and-drive messages, while Summer was looking out for the safety of her tanning chair… shades of the old Summer? Perhaps she’ll be back just in time for the return of another O.C. classic: Chrismukkah, which arrives next week. Only seven shopping days left, better hurry!
November 30, 2006: Not the Most Obvious Couple
Sure, Taylor was enamored with Ryan for rescuing her from her loveless marriage. And she appreciated the beauty of the sight of a shirtless Ryan. But what was the telltale sign that she had truly fallen for the guy? She actually thought the king of brooding was funny. And while Ryan’s far from Seth when it comes to witty retorts, Taylor has no problems in the humor department. Becoming someone’s uncertified sleep therapist is definitely a novel way to go about seducing someone. And she gets bonus points for the elaborateness of her approach: 50 candles, flannel pajamas and an offer to be a warm body. Her false denial when Ryan finally asked her whether she liked him was priceless, as well as somewhat believable. I can’t say that I fault him for not picking up on things initially — Taylor is a little bit kooky, and she’s always jumped into projects (like high school committees) with tremendous gusto, so attacking his insomnia with such tenacity wasn’t out of the ordinary for her. Nevertheless, there was no need for Ryan to be so mean when he told Seth, “I’m not gonna date Taylor.” It was his tone that was especially hurtful. Yeah, he thought she was out of earshot, but still. I really felt for Taylor at that moment as he was crushing her heart. Luckily Seth was able to convince her to continue being her persistent self, and Ryan finally realized that Taylor’s feelings for him were mutual. But I was having so much fun watching Taylor trying to get Ryan to like her that I could have taken a few more weeks of that. I can only begin to imagine the other schemes she would have cooked up.
One person Taylor could have turned to for advice was Julie Cooper, the queen of scheming seductions (and much more successful at them than Kaitlin, who offered Taylor boring advice and got nowhere with her too-old-for-her-anyway tennis instructor). I loved how Julie was momentarily offended that “Sandy served me up like a piece of meat,” when first hearing about the Bullet, before asking in her next breath, “How rich is he?” I think dating a father and a son is a new one for her, as is dating someone her daughter likes. (Luke doesn’t count, because Marissa had already tossed him aside by the time Julie got to him.) Like Ryan with Taylor, Julie was oblivious that Kaitlin liked her tennis instructor (funny how Ryan and Julie are so often on the same page this season), and Kaitlin had to suffer for it. The situation was bad enough when Kaitlin was rejected by her crush, but then seeing her mom with him was like having salt rubbed in the wound. (Though Kaitlin should have taken some satisfaction in having one of the funniest lines of the night, asking Julie’s “personal trainer,” whom she found in her kitchen at breakfast, “Are you my new daddy?”)
As hurtful as Julie was, her actions were not intended to be meanspirited. However, the same cannot be said for Che. Mr. Everwood turned out to be no real friend to Summer — which is a shame, because up until last night I had liked the guy. It was bad enough that he basically convinced her to help him commit a crime (breaking and entering the biology room, stealing the rabbits to free them). But then, after she protected him in front of the dean, he stabbed her in the back by blaming the whole rabbit fiasco on her. To make matters worse, he twisted the knife further by pinning on her other incidents in which she played no part. Things don’t look good for Summer in terms of the disciplinary actions she faces. I hope she can clear her name, or at the very least make sure Che pays for what he did. Otherwise, this might be a Summer-less winter at Brown.
November 16, 2006: Old Habits Die Harder for Some than for Others
Never thought I’d see the day when Sandy wanted men, and Julie didn’t. OK, so Sandy was simply lamenting the fact that he really doesn’t have any guy friends. It was cute watching someone as outgoing and self-assured as Sandy get nervous about arranging a playdate for himself. Also fun: Watching Julie get back to her partying bad-girl ways (as opposed to her recent murder-planning bad-girl ways). No sooner did Julie swear off men for a week (“Man drama, who needs it?”) than did we find her dumping gal pal Kirsten and perusing the club scene for younger men. Like mother, like daughter, as Kaitlin also couldn’t keep her promise to stay out of trouble for a whole week. (Those two are so much alike, and even resemble each other, that I totally buy them as mother and daughter — much more so than Julie and Marissa.) Now that these two are hanging out at the same clubs, how long before they start dating the same guys? Of course, this would be familiar territory for Julie. Again, I find myself alluding to the infamous Luke and Julie story line of season 1, and thinking about that plot made it hard for me to buy Julie’s being so intrigued by her friend’s recommendation to date younger men. Julie’s been there and done that. But I guess she’s not exactly someone who learns from her mistakes.
Much like Julie, Ryan was also slipping back into old habits. Naturally, it was that habit of his that often gets him into so much trouble: his need to rescue people. Specifically, rescuing girls. Initially, he resisted most of Taylor’s pleas for help — until Sandy reminded him that helping people is just what he does, it’s part of who he is. And really, what was required of him this time wasn’t too big of a deal, as he simply had to pretend to be Taylor’s boyfriend (OK, her fantastic new lover whom she was simply wild about). At least he didn’t have to beat someone up and revert to his other old habit of losing his temper. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the Ryan-Taylor pairing that I had read about in recent weeks. For now, Taylor’s extreme perkiness isn’t annoying me, and she’s cracking me up (“Back to you and your life Ryan: What’s your favorite fruit?”). And, surprisingly, she’s making me feel sympathy for her, such as when she described how her loneliness had led her to marry her French husband, Henri-Michael. The jury’s still out on this pairing for me, but so far, so good.
Also good: Summer’s attempts to move on past the pain of losing her best friend. Her opening scene with the off-screen shrink helping her through the five stages of grief was hilarious — even the depression step. Oh, and she did it all in one week! Like Seth, I was initially excited by the idea of having the old Summer back, the one who “loves shopping, tanning and celebrity gossip.” However, unlike with Julie and Ryan, Summer’s old habits didn’t fit her anymore. The “save-the-planet thing” wasn’t a crutch, as she originally thought; she really has changed. And as much as I’ll miss the shopaholic Valley-watcher, I think I like the new Summer, too. She’s passionate, determined and persuasive. But what does this mean for Seth and Summer’s relationship down the road? As they grow, might they grow apart? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
A few less important questions:
— How did Summer score a dorm room with a walk-in closet?!
— Is Providence having an unusually warm winter? Post-Thanksgiving, you’d think you’d see more bulky coats and less short sleeves.
— Why does Che play his guitar in the nude?
November 9, 2006: Turkey Day Meltdowns
How does the saying go? Revenge is a dish best served with cold turkey? That seemed to be Julie and Ryan’s interpretation of it, since they didn’t let a little thing like Thanksgiving get in their way of going after Volchok. Sandy had a lot more faith in Ryan than I did — I would have never trusted him to go into that hotel room with Volchok alone. Thankfully, Ryan realized that letting Volchok live with the guilt, in prison, was the ultimate way of inflicting pain on him. (And hey, he also got in two punches.) Ben McKenzie did a great job in that hotel-room scene with his eyes filling up, but because he’s Ryan, the tears never quite fell. It was a quiet breakdown, classic Ryan style.
Julie and Summer’s styles, however, are much more showy, though no less tragic. I loved the way the show intercut their two parallel meltdowns. Julie worried about her potatoes and threatened to put Kaitlin’s dog (aka Little Julie) to sleep. Summer fretted about seating and cushions. Dr. Roberts and Seth, respectively, confronted them with the fact that everything was really about Marissa, and then both of them ran away rather than deal with things. But in the end, Julie did finally deal with things, and Melinda Clarke deserves kudos for her performance as well. The last scene with Julie crying and asking Ryan to talk about Marissa did get me a bit teary-eyed. Remember when Julie and Ryan used to hate each other? I liked seeing them bond – they work well together, even when they’re not plotting a murder. As for Summer, she’s finally beginning to admit how much she misses Marissa, and she started to lose it while leaving a message for Seth, but then stopped. It seems like she has a little ways to go yet in terms of working through her grief. Hopefully she’ll let Seth help her through this process instead of pushing him further away.
Although Summer’s grieving process continues, I think we can safely say that the Volchok chapter is closed. “So it’s really over?” Julie asked upon hearing that Volchok would be arrested. Yes, it is, and in the right amount of time, I think. Plus, it’s good to know that Volchok will be paying for his crime.
Speaking of criminals, what are the odds that a man who Sandy once defended would be one of the homeless guests at his Thanksgiving dinner? (By the way, how nice of Summer to invite them all — not even to her own house— and then bail.) I loved that the homeless guy remembered Sandy as “crazy eyebrow man.” One strong point of this show has always been the way that it can poke fun at itself (and its actors), and tonight had some great self-deprecating moments. The best had to be the sly reference made to time-slot competitor Grey’s Anatomy. It seems we’ll be losing Dr. Roberts to Seattle Grace. “A hospital that’s famous for being wonderfully quirky,” he explained. I’ll miss Summer’s dad, but maybe he’ll make occasional appearances. What I’d miss even more is this show if it continues to bleed in the ratings and lose more viewers to Seattle Grace. And I think these early fourth-season episodes have really been entertaining. There’s been a good balance of drama and humor. (How funny is it that when Taylor gets anxious she mutters to herself in French?) Ratings infusion needed — stat!
November 8, 2006: Angry Nudfo Chocolate Love
Ryan wasn’t going after Volchok to kill him. He was going to tell the cops where Volchok was…. He just needed to see him first. As Seth explained, “No offense, but like nobody believes that.” Seth may not be stealth, but he has good instincts, and he knows Ryan all too well. And he was quite the James Bond last night, albeit in his own comic-book way. First he stumbles onto Ryan’s secret plan when overhearing his phone call, then he leaves coded messages for his parents to find. (How could Sandy not figure out the anagram?!) But Ryan, likewise, knows Seth too well, hence the cell-phone casualty. However, Seth didn’t let that nor 18 tequila shots slow him down, and he wound up saving the day by giving Ryan a decoy address for Volchok. I was so proud of Seth for doing that and for trying to convince Volchok to turn himself in. He really reminded me of a mini Sandy in that scene. True, he had to pull a “Judas” move and betray Ryan to Sandy and Kirsten, but what else could he do? He can’t let Ryan ruin his life by murdering Volchok. (And it’s not really a stretch that Ryan would kill him — he’s come close to killing people before.) Of course, this means the whole avenging-Marissa plan is still not complete, and Ryan and Julie aren’t going to be happy until they get some closure. It looks like we may see that tomorrow night.
As for mother-of-the-year Julie (trying to get out of a clothing drive — priceless), as much as I love her as a bad-girl character, I agree with Sandy that she’s gone too far sending Ryan off to murder someone. Sure, Ryan’s willing, but she basically put the weapon in his hand when she gave him that folder. I liked when Sandy tore into her at the bar. But I think he let her off too easy when she shot back at him with, “At least you still have all your kids.” The point is, Sandy won’t have all his kids if Ryan does what she wants.
So the mystery of “where’s Volchok now, and what’s gonna happen when Ryan finds him?” is my current favorite story line and is still holding my interest. And speaking of mysteries (see, who needs Lost?), we finally found out the answer to Taylor’s big secret. I thought she was going to be pregnant, but, instead, she married a French guy and now has to divorce him. Did not see that coming. I liked her sunniness playing off of Summer’s current moodiness. (Side thought: Wouldn’t it be fun if Taylor’s real name and character name were switched? Then Summer could be friends with Autumn.) My favorite Taylor lines were, “Move it, hippies!” and his referring to Che as “Johnny Appleseed.” But Taylor wasn’t just present to serve as comic relief last night. She also motivated Summer to attempt to let Seth in on what she’s going through. (As Summer explained to European traveler Taylor, “Here in America, we hide our feelings.”) I’m still adjusting to seeing fashion-gal Summer wearing sweaters and a backpack, and I found that watching her struggle to write a letter to Seth was just heartbreaking.
Sad Summer and raging Ryan aside, I think last night’s episode had a lighter tone that last week’s. I feel like we’re slowly getting through the grieving-Marissa process. Again, it’s good they’re not simply rushing past the grief, but I also like my weekly dose of California sunshine. And there were some hints of that last night with these humorous moments:
— We learned that Summer’s stopped shaving her legs, but Brad and Eric shave their chests.
— The debate whether “gay dad trumps slutty mom.”
— Julie explaining, “It’s not a sample sale Kaitlin, it’s for refugees.”
— Julie watches “America’s Dumbest Cops.”
— Sandy and Seth determining that Seth’s new tattoo has a “gay vibe.”
Hopefully, there will be more humourous moments to come. And remember Newport fans, we don’t have to wait a week, because there’s another brand-new episode of The O.C. airing tomorrow night!
November 2, 2006: It Is Not Always Sunny in Orange County
When Ryan went to a hotel room, and Julie Cooper opened the door, I immediately thought, oh no, please tell me they’re not recycling the Julie-sleeping-with-Luke plot from Season 1. Thankfully, they didn’t go there. But the proposition Julie did make in that hotel room may prove to be far more destructive to Ryan. When he initially didn’t take the folder, I was so happy. That was the first wise decision he’s made in a long time. However, Ryan rarely walks away from a fight, and the opportunity to basically kill Volchok proved to be too tempting. So, of course, he reconsidered and eventually asked for the folder.
Why did he do this? Because Ryan still partially blames himself for Marissa’s death. “I bring trouble,” he explained to Seth. So he’s beating himself up over it, or, to put it more accurately, letting others beat him up for it. And not just symbolically — he’s taking the “very Fight Club” approach (as Seth pointed out) and fighting in cage matches. (For free! Come on Atwood, at least take the money when you win.) The writers felt no need to take a subtle approach to convey Ryan’s torment. Instead, they had him asking for punishment and wearing bruises on his face. At least it looks like they’re wrapping up this cage-fighting story line quickly. I don’t know how much more I could take of seeing Ryan punched in his “young Russell Crowe” face and pummeling people. But I’m not sure how believable it was to have Seth’s slide-show comic book be the vehicle that convinced Ryan to finally come home. I mean, Ryan’s become so hardened — did Seth’s sweet memoirs of the past three years really melt his heart? More likely, I think Ryan was missing the Cohens’ pool house, because I know I sure was. That pool house is the most important set on The O.C., to the point where it’s almost a character on the show. “The utility closet is the new pool house?” Seth asked. No, Seth, it’s not, and it never could be.
And thank goodness for Seth, the sole provider of quips while the show goes through its mourning-Marissa period. It was fun watching him join Kirsten at her Newpsies meeting or yelling at a little girl who had some confusion about the origins of the X-Men. However, Summer’s new friend (and possible competition for Seth?), Everwood’s Chris Pratt, also provided some levity, with his hippie appeals to save the chickens and save the planet. I’m going to like seeing more of him as well as seeing more of Kaitlin and her sidekicks, the two little Lukes. I was on the fence about Kaitlin last season, unsure if I liked her character. But as long as she’s kept as a secondary character and too much focus doesn’t shift onto her, I’m fine with her as a fun bad girl (who’s already living up to her reputation by blackmailing Dr. Roberts… impressive).
As for Kaitlin’s mom, the original bad girl of Newport, well, it’s not surprising that she’s depressed and armed with a gun — only it’s a glue gun. Julie’s watching HGTV and becoming a home-project maniac, and in her downtime she’s catatonic and popping pills. I like that they’re not rushing her recovery, because obviously Marissa’s death is not something she can easily get over. And although Summer’s putting up a brave front in the wake of her best friend’s death, her hesitation to go home and her uneasiness at seeing Coop’s bedroom hints that she hasn’t completely dealt with things. That brings me to the dead girl herself, Marissa. I like that they respectfully mentioned her and showed some photos of her. And I was never a Marissa-hater. But, I can’t say I really missed her presence in this episode. It looks like The O.C. is going to be just fine without Coop, may she rest in peace.