Last week was a tipping point of sorts for The OC this season. Perhaps all of the fans and critics had nothing to do with dragging the show out of the quagmire of lesbian rating stunts, but whatever realization the writers came to about where the season was headed, they seemed to have salvaged the show from spiraling into a “it sucks, but it’s on Fox, so it will last seven seasons” type of mediocrity. Maybe I am a little too optimistic after just one week, but here’s to hoping the good episodes are a trend and not an anomaly.By now we know that the Cohens aren’t big on cooking. The only time anybody in the house has anything other than a bagel for breakfast, is one somebody is trying to bribe somebody, usually with pancakes, for some sort of error they had made. The Kirsten and the Sandy don’t even pretend that they have any skill at cooking. Other than some pathetic attempts at Thanksgiving and some red meat on the grill every now and then, dinner is usually phoned in at the Cohens. Just because they aren’t the Cleavers doesn’t mean that Sandy doesn’t enjoy a family meal every now and then. He has been busy with felons and porn movies, his wife has been busy with a magazine, his son has been busy with his girlfriend, and Ryan has been, uh, well being so self-righteous is like a full-time job in itself.
As determined as Sandy is with keeping the family together for dinner, it is sort of surprise when we see him answer the phone, and then let the person on the other side talk to Ryan. Seth is just about to go onto a long rant about why his dad would let Ryan talk on the phone, but we sense something is wrong. Ryan comes back to the table with a sullen and distant look on his face, and this is more sullen and distant than normal. He looks downright upset. What could it be? His pregnant girlfriend calling? “Oh, I had the baby BTW. Laters. Bye.” Perhaps it was Lindsay “Uh, so this Chicago thing kind of sucks, plus I think I am pregnant. Tell Seth he’s a father.”
Those scenarios, while humorous, paled in comparison to the actual situation. Lest we forget, Ryan came to the Cohen household because the benevolent Sandy pulled him out of juvenile detention. Ryan was there for, among other things, stealing cars, but he didn’t do it alone. His accomplice was his older brother Trey, and since Trey was over 18, Trey went to jail. After 18 months or so in the big house, it was time to go, and so Trey called Ryan to come pick him up the next day.
Even though the last time Trey asked Ryan to meet him in jail, he asked Ryan to steal a car. Ryan agreed to the plan to save his brother from getting beat up, but in the process Ryan almost took a beating himself. He was with Marissa at the time, and she had to save him by playing get away driver. With that in mind, Ryan woke up the next morning, put on his Chino gear (black jeans, white t-shirt, grey hoodie) and went to pick up Trey. Seth even offered to go with Ryan, saying seeing the prison might “scare him straight”. You may be scared of prison Seth, but we know nothing is going to keep you apart from Ryan. Nevertheless, Sandy decided to go with Ryan, and Seth was forced to go to school.
Ah, Harbor. I’m sorry, but when we have episodes where the students actually pretend they go to school, it is much more entertaining. Teenagers often come across difficult situations, but they rarely act so middle-aged with everything they do. That’s they way I felt with this show for much of the season, but a lot of that has passed. Summer and Marissa are talking about life, Ryan, and Seth, and I have to take a moment to talk about what they were wearing. Earlier this season, they were trying some nouveau Gatsby style, then moved on to Cockney chimney sweep couture, tried a little bit of crocheted shabby chic, and now they have tried a little hippie on for size. And just like the the 60s, it looked like Marissa had burned her bra. I might have been a little bit more distracted by her bouncing jubblies if some topless photos of Mischa Barton hadn’t turned up this week. I speculated before that Mischa might have been working on some hips and curves, but these more recent pictures tell me she is back on the rigorous cigarette/coffee/laxative diet to keep those hot ribs in full view. And those shoulder blades, they just scream “Do me!”, don’t they?
Anyway, Marissa and Summer are discussing Ryan and his brother when Zach comes motoring in on his vespa. Water polo, no sex with women, vespa. No giveaway there. Zach has returned from Italy, and even though Summer left him at the altar, or check in counter as the case may be, he seems totally fine with seeing her. He’s not pissed, and he even says he has a bunch of pictures to show her. As he goes to class, Summer also thinks that his spirits are kind of high for the way she treated him, and decides “He must be hiding something.” Well, no kidding.
Later that day Zach runs into Seth, who is probably waiting for a punch in the face, but Zach is also extremely cool with him. He says that he knew Seth and Summer were made for each other, and that it didn’t matter anyway. He met a nice, tall, blonde, italian piece of ass named Francesca while in Tuscany. Way to go Zach! Whenever a girl breaks your heart, you search for the rebound. And if your rebound is named Francesca, that’s not bad at all. Now, most people, having found a hot replacement named Francesca, would be flaunting it to the ex who had broken your heart. Not Zach, he is not vindictive. He tells Seth not to tell Summer, because he doesn’t want to make her feel bad. He just needs Seth to keep a secret. Oh, now that’s a funny concept.
Have you ever thought the type of thing you say to a sibling after they leave prison? I think it would be awkward, even if you were still poor and living in Chino. Having moved to Newport and living in a pool house, things just don’t seem the same. Do you start out with some humor “So, that soap on a rope. Not bad stuff, huh?” or “I worried about my swing in golf, but I bet you really hate shanks.” (I’m here all week folks.) No, Ryan decided to go with the handshake. That wasn’t enough for Trey, however. He took his brother’s hand and gave him a big hug.
Last time we saw Trey, he was bitter and kind of an asshole. I mean, he was in prison, but can you blame your brother if he tried to pull himself out of poverty. This time, Trey seemed like a whole new man, which makes sense, since Trey was played by a whole new actor. He was polite and just happy to see his brother. He was happy to see Sandy, and he was happy to have lunch with both of them.
Ryan is always worried when anybody from Chino tries to mess up with his happy Newport life, Trey included. But when they were dropping Trey off at some random house, and there was nobody inside, he decided to warm up a little bit. Sandy already mentioned that it would be OK for Trey to live with them, and so they take him back to Newport. And just like the last time somebody from Chino moved in with the Cohens, he gets the pool house.
Sandy sort of save Julie Cooper last week by making a deal for her porn tape, but she still needed to come up with the money. Kirsten has been busy with Carter and the magazine. So when Julie comes in and says that maybe she isn’t so sure about Newport Living, Kirsten is wondering what was going on. Julie comes clean once again with Kirsten about her naked mistake. And let’s be honest, there is only so much ramen a girl can eat with a sick mother. She didn’t know her boyfriend was going to take the fake video and publish it. (Actually, they say he threatened to publish it, but it was never released, but I don’t think that he would have put so much effort into making a box cover if he hadn’t published it. And if he had made the box cover recently, he would have made a DVD. There is no way to get all the copies of this thing, so paying him off is worthless.) Kirsten doesn’t say much other than she is going to have to tell Caleb.
With her back against the wall, the Julie is forced to ask Caleb for some help. Their relationship has been sort of icy since the whole Lindsay thing has come up, so she decides to bring it up during lunch. If there is anyway to take away the surprise of a shocking bit of information, one way is to nonchalantly mention it between two other innocuous items. Sort of a casual mention. Julie worked in her porn history in between a request to fire the gardener and another request for some new lawn furniture. Surprisingly, Caleb was cool with it. He said the price was worth it to save her dignity. He just had to check with his financial advisor.
I always love it when Caleb has something to do. He always messes it up. I also love all of his shady business relationships that he has. I was sort of surprised that he would actually pay Lance. He showed up at Lance’s hotel with the money, then asked for the tape. Lance handed it over, and Caleb proceeded to let two of his associates in the room. These associates were obviously paid muscle, and so Caleb not only had the tape, he took his money back. As he left, his two thugs drew the shades, likely about to give Lance quite the work over. The most interesting part of the whole exchange was that Caleb said he already knew about the porn, as he had private investigators on his staff. I do love when Caleb is shady.
Seth gets home from school, and right away he wants to get some dirt on Trey. He walks into the pool house and asks Ryan if his brother had changed. You know “found Jesus, chinese tattoos, shaved head”? The great part about this was that Ryan was not in the pool house, it was Trey. This really surprised Seth, and really surprised Trey, although Ryan had filled him in about Seth’s loquacious habits. For his part, Seth was impressed by the monosyllabic nature that runs in the Atwood family. Ryan comes in just in time to save Seth, and Sandy gives Trey some money to go shopping for some new clothes.
If you are an ex-con, and you want to go shopping, where do you go? I know that this is Newport, but do you go to Ben Sherman? Ben Sherman is trendy(compared to Brooks Brothers), but is that the first thing on your mind when you get out of the joint? Why not go to the thrift store and pick up some of the VonDutch all of the hipsters through away last year. It may not be trendy, but if you are wearing clothes that are a couple of years old, people won’t think you have been in jail that whole time. My suggestion? They should have tried Fred Segal.
Another big problem with these stores is the people who work there. They just won’t cut Trey any slack. Even though he paid for everything, they insist on checking his bag. Usually when this type of thing happens, you get angry, but let them search your bag. If you write a letter or complain to the manager about the way you are treated later, you might even get some free shit. But when this happened to Trey, he not only got in the security guys’ face, he dumped the contents of his bag all over the ground, and knocked over a display case. Marissa, who had joined them to help Trey pick out clothes, looked on in admiration at Trey’s furniture throwing skill.
Zach is really trying not to dwell on Summer. He has a girlfriend that he can chat with, and those webcams get pretty freaky. No need to keep around any of Summer’s stuff. When he takes her things over to her house, she confronts him about Francesca. I never agreed with Summer’s decision to go back to her stalker, but after she made the decision, and it made her happy, what is there to argue about? Still, if Zach decides that he has to move on, especially after Summer basically strung him along for such a long time. If he decides that he is going to move on, he is not under any sort of etiquette timetable to move on after Summer.
Despite the fact that she broke up with him, Summer gets a little upset. She gathers Zach’s stuff, and takes it over to his house. His mother is there, and she gives Summer that “Well, I can’t talk with you about that great New Yorker cartoon” sort of look. Summer says that she is sorry for what happened, and hopes that Zach is happy with Francesca. This whole Francesca thing is a big surprise to Zach’s mom. She tells summer that Zach was so broken hearted, he didn’t leave the hotel the whole time. I don’t know why it was such a big deal that Summer’s boyfriends can’t get over her, but I guess she can now take solace that she did, in fact, break Zach’s heart, and he is, in fact, not over her.
Zach makes his way over to Summer’s house to clear the air once and for all. He is not over her, but he thought that making up the story about Francesca would help them all move on. He said that he told Seth only because he knew it would get back to Summer. His plan worked, but it was all a lie. Summer promises that she won’t tell anybody his secret.
The big launch party for Newport Living is about to get underway. Julie is right back into the heart of things. Now that she knows she won’t be exposed as a porn starlet, she is back to being her old self. And she seems to have picked up on something between Carter and Kirsten. Other than the first time they met, I didn’t really notice any sort of crazy sexual tension between these two. Kirsten isn’t enamored with Sandy these days, but she is wearing her ring, and we are pretty sure that Rebecca is gone for good, so things have been going pretty well. Kirsten is sort of staring at Carter, and she did her best to try and avoid him and Sandy from meeting earlier, so I guess there is something there.
Carter is happy and wants to celebrate, but for once, Kirsten doesn’t want to drink any wine. She says that it is unprofessional, even though they have been averaging a bottle of wine a night. (Have a mentioned how much I love it when Kirsten drinks?) Julie is loving watching Kirsten squirm and does her “Kirsten Cohen Crushes Carter” dance and the ever popular “Kirsten and Carter, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G”. Kirsten ignores them both, and says that they can celebrate after the launch.
I guess one of the reasons why the Cohens never cook is because they do throw a lot of parties. The Newport living party seems to be going by without a hitch as well. Julie is there (still making gestures at Kirsten about Carter), and Caleb is happy with the work he has done. Sandy has even had a chance to meet Carter. It’s soon time for the big presentation, but first Kirsten needs some chardonnay. She finds the closest waiter she finds, and picks up a glass.
There is no big deal with Kirsten drinking, but this time there was something special. The waiter was none other than Lance. He was supposed have been beaten up, but it looks like they spared his face. Now, even though I thought Caleb was smart for not giving in to Lance, you knew Lance was not stupid enough to give Caleb the only copy of the porno tape in existence. He had to have one for insurance. But what was he going to do? Get up in the middle of their on stage presentation, and flash the box around. It’s not like there was some big video presentation that was going to be projected onto a big screen, giving Lance a convenient way to swap in Julie’s video and embarrass her, right?
Actually, that is exactly what happened. Just as Julie started what she thought was her magazine’s presentation, the video of her in that great outfit is displayed on the big screen. She is frozen, and when Kirsten tries to grab the remote, she and Carter fumble to get it stopped, only to pause it on an image of Julie in her bra riding Lance for all she’s worth.
Julie is terribly ashamed, and she thinks her career is over. Caleb comforts her, and says “that’s why you can’t give in to these people”. They’ll screw you every time, won’t they? Julie says she is going into her Howard Hughes phase, but Caleb says that they will just go to Europe, and by the time they get back, another scandal will have ripped through Newport, and everybody would have forgotten about her. The way Caleb handled this whole thing, I am beginning to wonder if he wasn’t in on the whole thing. Lance didn’t look beaten up, he surely was able to walk and move without looking like he was in pairn. Did Caleb tell his boys to help Lance switch the videos so he could take Julie down a notch? Wouldn’t have been the strangest thing we have seen Caleb Nichol do.
While all of that was going on in Newport, Ryan had driven down to Chino. Earlier, he went in to talk with his brother about what happened in the store. He was just about to apologize, when he noticed a watch under all of Trey’s clothes. The same kind of watch the person at the store accused Trey of stealing earlier. Ryan cannot believe his brother would lie to him. He almost believed that his brother had changed, and he knew it was too good to be true. The problem was, Trey actually paid for the watch. He bought it as a thank you to Ryan for being so nice and letting him crash. Ryan doesn’t believe, but just as Trey is about to leave, he shows him the receipt. SLAM! That was one of the best scenes all year. I love it when Ryan’s self-righteous attitude blows up in his face.
Trey decided to go to one of the old bars he used to hang out in, and Ryan decided to chase after him. Just for kicks, he decided it would be fun to have Marissa around. When he gets to the bar, Trey is playing pool, and doesn’t want anything to do with his brother. He may be poor, he may not have a place to stay, but at least he has his self-respect. He’s not going to stay with somebody who doesn’t want him living there.
Ryan doesn’t take no for answer, and so he decides to hang out at the bar and wait for Trey. When it’s been awhile, Marissa says that he is not going to come with them, and they decide to leave. Marissa is always awkward, and she really looks out of place with her green evening gown and half jacket. That doesn’t stop a dirty looking kid from Chino from hitting on her. And although Ryan wouldn’t fight Alex’s friends last week over Marissa, he decides to punch this kid in the face. That’s a noble move, but Ryan is outnumbered and is soon in the middle of a brawl. Luckily, Trey hears something from outside (he had left to have a cigarette) and can’t just let Ryan get his ass kicked. With his help, he, Ryan, and Marissa bounce up out of the bar and head back to Newport.
Another great episode. They have bungled a lot of character introductions, but the way they handled Trey, his release, and his attitude seems entirely believable. Julie’s exposure was tons of campy fun, and the Seth/Summer/Zach love triangle was a nice little side venture to fill in some time. And although back-to-back episodes don’t necessarily mean all is good in the world of The OC, it is at least a start.
“Hey!” Count: Episode – 18, Season Total – 197