Benjamin McKenzie: Art Streiber/FOX
December 10, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

The O.C.

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, Benjamin McKenzie, Rachel Bilson, Michael Cassidy, Tate Donovan, Nicholas Gonzalez, Shannon Lucio, Melinda Clarke, Amanda Righetti, Olivia Wilde
guest performer
Kim Delaney
Doug Liman, McG

”The O.C.”: A big family secret

Just when I thought The O.C. had gone into a slight slump this season, the show throws a giant curveball: The pert, preppy, and red-haired Lindsay, a.k.a. Lindsbree, is actually Caleb’s love child with a pert, preppy, red-haired woman named Renee Wheeler, rendering 90 percent of the people on this show related by blood or marriage.

I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. They look alike. They’re both new characters. They both change their minds every 30 seconds. I guess I just assumed that if Lindsbree had parents, they’d be Marcia Cross and Lindsay Lohan. But this way makes much more sense, at least on this show.

That wasn’t the only surprise. Suddenly, a sizable chunk of the cast has become gardeners. Lindsbree introduced herself as ”Lindsay Gardner” in episode 3; Julie admits to being the ”gardener” to Jimmy’s ”rich boy” before they got married; and some of Julie’s friends horrifyingly note that Marissa is dancing with ”the gardener.” Noooo! He’s supposed to be called the Yard Guy (YG)! It’s as if the O.C. cast is reclaiming the word, which could have been rightfully theirs if Desperate Housewives hadn’t started sooner and stolen all of fall 2004’s gardener thunder.

I’m more than a little disappointed that Marissa, Summer, and Ryan have resorted to calling the YG by his real name, D.J. Those two letters just don’t have the same sarcastically mocking ring as YG — and YG’s still lackluster character really is begging to be mocked. We do meet another noun guy, Beer Guy, whom freaky Alex kisses to prove that last week’s smooch with Seth didn’t mean anything. But I doubt Beer Guy will be around in later episodes unless she decides she wants a Manual Labor Spectacular threesome with him and Seth in the storage closet. I mean, she’s a woman, and crazy. So anything could happen.

Another minor curveball: Zach Attack is turning out to be kind of a dud. He reminds me of last season’s (and one episode this season’s) Luke — befuddled to a fault, but so innocent and perfect looking that you have to like him a little. Zach, however, makes that difficult this episode. He inexplicably visits Alex, who is not his friend, at the club and asks for advice. She rattles off something clever, and he states that he suspects she is being sarcastic. Oh, Zach. Don’t do that. You never verbally acknowledge sarcasm. Strike one. Then Zach Attacks Seth with no warning outside the SnO.C. dance. (You gotta hand it to Seth Cohen: Women love him; men punch him and then immediately apologize.) Strike two. Then, when Zach finally has Summer to himself inside the dance, he asks her coyly, ”Will you go to the dance with me?” and he thinks he’s being funny. Dude, you’re out. Go immerse those swollen knuckles in another glass of ice-cold Yoo-hoo.

While the writers are busy throwing us for a loop, new femme fatales Alex and Lindsbree are playing hot and cold with their new like interests, Seth and Ryan. With Alex, this is no surprise. She’s kind of nuts. But this was the first deep look at Lindsbree’s character. I’m still on the fence about her — I think she’s good for Ryan, but her darts from nervousness to boldness and back again have me confused. Here’s her rationale for why she shouldn’t date her lab partner, Ryan.

1. He’s him.

2. He’s her lab partner.

3. He’s a tough kid from Chino.

4. He lives in the Cohens’ poolhouse.

5. His ex-girlfriend is ”intimidatingly beautiful.”

None of those are valid reasons, especially number 5, since Marissa is reportedly set to switch teams (or at least switch hit) come 2005. On the other hand, I love Lindsbree’s rationale because I get to write ”intimidatingly,” which I’ve been afraid to use before because it?s not recognized by my spell checker. But now that it?s been on TV, I feel perfectly comfortable using it. I’m going to do it again. Intimidatingly. I also love that Lindsbree owns a pair of ”Freudian slippers,” although I rewound twice to watch Ryan’s reaction, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t get it. Maybe he was remembering how much he misses his mother in Chino and just got distracted. In that last sentence, I was being sarcastic. See, Zach? Totally doesn’t work.

In the end, people kiss. Ryan reverts back to his first-season persona by suggesting he and Lindsbree do something that doesn’t involve talking — namely, Playstation and making out. Seth and Alex go at it again in the dimly lit club. In another curveball plot twist, Julie plants one on ex-husband Jimmy at the SnO.C. even though with her track record and proximity to high schoolers, you’d think she’d be on the prowl for 17-year-olds who used to date her daughter. Hmmm. She did kiss Ryan on the cheek. . . .

What do you think? Is Zach too short-tempered? Is YG too short for Marissa? And what will happen to the Cohens now that Caleb’s secret is out?

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