Season 1, Episode 25
Date of airing: April 21, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.13 million viewers, 6.6/10 in Households, 4.7/12 with Adults 18-49
Ryan and Marissa weren’t even allowed to be happy for one second, and so the episode had to open with Theresa’s black eye, which meant there was trouble ahead for both Ryan and Theresa, and most likely even Ryan and Marissa’s new-found old luck. I appreciate the domestic abuse angle of the story, because it’s an important one, in need of being seen repeatedly by anyone stuck in an abusive relationship, so that victims of domestic abuse can be told by fictional characters to stay away from that kind of relationship (in case the victims don’t have friends who could tell them), but the writers could have given Ryan and Marissa at least half an episode, before the proverbial crap was hitting the fan again. Half an episode to depict them in a happy state, before the obstacle course was built around the super couple of the show once more. And Theresa is a pretty huge obstacle course, considering Marissa tries really hard, and with some success, to be Theresa’s friend — it’s not like Marissa is allowed to be jealous and mean to the victim in an abusive relationship here, because that would make her character horrendous at the least. I am however surprised how friendly she is towards Theresa. Again, Theresa is in a serious need of a girlfriend at this point and once more it’s Marissa who takes the charge and gets into that role. It makes things easier to write around the trope of Ryan and Marissa being in trouble as a couple because of a third person adding themselves into this triangle.
But I guess there was no time to give Ryan and Marissa half an episode of bliss. After all, the season finale is right around the corner, and storylines need to be prepared for the eventual cliffhangers that were planned, so that the newly won audience for the show can guess over the summer what is about to happen to the characters, and who will die, come back alive, break up with whom, is pregnant, is secretly someone’s sibling, gets kidnapped by extraterrestrials, goes off to work for the CIA, or whatever floats the boats of soap opera writers. Anyway, two episodes before the season finale and it was expected that Ryan wouldn’t find his way to Chino and instead listen to Sandy and deal with the problem “at home,” considering the only way the story would have been threatening for Ryan is when he would have beat Eddie to the pulp in the season finale. Also, Ryan already beat someone to the pulp, and nothing happened, so the threat of Ryan getting back into juvie seemed a little exaggerated. One really huge thing needs to be said about Eddie though: Of course he is the abusive-kinda guy. There he was, threatening Ryan multiple times, and there he was, actually beating Ryan up during the cocktail party. Of course Eddie would eventually swing his fists into Theresa, and of course it wouldn’t be the first time. No surprises there. Yet Theresa stayed with him. Talk about male dominance in relationships…
Meanwhile, there was a shower happening, and I didn’t particularly care about it. Cindy could have been an amusing character for a second or two, but she didn’t add anything of value in this episode, and I definitely mean Julie’s high school background with it. There wasn’t much of a surprise that Julie was the cool chick-turned-slut in high school (if Cindy’s stories were true), and of course it would lead to a conflict between the sisters, because that’s what she was written into the episode for, right? Instead of using Cindy in a responsible manner and make her funny, maybe even make Julie shine in a different light, the writers used the tropes of the story, and have them not have any consequences at all for the characters. It’s almost like five minutes were wasted, because the episode came in short after the first draft of the script was finished. Cindy truly was a cliched character. When her name was mentioned for the first time, I had an image of her in my mind, and when she finally showed up, that image was fully translated into a well-cast character.
And then there was a secret revealed, with Hailey and Jimmy being an official couple now. I don’t care about that either, because I’m already expecting for that couple to end its business by the season finale (I don’t see Hailey in the second season, and I can’t really remember if she was in it — I only saw that season once, and the third and fourth season never, so there is something to get excited about). In addition, the secret revealed didn’t bring much conflict for Jimmy and Kirsten either. So, she is not jealous? This doesn’t lead to a conflict between Kirsten and Hailey? By the way, Jimmy isn’t using the $2.5 million to pay off some of his debt? Did I forget something happened previously, or has everyone who has been ripped off by Jimmy forgotten that they lost money? I would have expected for someone in this episode to mention that Jimmy has to use some of that money to bring his dept with the Newport society down, but nada.
And finally, the failure of Seth Cohen to shut his goddamn mouth, and the weirdness that is the buddying relationship between a father and his daughter. Both was weird, and I can’t even believe it’s about to lead to a break-up of the second-ranked power couple of the show. I mean, Summer is really defining her relationship with Seth through the eyes and opinions of her father? I almost don’t want to believe it, because it makes things super weird. Doesn’t that make Summer dependable of her father, without the ability to make her own choices? That seems to be a character trait for her coming out of nowhere, forcibly written into this episode to give Seth and Summer some form of conflict, because apparently they needed it. Forced storytelling is forced.