After two episodes used mainly for clearing up some of the loose ends from last season, The OC was ready prepare us for what’s in store for the season ahead. Although the new school year meant plenty of anticipation for the students, all of the characters have been affected in their own way. If there was one person who had failed to temper their expectations about their return from vacation, it has been Seth Cohen. He ran away from Newport because he couldn’t imagine how his life would be without his closest friend, but now that he is back he realizes that he might have to imagine his life without the person who quite possibly cared about him the most. Seth was so worried about how he would feel, he never fully understood what he was doing to everybody else.Seth has come to the realization that he must change. Specifically, he must learn to put the feelings of others ahead of his own. If he was sincere about changing, it might actually work, but since his motive is really a selfish one to get Summer to love him once again, you know shit is going to happen. First on his list of ways to change is to do something for Summer and Zach. You see, if she could see how generous he was, she would be his friend, and if they were friends, they would spend time with each other, and if that happened, they would be back together in no time. To show his philanthropic side, Seth decides that he is going to spring for some tickets to see “The Walkmen” in the upcoming weekend. Uh-oh, I smell a Rooney-like episode coming on. B-side tells me that The Walkmen are an indie band and assuming that their indie cred was at 100% of the beginning of the show, we deduct 12% points of indie cred for this lame attempt at publicity. More on that later.
After letting Ryan in on his master plan, Seth goes off to class, and when Ryan turns around, he spills his iced coffee (my preferred mode of coffee consumption as well) all over a girl standing right behind him. To make matters worse, when he turns around after getting her some napkins, he manages to elbow her in the face, and she drops everything in her purse, including her tampons. This might have been a bad experience for both of them, but it was absolutely horrific for the girl, as she was new. And not only was she new, but she was poor, driving up in an old car that was the envy of no one except for Ryan and Seth, who still don’t have a car to schlep around in.
Breakfast at the Cohen household has a decidedly different sort of feeling. Sandy just got back from springing Caleb from lockup, and they are discussing having him step down from his position as CEO of the Newport Group and appointing the position to Kirsten, who runs most of the operations anyway. Just as they are about to get back to business, Julie Cooper shows up, fresh from her spa weekend, saying she pulled herself out of her seaweed wrap as soon as she got the news. Julie has already lost one husband to scandal, she’s not about to lose another one on the same scandal, especially since there is nobody older and richer than Caleb for her to marry after it is all said and done. Everybody is talking about Caleb could lose everything and everybody would be in ruins. Well, that may be true for the Nichol-Cooper union, because Julie isn’t going to be making any money while Caleb is doing his nickel, but Sandy Cohen is still a successful lawyer, it’s not like his family can’t live off of those scraps until Kirsten picks up the pieces.
Back at school, Summer and Marissa are discussing a few things. Summer has been trying to let on that she is not that interested in Zach, and admits to Marissa that she is not completely over Seth, no matter what he does. Still, she is planning on introducing Zach to her father, which, you will remember, was a complete disaster in the making when she tried with Cohen. Zach is “Newport’s Prince William” she said, and she was happy to have him. I am a cynical guy by nature, but you have to admit that Zach is just a little too perfect (read: mature) for anybody on this show. Is it possible that he is just a psycho, waiting to snap like Oliver? After all, what’s good for Marissa is good for Summer. If he dressed a little bit better, I would even suggest that he is gay, and Summer is just his beard.
If you were a little slow processing your information, the new girl is somehow going to affect some of the characters of the show, and since Ryan also came from humble beginnings, he is the one to most likely fill that spot. Our hunches are right on, and when Ryan gets to AP physics class, the only seat left in the place is right next to the girl he elbowed, and just so he can make his point clear, he hits her in the back of the head with his bag. It was an accident, of course, but it does a good job at setting up the inevitable. No not gratuitous use of agent’s names during roll call, but that Ryan and the new girl, who we learn is named Lindsay will become friends. But before you are friends you get to be lab partners. At this point, I am trying to decide how long it is going to be before these two are kissing. You would think that the writers would try and stretch this romance out for a a little while, but this is the OC, so expect something to happen within the next two weeks.
Seth is on his way to pick up some tickets for the show, but finds out the show is sold out, and the only way to score any tickets would be to get a job at the venue. And since it was a little late for somebody to come around and make flyers, the only job available was that of janitor/bar back/ door man. Seth is more than determined to show just how far he will go, so he signs up to clean bathrooms in order to win Summer back show Summer how he can just be friends. How about that? Ryan is now a huge nerd, taking every AP class in the school, and Seth must resort to manual labor. It’s an irony lost on nobody, especially the writers, who as always feel it necessary to make it plainly obvious to all of us viewers.
The first day as lab partners, and Ryan learns what LIndsay really thinks of him. She is so worried about Ryan dragging her down, ruining her grades, and spoiling her dreams of attending Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, that she finishes the lab report before Ryan has any input. To me, this seems like the perfect lab partner. She’s smart, and doesn’t mind doing your work. She’s also cute, so if you get bored in class, she is always close enough to steal a glance or two at her ass as the teacher drones on. So what if you only get a 2 on AP physics, at least you will get to enjoy some of your year. This will not do for Ryan, he is much too righteous to let such an injustice stand, so he actually narcs on himself for not doing any work on the paper. To teach everybody the lesson of how important collaboration and teamwork is with science, the teacher assigns another lab report to the tempestuous couple. Our Ryan, the genius.
Seth’s second day at work goes a little better. He learns that his boss is only just seventeen, yet another dropout from high school whose parents didn’t want her. God there are so many of them in this place, you would think it would be more destitute. She hands over the tickets, and Seth is happy to take them, but not before warning him that his master plan may not go as he planned. He takes them over to Summer’s house and tries to make good. He says he just wants to be friends, and she takes his gesture in good faith. It was a pretty uneventful scene, but the writers once again take the time to remind us how great their show is by putting little hidden things that we aren’t supposed to catch. When Seth arrived at Summer’s, she was watching “The Valley”, a parody show appearing on the OC last season that made fun of The OC, although not as well as we do here. In the background you could here, the valley people talking about a pregnancy, as if we weren’t going to be able to place two and two together. I guess it is better than the alternative, which would be having her say something like “Oh I was watching the DVD of The Watchmen opening for Death Cab for Cutie at the Wiltern”, but maybe the producers were feeling the Rooney backlash already.
Marissa is on her father’s boat(after spending the night to get away from her mom), and we can see that Jimmy is on the market once again. He let himself go when he knew that Haley would be waking up to him every morning, but decides to shave, because no self-respecting woman in her late-twenties would sleep with an unshaven day trader. Julie comes to pick up Marissa, and while Marissa is getting her stuff, she reminisces with her old husband about the days past, and wonders allowed “How did all of this happen”. That rhetorical is way too easy and Jimmy smashes it out of the park when he says it’s because she always married for money. She tries to deny it, and they go off on a little tangent about what went on when they were young. It turns out they weren’t the happy love birds we were led to believe before last season, but they basically got married because Julie was pregnant with Marissa. This would have been a great chance for Marissa to stumble in on the conversation, and go ballistic when she hears the details. And it would have been the perfect excuse for her to start drinking again.
The second day for our lab partners is pretty much like the first. Lindsay says that she needs to keep up her grades for her scholarship, and is not here to make friends. She just can’t fall back on her parents if things go wrong. This inevitably leads to Ryan telling her about his growing up in Chino, and how he is really just like her. They begrudgingly decide to meet during the weekend, and go over each other’s lab reports. Now if I was in Lindsay’s position, I would welcome a lab partner who actually felt like doing some work, even if you were happy to fly solo. Linsdsay is cute, although she could be a hottie if she let her hair down a little bit, showed a little cleavage, and worse some denim that properly framed her ass. I am guessing that Ryan will either ask her to homecoming, or rescue her at a homecoming party where somebody is trying to take advantage of her because it will obviously be her first time drinking. Odds are 5-2 in favor of the second scenario. There is also the possible scenario that Ryan will get Lindsay pregnant, and he will have to move in with her in Silver Lake.
As Summer is getting ready for The Walkmen concert later that night, Zach asks her how she got the tickets. When she said it was a gift from Seth, it automatically sets of the warning signs in his head, and he tells her that she should go alone, talk to Seth and work things out. If she decides she is still in love with Seth, he would be happy for the time they spent together. If it wasn’t to be, he’ll understand. All of this talk is almost too mature for Summer to process, but she thanks him and decides to go to the concert alone. Honestly, if I were Zach at this point, Seth would have already met the business half of a titanium driver. He is almost too calm. What guy would take losing a hottie like Summer in stride and chalk it up basically to bad luck? This is unfathomable.
At the Cohen house, Caleb is ready to make his big announcement. Remember all of that stuff I said about Sandy still working at a law firm? Well, it turns out he got fired because the partners didn’t want to take Caleb on as a client because of his character. Well, I am not sure what kind of fantasy people work at the law firms in the OC, but every law firm I know of would have been salivating at all of the billable hours they would be able to charge for everything pertaining to this case. All of the experts, all of the testimony, it would have been a gold mine. To make everybody’s day just a little bit brighter, he drops the bomb that he is giving Julie the title of CEO. Kirsten is obviously upset, but apparently Caleb has decided that his wedding vows are now important and he doesn’t want to lose his family, as roughly made up as it may be. He is also worried that he will be too poor to marry another women who i s 30 years younger than he is. Kirsten is obviously upset, and is thinking about quitting after her father’s ultimate betrayal, but Caleb soon lets her know that he is promoting her to CFO. She will be in charge of the money, and he says that the CFO will be the power center, and Julie will only be a figurehead.
Seth is working the door at the concert, another complete break from any sense of reality. There are enough guys 6’4″ and 300 lbs around this area that you begin to fall over them. Maybe it is an Indie rock thing. [Note, now that The Walkmen have actually appeared on the show and are apparently doing a set, b-side knocks their indie cred down to 43%]. Summer eventually shows up,and Seth takes the time to show her to her seat and chat a little bit. All of that time without sex has really turned Seth into the Seth Cohen of old, and not only is he incapable of decent small talk, but he also misinterprets a moment of understanding they reach and tries to kiss her. He quickly realizes his mistake, but not before she storms outside and home [While all of this was happening, The Walkmen started a second song in their set, putting them at 30% legitimacy on our very scientific scale. Just like the conversation Ryan and Marissa had, they start to realize that maybe they may never be just friends with each other.
The next day with Ryan off to school to meet Lindsay, Seth finds he is without anybody to listen to his problems. He decides to try with Marissa, but they end up talking more about where they can see Summer and Ryan. It’s a nice little scene with Seth and Marissa alone, a combination never that prevalent last season. Marissa tells Seth that Summer is at the country club, and Seth tells her that Ryan is doing homework at the school. Both revelations inevitably lead to a couple of awkward encounters. Seth hits the country club in shirt and tie, but when he enters, he sees that Summer, her dad, and Zach are all the table. He realizes that he isn’t going to be able to win Summer back with his conventional ways, and he may never get her back. Marissa is about to walk in on Ryan and Lindsay, but the two of them, although just having met, start their flirting, and Marissa sees that she is not the sole object of Ryan’s desire any longer. But give her props for not pulling out a bottle of vodka right then and there.
Marissa and Seth appear on a bench at the pier, now officially the loneliest people in Newport.
We all know how much the writers love to use “Hey!” in The OC, so we will make sure to keep all of you updated just in case you wonder about those sort of things. In the future, we’ll have a nice little counter to display, but for now, just take the text version.
“Hey!” Count: Episode – 8, Season Total – 18