A few weeks ago, the president pre-empted a bunch of the primetime television in the United States to make a speech. When I found out, I thought to myself, “oh shit, is there no OC this week?”. It wasn’t too long ago that I wouldn’t have cared if something pre-empted it, and might not have bothered to even watch it before Saturday or Sunday. Nowadays, I watch The OC on Thursdays, and sometimes I don’t even wait for the Tivo can get ahead so I can fast forward though the commercials. Do some things need to be cleaned up? For sure, but you have to like the direction that things are headed.The OC writers have spent a lot of time in the past few months tying up a lot of loose ends. I would like to say that they have been taking our advice, but it is a little to presumptuous of me to say that would be the only reason. I am not going to discount the possibility that the increase in quality was an organic process, but I think it would be silly to believe that these changes arose without any thought of what the critics have been saying.
Anyway, many weeks ago, when the show was really sucking and I was more prone to ranting on how inconsistent everything was, I mentioned that I wondered what the hell happened to “The Nana”. I mean, it would have been fine if they thought she was a bad character and killed her off. You just need a scene where everybody is coming home from the funeral or something. Sure, it may have seemed abrupt, but the show has done worse. Imagine my surprise when the breakfast banter features The Nana. Seth had just finished his observation on the absurdity of Rhino having two albums in the top ten, when his grandmother calls. She scolds him for not cashing her check, but really wants to talk to Sandy about something. He talks to her a few moments, says “So soon?”, and then hangs up. Everybody is worried. Does she need more chemo? Some surgery? Is she going to die next month? No, she’s getting married, and so everybody is going to have to fly to Miami.
Seth loves Miami, and he loves his grandmother’s friends in Miami. He tries to convince Ryan to go by telling him about all of the great things to do like shuffleboard, Mah-jongg, pinochle, and the early bird special, but for some reason, Ryan is not excited. Instead, Seth uses a much easier technique. He says it would really make his dad happy if he would go, and considering Sandy got him and his only sibling out of jail and out of Chino, it was the least he could do.
All of this is well and good, but am I missing something here? Last season, Sophie Cohen was still a social worker in Brooklyn. They made a very big deal about her having lived in the same neighborhood for so many years. Now, it’s not that big of a stretch imagining that a Jewish person from New York moving to Florida for retirement, and maybe she reevaluated her life when she learned she had cancer. That is all plausible. However, when did Seth have time to make friends with all of the old men at her condo? Did he take a trip around Cape Horn or through the Panama Canal before he made it to Portland?
As much as that little discontinuity of story line bothered me, it was nothing like the obvious product placement in a scene a little bit later. We have seen Rooney, we have seen all the bands at the Bait Shop, and they can sort of tie into story lines. But who thought it wouldn’t be completely obvious what as going on when Sandy asked Kirsten for his American Advantage number because he was on AA.com and wanted to upgrade his seats with their miles? Seriously, how many people saw that and were like. “Oh shit. I have all of these American Airlines miles and didn’t know what I could do with them.” Aren’t tickets and seat upgrades the first things people use their miles for(unless you have another rewards program)? I am trying to decide if AA.com was worse than the A9.com plug that they tried to work into Lindsay’s vocabulary earlier in the season.
The trip to Miami is good for Seth, because he is still trying to figure out what to say to Summer after he sort of ditched her during his big fancy comic book party. A little time away might do them some good, and it turns out that Summer wants to have a little bit of a time out as well. She has been boxing to take care of her anger and doesn’t even laugh when Seth sees her hitting the heavy bag (with faux zebra stripes, natch) and he calls her his “Million Dollar Baby”. Come to think of it, I wonder if he had seen the end of that movie, or at least thought about it before calling her that. Seth is a little upset, but during times like that, sometimes you really do need time to sort things out. As long as he does nothing stupid, things should be OK, right?
Ryan was a little reluctant to go because things just started getting good between him and his brother, and things were going even better between him and Marissa. It took a little while to get past the awkward stage, and now they are ready to translate those feelings into some awkward sex. Looks like that is going to have to wait. Ryan has to go and he is worried about leaving Trey alone, but Marissa is more than happy to hang out with him while Ryan is gone. Everything is just falling into place, isn’t it?
Right before everybody leaves, Sandy is giving some final instructions to Kirsten. He tells her the safe word should the alarm go off (“greased lightning”), and he asks her if she has any money. Last time I checked, she did make like ten times what he did, and we haven’t actually seen any of his clients really pay him, but that’s fine. She waves goodbye as they leave for the airport in a taxi (come on writers, you know they would use a car service). Kirsten is alone in a huge empty house. Any guesses at the first thing she does? No, she doesn’t run around doing Karaoke in her underwear and socks., she calls the office to see what Carter is doing.
Now, I never saw the huge chemistry between Carter and Kirsten. I always thought we were sort of supposed to believe it was there. To me, Kirsten was either trying to get back at Sandy or curious what the feeling would be like. You know a little mystery. After years of marriage and sleeping with the same person, maybe you yearn for the touch of somebody new. Apparently, she is still really hot for him, and so she is devastated when she gets to the office and learns that he has a new job in New York. They share an awkward hug, and it looks like we can finally put an end to that drama and those awkward shots they had to use to try and make Billy campbell look like he didn’t tower over all of his other costars.
The guys arrive in Miami at their hotel(using a car service, I might add), and Will Smith is playing. Some of us would have preferred the theme to Miami Vice or even some Gloria Estefan, but Mr. Smith is a rapper that won’t scare away any white people, and the song is more recent, so I guess it works. Seth complains about the abundance of “tan, young, healthy people”. Uhhh, you live in Southern California, Seth. It’s not like you are in Fresno or Riverside, Newport Beach is full of tan, young, healthy people. Isn’t that the point of the ENTIRE SHOW?
In order to avoid all of the good looking folk, they decide to visit the Nana. Now that I remember, remind me to call the writers and let me know which flight they took that left in the morning in California and got them in Miami before lunch. I want to see if that airline has similar flights to New York. And don’t give me that shit about the international date line, I know it’s the other direction.
I had wondered why they wanted Seth to know all of his grandmother’s condo friends, and it was clear about two minutes after they were there. It would be great if Seth was in some polyester pants and wrap around sunglasses, and acted like he was old and retired. What a great way for Adam Brody to ad lib. By the way, if any of you people out there think it would be funny to go to Rite-Aid and buy a pair of those wrap arounds and wear them in Hollywood because you are a hipster, I hope I don’t see when I am drunk, because I’ll punch you in the face.
When they all flew to Miami on such short notice, I thought it was for an actual wedding. As it turns out, there is no wedding just an engagement. The wedding is in June. And sorry, while I am in a ranting mood, why did Sandy think it was “so soon” for an engagement when he was on the phone in Newport? His mom hadn’t been married since he was young, and he didn’t know how quickly the ceremony was this time. Anyway, he is happy for her until he hears that they the person she is marrying is twelve years younger than her, a chiropractor(I guess only a real doctor is good enough for his mom), and the kicker – they are going to move into that million dollar condo he bought for her right away. Sandy smells scam, and his mom knows it, but he assure him that is not how it is at all.
How are things back in Newport? It seems that everybody is making plans for when the guys are away. Zach comes to check in on Summer, who is now listening to headphones while she does her heavy bag, and she accidentally punches him. She hits like a girl, so he is not that damaged. But while Seth is gone, he says that he wants to cook her dinner. She agrees, and they make a date. Kirsten is also hungry, so she invites Carter over for dinner at her house to celebrate his new job. And then there is Trey and Marissa. Trey has been seeing Jess, the girl who was nearly dead in Marissa’s pool at his party. When I say “seeing”, I guess I should really say “when they see each other they have sex”. Jess is still into drugs, and is starting to corrupt Trey. He begins to do some coke, and is right between a snorting/sex session when Marissa comes in and wonders about going job hunting. He cleans himself up and they go out. Surprise, surprise, they need somebody to clean toilets and do a little barback at the Bait Shop. To celebrate his new job, they also decide to do some dinner and a movie, which translates into Margaritas and DVDs at Trey’s apartment.
Back in Miami, Seth is schooling a guy in a wheelchair on how to play shuffleboard, when out of nowhere, a hot girl named Mary Sue(played by the delicious Jamie King) decides that she wants to challenge Seth in a game. Loser buys the winner a Boris Yeltsin, which is sort of like a white russian, except you use Ensure instead of milk with your vodka and kahlua. Alright, alright, I made that drink up, but if there was a drink called Boris Yeltsin, don’t you think that would be a good recipe? Since Seth hasn’t beaten anybody that can walk on two feet without a cane, she kicks his ass. Eventually, she reveals that she needs somebody to help her in a dance contest to win some money for her tuition. Now, we know there are no such things as dance contests at spring break. Every contest that anybody goes to is a wet t-shirt contest that eventually leads to girls either going topless, going naked, making out with other girls on the stage, or some combination of all three.
OK, there are some tamer contests, and they usually go on for the benefits of a television audience. In this case, it is for Music Video Nation’s (MVN to you and me) televised spring break special featuring an over the top veejay, a character from “The Valley”, and what’s this? A musician that could care less if his music was sold at Amoeba? Yes, it’s TI, and he’s performing “Bring ‘Em Out”. I guess since Miami isn’t as caucasian as Newport Beach, and indie bands don’t usually whore themselves out for such things, the producers wanted to show that they were “down” with the “homies”. Next week, look for GZA to perform some spoken word. As expected, the contest requires a little bit more than just dancing, like licking whip cream off of Mary Sue and eating a cherry out of her mouth. I am still not convinced that this girl would have been unable to find anybody else in Miami besides Seth to do this, and so I don’t really understand why she is going to so much trouble to convince him, but she says it is for tuition, so he says yes. Probably not the type of thing he would want to be doing considering it is likely to be broadcast on national television. And you don’t want to be on national television licking whip cream off of anybody when you are trying to show your girlfriend how serious you are about the relationship.
Luckily, Ryan is prudish, and the random girls showing their boobs to him don’t faze him. He calls Marissa and tells her that she should keep Summer away from the TV. Best that Seth tell her in person than have her find it out otherwise. Problem is that Marissa is on her way to see Trey. Well, at least he tried, right? Now we all know that Summer is over at Zach’s, where he is cooking up some gnocchi, and looking pretty goofy in a tall chef’s hat. We all suspect he has feelings for Summer, but he doesn’t say anything. He says he is going to be a while, so he decides to turn on the TV. What’s playing? MVM’s Spring Break. I didn’t see that one coming AT ALL.
So, Ryan isn’t able to stop it, but Seth has dealt with Summer, it’s not like he can’t handle her. The problem is that Summer is not the only one who is going to be pissed. Ryan stumbles upon Mary Sue’s boyfriend at the bar. He is from a bible college, and he and his bible study friends (they must pray together at the end of every football practice) are looking to bring some vengeance upon whoever it is that has convinced Mary Sue to corrupt her body in front of national television. She might get expelled. Well, the show goes on, and Seth wins. The bible study group sees Seth win, and are about to beat him up (worst teenage spring break contest security ever!), but Ryan gets in the way and the two of them run off, goons on their tail. Eventually, the huge guys caught up to Seth and plastered him with whip cream. He looks pretty bad, but it could have been worse.
Summer and Zach were in the middle of eating when the contest is going on. He is a great cook, and they are amusing themselves watching all of those idiots doing stupid shit on television. “Who is pathetic enough to do that?” asks Summer. And at that time, we see Seth on television, finishing licking up Mary Sue and taking the cherry from her mouth. Summer finds Zach, who had left to get some more gnocchi and sauce, and they start to make out. He didn’t even have to wear one of those “Kiss the Cook” aprons. You know, I don’t know why nobody kisses me after I make an apple pie.
Sandy and the Nana are about to have their dinner, when Sophie gets a call from Bobby. There is a malpractice suit and he doesn’t know when he will be back. Marriage? Oh, I don’t know about that. I would usually complain about the writers not giving the story any suspense, but since the whole episode was apparently a ruse to get some free tickets from American Airlines, I’ll cut them some slack. Bobby didn’t have any malpractice suit, of course. Sandy had seen him earlier and dropped some pretty strong hints about the FBI, background checks, and what he would do to somebody that might have been out to get his mom’s million dollar condo. (Again, he can buy his mom a seven figure condo, but can’t scrape enough money to get Seth a car? Glaring oversight, I would say. Seth should be driving a Prius by the beginning of next season.) She is upset with him and storms off, but later admits that it might have been too good to be true. She is just sad that she might have to spend the rest of her years alone.
Things are ending up pretty nicely in Miami, but everything is hitting the fan in Newport. Carter and Kirsten have their dinner, and a lot of wine. And this isn’t just funny, ha ha, Kirsten is a lush, type of drinking, they finished an entire bottle before dinner. OK, come to think of it, that isn’t that much, but soon they are drunk and they start to eat. We don’t see dinner, but I am sure it is awkward, there was a couple of times when they would touch hands and look away. Both wanted something to happen, but neither would say it. After dinner, Carter says it was the best dinner he had, which was funny, because it didn’t look like Kirsten had eaten anything. God Kelly Rowan, you’re hot, but try some tofu or something. Your collar bone is starting to freak me out.
In the spirit of honesty, Carter says that he had second thoughts about leaving Newport. He hates the town, but he couldn’t stand having to leave Kirsten. They share a small kiss, but Kirsten can’t bring herself to do anything more. She wishes Carter good luck, and then there is an ominous turn. Kirsten pulls the vodka bottle out of the fridge[thanks for the correction josh]. We all know that she is a lush, but this straight vodka in a glass is supposed to tell us she has a problem. I wonder if this is going to lead to something in the future? (BTW, I am treating the two hours as two episodes, so no spoilers from the second in the comments please. Although I am guessing most people have seen both hours, you have been warned).
So Kirsten has finally descended into alcoholism, is there anything from this episode that can beat that for drama? Well, yes. Marissa and Trey had a lot of fun drinking Margaritas and doing tequila shots. They sit on the couch to watch “The Notebook”, and they start making a few glances. Since Trey came, he has been really cool, and I always thought it would be great if these two hooked up. Instead, they decide to go out and get some fresh air so they don’t fall asleep during the movie. Or, as anybody who has watched a movie drunk with a hot friend of theirs, possibly start making out during the middle and not get through it at all. Marissa goes outside, but before Trey leaves, he looks under his couch cushion and has a little snort of coke. Since we just saw Kirsten go on a bender, I am pretty sure that this means that they aren’t endorsing recreational drug use among the characters.
On the beach, the two are having fun, but Trey is getting a little playful. His eyes are bloodshot, just in case you didn’t realize that cocaine might have made him high, and he starts to tell Marissa that he feels strongly about her. He feels strong enough that he thinks they could be more than friends. Although Marissa says that she was being nice because he was Ryan’s brother, he doesn’t listen. He proceeds to throw her against the sand, and tries to kiss her. Marissa is really trying to fight back, but he is too strong. He is just about to tear off her top when she grabs a piece of driftwood and hits him on the side of the head. She runs away crying and Trey can’t believe what he has done. From Miami, Ryan calls Marissa’s cell phone, which just rings and rings on the sand, with nobody there to answer.
Wow. Sexual assault is a very difficult thing to handle on network television. I’ll have more on that when I recap the second hour, but to think that the writers decided to tackle sexual violence and alcoholism with only three episodes left says a lot. The ramifications for all the parties involved in either incident are going to be huge. They sort of tried to handle teenage pregnancy last year, but gave up on it after the first episode this year. But unlike Theresa’s baby (now in it’s 5th or 6th trimester by my count), they are not going to be able write either of these away so easily.
“Hey!” Count: Episode – 13, Season Total – 276