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''The O.C.'': Troubles with old girlfriends

On ”The O.C.,” the boys revert back to comic geeks, Sandy gets caught up in the past, and Marissa and Alex’s forbidden love is put on hold until sweeps weeks

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Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton: Art Streiber/ FOX

”The O.C.”: Troubles with old girlfriends

Correction: Last week’s column made reference to a ”love square.” The correct term is ”love rhombus.” EW.com apologizes for this glaring error (glerror).

So yeah. I missed that one. I felt like a disgrace to the show, its fans, and every little girl out there who wants to grow up to be as thin as Mischa Barton. As penance for the glerror, I rewatched the entire first season on DVD over the weekend. It was almost as invigorating as Neutrogena Deep Clean Scrub. Shut up, Marissa.

Anyway, watching all those shows gave me a chance to make an all-star O.C. fan comeback, based on my comparison last week of (hardly) hard rock Alex to a My Little Pony. (If you don’t see what I’m talking about, look here.) I was going to reference the toy Summer used to play with last season, Princess Sparkles, which was a . . . My Little Pony! And then, this week, Princess Sparkles made a gratuitous reappearance. Is creator Josh Schwarz agreeing with me or messing with me? (Or maybe this episode was shot weeks ago and I’m getting a little full of myself.)

”Kid stuff” seems to be the theme tonight. Seth boyishly whispers in Zach’s ear when Summer’s around, and the two imagine their own lives ”with powers” for a new comic book about Orange County. (Oh, I get it. This must be in the same hilarious self-referential tone as the show’s TV show within a TV show, (The Valley), and Julie’s new magazine, Newport Living. Enough already!) The guys choose new names for themselves and their friends, like Brainstorming Boy and Bryan Gatwood. With all this childish behavior going on, Lindsbree suddenly started reminding me of Rainbow Brite. I want this to stop. They can’t all be characters. Although if I were choosing, Summer would be Wonder Woman (duh) and Marissa would be Strawberry Shortcake, just because that would probably piss her off.

The show opens on Seth deliberating whether he wants a relationship with My Little Pony or a threesome with her girlfriend Jody — like, he says self-referentially, the one in the movie Summer Lovers, which starred Peter Gallagher (and Daryl Hannah, too, before either of them was famous and could say, ”I don’t do nudity”). Either way, since Alex is technically now a pony, that might be difficult. At this point, Marissa definitely has a better shot. Ponies are good at nuzzling, whining, and staring, and that’s about as far as Marissa and My Little Pony’s relationship has come so far. Sorry, fake-lesbianism fans. Just wait for next week! (Not coincidentally, the beginning of the Nielsen sweeps weeks, when the networks customarily sensationalize their programming.)

Despite their non-relationship status, Marissa takes command of My Little Pony, as well as much of the episode. On the phone, she’s already the jealous girlfriend. When Alex says she has to hang up because the doorbell is ringing, Marissa replies, ”Yeah, right. Saved by the bell!” (Who says that?) Then she steers My Little Pony all the way up to Jody’s place in L.A. to retrieve a heart-shaped necklace that My Little Pony says is meaningless but still really pretty, sort of like herself. Is it just me, or did My Little Pony do a complete 180 since her days with Seth? She used to call all the shots; now her women are doing it for her. Maybe she’s just silently pouting over being relegated to toy animal status.

Speaking of calling the shots, Marissa is relentless with Caleb, who is relentless in useless fake parenting. Seriously, does he expect that brat to listen to him? I don’t even know why he bothers talking to her, except that it gets him more screen time. And what was with the two separate scenes of Caleb walking in on a scantily clad Marissa? Please tell me this isn’t about to become another taboo plotline. That would be low. So low. My Little Pony bestiality low. (Or as low as last week’s coming attractions, which used Caleb’s shocked reaction to Marissa’s new lower-back tattoo to suggest he was going to see something really hot.)

The pony herself has a very revealing moment when asked about the significance of her butterfly tattoo. ”It means I was drunk,” she emotes. Hmmm. I bet none of the other ponies were drunk when they got their heart, star, and smiley-face tattoos. My Little Pony needs to buck up. Her character showed some more inconsistency when she acted melodramatic about missing having parents in her life. The first day she met Seth, she was on her cell phone telling her mom to ”say hi to Daddy.” Something’s fishy. Or horsey.

Let’s see, what else? Sandy has a new law office. I love it, and I officially love Sandy. I won’t even complain about how I pay way more rent to live in a closet in slushy Manhattan than he does to rent a beachside guest house in Orange County because I love him so much. But the writers, apparently, don’t. Sandy’s former law professor shows up begging for him to find his daughter, Rebecca, who’s Sandy’s ex-flame, and all of a sudden it’s like a bad mystery movie. Rebecca’s presumed dead, then confirmed dead, then standing in his doorway. Makes sense. And boy, is Kirsten pissed that Rebecca’s in his life again. She looks too thin and almost sick, actually. Standing against the wall with a droopy neon shirt, a sideways glance, and horrible posture, she reminded me of an Olsen twin.

And finally! A cute Summer and Seth scene. Just when we thought the writers forgot what this show was all about. She finds Seth’s secret Summer of Summer scrapbook, full of boobalicious sketches of Summer as superheroines. She’s touched. She gazes at Seth with longing. She loves the drawings. She won’t tell Zach. With any luck, Seth can get drunk next week and tell Zach himself.

What do you think? Will Rebecca threaten Sandy and Kirsten’s marriage? Are ponies allowed on the beach? And how much longer can the tired Zach-Summer relationship possibly last?