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''The O.C.'': Ryan, Seth and Sandy drive Kirsten crazy

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Kelly Rowan
Kelly Rowan: Art Streiber/FOX

”The O.C.”: Ryan, Seth and Sandy drive Kirsten crazy

Uh-oh. Kirsten is pissed. Sandy forgot their 20th anniversary, and suddenly everyone else is to blame for their marriage problems. Wait — what marriage problems? I thought they were doing pretty well. Then again, it’s a whole new episode, which means we need a whole new dramatic buildup that culminates in another half-assed party attended by all the main characters and, eventually, the police. Yay!

Anyway, all the men in Kirsten’s life take this very special opportunity to torture her on her very special day. Caleb’s still in the doghouse for not telling her about his affair. Seth ”shacks” with Alex and has Ryan do a really poor job of covering for him. Maybe if Ryan had gone along with Seth’s plan of stealth (how hilarious is it when Ryan just says, ”I’m alone,” instead of coughing twice?), he could have come through. I agree that Ryan is an unconvincing liar, but I did find his sudden whipping up of ”the history of agriculture in 20th-century California” to be pretty slick. I’m going to use that as my next lie.

Speaking of things that are slick yet awkward, Ryan and Lindsay contribute to all the turmoil by making out during their physics study date in the poolhouse, where no one except the people who own the property could possibly see them. Smart move, brainiacs. They should get it on in Lindsay’s car instead, as there would be so many more physics-related metaphors to incorporate into the lovin’. Ryan could estimate the torque of his reclining passenger’s seat while Lindsay calculates the kinetic friction between . . . uh-huh. Stick with the Journey make-out soundtrack, though. That was killer.

The lab partners are still better off than Marissa and the Yard Guy, who call it quits after realizing they’re (duh) a really, really bad couple. Well, not before Julie tries to bribe YG with $5000 to never see Marissa again. YG! Did you hear that? Five grand and no Marissa! I wanted him to drive off into the sunset in that sexy red beast of a truck and buy a shiny new weed whacker with his new dough. Instead, YG gently accuses Marissa of using him to get back at her mom, and she responds by gently accepting her mother’s blank check. That’s the spirit! A new, young gardening gigolo can always be bought. So can pretty clothes. And so can more sweatshirts! Look into it.

Poor Summer pulls a Summer by mistaking Kashmir, the region, for cashmere, the beloved textile, in front of Zach’s stuck-up mom and hyper-informed sister, whose sweater appears to be cashmere. Summer proceeds to be totally cute by spending the rest of the night studying foreign affairs (”You go, Jacques!”), as well as issues like Kofi Annan’s leadership role at United Airlines. But no need! Zach insists he likes her because she’s different from his family, which is sort of the same as saying he likes her because she’s stupid. Then again, Summer claims to like Zach for looking like an Abercrombie model. Hey, whatever works.

One thing definitely works: Sandy on a microphone. The O.C.‘s often self-referential nature really kicks in as he starts crooning Solomon Burke’s ”Don’t Give Up on Me,” which played in the background during last season’s episode ”The Heights” when Kirsten was angry with Sandy for taking a case against her company. There was a hot tub involved. Sandy apparently starred as Danny Zuko in UC Berkeley’s production of Grease, a role that Peter Gallagher has actually played on Broadway. In the words of Sandy’s new pet daughter, Alex, he rocks. I can’t wait for Music From ”The O.C.”: Peter Gallagher Mix to come out on CD. In fact, I vote for Petey to take over the opening credits. ”Californeeeeeeeyahhh,” here he comes.

What do you think? Are Summer and Zach too shallow for each other? Is Kirsten overreacting to the Lindsay dilemma? Did at least someone get to eat those multi-flavored pancakes? And did Peter Gallagher steal the show or stall it?

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