Mischa Barton: Art Streiber/ FOX
Annie Barrett
January 07, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

”The O.C.”: Drunk, disorderly, and just plain bad

I thought it was obvious by the way the bitter California wind whipped Sandy’s hair back during his wild coastline convertible ride that this was going to be a frosty cold episode of The O.C. Jimmy even sported a sky blue cable knit on his pleasure yacht! Brrrrr! Instead, there was more hot drama than usual. Nearly everyone followed the lead of wannabe tough guy Seth and behaved very, very badly — even by O.C. standards.

After embarrassing himself in front of a hungover Alex by offering to fix her a sandwich, Seth starts the misbehavior trend by resolving to become a ”brooding bad boy” like Ryan, wrist cuff and all. Awww. Seth is adorable. What self-respecting girl passes up a sandwich, especially one made by Seth Cohen? Is she crazy? He could have made me a sandwich, or bundt cake for that matter. I’d like him for the real him, which is apparently ”a 75-year-old yenta named Sylvia.” That was . . . oddly specific. But it’s Seth, so it’s not weird.

Seth shows up at the inexplicably uncrowded Modest Mouse concert (plug plug plug) with his friend John (i.e., whatever brand was in his hip flask). Or was it Jack or Jim? Failing to impress Alex, he instigates a fight between Summer and Zach, tumbles across the hood of his car, vomits repeatedly, and suffers a massive hangover. All of that might have seemed annoying with any other character but is hilarious and endearing because they involve Seth Cohen, my little yenta.

Julie and Jimmy also do a bad, bad thing. Their pleasure-yacht sexcapades catch up with them as Marissa and the Yard Guy awkwardly witness them kissing and then run away. Marissa takes some time to confront her father, sleep on it, get hammered, and tear into Jimmy’s going-away party in the Cohens’ backyard (run, pool furniture, run!) in a drunken rage. ”Of course I’m screwed up,” she screams to the entire party. ”I’m the daughter of a thief and a slut!” Wow. And here I am the daughter of a contractor and an English teacher. I feel so unglamorous.

To be fair, Marissa has the right to complain. Her mom’s clearly nuts and hates her, and her dad, who’s her only ally in Newport, up and decides he’d rather charter yachts in Hawaii than deal with Marissa. I mean, I’d do the same thing, given that particular choice. But that doesn’t make it right. Bad behavior! Also, Jimmy and Kirsten share a somewhat intimate moment talking about what could’ve been if they’d married each other. Semi-bad behavior? My friend Kate IM’ed me at this point to say that her ”foreshadow radar” had just gone off. What? I forgot to turn my foreshadow radar on tonight, so I have to give her credit for the call, even though I suspect she was behaving badly herself by trying to get me to screw up this column with a bogus theory. Still, I thought I’d throw it out there.

Lindsbree and Ryan still can’t decide whether or not they’re related, so they feel like they’re behaving badly when they link pinkies when no one’s watching and wave to each other from two feet away. Here’s a big glaring hint from the Department of the Obvious: You’re not related! I personally don’t think it would be that weird if they dated. Sandy’s insistence that Ryan and Lindsbree abstain seems a little extreme, but he’s only looking out for Kirsten, who’s still emotionally shattered after learning of Caleb’s affair with Lindsbree’s mother, Renee Wheeler. But Lindsbree and Kirsten seem to get along great, at least so far. I can understand the need to prolong Ryan and Lindsbree’s puzzlement, as it creates more drama and touches on the theme of incest, which always makes for sensationalistic television. (What’s next, lesbianism?)

Then there’s big, bad, drunken, punkin’ Alex. After blowing Seth off outside her apartment (which has an ocean view, ’cause homegirl likes to keep it real), Alex tells him the next night that she likes him because he’s a good guy. For Alex, liking someone means ignoring him for weeks at a time and instead having possible foursomes with unshowered extras from 1990s grunge music videos. Oh. Well, in that case, I like . . . um, nobody.

The alternative to behaving badly seemed to be doing nothing. I’m pretty sure YG spoke less than 20 words the entire episode, instead choosing to silently trail behind Marissa like a lackey or . . . well, like a yard guy. He had to double his pace there by the pool to keep up with the lanky wonderdrunk.

And speaking of taking a backseat to the Cohen-Cooper-Nichol-Wheeler family drama (I tried to think of a convenient convergence of all four names, but since the only thing popping up was Necco Wafer, I’ll just keep trying), Summer and Zach also seem especially nonexistent this episode. Their bad behavior is a little forced: Over the holidays, Zach canoodled with his much older math tutor (huh?) down in Cabo, and Summer usurps Marissa’s worst-dressed title with that awful flowery sweater. Come on! I’m indifferent to Zach, but I miss Summer and want more of her love-hate (leaning towards looooove) banter with Seth. Bring it back!

(Help! I’m about to say something favorable about Marissa!)

Things simmer down in the end for a pretty fantastic breakfast scene at casa Cohen. Call me crazy, but I believe the chief indicator of smooth sailing was Marissa’s sweatshirt. Hear me out. It was so refreshing to see a tear-stained Marissa at the front door bundled up in her dad’s giant USC hoodie. I almost didn’t recognize her, and when I did, I’m pretty sure I yelped in delight. For possibly the first time ever, she seemed less wooden and more like a real live girl! (Of course, then she had to ruin everything by speaking, but still). Marissa’s sweatshirt, combined with her unapologetic sadness, the ever-solid Cohen family bond, and a surplus of bagels, almost made me cry. But then North Shore came on and I had to start laughing instead.

What do you think? Is Jimmy really gone for good? Can Marissa pull off athletic wear? And is it really wrong for the unrelated Ryan and Lindsbree to want to get it on?

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