The OC Finale Review

The O.C. (6.67 mil) left on a (season) high note.

Last nights finale was really bittersweet. the show ended way too early, but tied up loose ends and really had a happy ending. Josh Schwartz really packed years worth of story lines in this last episode that spanded several years into the future. It was a really fast paced show, and on a side trip Taylor (Autumn Reeser) could really fit into Gilmore Girls her fast talking could even beat Paris. The show mostly focused on Julie and her wedding Bullit or Frank? and the Cohen’s new baby Sophie Rose and the Berkley House.

Unfortunately the show seemed a little out of place till about the last ten minutes. A little surreal throughout, the stories could have at least filled 5-6 episodes to be more fully develloped and fit more into the OC’s feel, but that is Fox’s fault. If only they would have gave the OC at a full  season it could have ended with 100 eps and a little more dignified May finale.

The last 10 minutes were amazing, Ryan going through the Cohen’s house one last time with the flashbacks, brought tears to my eyes, and the image of Marissa, near the end of the flashback was appropriate (unlike Charmed that could never even flashback ever on Prue) . The few years in the future really gave the closure fans needed. Seth and Summer were really destined to be together and got married in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony. Julie graduated with a Bachelors in Education, and had Bullit and Frank both in her life. Sandy became a Professor of Law at Berkley, and Ryan in the final scene was an architect, wanting to help a troubled boy like he was in the pilot. It really all came full circle.

Ben McKenzie, Autumn Reeser, Kelly Rowan, Peter Gallagher, Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody, <i>The O.C.</i> by Michael Desmond/Fox

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.

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