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''The O.C.'': Another bad Atwood boy

Another bad Atwood boy on ”The O.C.”: The Cohens take in Ryan’s ex-con brother; plus, Zach’s Italian fling makes Summer jealous; and Julie’s porn tape gets a screening party

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Benjamin McKenzie
Benjamin McKenzie: Art Streiber/FOX

”The O.C.”: Another bad Atwood boy

Okay, okay. Maybe I was a little harsh on Marissa last week. She seems to have as many fans as she does hatas, so I’m sorry about that. Let’s just get this straight: I’m not anti-Mischa. I love the Mischa. Sometimes when I see her Neutrogena ads in magazines, I lovingly run my fingers along her adorable little freckles. Too much information? Sorry again.

On The O.C., some of the intentionally exaggerated characters, like Caleb, Summer, and Julie, are so great because they’re more like hilarious caricatures of certain well-thought-out stereotypes. But Marissa’s just . . . annoying. What? She is. Feel free to post away, listing all of her redeeming qualities, but I can’t think of any except her habitual half-nude scenes and a remarkable collection of shrug sweaters. Those are pretty righteous.

No, CosmoGIRL! shouldn’t be banned. I was only kidding with the whole No-Marissa April thing . . . almost completely kidding. Marissa’s sort of like Donna, Tori Spelling’s character on 90210 — you’re constantly rolling your eyes when she’s on screen, but the show just wouldn’t be the same without her.

Speaking of things being the same, how much did this episode, largely about Ryan’s older brother, Trey, remind you of the series’ first two shows about Ryan? Sandy brings an Atwood home from jail, Newport locals dislike Atwood, Atwood causes trouble and leaves Newport for Chino, Chino goes wrong, Atwood gets rescued from Chino by Newportian(s), everyone eats catered food happily ever after. It was all pretty exciting, so I don’t mind the recycled plot at all. Particularly funny this time around was that one Chino scene took place in (har, har) a poolhouse. There was also a painful moment involving Marissa laughing like a moronic hyena as either a car backfired or a gun was shot while she, Ryan, and Trey were running from the bar. Aww, Chino, where no one is ever really home. (Literally. The houses have no people in them. What’s up with that?)

Then again, some things aren’t the same. The first scene tonight was dinner instead of breakfast, which it’s been in most episodes this season. I love how the Cohens placed their takeout containers on real plates. It’s just like dinner at my apartment, except I don’t have the real plates. Someday I will be as classy as the Cohens. And on the topic of food, how funny was Sandy’s high-tech bagel slicer? Such a household item is entirely unnecessary but fitting considering the show’s longstanding bagel obsession. I think they should put it in the opening credits, slicing up different types of bagels. Anyway, if the set designers are wondering if people noticed . . . one person did! A success!

There were two major fake-outs tonight: Zach’s imaginary Italian lovah and the whole Porn Identity fiasco. First, Zach, who’s all Euro-ed out with his hilarious bright red Vespa, claimed to have a new supermodel girlfriend named Francesca. (That almost rhymes.) I called Zach out on the girlfriend lie right away, because I was just in Italy and the only six-foot blondes there were either German tourists or me. Seth bought it, though, and ran to Summer with the news in under a minute, just as Zach knew he would. Long story short: Summer got momentarily jealous, then focused all her attention on berating Seth, and Zach realized that he’s (still) not into messing with the happy couple’s neurotic little war games. You know, the ones that we think make them a great couple. Hmm. How sorry did we feel for Summer when Zach’s haughty, pastel-infused mother said bitterly, ”We thought we’d seen the last of you”? And then she went on to out her son as a pathetic liar. What a cool mom!

Julie’s scandal unfortunately involved a lot more than three people, as all of Newport’s elite gathered round the big screen to watch her bounce around feigning horniness in an ’80s workout uniform. Knowing her, she’s probably more embarrassed about the outfit than the porn. After a sit-down with Caleb about trading Lance the pornmaker $500,000 for the tape, Caleb and two huge men went and snagged the VHS without actually paying. The whole thing was very Sopranos, with crayfish instead of capicola for lunch. Anyway, the pornmaker posed as a waiter at the magazine launch party and replaced the marketing video with Juju’s videotape. Am I the only one who didn’t recognize him at first? When Julie spotted him, I was like, ”Eww, the creepy waiter who gave Kirsten chardonnay!” My eyes must have been on the keyboard or something. Yeah, that was it.

Julie’s solution to the public humiliation is to jet off to Paris, which I really hope doesn’t happen because she’s my favorite character. I particularly liked her junior-high attitude towards Kirsten’s crush on Carter, especially when she floated out of the room whispering, ”Boyfriend, two o’clock!” and when she flashed Kiki a really blatant thumbs-up at the party. She can’t leave! She’s too good.

Speaking of people who shouldn’t leave, why doesn’t Trey take Seth’s old job at the Bait Shop? Then Alex wouldn’t have to leave either. It’d be perfect: Trey’s all rough ‘n’ tough, just like her, and I bet she’d even switch teams again for a little more drama. The lipstick lezzies date the backstreet brothers! I say we get a petition going.

What do you think? Are Ryan and Marissa like totally in love? Will Trey clean up his act? And what will Kirsten do now that Carter’s acknowledged their ”vibe”?