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''The O.C.'': Seth meets George Lucas

On ”The O.C.,” the Ironist manages to win a meeting with George Lucas and a prom date with Summer; plus, Caleb takes a dive, and Theresa comes back

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Adam Brody
Adam Brody: Art Streiber/FOX

”The O.C.”: Seth meets George Lucas

I’ll just say this: At least this one wasn’t the season finale. After reading EW’s not-so-impressed review of the second season yesterday (and begrudgingly agreeing with much of what Gillian Flynn wrote), I was really pulling for The O.C. last night. I wanted the episode to shock everyone with its unexpected greatness. I wanted George Lucas to show up, and Seth to make a staggering declaration of love for Summer in front of a captive audience that thinks he’s a tool. I wanted passion, and deceit, and binge drinking, and bloody murder!

And I got all that, but somehow everything seemed kind of listless. The lamely themed prom (yes, it was a shout-out to Back to the Future), Summer’s constant bitching, Team Graphic Novel’s halfhearted coin toss, the anticlimactic revelation of Theresa’s baby . . . I don’t know, nothing really popped for me. The last few minutes did rock, though. I think we can all agree that Caleb clutching his chest and sinking six feet under in the pool he’d never set foot in before was the most captivating moment of this episode.

Lest you think I’ve crossed completely over to the dark side, I will say I really enjoyed the Caleb-Julie story line throughout the hour. Julie smashed up some . . . okay, like 30 of Caleb’s sleeping (how fitting) pills and mixed them into a margarita, or ”fresh marg!” as Kirsten would exclaim. This we know. How Caleb actually died, we don’t know for certain. Juju had a sudden change of heart right before he took a sip and scuttled off to the poolside bar, leaving the land shark smiling fondly after her. We never saw him take a sip of the other marg, but he could have. What if the little mermaid messed up and offered him the wrong glass in the first place? This is all probably moot, though. In my expert medical opinion (I watch Scrubs), it looked like Caleb suffered a heart attack.

Still, Julie may never know for sure. He could have snuck a sip while she was underwater or something. I’m kind of pissed about Cal’s death, since I found him a hilarious complement to Julie and a decent guy at heart, but better him than her, I guess. While she was swimming around, I was convinced Caleb was onto her plan and had switched their drinks, allowing next week’s ”Dearly Beloved” episode to take her to the grave instead of Daddy Warbucks. (Hey, Kirsten, did you hear that? Your dad’s funeral. Free booze! Party!)

Oh, I kid the Kirsten. Miss Point Zero Eight was pretty intolerable the entire episode, but you had to feel for her at the end when she realized the last words she’d ever screech to dad were ”I may like my chardonnay but I am not gonna die alone and that’s more than I can say for you!” Huh? She left out all the best liquors! Tequila, gin, vodka . . . Come on, Kiki, we know there’s enough room in that tiny body of yours to love all of them equally. How about that blatant knockoff of Absolut, Pure vodka? I cackled at that one. LOLed, if you will. Sandy did not. He tried his best to help his wife stop being such a booze hound, but Caleb had to get in the way of their marriage as usual by doing something smug and selfish. You know, dying.

On to the Ryan-Marissa-Trey-Skankalicious and now -Theresa fiasco. First of all, thanks to EW.com reader Abby, who astutely pointed out last week that Trey ”looks just like Mr. Britney Spears.” Right on, and Skanktacular is even an appropriate Britney to his K. Fed with her bad dye job and undying devotion to denim cutoffs. She’s still awful, but I find her over-the-top banter oddly entertaining. And despite her trying to sabotage his relationship with Marissa (which K-Fed clearly put her up to — either that or she’s just evil), Ryan seems pretty amused with her, too. Did anyone else catch an ”a dirty girl’s saying very bad things to me, and I kinda like it” vibe from Ryan near his locker?

Anyway, K. Fed escaped to Chino, where many onetime O.C. regulars go to die. I bet Yard Guy’s there, specializing in shirtless bush maintenance. Trey did his best to convince Ryan that Marissa had come on to him, so Ryan left the bar. Hey, look, it’s Mother Theresa with some groceries. Cool, wanna walk down the street? I guess I didn’t expect Ryan to run smack dab into what might be his baby the first time he saw Theresa again, but I did think the encounter with her would at least be more stirring than this. After pounding ”Agghhh! Theresa!” into my notes when the name Navi Rawat flashed on screen during the opening credits, I was pumped for some scandal. Oh, well. I’m sure the drama will heighten next week.

Ryan didn’t see the baby, and we didn’t see the baby’s face, but Theresa’s mom felt it necessary to point out that he ”looks more and more like his daddy every day.” Okay, we’re pretty sure it’s Ryan’s, because why else would Theresa be brought back, but why would her mom, who was so intent on shutting Ryan out of the baby’s life, be remarking so fondly about Ryan just then? (Annie, it’s TV. Settle down.) Okay, sorry. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the baby wasn’t Ryan’s — I can see the writers leading us on during next week’s finale, then pulling a paternity-test scare at the start of season 3 and having the father end up being Theresa’s ex, Eddie. Anyway, Mama T looked gorgeous. Not even Marissa’s really obvious new hair extensions competed with those luscious locks. And speaking of the Coop, I really liked how Theresa urged Ryan to trust Marissa instead of Trey. It was honest and unselfish, a rarity on this show. Quick, get her out of there!

I just realized that I almost always end up writing about Seth, Summer, and Zach last. It’s not that they’re that boring; it’s just that the vicious cycle they can’t seem to escape has gotten so repetitive that it rarely seems to warrant prominent mention. This week’s dilemma: Zach and Seth, who have basically blended into one person to the two women in their lives, Summer and Reed, had to decide who would take a meeting with George Lucas about adapting Atomic County into film (yeah, right) and who would take Summer to the prom.

Okay, back it up. The prom? There have been arguments about what grade these kids are in, and no one seems to know for sure. Last year, they were definitely juniors, because Oliver was supposed to be a senior but conned his way into junior-level classes in order to sic himself on Marissa all day. Which would mean they’re seniors this year. But if that’s true, wouldn’t we have seen them going through the agonizing college-application process? You would think. Okay, so they’re somehow still juniors. But juniors are not typically named prom king and queen at the prom. Unless it was a junior prom, but no one ever called it that! This is frustrating. Perhaps by alluding to Saved by the Bell early in the show, Seth was making a subtle plea to his audience to cut The O.C. some slack and turn a blind eye to the inappropriate amount of years spent in high school, just as we did with Saved. Fine with me. Moving on. [Thanks, readers, for pointing out that a sign said, “Junior Prom.” Now let’s see whether they’re seniors next season.]

After winning the prom date with Summer, Zach ended up switching places with Seth, who was engaging George Lucas in a fairly humorous heart-to-heart about the importance of prom. Turns out the man behind the Force drinks seltzer and ”felt hopelessly inadequate” about not attending prom. Sure. Flushed with all sorts of star-struck emotion, Seth leapt into Zach’s convenient stretch limo and zoomed off on Mission: Very Possible Because He’s Done the Same Thing Twice Already.

Crunch time. Just when Summer and Marissa were about to retire home from the prom to watch The Valley on DVD (if you didn’t catch the subliminal message, this means that Josh Schwartz would like you to go out and buy The O.C. Season 1 right now), a man whose face looked freakishly like Peter Gallagher’s announced Summer as prom queen. Right. Because that’s what typically happens when you date the comic-book-club president and the only other girl you ever talk to is Marissa. In swept Seth, to do basically the same thing he did at the back-to-school fair this season and atop a coffee cart last season: beg Summer to take him back in front of the student body.

Summer couldn’t really refuse Seth two weeks in a row, but something tells me that just like always, the pair won’t manage to stay happy and huggy for more than a few weeks. But hey! Season finale is next week. Add the summer-rerun months and this could be the power couple’s longest run yet.

What do you think? Did the episode have a little less kick than usual? Is Ryan really the baby’s daddy? And how will Jimmy, Hailey, Theresa, and Oliver fit into the mix next week?