Thursday marked the finale of the third season of The OC. There were rumors for many months that there would be death of a cast member, and FOX officially started the death pool when it told us that one of the characters “wouldn’t make it through the night” in their promos for the last episode. I would like to say there was some suspense at what happened, but the news was all over Hollywood long before Thursday what would happen, and we took any anticipation left on this site in order for some great comedic effect on Friday’s Clipgasm. Despite all of that, the show has been quite enjoyable lately, so we still had a lot to look forward to.The big twist last week was that Seth was taken into police custody because they thought he was responsible for the fire; they even had evidence that linked him to the crime. Security cameras showed that he was the last person to leave the building. Far be it from me to complain about plot holes, but as commenter stacyrocks has already mentioned, the police did a pretty good job getting all of that evidence and tracking down the suspect within the fifteen. Sandy had just finished his Man of the Year speech, so it seems to me pretty amazing that they got that security camera footage so soon. Remind me not to get trapped in a burning building in Orange County, where the firemen apparently rescue VHS tapes before going on to that tedious work of stopping fires or saving lives.
Some security footage is not an airtight case, and Sandy has his connections at the DA’s office, so Seth gets out that evening, as if they would have taken him away in handcuffs anyway. Remember when Trey lied on behalf of Julie Cooper to get Ryan in jail on an attempted murder charge? They didn’t use handcuffs then; you think they might let the arson investigator get some work done before calling in the DA on his day off to take care of this shit.
But whatever, we know the writers are in over their heads when it comes to stuff like that, so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. As the cops were hauling Sandy away, he made a big deal about trying to protect Seth, even though he secretly believes that it was Seth’s fault. As he is talking to Kirsten, he admits that he thinks Seth is hiding more, but he is worried that any push could really hurt their relationship. In other news, Sandy and Kirsten now know that there are things a lot worse than not getting into Brown.
When Seth came home, he went in to visit his best friend. Ryan wants to be there for Seth, but to be honest, Atwood has a lot on his mind as well. He was flipping through the channels at the beginning of the episode, trying to find out if there were any police reports about a brand new S-Class being stolen. The uncanny thing about Sandy’s suspicion that there might be more that Seth is hiding from him is that he is completely correct. He disavowed all knowledge when he was at the police station, but still doesn’t know if he can tell his father the truth. The only thing that will soothe him is to listen to some sickly-looking, overly-trendy, white kids in black suits sing depressing songs about their painfully affluent existence.
Seth left his iPod in his mom’s car, but his mom’s car is not in the garage because Ryan was using it for cover to get Volchok to the house with the car he was about to steal. Ryan makes his way to the Range Rover when Volchok comes out of nowhere. His getaway didn’t quite work as planned, and he thinks the cops got a look at his face, so he wants to go to Mexico. Volchok’s only problem is money, or lack thereof, and he wants Ryan to help him. Why would Ryan help him you ask? Because if he doesn’t Volchok will say that Ryan helped him steal the car. Personally, I don’t know how long Ryan is going to give in to this. Eventually, it would come up to he said/she said, and Ryan would probably come out ahead since nobody actually saw him in the stolen car. Then again, with graduation so close, Ryan doesn’t want to ruin anything.
Taylor, Summer, and Marissa are preparing for graduation where they are preparing leis for all of the graduates. One person who doesn’t really need a lei is Taylor. She confirms that she had a private after-after party with Sung Ho and Yung Nom, calling it her “own little Korean BBQ”. Blast! I guess I made so many bulgogi jokes I never thought about calling Taylor’s evening a Korean BBQ. That just leaves me with an obvious joke like love is supposed to be between a man and a woman, not a woman and some jumuluk.
During her preparation, Marissa received a package from her father via DHL via her mother. Hmm, maybe it was a letter explaining why he wouldn’t be there to see his daughter graduate. Whatever the case may be, Marissa decides she needs some privacy, which is a perfect chance to pause and talk about some of the people visiting from out of town for the graduation. Ryan’s mom Dawn does come, and she decided that she wasn’t going to bring her biker boyfriend. She tries to break the ice with Kirsten with some good ol’ “I was too drunk to remember the last time” humor, but Kirsten is still dealing with her relapse and doesn’t laugh much. Dawn left her cancer jokes at home, so I guess that ends Dawn’s stand up career.
More interesting than Dawn was the return of Kaitlin Cooper. She surprised everybody by coming home, and really caught Dr. Roberts off guard by saying that she wanted help changing her As to Bs. Kaitlin didn’t want to lower her GPA as much as she was looking forward to a little breast augmentation. Dr. Roberts explained that it was something she should discuss with her mother, and didn’t seem any more comfortable when Dawn said it was just a joke. I mean, come on, the damage has already been done. He’s imagined what his 14 year-old stepdaughter would look like with bigger boobs, and nobody wants to be thinking about. Poor guy, he is going to need to have sex with Julie five or six times to get that image out of his head, which when you think about it, kind of makes it a good deal.
It’s been a little while since the last obvious OC product placement, but we got another one this week. When Seth went to remind his father to charge the digital camera, Sandy told Seth that he would have to explain Ofoto to The Nanna, but it would have been much more hip to say flickr. It was also a good time for Seth to ask his dad not to do any cheers when Seth got up on stage. Although people won’t beat him up anymore, it would be nice to leave for college with a minimum of additional embarrassment. Just listen to this:
Check out my boy Cohen!
Can you believe how he’s growin?
The competition away he’s blowin!
That has to have been good for at least two lemonade swirlies, don’t you think?
Now that Seth had started a line of communication with his father, he decided to lay it all out there. The Newport Group fire? It was Seth’s fault, and he even admitted that he was smoking pot at the time. Sandy is disappointed, but he doesn’t want to let anything ruin graduation day, so he doesn’t punish Seth. He does promise to take care of the problem as soon as graduation is over.
As the kids begin gathering at Harbor to prepare for graduation, Summer finds Marissa in a somber mood and tries to figure out what happened. We’re expecting something bad, but her father is actually doing really well. Jimmy decided that he has been such a good influence on Marissa’s life that he would like her to go sailing around the world a little bit, but not just recreation. Jimmy now sails huge boats for rich people, and one of those boats has room for another crewmember before it sets sail.
There was on point in time where this would have made sense for Marissa, but honestly, what would make her want to leave with her dad? I guess she is only going to be gone for a year, and all of her friends are going to college. Now that I think about it. What’s the worst that can happen as she sails to the Mediterranean? It can be any worse than staying in Orange County. This might turn out to be the best decision she ever made!
The only bad part about Marissa’s decision is that she is going to have to leave for Hawaii only a few days after graduation, and although it doesn’t give her time to say goodbye to a lot of people in a proper way, the quick exit does have some fringe benefits. Volchok has regrouped and is ready to take his Van to Mexico, and he even has a girl willing to go with him. The only problem is that girl is not Marissa, and she has this annoying habit of speaking her mind. She can tell that Volchok is not over Marissa, and knows that he isn’t stalling his trip to Mexico because he needs money, but because he realizes that Marissa was the best thing that happened to him and he ruined it and now is having regrets.
Graduation is really a great time for most kids. Unfortunately, most of the shows that I follow that had a graduation episode had some sort of crazy shit looming over them. First there was Buffy, and the whole end of the world thing with the mayor. Then there was Smallville when another meteor shower cam crashing into town. Finally, there was Veronica Mars, which had a nice ceremony but the whole bus murder/child molester undercurrent turned down the mood a notch.
Since I do rip on the The OC for when it does things poorly, I will give it credit when it does things well, and this was a good graduation scene. Not only did we get to see Mrs. Kim return, but the whole mood of the event just felt right. From the moment a water polo player ironically made fun of Seth for wearing a gown to the way Taylor Townsend delivered her speech to the parents in the stands screaming their approval and crying their proud hearts out, I think this was one adolescent rite of passage that The OC did very well proving that you can have memorable moments on the screen without turning it into a crazy over the top spectacle. Then again, I would have found it very funny if somebody had streaked the stage.
After graduation, everybody is having dinner at the yacht club. Did anybody else catch that random bit of dialogue at the beginning when Sandy said “There is no such thing as “a little” racist.”? Did anybody else think it was just sort of random being thrown in there? I didn’t remember any context, so if you could help me out, I would appreciate it.
Although there is no good way to tell your mother that you are leaving for a year, Marissa understands that she needs to tell her mom. It turns out that her mom knew about it all along. Jimmy had called Julie asking her what she thought and Julie said that she is going to miss Marissa, but if she wants to leave, she can let her go. Kaitlin walks in and she makes a couple of random announcements of her own. First, Jimmy had called Kaitlin about whether it would be a good idea. You know, because Kaitlin has spent two weeks out of the last three years with her sister and therefore knows her oh so well to be making these kinds of judgments. Secondly, Kaitlin has decided that she will stay for good. Hmm, they seem to be telegraphing something at this point, but I can’t quite figure it out. What could it be?
Julie wanted to give Marissa her graduation present right away. It was a pearl necklace, and even if she weren’t about to sail away for a year, I would consider this one of the least practical gifts, ever. Ryan got something a little more traditional – a car! Yes, that’s right! I have always wondered why Seth or Ryan didn’t have cars, so it’s nice to see that somebody else thought it slightly odd. Dawn gave Ryan a Toyota Land Cruiser, which at first doesn’t seem like it would work well at Berkeley, being all gas guzzling and such, but it is vintage, so that makes up for some of it.
Everybody is so happy. We learn that Taylor is going to Korea remove land mines from the DMZ, and if that’s another one of Taylor’s metaphors for sex then, well, I don’t want to think about it. Taylor even gets an invite into the inner circle. Hmm, one Cooper leaves and another one comes in. Now, one of the inner circle leaves and Taylor comes is. Why are they acting like Marissa will never come back? She’s going to be in touch; she promised to e-mail!
As nice as this evening is going, you had a feeling something bad would happen. Enter Volchok. It’s not enough that Volchok is threatening Ryan. He is now threatening Marissa. She wants nothing to do with him, but he says he will make life difficult for Ryan if she doesn’t follow him to Mexico, or at least come and see him. As leverage, he once again uses the stolen car, but I don’t see why this would work. Ryan already asked Marissa to cover for him. If it’s Volchok’s word and Ryan isn’t seen on any security cameras (if he was, the cops would have already arrested), then Marissa’s alibi would be plenty to keep Ryan out of jail.
Can I fault Marissa for not thinking clearly when she already has so much on her mind? I guess not, but you would think that either her or Ryan could have figured out something. Anyway, Marissa finds Ryan is his car and insists on helping him get rid of Volchok. He doesn’t want her involved, but Marissa says that they should do this together…one last time. Hmm. One last time? Are the writers saying Marissa and Ryan will never get into trouble like this again? Why would that happen? She’s coming back after a year, right?
Dawn is leaving, and for some strange reason, Ryan didn’t drive his mom to the airport. The woman just gave him a car; the least he could do is save her the cab fare, right? At this time, Seth comes out and when he finds out that Ryan got a car, he starts to wonder why he had to wait three years and is still waiting, especially when he was supposed to be spoiled. If I had to take a guess, I would probably say it’s because his parents wanted to make it harder for him to run away. Could you imagine if he was able to flee town in anything other than a sailboat?
We know that Marissa is leaving for a year, but I still think it is kind of strange that Kaitlin is not only taking over her room, but is doing major renovations. When Julie walks in and sees what is going on, Kaitlin says that she is going to enjoy being back home. Now she will no longer be Marissa Cooper’s little sister (why is THAT? is Marissa not ever coming back?) so she can rule harbor like she has always wanted.
Sandy paid a visit to Gregg Otis in the DA’s office, and he got his first look at they guy who replaced him. Sandy seemed happiest when he was a public defender and seeing Jason Spitz (who looked like Sandy had a love child with Tony Shaloub) made him long for the good times of low pay and bad coffee. Meanwhile, back at home, Kirsten was telling Seth not to worry about the fire. If it was an accident, then Seth should be free and clear. Besides, there is this letter to RISD that just came into the mail. I wonder what it could be?
Since we don’t know how long it’s going to be before we see Marissa again, the writers were going to have to find a way for the Fab Four to get together for one last, magical time, and Marissa knows the perfect place. Remember when she visited Volchok and he was working on the house that Ryan burned down so long ago? The house is finished, but nobody has moved in. Luckily, the realtors have decided that it would be a good idea to have minimal security guarding their investment, and the kids decide to for a final trip down memory lane.
After Sandy’s visit to the DA’s, we start to learn why Kirsten said the fire might have been one of the best things that ever happened to their family. What is it with this family and construction fires that seems to bring them all together? The DA thinks that everything will blow over, and Sandy says that he doesn’t want to go back to the Newport Group. To celebrate, Sandy and Kirsten decide to practice how their lives will be like without the kids in the house. Empty nest translates into lots of sex for Sandy and Kirsten, and what better place to celebrate than in the kitchen, where Sandy can show Kirsten a whole new meaning to “give me a little schmear”.
I think a lot of us remember that final summer before we went off to college. It’s a great time because you have spent a long time getting to know all of your friends, but at the same time, you know that nothing is ever going to be the same again. Ryan, Marissa, Summer, and Seth had to pack an entire summer’s worth of final memories into a few hours by the pool. Am I being delusional when I say some of these moments by the pool felt like some of the best moments of the season? In the comments of my first recap of the year, somebody wrote that what this show needs is more teeny and more bopper and lot less depression. These kids may have their problems, but they are young and living in California, and even if you aren’t rich, you can relate to what it’s like to be a part of a close-knit group of friends that cares about each other.
Look at that. Am I actually getting sentimental? Marissa says her goodbyes to Seth and Summer and then goes in to get changed. Ryan follows her, and the two of them talk about the last several years. There have been ups and there have been downs, but these two do have something. Their relationship may have never worked together, but they both have grown as a result, and they won’t ever forget each other.
All that is left is to take Marissa to the airport. It’s a dark road, and there is only one other car. It’s a van. Volchok’s van. Uh oh, this can’t be good. When Marissa heard that Volchok wanted money before he left Mexico, she offered to pawn her brand new pearls for the money. Ryan made the exchange, but when he gave Volchok the money, he begged to see Marissa and the two of them had to speed off before it got messy. As Marissa and Ryan left the model home, it’s revealed that Volchok was stalking them from the same van. Now he was determined to come out of the shadows and finally end this thing between them.
At first, he tries to ram them, and then he tries to run them off of the road. Marissa is screaming and for some reason, Ryan is trying to fight him off instead of just hitting the brakes and letting Volchok run himself off the road. Unfortunately, this is not the time for Ryan to be stubborn and the two vehicles come up on a hairpin turn. Volchok is able to pull away, but Ryan and Marissa careen off the edge. The roll over a few times and come crashing down, landing on the roof.
When they come to, Ryan is able to get up. He’s sort of disoriented, but he sees a flame as well as a dripping gas tank and knows that he has to get out of there. Ryan wrestles Marissa out of the car and carries her away from the wreck just as it goes up in flames. Marissa doesn’t look that bad, but she is unconscious, and Ryan needs to get help. We look again, and Marissa is awake, but barely alive. She’s pale and she’s cold. Ryan knows that he may only have minutes if he is going to get help and save her life (what, nobody has a cell phone these days?), but Marissa is scared, and doesn’t want to die alone. We see now that she has a bad head in injury, or is at least bleeding from her scalp. If only they had been in that car Kirsten had been driving when she got hit by that garbage truck, maybe she would have been OK.
As Ryan sits there watching Marissa die in his arms, all of the memories of their time together rush through his head. From the moment they saw each other that first night Sandy brought him home, he had always felt closest to her, even while she was dating other guys, even while he was living in the Cohen’s house, And just like that, she is gone.
I thought this was a good episode, but I really believe the last three our four were much better. I understand that they wanted to pay special tribute to Marissa this episode, but they dealt with her departure just seemed to telegraph her death since the very first moment. The death scene was over the top, and full of plenty of melodrama, but I can live with that. I just felt like they way they were talking about Marissa the whole episode really took a lot of the impact out of her final moments. The writers were too worried about dropping little hints about next season to properly allow this season to play out.
And what about next season? Kaitlin is going to be back to rule Harbor and Seth was accepted into RISD for the second semester of the upcoming school year and Ryan is supposed to go to Berkeley. At the end of the show they promised that we won’t believe what is in store for the fourth season, but I think they were just trying to find a roundabout way of saying “we’re jumping the shark”. As tough of a time as The OC had this season with the ratings, I think it may get pummeled as Grey’s Anatomy slides into that 9PM Thursday time slot. As much as I made fun of Marissa, the loss of her character may officially put to an end The OC’s relevance on our cultural landscape, but let’s hope that Schwartz and company can figure something out to help it bounce back.
What did you think of this episode? Will any of the kids actually go away to college? Will Volchok pay for Marissa’s death? Do you think Kaitlin can bring in a whole new reign of terror? Is anybody going to watch it instead of Grey’s Anatomy?