Having second thoughts about leaving Cali, Seth starts toking up; meanwhile, Kaitlin turns 15, in a ''Sixteen Candles'' kind of way
Adam Brody, The O.C.
Credit: Adam Brody: Matt Barnes/FOX
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”The O.C.”: Seth’s brain on drugs

Hey, what’s up? Oh. Um, what? Oh, the column? Sure, just a minute… Good, okay, I’ll just spray around some air freshener and get on with it. Oh, you saw me? You solved it! You’re a problem-solver, just like Encyclopedia Brown! Cool.

Remember when Summer told Seth and Ryan, ”If I say something I don’t believe in, I could end up with the wrong life. How awful would that be?” Oh my god, let me tell you — I totally related to that. She is so wise, I love it. Okay. I need a minute to collect myself. God, some pad Thai would be amazing right now. Think about it.

I’m relieved. I’d been worried that this week’s Stoner Seth eppy would get all ”The More You Know” on us, until I remembered that this was also the show whose filler scenes at random beach-house parties usually involved kids snorting lines off giant glass tables. Either that or they were just really intrigued by their smell. Stoner Seth was well-done — funny enough, but not so over-the-top silly that it posed an actual problem. Unless you count almost missing his Brown interview as ”a problem,” which Summer did. After stretching her own interview for an hour and a half while presumably talking about handbags, she told Seth, ”No pressure, but if you mess it up, our future together is ruined.” Wow, that was the perfect thing to say to a wigged out, paranoid grasshopper. No wonder he blew that joint.

A lot more happened in the hour than Seth Cohen becoming a personal hero of teenage potheads everywhere. That just happened to be the best scene. I loved how he parked in the most random corner of his room to do the deed, and the ensuing Seth-Ryan time was both homoerotic (”You find a slender swimmer’s body intimidating”) and self-referential (”I love when you go for the comedy, but don’t quit your day job at being… people”). Speaking of Ryan’s day job, I found it a little weird that he’s suddenly such a solid narc-type figure in the show. Would the trouble-mongerer from season 1 really be conducting fake college interviews with his friends or acting like Seth’s foray into the herb was a doomed deal? I figured the homeboy from Chino would have smelled that stash right away and asked for a bong hit. They probably could have fashioned one out of Captain Oats because he doesn’t seem to have a big enough role these days. And then we could have called Ryan and Seth the Doobie Brothers. Just sayin’.

Even without the pot, Seth did seem genuinely freaked out at the prospect of moving thousands of miles away from his waterfall pool and toy horse. Sandy and Seth’s father-son moment was cute, but cut way too short by Sandy’s cell phone. I really love how they haven’t changed his ring tone since season 1, when his Sandy-Kirsten alone time kept getting interrupted by that hoochie lawyer lady. (Just Googled it: Her name was Rachel!) When Sandy’s phone rang, I immediately thought of the episode of Saved by the Bell when Zach’s dad doesn’t have any time to talk with his troubled son in his bedroom because he keeps getting business calls on his huge-ass cell phone. I bet Mr. Morris wasn’t lucky enough to get the poor man’s Christian Bale as a business partner, though. And instead of asking a magician/waiter from The Max to impersonate his dad at school, Seth just got baked by himself. Advantage: The O.C.

The 1980s references didn’t end there. The whole Julie-forgetting-Kailin’s-birthday thing channeled Sixteen Candles, complete with the requisite bratty teen and her self-absorbed, ditzy older sister who just doesn’t get it. And I might be the only one lame enough to point this out, but Kaitlin’s party scene opened with a zoom-in of a pink cartoon car on a gift bag, just like the pink Trans-Am Molly Ringwald wanted so desperately for her birthday. Molly got a kiss with Jake Ryan over glowing candles; Kaitlin got to plant one on Surferboy in Summer’s bedroom. Advantage: Sixteen Candles. (Although Kaitlin dresses way better than Molls’. I’m just getting really sick of that extreme side-part they’re insisting on with Kaitlin’s hair. She looked much better with the half-pulled-back ‘do. Keep that up.)

Poor Julie’s romance with Summer’s dad Neil seemed to be cleared for takeoff until Marissa’s icy declaration to her that even a glitzy birthday party was not ”gonna fix this family.” Ooh! Cut to Dr. Roberts, apparently turned off by the idea of a broken family. Ironic, don’t you think? And that was a really convenient beep from one of his ”nurses.” Hmm. At least Julie got in a more favorable scene early on, after breathlessly entering her trailer after a jog. ”I got three honks!” she bubbled. ”That’s great, Mom!” said Marissa, who was at that point dressed like Heidi. (What the hell?) Oh, come on, give a mom a break. She did forgot she had a daughter for a few years, but she looks pretty good in spandex. You choose your battles.

We’re not done yet — it’s montage-set-to-cool-music time! Sandy: guzzling the ‘sky, then wincing. Ryan: chillin’ in the poolhouse with the perfect-couple beach photo. Marissa: slouching at her thinking shack, trying to act like she’s thinking. Kaitlin: locked out of the trailer and probably jonesing for those j-birds she gave to Seth. Julie: exiting the tallest doors in the world while wearing the shortest dress. Summer, flipping through the four pages of the Brown coursebook she can actually tolerate. So wise, I tell you. Finally, His Highness: his ”laundry buildup” at the door, sparking up yet another one. We’re fading out, just like the wafting smoke, and just like what could be your brain on drugs. Any questions?

What do you think? What did Seth eat when he got the munchies? Would the Julie Cooper we know really turn down two date offers from Neil? And why would Kaitlin’s birthday parties make Summer jealous when they were younger? Were Marissa’s parties worse than Kaitlin’s? And if so, HA!

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