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.