The O.C. (“The New Kids on the Block”)

Season 2, Episode 3
Date of airing: November 18, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.42 million viewers, 4.9/8 in Households, 3.2/9 with Adults 18-49

Finally, an episode that felt like a season premiere. Two new characters have been introduced, a new set has been established for the characters to hang out in, a new job has been fished out of the water for one of the adult characters while another has lost their job, and there was a sense of change in this episode, with Ryan and Lindsay somehow finding a connection at the very end (albeit the change coming out of nowhere), and Seth and Marissa sobbing side-by-side in their pain and sorrow. I was wondering if the writers thought about bringing Seth and Marissa together for a little fling here, because seeing them sitting together and having the same emotional crisis should normally bring two people together forever and always, and they should have all the beautiful children and die as old people together in the same bed, holding hands. Because really, Marissa’s story can’t just be all about Ryan, while Seth’s story can’t just be all about Summer, right? That would make this show boring. This is still a weekly primetime soap opera, so people better be dating all the other people and never stay single. There should always be sex for everyone, with everybody.

They hate each other now, but in five episodes they will break each other’s hearts.

It was a solid episode. Lindsay might have been a bit of a cliched character, and her thoughts of dumb and stupid Ryan, the guy she hasn’t even met yet, were coming from the book of television tropes, but I remember again why I loved Shannon Lucio so much back in the day, and why not even someone like Olivia Wilde (who looked very punk-ish in this episode, which was also kind of cool) could make me change my mind. She is the pure outsider here, not giving any flying craps about who does what in this rich school of even richer kids, but at least having the smarts to back up her pissed-off attitude, although maybe she thought a little too much that she could rule her stay at Harbor by doing everything alone, not even thinking about the possibility that teamwork is also a thing during advanced classes. I mean, right after Ryan went up to the teacher and told him that Ryan didn’t attribute anything to the report, wouldn’t that be the first sign of “Don’t think of Ryan as stupid?” Wouldn’t that be a big clue of how Ryan isn’t like all the other rich water polo players with an infinity pool (I didn’t even know they were called infinity pools until now). She is the Andrea-type character in THE O.C., the one who comes from far away to study at the best high school to have a change at an ivy league college, and like Andrea back in BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, she kind of hangs out and maybe crushes a little bit on the central main character of the show. And besides all that, Lucio is very charming and cute here. No wonder I was crushing on her back in the day. Olivia who?

Seth’s story might have been a bit dumb and troped-up as well, but I guess the writers needed to make clear for good now that him and Summer aren’t happening for at least a good few episodes, which I’m glad about. Summer can deal with someone else than “her” Cohen, and Seth can be given a different storyline, until he decides to go back to Summer and fight for her love, because it would be nice if those two central characters would get to do something else in the show than just be the story anchor for each other. It kind of started in a good way during this episode, as Seth was actually asking for help from Marissa — seeing those two together could start things up, and I don’t particularly mean it in a romance-kinda way. The two have never shared moments that could make them friends, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them being friends, while Ryan and Seth are unable to be “just friends” with their ex-girlfriends. Let Marissa nerd it out with Seth for once. Who knows, maybe she will have fun. Sex for everyone, I said!

Look who’s in the world force now!

Meanwhile, there was an adult storyline going on as well, and I barely cared. Again, as it’s always the case with the adult storylines full of crime and rich white dudes. For a moment I did care just a little though, as Sandy quit his job (so, he’ll be going back to becoming a public defender?) and Kirsten was threatening to quit, making them both unemployed, creating an opportunity for some money problems in this show full of pretty people with money. But Sandy didn’t even care that he didn’t have a job, and Kirsten ended up with a better one. Ugh, such lucky people. On the other side of town, there was this interesting conversation between Jimmy and Julie. Interesting because it wasn’t filled with loathsomeness, and instead with appreciation and respect and understanding. Finally, the two stopped hating each other, and it’s almost like they were about to start falling in love with each other again. Besides all that, Julie deserved to be going through the same crap she went through less than a year ago with Jimmy — if you marry for money, then you gotta live through the consequences of when the money isn’t there any longer. But what did my eyes catch here? Julie got an executive job? She is actually gonna work now? Color me shocked.

The O.C. (“The Way We Were”)

Season 2, Episode 2
Date of airing: November 11, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.08 million viewers, 5.1/8 in Households, 3.6/9 with Adults 18-49

The episode title is very much correct on all levels, and not just for the premise of this hour itself. Two episodes into the season and THE O.C. is like the first season, in which things are always about Ryan and Marissa, as well as Seth and Summer, and in-between those couplings, there is always a problem that involves Caleb, which will then come and go haunt Sandy, causing trouble in his marriage with Kirsten while Sandy somehow can get over the fact that he hates his father-in-law, yet always helps him when the crap really hits the fan. That was pretty much to go-to plot for most of the first-season episodes, and now 50 percent of the second season so far is built like that, making these few episodes of the show’s second round kind of an extension to the first season. And I’m not so sure that is such a great idea. Yes, parts of the first season were pretty great, but that’s because things were still fresh, and the couplings have never annoyed me. Except for Caleb, who always annoyed me, and yet this story is continuing. I did however mention that his legal drama made him a bit of an interesting character, but it still doesn’t mean that I will suddenly appreciate him as a character on a weekly primetime soap opera. I would still love to see him in an orange overall though.

Zach has pretty much been the only worthy new character introduced to the pool, and even he feels like he is not worthy enough for the show, and just a plot device for ye olde Seth and Summer drama. It looks like Zach is a very nice character, who happens to have friend potential for Seth, bringing in some awkwardness and real potential into the Seth/Summer saga, but this episode didn’t really do the job of giving the new kid some coloring and depth, making me believe that he is indeed Summer’s wannabe boyfriend, or is at east interested in her and seeing competition in Seth. I do have to say though, the fact that Zach started off as Seth’s friend before becoming Summer’s boyfriend is intriguing — it’s certainly one way to ship around the genre cliches from the treasure box of television tropes, and it gives the Seth/Summer story a new angle to work with.

It’s a love story that is about to spin off to Japan.

In the meantime, DJ was super boring as the new hot love interest for the depressed teenage character who likes to get drunk during school. He is ripped, he looks freaking attractive even for my straight white male standards, he is the type of guy every rich woman likes to get laid with at night, right after his job is finished, or in the middle of the day, right in-between his sessions of cleaning the pool — that would have been enough for me, and he could have been a wonderful and hilarious soap opera cliche. But no, he has to witness Marissa and Ryan making out, and he needs to be jealous about it, and he must fight with Marissa about another guy, and all this has to look like he thinks this is a real relationship, and when you cheat, you’re a bad person. DJ, here are two things I would like to say to you: One, there is something that’s called polygamy, look it up, it’s apparently wonderful. Two, you are an asshole for playing the jealous type, when you didn’t even have grounds believing that you had Marissa and will be her boyfriend for the rest of eternity. Sorry, but you are the yard guy and she obviously made it clear that this was never really a relationship. Or maybe she did and you just didn’t notice? I don’t know, because the writers never developed you as a character, let alone focused on the relationship.

All this is bringing me to say that I don’t really like what’s going on right now, because it’s first season material being used for the second season, and that shows the kind of laziness this season might produce over the course of the next few episode, before the writers room would figure out what to do with the show during its second year. Because really, if you start the new season with the same set of problems, what exactly did go wrong during the first few meetings of the writing staff? I yawned when Marissa and DJ kissed and Ryan was there to witness it all, because it was also a super predictable moment right out of the playbook of soap operas. And Seth doing his best of by humping a hot dog stand before attempting to confess his love yet again to the same woman makes me think that he hasn’t learned anything from recent events. And so the writers didn’t either.

Seth is looking for new friends.

So, was there anything in this episode I liked? Maybe Amanda Righetti, who looked hella attractive with her strawberry blond hair, and I kind of got sad that the writers were beginning to make Hailey disappear, because apparently there can’t be THE O.C. without Jimmy being happy with another woman right now. And this after it became normal for him and Hailey to be together and dating, with no one throwing side eyes at them, especially not Kirsten. Also, I kinda got jealous that the two love birds were living on a yacht. I’d love that, too, but first I have to either win the lottery, rob a bank, or marry a rich woman who dies after a couple of months and I inherit all her money. I did get to think a lot lately that I would buy a boat, if I get my hands on a lot of money. MAIDENTRIP and the story of Laura Dekker did that — I might not have the guts to sail around the world, but living on a boat? That has been sounding awfully awesome these past few years, ever since I watched the documentary for the first time and considered it my all-time favorite documentary feature.

The O.C. (“The Distance”)

Season 2, Episode 1
Date of airing: November 4, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.56 million viewers, 5.5/8 in Households, 3.8/10 with Adults 18-49

I can almost say for certain that this has been the second time I have watched this episode. Maybe it’s a miracle, considering how many words of badness the third and fourth season have gotten, which is why my interest for this show, as much as I loved it during my teen years, floated like all of Pennywise’s victims down below the creepy abandoned monster house. But here I am, catching up on certain pop culture references of the mid-2000s, as well as realizing once more why I actually loved the show to begin with. Turns out that THE O.C. had the right amount of drama to make me care about the characters, and to see myself in them. It’s not difficult to see myself in Ryan, even though I’m nothing like him (for starters, I don’t have people in my life who I can help like Ryan does — he’s like one of those TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL characters, just stuck in the world of soap operas). I am a champion of brooding, I don’t have a rosy relationship with my family, and every once in a while my life is as goalless as Ryan’s is. He was essentially me during the first season. In this episode, I saw myself in Marissa. Her breakdown in front of her mother, and with furniture on their way into the pool, was reminiscent of how I would have acted and reacted if I had decided to have an “honest and real conversation” for once and if I would ever break down like Marissa did. I never screamed out loud into the open to make my frustrations heard, but here was Marissa, showing me what it’s like and how it’s done and how the moment of my screaming out into the wild could have been like and what the response would have been.

It’s Marissa in her most truest form.

That was the most powerful moment of the episode, and it wasn’t even the major storyline of it all. Marissa was in her own little sunshine prison, always able to hang out by the pool and listen to music, her friends coming over as often as they do, and it’s not like she is being locked in at night. But her frustration and anger made themselves visible and audible in this episode, and all of a sudden Marissa has become a much more dramatic and emotional character. And the thing is, it’s almost certain that the scream didn’t help. It has only been heard by her mother (most likely, considering the location of the Nichol/Cooper forest of luxury, there wasn’t a living soul in a five-mile radius), and not even Julie came to realize what the scream was about. And here I was, hoping that Marissa would tell Julie about Caleb’s blackmail deal with Marissa, but I guess there was no room to create a story in which Julie and Caleb’s marriage is already breaking, right after Alan Dale has been upgraded to regular and included in the opening credits, as his character was threatening to smell a prison cell from the inside.

The Portland story was solid enough, and thankfully kept on a downlow. Seth wasn’t out to live an exciting adventure full of surfing and sun and women and surfing lessons that end with sex. He just became a roommate of sorts, had a job, made new friends, and was as goalless as Ryan was during the beginning of the series, as well as this episode. Maybe Seth turned out to be a boring character in this hour, thanks to his passive status of his life (he would have been more active with a girlfriend or at least a friend with benefit, but it looks like Seth wasn’t here for this), making his story about his conflict with his parents a little … ehm, to put it bluntly, self-centered. At the end of the day I don’t even know why exactly Seth “ran away” from Newport. Yes, he explained it with hating the town, and telling Ryan that he would have gone away if Ryan hadn’t shown up a year ago, but Seth has been a very privileged boy, and if you compare his troubles with Marissa, then Seth definitely used his whiteness and his richness to his advantage. He may have made something of a life in Portland, but there is no reason to think and believe he would have done the same when he did not have the life he had before.

Gaming in Portland is a sport.

I mean, just think about comparing Seth and Marissa here: She is stuck in a prison, but she can run away any time — yet she doesn’t. She lost her boyfriend, she lost her friend she could confine to, and Summer hasn’t been a BFF lately either, while Caleb doesn’t care about her and Julie is unable to care. Seth had all the space in the world, he had a girlfriend, he had a boat, he had something of a future. But he ran away, because he couldn’t get over the fact that his best friend left town. White men and their problems — always have to make it about themselves, while the real victims are silent. But it does beg the question why Marissa didn’t just do a Cohen and ran away as well. Was she emotionally unable to, or did the writers forget to find an answer to that question during the summer? It’s not like anything could have stopped her after Caleb bought out her father. After all, Jimmy was living the happy life and he already knows about the blackmail — Caleb could have done nothing to stop Marissa from escaping.

And the rest of the episode? Naked construction workers, who looked like they have been working out in-between jobs — I didn’t find that particularly realistic, but I will give Kirsten the hot and sweaty dreams here, which she sort of deserved, considering her current status as a mother. Meanwhile, Caleb’s paranoia taking over and teasing a potential political and legal fallout, creating a cloud of an ongoing story for this season, get me slightly more intrigued about his character arc, even if he is still one of the more boring aspects of the show, and I wouldn’t mind if he gets indicted and goes to prison for whatever he has done over the course of his career. After all, seeing Caleb in jail might bring joy to Marissa. It might also bring joy for anyone else in Newport Beach, California.

The O.C. (“The Ties That Bind”)

Season 1, Episode 27
Date of airing: May 5, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.72 million viewers, 6.7/10 in Households, 4.7/12 with Adults 18-49

There is something particularly sad about this episode, making this the most tearjerking of them all (at least of the first season). Maybe it’s because of all the goodbyes and soft drama plot points, or maybe it’s the way this episode was written to round-up the season, instead of trying to force one cliffhanger out of the next one. Ryan left Newport Beach the way he arrived — in the same clothes, in the same manner of looking at Marissa, about to get picked up by a car, with the sunlight behind her as he was being driven out of the driveway, by telling Seth he’s “gotta jet” and giving him back the map of the Pacific Ocean. Ending the season like it began gives these 27 episodes a wholesome feeling, and it’s like a true ending of a story you decided to begin and go through, and just in case there will not be a continuation, you at least got to witness the ending of this chapter. In a way, THE O.C. is a perfect one-season show. The final minutes served well as a potential series finale, and you don’t even need to know what happens to the characters after they’ve been planted into a sorta-hell reality. The characters started off their existence in an unimportant and unexciting moment of their lives, and Ryan slowly changed that with his arrival a year ago. Marissa was saved multiple times by Ryan, so of course she is back into her life of hell when he disappears (she starts drinking again, the sadness has returned into her life, and if Ryan won’t be around for the summer, chances are she will try to kill herself again and this time there is no Ryan to find her and bring her to safety); Seth was given an exit out of his lonely shell last year, and now that Ryan is leaving, he is going back into solitude; and Summer isn’t even involved in any of this, like she was not when Ryan first arrived. The characters have returned to where they were at the very beginning of the show. Like I said, the season is whole. It’s a perfect ending. Serialized shows barely finish a season on top like the first season of THE O.C. (and the fifth season of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.), so we can all rise and applaud the writers’ choice to end the season with.

The place where decisions about leaving are made.

Of course, I was almost tearing up, when Ryan and Marissa danced during the wedding, and of course I was tearing up just a little when Seth was reminiscent about who he was before Ryan’s arrival, which were words Summer could do nothing with but understand fully, and of course I teared up when Kirsten cried her eyes out in the pool house, and of course my heart broke a little when it almost seemed obvious that Seth has been broken as well, and the thought of Summer being his girlfriend could cheer him up. It’s like he already made the decision to get on his boat and sail into the open, because there was no way he could sequester himself into his room once again, living the life he lived before Ryan arrived. He knows how terrible that life was, and he knows he never wants to live that life again. Not even with Summer happening to be in it right now. It was hard and emotional to see that the characters did not get to live a more fully and happier life, now that Ryan has given them something they have never dreamt of, but here they are with broken hearts, beaten down, ready to give up again.

But yeah, the way to those final moments of the episode was a bit too soapy for my taste. For about ten minutes or so, Theresa made the decision to have the kid, then to abort the pregnancy, and then to have the baby after all, because she can’t not have it. The back and forth was wild for a young woman like Theresa, and it seemed inconsistent, or just worthy of twists, because it’s what the writers needed to get Ryan out of Newport, but to not have it look like that ten minutes into the episode. In fact, it took the episode close to 20 minutes to tell the viewers where the finale of this season will be heading, because there was no chance that a season finale with a wedding reception will be a happy-go-lucky and cheerful episode.

It’s cry time during the season finale!

Hell, the music producers even chose a somewhat sad and melodramatic song for the wedding dance, showcasing what the second half of the episode really was about. I don’t think using “Maybe I’m Amazed,” especially the way Jem covered it, was the best way to convey the message that this wedding was supposed to bring fun, but who knows, maybe even Julie and Caleb have come to realize that everything they have touched turned to crap, so they at least could give their “friends” a moment to reflect on the tiny dance floor. Oh, you are sad that these two have promised to love each other until their last remaining day on this planet? Well, so are we. Welcome to hell, my friends, because that is where Julie and Caleb have led us to.

By the way, mentioning that Caleb is going to be broke after the DA was done with him over Caleb’s Newport businesses seemed like the only real mention of a potential second-season storyline. The writers really applied some strength by making this episode seem like it could also be the final episode of the entire series, and this after THE O.C. turned out to be a ratings winner on FOX, and a second season was pretty much a formality. Maybe it’s a good idea to not watch the rest of the show at all and just let the first 27 episodes live in my mind. I faintly remember the second season, which I have watched only once (the first season however probably five times or so), and I know that the rest of the show couldn’t keep up with the surprise that was the first season. But man, Olivia Wilde… Although it wasn’t even her character whom I was always reminiscing about when thinking about the second season fo THE O.C. There was Lindsay after all, who should have been a regular in the next season.

The O.C. (“The Strip”)

Season 1, Episode 26
Date of airing: April 28, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.52 million viewers, 6.6/10 in Households, 4.7/12 with Adults 18-49

Next time when Seth decides to make out with a girl in Las Vegas, he should expect to pay up before inviting her to his penthouse suite. It was pretty much predictable that Jen would turn out to be a prostitute, as soon as Seth decided to ask her up to the penthouse, and my suspicions were correct, when she was stunned that she was able to get into the penthouse and take her girlfriends with. Because penthouse guests mean money. Seriously, it was a plot so predictable, I’m stunned that neither Seth nor Ryan realized what they were getting into here, but I guess they were too deep into the Vegas magic of it all, let alone old enough to even expect prostitutes trying to get some money from unsuspecting rich folks from the West coast. Also, Jen was too hot a woman to be considered a prostitute. Whenever I will be in Las Vegas (well, the correct word is “if,” because I’m sure I will never go to Vegas), I shall remember that there will always be a prostitute trying to rip me off. Lesson learned, thank you THE O.C.

The episode was okay. I liked that Caleb had a sinister agenda when it comes to buying out Jimmy and Sandy, and I liked that the guy happened to be turning into a bona fide villain this late in the season, begging the question if his future wedding with Julie might be in danger, or if she is turning into a villain next season as well, partnering up with her new man of and partner in crime. I wouldn’t mind the latter at all, because a) Julie was already a good villain way before Caleb was established as one, and b) the writers’ efforts to turn Julie into a likable character after she became part of the main character pool have been fruitless so far. So why not going all in and make Julie evil, have her build a few bombs and then blow up a house or an apartment complex or something in that regard? And if it sounds like I really want to watch MELROSE PLACE, I kind of want to, but the size of the show scares me away a little. I can accept seven-season shows, but when I start watching MELROSE PLACE, I know I will be with that show for longer than a year most likely, and I don’t know if I want to make that commitment just yet. Especially since I will also have to watch BEVERLY HILLS, 90210, since consistency is my thing.

What happens in Vegas is usually transmitted via phone.

But I was talking about THE O.C., which only has four seasons, binding me to the show for three to four months only, if I were lucky enough to have so much time to watch one episode a day of a show. The trip to Vegas could have been filled with a little more awesomeness, but I guess Seth and Ryan needed to be on an adventure, and Jimmy and Sandy had to hold themselves back, since they only had one interest. I’m wondering if the two fathers actually had any knowledge of what the kids were doing, because really, having four prostitutes and two or three pimps hanging out and bowl for a few hours is kind of noticeable. I guess none of the adults in the story actually went up to the penthouse during those hours and wondered what’s up? Also, $250 for Jen for an hour? Okay, she sold herself for an entire night, and the boys didn’t know they were paying, but the rate seems kind of cheap for the quality of the girls and where they were working. Looks like THE O.C. wanted to be realistic about the price rates for prostitutes in this soap opera drama, because really, Jen’s pimp could have upped the price. Hell, he was pimping in the penthouse. He could have asked for a grand per hour per girl plus whatever charges he could come up with.

I do like that the whole Vegas adventure wasn’t filled with tropes though. The pimps didn’t swing fists or showed pistols, the trucker hat guy didn’t beat up Ryan for taking away his money, and even Jen was nice, when she donated another buy-in for Ryan, although that was helped along by the fact that Jen recognized Ryan’s scheming ways and found herself in front of a friend for a second. At the end of the day, the boys (and Summer) had an easy happy end here — a little too easy for my taste, because they came out of the Vegas experience quite happy, in contrast to the adults who came with him, as Caleb got a nose job, Jimmy learned that he practically lost his daughter and Sandy decided to go to war with his father-in-law.

Jimmy finally throws a real punch for once.

Meanwhile back in Newport Beach, Julie was actually thinking about paying a stripper for sex. You see, she was in Vegas before, she knew what was going on when she gets propositioned like that. The cat fight with Hailey might have been a little too much for me, but it looks like their always has to be a fight in the Cohen backyard now, including a fall into the pool, since THE O.C. is like me and also adores consistency, and bringing a consistent running joke into the show of people smashing each other during a Newport Beach party is only logical. Ryan has put his stamp onto the community, and now everyone is swinging fists.

And then there is the story that was almost forgettable, because it barely got any notable screentime. Theresa’s pregnancy didn’t come out of nowhere, because it was already teased upon the audience when she walked out of the bathroom in the beginning, looking like she just puked. At least the secret wasn’t kept in the closet for a long time — the next moment Theresa revealed the pregnancy test, and half an episode later Marissa already knew. Well, there you have your season finale premise, ladies and gentlemen. A pregnancy, a couple about to break up again, a few adults scheming against another, and a wedding. This is like a soap opera.

The O.C. (“The Shower”)

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.

There’s enough time to fool around before the daughter comes home.

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.

Brothers who have to learn to listen to each other again.

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.

The O.C. (“The Proposal”)

Season 1, Episode 24
Date of airing: April 14, 2004 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.49 million viewers, 6.6/10 in Households, 4.6/12 with Adults 18-49

Chris Carmack wasn’t good for more than the extended 24-episode contract, apparently. I don’t mind, Luke always felt like a recurring character only, who was only connected to the characters through Marissa only. He never had any dealings with Seth, except bullying him every once in a while; he never did anything with Summer, since she didn’t want him (it’s pretty clear she likes geeks and not captains of the water polo team who shave their chests); he never hung around the Cohen house much, except when he needed to talk to Ryan or when it was convenient for the story; he never really had a character arc of his own. Unlike in this episode though, which happened to be the only one with a bit of a character arc, even if it was mostly just a plot device to chase Luke directly into the hospital and out of Newport Beach. After all, when a character appears in the show for the last time, there must be a story behind the exit. Turns out that the scene in the park (I don’t think it was a park, but maybe “park” is short for “parking spot” these days?) was the best scene Luke ever had throughout this season, but at the end of the day it was only a plot device. I’m wondering if Chris Carmack was not interesting enough for the writers to write for, or if the character was never intriguing beyond the “boyfriend” tag, or if it was a contractual thing, or if the character was always supposed to exit in a soap opera fashion after the first season…

Restaurant buddies anticipate the opening of their business.

The episode was okay. There wasn’t really anything special, nothing absolutely shocking, with the exception of Caleb’s attempt to blackmail Marissa (which makes him the villain, and herself — as she so eloquently put it — a prisoner in her own life), but there have been a few good moments of friendship during the episode. I really liked the closing scene, and I kind of wanna see more of exactly that. I also liked that Summer started to realize what kind of person Seth was before their relationship started, and trying to figure out who she was in that time era, coming to a reflection of not only how time has changed in Newport, but also how she changed as a person during the previous year. Reflecting on the previous year long forgotten by most of the side characters in this series universe was not such a bad idea, and I kind of wept for Seth in my mind, as Summer was looking at the pictures in the yearbook, of Seth being the president and lone members of the clubs he created. I’m actually surprised there weren’t any comics or film nerd interested in joining some of Seth’s groups, which begs the question if Seth is the only geek at Harbor. If that is accurate, then the world is truly in trouble and we don’t deserve to be saved by Greta Thunberg and her generation.

Seeing Seth and Summer fix up Marissa’s room was golden though — the writers dish out a magically produced talent Seth has never established previously (he painted the entire wall like he was a Michelangelo in the making), and Summer actually looked pretty cute with the tools in her hands, in addition to the realization that the writers loved to gender-twist things around. It was Seth who was the helpless worker, and it was Summer who pretty much built Marissa’s room and bossed Seth around, creating a moment to put a definition on feminism in the workplace, even though THE O.C. is not really a show that has proven to not at all be sexist (I say Amanda Righetti without pants). What a shame that Marissa won’t be living there for much longer, making it even more sad that Seth’s artwork and Summer’s hard work won’t be making Marissa happy for much longer.But seriously, fi Seth can dish out an entire wall like it’s a piece of art he could sell for a few hundred bucks, why is he not doing this professionally, to make a bit more money on the side, in case his girlfriend needs expensive gifts for her birthday and Valentine’s Day and Christmas and all the other holidays?

This version of Summer is Seth’s favorite, because she does all the work.

Meanwhile, the adult storylines were boring once more. I simply cannot get into the premise of Sandy hating Caleb’s guts, yet helping him out and asking for his help over and over. The two guys should be feuding constantly, but every time the two hang out, they don’t bitch at each other, they don’t verbally abuse each other, they don’t even show their disgust for each other. The only way they talk to each other is in form of satire, and that’s a joke which sailed to Mexico more than half a season ago. Also, I’m sort of disappointed that the Lighthouse won’t be opening up. First of all, the restaurant could have been a nice setting for future events. Second of all, now that Caleb owns the place, it seems ridiculous that he wouldn’t want to run an actual restaurant (with Sandy and Jimmy being the executive managers) and help the guys out in that regard, but I guess Caleb used the opportunity to goddamn blackmail a teenager into living with her crazy mother. I would have ran away immediately after that and screamed “Prison!” But who knows, maybe Marissa has a card to play now when she can — she still can blow up Julie’s secret, and she still can make something happen when she tells Jimmy about the blackmail (or maybe Julie, but why would she care?). Her life isn’t over yet, although it’s utterly, completely and totally screwed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts drinking, stealing, and popping pills again.