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It’s another year and another new episode of The OC. It’s also another chance for me to think about how I would fix the show. I think part of the reason a lot of us tend to get bored with some episodes is that the producers really telegraph what is going to be happening in the next hour right in the first five minutes. For instance, in this week’s episode, we learn that their mission is going to be getting Marissa back into Harbor. Perhaps there wasn’t a natural way for all of this to happen, but for those of use who like even a schtickel of anticipation, it’s a disappointment. That being said, I can’t complain much because the episode was otherwise fun, had a lot of good dialogue, and the writers have left themselves open for a lot of shenanigans down the road. Sort of like starting your night out with some drinks and then moving on to some shrooms. You may have started out thinking it would be a boring night, but you’re so happy at the end (or paranoid, it all depends), you don’t really care how you got there.I guess the writers were worried that jerks like me would start to complain that our Newport friends never go to anyplace other than the diner, because we find Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Summer enjoying drinks at the Bait Shop. No, they don’t have fake IDs; they’re drinking mocktails. Mocktails are cocktails with no alcohol, so you have safe sex on the beach, fauxjitos (that would be a mojito sans rum, not Doritos made with olestra), and my personal favorite, the sober Russian (a white Russian devoid of vodka or Kahlua). It’s the last night before the kids start their last semester at school, of their last year, so as Summer says, they should make it – all together now – LAST. Summer loves senior year so much, or at least the winter break, that she wishes she could TiVo it so she could play it again and again until graduation. Well, depending on how often Marissa’s boob popped out, we may be able to help her out.
While Marissa goes to pee and Seth goes to get drinks, which is odd because they are already seated at the bar, Ryan and Summer discuss the upcoming week. The class picture is coming up, and Summer has a crazy plan. She sort of saved Chrismukkah, so why not try graduation? Dirty Dean Hess is gone, and besides, the people who kicked her out have probably forgotten by now, right? Well, Ryan is not so sure. After all, nobody gave him a second chance. They threw him out right after the fights, the arson, the underage pregnancy, the ex-con, having sex with minors, brother, and the expulsion, so why should he think anything would be different for Marissa, right? General Summer is on a mission, as are battle analogies. War Channel is the new Food Network, after all. I guess that makes Summer one hot Rachael Ray, and Ryan one short Bobby Flay.
Now, we saw the campaign to bring Marissa back a mile away. I’m not even going to gloat about the prediction because A) it was so easy and B) anything that might limit Johnny’s involvement is something to be celebrated. Besides, this is the time of year when seniors are starting to look for something to do. Seth makes the point very well; with college applications out, things like learning and homework or 10% effort in gym class are hard to come by. Still, he wants to know what it is exactly they’re trying to save Marissa from, besides the bohemian hipster look we thought died when we all saw Britney walk into that bathroom barefoot. Summer kindly reminds him that she is at public school, a place where she’ll have mediocre lunches, ill-fitting gym shorts, and lots of poor kids.
A good attitude is great, but there are practical considerations. Ryan goes to see Dr. Kim about reinstating Marissa. She says that it is up to the board, and while she doesn’t think he has much of a shot, promises to get Marissa’s statement on the agenda for their next meeting, which is Thursday. As an added bonus, she even gives Ryan a hint to help him along. There is a case from the fall of 1996 (coincidentally, J-Unit’s senior year) that has some precedent to Marissa’s case. How nice of the producers to bring a little stare decisis to a new generation of young people who don’t have the time to have Joe Biden explain it to them.
Ryan, Summer, and Seth didn’t tell Marissa about their plan because they didn’t want to get her hopes up, or maybe they didn’t want to ruin the episodes by telling her and then she would realize that they have 40 minutes of air time to finish it or else. Therefore, Marissa was at Newport Union, and she finally hears some good news from Johnny. Thanks to the doctor Marissa got for Johnny, he should make a full recovery. Better yet, somebody at the Pac West surf team got caught testing positive for drugs, meaning Johnny would have an alternate slot, and could work his way back from his injury in time to compete next year. I was very happy for Johnny, because now he might be able to get his own life, and perhaps some slutty surf groupies to get his mind off of Marissa. Alas, that is not to be, as Johnny invites Marissa to a party celebrating his entry on the team. She says yes, and at this point, I am hoping that the next time he gets hit by a car, it’s an Escalade, and it puts us out of our misery.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Marissa’s situation is so desperate that they ask Taylor Townsend for help. If there is anybody that can get the masses to move out of passion or sheer terror, it is Taylor Townsend. And let’s face it, she has so few friends, she’s willing to do just about anything in order to make any of them happy, even if they mysteriously lost the invites to her Boxing Day party. When she hears that they need her help to bring Marissa back, she is not that enthusiastic. Ashley and Madison are there to remind Taylor that Marissa’s return will be social disaster for Taylor. When you remember that kids were throwing shoes at her before, there’s not a long way she can drop, but it’s still scary. And if that wasn’t complicated enough, it was Taylor’s mom that had started the original petition to get Marissa expelled in the first place.
So, they have Taylor on board, but the rules of the school board require that a parent advocate be present to speak on behalf of the students. Hmmm, is there anybody that the kids know that has argued for children in front of a panel of some sort? Maybe to convince a judge or jury? Oh, that’s right, Sandy Cohen! We have never actually seen Sandy in court, and he seems to have given up any use for his doctorate of jurisprudence. That’s OK, because the writers would probably confuse themselves anyway. Ryan asks Sandy for his help, and although Sandy gets worried when Ryan is thinking more about Marissa’s future instead of his own, there are too many things going for this case that Sandy can’t resist. It’s a good cause, his client has poor odds of winning, and his mere presence will surely infuriate plenty of Newpsies. Therefore, he HAS to take the case. Sandy LOVES student activism.
Now that they have a plan, and the plan is coming together, Ryan decides to break the good news to Marissa. She is sort of excited, but not completely stoked because hey, they’re only giving her a chance to spend the rest of her senior year with all of her best friends. Why would she do that when she has Johnny, the love child of Kermit the Frog and an Olsen twin, and his hot party to go to? And to be perfectly honest, Johnny is just an alternate on the surf team, which is like saying you are on the wait list at Harvard. Sure, things might go his way and he’ll go on to fame and riches, or he’ll just enroll at Tufts and become a podiatrist. Later on, when Marissa told Summer about her scheduling conflict, I was really hoping Summer would throw her laptop at Marissa to knock some sense into her. Thankfully, Marissa realized that she should take this chance, and decides to break the bad news to Johnny the next day. It shouldn’t be that hard, and Chili probably deserves to be there more than her anyway.
At Harbor, the campaign to bring back Marissa is in full swing. They have flyers and t-shirts with a “Free Marissa” theme, patterned after the “Save Mary Kate” t-shirts that appeared on the internets almost two years ago. (Although, I must admit, they look more like the “Free Mumia” t-shirts I saw everywhere when I visited UPenn in 1996.) Even Taylor Townsend is enthusiastically behind the cause; that is, until her mother, Veronica, finds out that Taylor is behind all of that promotion. Veronica pulls Taylor aside, and thanks to Summer’s great lip-reading abilities, we are able to get an idea at that they are saying. How did she learn how to read lips? Star magazine, of course, although I am going to wait until it shows up in Cosmo before I run to the newsstands. Basically, Veronica tells Taylor that she doesn’t have any real friends, and there will be consequences if she doesn’t stop. Although Taylor is willing to enter a brand new world, like wearing jeans to school, she is not ready to stand up to her mother, and quits the campaign.
Although he is not aware of their little setback, Ryan goes to Newport Union to give Marissa one of the new “Free Marissa” shirts, and now that I think about it, wouldn’t it have been funnier to make a “Marissa Shot Me” t-shirt with “And I loved it” on the back? Come on, even Trey would laugh at that one. During this time, Marissa gets a call from Chili, and decides that she has to leave. She says that Chili is sick and that she has to go, but Ryan is too smart and suspects something else, and he’s right. Marissa gets to Johnny’s house, and sees Chili is in tears. At this point, I really thought that maybe Johnny had shot himself and was at the hospital, but I knew he had to be back to fall in love with Caitlyn, so there had to be another explanation. Chili explains that Johnny just got word that the Pac West doctors won’t clear him to be on the team. Seriously, this is not THAT big of a problem, is it? So he doesn’t make the team. He can continue his rehab and get a job selling Sex Wax or something, all the while getting even better at surfing. If he’s that good, he can make the team next year. No, Johnny decides to get upset, trash his room (which parallels his trashed future), and run away. A famous philosopher once said, and I paraphrase, “If you can’t stop sucking, get a job holding dicks.” For the love of God, I hope that Johnny will stop sucking or look for that new job very soon.
While Marissa is trying to figure out what she can do to save Johnny, her mom has decided that it is about time to come clean with her daughter about that condo renovation. She arrives at the Roberts house and is surprised to see that Dr. Roberts answers the door. You have to be pretty dumb not notice the growing relationship between these two. Earlier in the episode, while Julie was going over some details with Kristen about their new business, she saw Dr. Roberts enter the restaurant, and they did some mild flirting. This time, we learn that Julie was over for Christmas dinner, and she mentions that she “never properly thanked” him for having her. I am sure that he was hoping that she would start that thanking very soon, but instead they just sat around while an awkward silence developed. Chances of Julie becoming Julie Cooper-Nichol-Roberts by the end of the year? I would have to say about 50%.
The campaign to Free Marissa is not doing well. After hearing the news about Johnny, Marissa decided that she wasn’t going back to Harbor, and even is she was, it’s not like the student petition is doing very well. Desperate to help her friend, Summer decides to whore out her boyfriend. Taylor may have trouble disobeying her mother, but if there was anything that could get her to break the rules it would have to be a little naughty time with Seth. That’s right, Summer decides to pull off a little indecent proposal. Seth is Demi, and Taylor is the leather-faced guy who talks to horses. That doesn’t sound that appetizing, but if Robert Redford looked like Taylor Townsend, well, it would say a lot about his plastic surgeon, but it couldn’t be that bad.
Seth tells Taylor the plan, and her eyes light up with anticipation. She had been dreaming about this day and she has the candle, the tube socks, and the new Fiona Apple CD to make it happen. I’m not sure, but I think that was one of the deleted scenes from Body of Evidence (what can I say? I like Julianne Moore.). Still, she has to say no. Her mom is not some lightweight. As a sports agent, she is used to dealing with 300-pound football players, and she has threatened to take away Taylor’s car and college money. To tell you the truth, I don’t think Taylor should necessarily help these people. They took away the only thing that made her happy, want to bring back her biggest rival, and the only time they ever want to talk with her is when they need her help. Then Seth really puts on the charm, telling her that whatever she does he hopes that she doesn’t grow up to be like her mom, because she is too good for that. Awwwww, Seth is such a sweetie, how can you not help him after he says something like that?
Although the mission had lots of prongs, most of them have been neutralized. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t going to try and get Marissa back, it just looked like it was going to take a miracle for anything to happen. Ryan decided that he had to see Johnny, because if they were going to save Marissa, she should at least be at her own hearing. I don’t agree with Ryan that often, and I think he overreacts waaaaay too often, but he makes a good point. Johnny and his condition have clouded Marissa’s head, and while that may not be entirely Johnny’s fault, he should realize that she has to make her own choice. And with that, he slams the door and leaves. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Johnny chase after Ryan, pick a fight, and get hit by another car, but alas, that was not going to happen.
Marissa was concerned with Johnny’s emotional state, which was why she decided to stay at Newport Union. But at school, she learns that there is nothing for her to be worried about. That famous doctor that did Johnny’s surgery knew the Pac West (I keep on thinking Pac Blue; I guess I have Mario Lopez on my mind) doctor from med school. The doctor signed off on the surgery, and Johnny would join the team, and Chili would go to the party. He is going to leave school soon, and there will be a tutor to help Johnny with his GED, and Chili would follow him on tour as well. With nobody around at Newport Union to worry about, Marissa was free to do what she wanted, which was go back to Harbor. The thing about it was that none of that good stuff ever happened to Johnny. He was lying, and had Chili help him. Johnny never could find a way to thank Marissa for all the help she gave him, but by letting her make a choice about her future without worrying about what happens with him, it might have been the best thing he could have done.
Seth, Summer, and Ryan had just about given up, but when Marissa comes back they have new hope. They go to Harbor, where Julie meets them. She is accompanied by Dr. Roberts, who picked up Julie at her trailer park. One might have though that he just wanted some pork rinds, but he just wanted to offer his support to Julie. He donates a lot to Harbor, and he wanted to be there to show support for his daughter’s best friend. He is also there to put Veronica Townsend in her place a little bit. Veronica might be able to bully her daughter, but when she tries a passive aggressive dig at Julie about her daughter, Dr. Roberts steps into defend. Marissa is just like Julie, he says, with brains, beauty, and a flair for fashion. Hey, one out of three ain’t bad.
The hearing starts, and it doesn’t really look very good. For some reason, Matthew from Newport Group had to talk to him, leaving nobody to really speak up for Marissa. We knew it was going to be tough with Taylor’s mom on the board, and to make it worse, the president of the board, and the one who makes the final decision, is Judge Mercer, who hates Sandy from their courtroom days. Things start on a pretty good note. Taylor decides that she is going to defy her mom, and she shows up wearing a Free Marissa t-shirt, with a petition signed by almost the entire school, and both Julie and Dr. Roberts speak to Marissa’s character. That’s all well and good, but Judge Mercer says there was no precedent about reinstating people after violent behavior. Although students aren’t allowed to speak, Ryan makes mention of the earlier precedent, but it looks like Judge Mercer won’t budge. And then came Sandy!
The reason why Sandy was talking with Matthew is that Matthew knew a private investigator, and he had done a background check on Judge Mercer. He found that Judge Mercer had a son who was addicted to drugs, and was effectively disowned by the judge. Although this is the sort of leverage that Sandy needs, he is unsure how he is going to use it. In the end, he decides that if he can use the information to help Marissa, he has to try. Sandy is too nice to simply confront the judge and make a demand; so instead, he makes his case in simple terms. There is nobody in the room who thinks Marissa is a threat to anybody (apparently there wasn’t any lawn furniture or laptops in the room), and shouldn’t they be less concerned with making a point and instead worry about helping to right a wrong? In conclusion, it is so rare that anybody gets a second chance (although you could argue the first 60 or so episodes of this show would not agree with that statement), shouldn’t they give that chance to Marissa?
Judge Mercer doesn’t like it, and he knows that all that second chance talk Sandy has is trying to make him feel guilty, but he reinstates Marissa. Everybody is so happy! Well, Taylor is not that happy, because she probably needs a ride home now, but she may have some real friends now. And for some inexplicable reason, Johnny is there. I guess he wanted to see if Marissa got back into Harbor, apparently not content with such new technologies as “the telephone” or “waiting to see if she shows up to public school the next day.” Not to worry though, because Ryan would later thank Johnny for doing the right thing.
But don’t let those people get you down, almost everybody was happy. Among that information about Judge Mercer’s son, Sandy’s PI found his son, and brought him to a shelter. Judge Mercer would have a chance to reunite. As he’s doing all of this, I kind of understand why Kirsten decided to put up with all of that annoying do-good attitude and the bagels all over the house when she married Sandy. When he’s flexing his court skills, he is one sexy beast. The whole hearing was such a wonderful moment that people started becoming honest spontaneously. Julie told Marissa about living in a trailer park, and Dr. Roberts told Summer about his divorce. Neither girl seemed too concerned about the news. Marissa had been living with Summer for so long, and Summer hated her stepmom, so what’s the big deal? The girls looked about as sad as a Detroit Lions fan after hearing about the death of Matt Millen (hey, that didn’t really happen, so don’t get your hopes up D-town).
Things are now officially back to normal. Marissa is back where she belongs, happily mingling with the rich and pampered. Although I don’t think there was any doubt that Marissa would be back in school, I think this was a pretty good episode. Johnny’s suckiness didn’t bring down the whole episode, and I am glad that they found a way to give us more of that hot, hot, Taylor Townsend. It’s not a very big secret that Caitlyn Cooper will be coming back next week. I think that it’s great that we finally will get some answers as to why we haven’t seen her for two years, although the jury is still out on how good her storyline will be. I mean, I hope there is more to her story than she is a slut who is hot for Johnny. But hey, if she doesn’t work out, they can just send her to live with her dad.
What did you think of this episode? Were you happy to see Sandy in the courtroom? Excited to see Caitlyn come back? Waiting for Johnny to stop sucking?
“Hey!” Count: Episode – 28, Season – 254