By B-Side|Friday, November 5, 2004 | 4:03 pm | 41 Comments
The OC is back, and boy was it gay. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It’s just that when a show opens on gratuitious shots of twenty sweaty, shirtless, muscled men wandering around, you can’t help feeling like The OC went to summer camp and came back a little changed. Indeed, things have changed in The OC. Seth has sailed off to, uh, somewhere, Ryan has shacked up with his preggers girlfriend (he doesn’t drink, but he loves to knock up the ladies. Boo condoms!), and Marissa has taken to the bottle (and I don’t mean Dexatrim). What does this all mean? Well, for one thing, lots of whining and brooding. Apparently the writers still haven’t realized that the worst episodes of last year were the ones that tried to be serious. On the other hand, we did get the instant classic TV camp moment when Marissa vented her frustration with a long, silly primal scream. Yes, witty banter and awkward acting. Welcome back, OC.The show started off like any typical episode – lots of morning banter. Except instead of Seth popping in on his parents’s badinage, it was those damn construction workers. Literally. Just when you thought Sandy and Kirsten had escaped to a shirtless-extra safe zone, another one would just waltz right through. Now, I don’t want to harp on this, but exactly which construction company was this? Did they have some sort of “No fatass” policy? Very Bravo.
Nevertheless, there was plot to be had, and in the season premiere, we learned that Kirsten was not happy that her son had just gone and sailed off. Apparently she had embarked in a hunger strike because her sternum was popping through her skin. “Bring him home,” she deplored Sandy. Uh, why don’t you do it, you lazy bitch. Besides, isn’t he in a boat somewhere in the Pacific? Actually no. We soon learned that Seth had made his way up Portland where he was living with new BFF, Luke, and his Jim McGreevyish dad. I felt bad about Poppa Luke. Had he known this new beefcake construction company was in town, I’m sure he would have stuck around a little longer.
Speaking of beefcake, another shirtless guy popped up, this time at Marissa’s new palatial home. While Summer and Marissa sipped iced tea apparently spiked with ethanol, the new gardener – shirtless and muscular of course – made eyes at the ladies. Honestly, not every manual laborer is chiselled and shirtless. Can we just put the casting director in a cold shower and be done with this? Anyway, the girls had some ironically self-aware banter, with Summer telling Marissa that she’s gotten so skinny, to which Marissa replied “I eat.” Yeah, she and Kirsten go off for meals all the time. Yesterday, they shared an amazing piece of iceburg lettuce.
Elsewhere in the OC, Jimmy Cooper proudly displayed his new scruffy look. It was part of the obvious mood-meter the producers seemed to be employing. You know, scruff on Jimmy = happiness. Scruff on Ryan = discontent. Flask on Marissa = sadness. Meat on Kirsten’s bones = Seth’s home. Speaking of Ryan, Sandy paid a visit to him in Chino to rally his support for a Come Back Seth campaign. Amazingly, this Ryan scene was free of ponderous melodrama and darting glances. Heck, there was even a smile or two from Mr. McKenzie.
Oh, but it didn’t last long. The house of Ryan and Theresa was seething with malcontent. You see, Theresa peeled Ryan’s oranges for work, and well, that makes him hesitant. I don’t know why really. Maybe some childhood trauma? A clementine prank gone wrong? Either way, with Ryan in full brooding mode, he stepped out onto his street where a convenient gaggle of kids on bikes mandated a slow motion flashback to a young Ryan, standing in a muscle T, seemingly asking “What went wrong Ryan? Where did your youth go?” My only question was “How long has he been wearing beaters?” Didn’t he ever wear like a Mickey Mouse T-shirt?
Anyway, Sandy boarded a plane out of his muscle clad county and surprised Seth at Luke’s house. Amazingly, no one said “Welcome to the PDX, bitch!” – although if I remember correctly, Luke did make a similar joke to that on his last episode. I have to admit, I was amused by Sandy’s Portland entrance. Seth and Luke were hanging out in the kitchen when Luke’s dad walked in and announced there was a visitor. Then from around the corner came Sandy. Ta-da! I wonder if they staged that: “Okay Sandy. You stand right there. Then, when I say the codeword, you walk into the kitchen. It will be divine!”
Meanwhile, back in Newport Beach, Kirsten continued to stew around the house. Jimmy and Marissa Cooper stopped by, thus providing the first “hey’s” of the new season. We’re still waiting for the all important Mischa Barton/Ben McKenzie “hey”. Anyway, Jimmy and Kirsten babbled to each other a little in the doorway. Jimmy came up with the umpteenth excuse as to why Hailey was a no show – she was at work apparently. Yeah, she got this really awesome job as a concierge in a Hawaiian hotel. I forget where it is. Maybe the North Shore?
Anyway, while Jimmy and Kirsten engaged in small talk, Marissa wandered off to the poolhouse where she debated whether or not to enter. Mischa Barton solemnly attempted a Merchant Ivory moment of “I yearn, but I shan’t!”, and as usual, the scene wound up laughably dumb as she yanked her hands away from the tempting doorknobs of the poolhouse. Were they electrified?
Up in Portland, the Luke’s and the Cohens sat down to a festive dinner. Sandy tried to start some upbeat conversation, but Seth, who’s suddenly turned into a whiny bitch, got fresh. The two engaged in a hostile spat while Luke and his dad watched from the sidelines. I was surprised that Luke’s dad didn’t get all sing-songy and say “Awkward!”
Speaking of awkward, the Mischa Barton acting trainwreck continued to steamroll through the episode. Late at night, Marissa snuck into a lifeguard shack and partook in her flask of shame. With her eyebrows slightly furrowed and her lips attempting to quiver, we knew she was trying oh so hard to showcase emotional complexity, but instead it looked like she was merely holding back some vomit (which is not entirely out of the picture). Marissa dialed up Ryan and the two sat on the phone without speaking. Yes, the drama was so thick with emotion that not even an awkward “Hey” could be uttered.
The next day, after one too many peeled oranges, Ryan announced he was going up to Portland to fetch Seth, his affluent hetero-lifemate. While he was in transit, we zipped back to Marissa for what we just knew would be more Emmy-worthy material. Sure enough, Mischa did not disappoint. Excited to go to some new Yoga-lates type class with her daughter, Julie Cooper harumphed over to Marissa who was suntanning poolside with an iPod. “We’re late,” she announced to her daughter, but Marissa simply ignored her, eager to soak up the rays in her skeletal frame. When Julie finally disconnected the iPod, Marissa whined, “I was listening to that.” I half expected her to add “It was really good emo! Josh Schwartz recommended it to me! You have no appreciation for the Garden State soundtrack!!!”
Of course, what happened next has already become legendary amongst fans of the show. When pressed by her mother to open up and tell her how she feels, Marissa simply let out a loud, inauthentic scream and flipped a pool chair in the water. Uh, so she doesn’t like the lawn furniture? By the way, bravo to Mischa Barton. Not many actresses are so bold to clearly delineate the limits of their acting, but she did it with such grace and aplomb. That just has to be rewarded. I mean, how many actresses would ever dare to yell “Ahhhhhhhhhh” as if they were actually reading it off a page?
Now, I know J-Unit posted this in his recap, but dammit, it just has to be seen again. And so now ladies and gentlemen of the Academy, for your consideration, Mischa Barton:
Click on image to play movie.
While Mischa yelled her substantially taxed heart out, Ryan arrived in Portland. Once again Luke’s dad introduced him with a “We have another guest!” and ta-da, out stepped Ryan from around the corner. Honestly, do they do this when the cleaning lady comes? “Guess who? It’s Consuela!” Anyway, Ryan and Seth had a warm reunion that was only plagued by ball and chain Theresa, who called to announce that she had had a miscarriage. So THAT’s why she didn’t look pregnant! Oh, and she also doesn’t want Ryan to come home because it’s obvious that they don’t love each other and he hates her peeled oranges and blah blah blah. The nice twist here was that after the call, we found out that the baby might very well be alive and well. WE’LL SEE!
Back in The OC, we learned that Caitlyn – who’s in the market for a non-balding pony – will be going off to boarding school, which was Josh Schwartz’s way of quietly shipping off a character for the season. Sandy, who had since returned from The Portland, met up with Caleb who seems to have found himself in an Enron type mess. Sandy warned him: “Clouds have gathered. It’s gonna rain on you, on all of us. Get your storm windows.” He then added “Put on your raincoat, make sure you roll up the car windows, close the skylight, find the golashes, go down to the corner store and buy an umbrella.”
While Sandy and Caleb prepared for the worst, Seth and Ryan shared a tender moment as they talked about Newport. To indicate that everything was cool with them, Ryan peppered his dialogue with casual “man’s”, or as he pronounces it, “mahn” (with the n sound trailing off). Alas, it was time to leave. Ryan and Seth said their goodbyes and the Chino native headed off to his cab. Suddenly the scene became intensely homoerotic as the emo music blared, Seth’s food started to shake and he bolted for the front door as if to say “WAIT!” Seth swung open the door, and who was there? RYAN. Honestly, I thought they were going to make out right on the spot. Instead, they just made their way back down to Newport where Karen Carpenter, I mean, Kirsten leapt from her seat and embraced the boys. Ah yes. All’s well that ends well in Orange County. Now maybe we can move on from this whiny episode and get back to the lighthearted fare we know and love.