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THE O.C. Rewatch Project: Marissa Cooper’s Downward Spiral Begins!

Hey, look! Guys, it's the first appearance of Captain Oats!

THE O.C. Rewatch Project: Marissa Cooper’s Downward Spiral Begins!

Last week, on The O.C.

Follow the whole rewatch here

It's week 4 of The O.C.! Last week, Meredith asked me who is more undeserving: season 1 Summer of Seth, or season 2 Seth of Summer. That's a tough one, but the more I think about the stuff Seth gets up to down the line, I feel like Seth is less deserving of Summer, especially with how much we learn about her and how much she grows and develops as a character and a human. So, sorry, Seth Cohen. You know I love you, but Summer has you beat here.

Drinking game time!

The O.C. Drinking Game

Drink Once every time: 

The ladies have a convo while primping in front of a mirror

Seth makes a nerdy reference

Someone calls Tijuana "TJ"

Someone says "Chino"

Anyone plays a video game

Summer says "ew"

Anyone eats a bagel


Drink Twice every time:

Someone says "Newpsie"

Fisticuffs occur

Someone grabs a cup of coffee

Ryan and Seth read comic books

Someone reminds us that Kaitlin Cooper exists

On to the first episode!

1.07 "The Escape"

It's the memorable Tijuana episode (no one calls it TJ, guys - stop calling it that), and Seth wants to use his annual trip to Comic-Con as a cover to sneak down across the border to pursue Summer. We're starting to see some role reversal now that Ryan is living with the Cohens - Seth's blossoming confidence is inspiring him to act out and become a little deceitful (which will only get worse down the line as his confidence grows into full-blown egoism, unfortunately), while Ryan doesn't want to betray the trust of his new guardians. Marissa isn't so sure that she wants to go to Tijuana and leave her dad in the midst of all his troubles. Summer thinks Marissa should go because Luke will be there and Summer is very supportive of their new sex life, while Luke is supportive of Marissa doing whatever she needs to do, and Holly is supportive of Luke going without Marissa so she can get all up on that. Not OK, Holly.

Meanwhile, in the land of Newport's grown-ups, we meet Rachel Hoffman, an old lawyer pal who has been sent as a friendly ambassador to get Sandy to work for her law firm. It goes against all of Sandy's ideals - or basically Sandy's only Big Ideal, which is working in the Public Defender's office and defending those who cannot defend themselves. But there are perks: a big paycheck means that he won't be living off of his wife's money, and while Sandy is progressive, he can't help but feel somewhat emasculated and a little insulted by the idea that maybe Kirsten views his lack of income as an accessory to her lifestyle - something that makes her better than the Julie Coopers of Newport. And a job in a big law firm means that Sandy will also be able to do more pro bono work and help even more defenseless people than before. Of course, a lot of this sounds like Sandy's just justifying that big paycheck and that cool surfboard that Rachel sent over. As for Kirsten, she's been helping Jimmy set up his new bachelor apartment and giving him advice on how to tell Marissa about the divorce, and Jimmy just can't help but bring up their past relationship and what might have been. You seriously cannot have a conversation with Jimmy Cooper without him pining for Kirsten. It's exhausting. This leads to Jimmy kissing Kirsten, which she very nicely - if awkwardly - rejects, although she doesn't tell Sandy about it because they've got enough issues at home with Sandy taking this new job and what that means.

Tijuana brings serious drama, as expected, but there are some nice highlights: Seth and Summer are practically a married couple, bickering in the car about the weather and music and Seth's driving skills, and sharing a silent, well-choreographed breakfast while exchanging newspapers. They really are perfect for each other and it's sickeningly adorable how much they don't realize it yet (they do, they totally do).

Marissa and Ryan are a little more unsteady and their bickering is not very adorable. It's actually the sort of melodrama that inspires unintentional laughter (and intentional, to be fair: like the Ding Dongs and cheese fries debate), as they argue about Marissa and whether or not she was back with Luke (girl, you kind of were) and whether Ryan sleeping with Gabriel was OK (it was), and whether any of this matters now (it doesn't, shut up you two). Marissa declares that she hates Ding Dongs, but given her taste in men - aside from Ryan, at least 85% of the time - we all know that's baloney.

But then Ryan and Marissa cuddle all night and we know that they still like-like each other, even though the next day Marissa tells Ryan that she's going to find Luke while they're in Tijuana... after Summer picks up some painkillers for her stepmom. When they find Luke, he's in a club where you are apparently not legally allowed to drink alcohol out of cups, as it is only served out of Super Soakers and underage female belly buttons. And surprise (nope), he's kissing and dance-groping all over Holly. Since Marissa just found out about her parents' divorce, this is just the excuse she needed for a downward spiral. Summer attacks Holly, Ryan and Luke attack each other, and Summer takes Marissa back to the hotel, where she promptly disappears with the painkillers to get wasted on tequila and pop some pills in a shady bar by herself.

Oh hey, it's Marissa in her natural state: Hot Mess. Get used to seeing this. And it's Ryan in his natural state: heroically carrying a limp Marissa in his arms, forever trying to save her. As I revisit this now as a more mature person, I realize something I hadn't before: I think Ryan's attraction to Marissa is deeply rooted in his mommy issues.

How many times did I have to drink? 13

Guess Who? That's Bonnie Somerville playing Sandy's lawyer pal Rachel Hoffman. You also know her from Friends, where she played Ross' girlfriend Mona, and she was not even having any of that Ross and Rachel BS.

Seth and Summer 4Ever: Everything in that car scene on the way down to Tijuana, and their entire scene together at breakfast. These two are killing me with their perfect already lived-in married couple cuteness. I had to stop myself from making GIFs of every moment.

Biggest Ryan and Marissa Eyeroll: When Marissa asks, "Did you ever wonder why I went to the pool house to find you?" And Ryan responds with all melodramatic seriousness, "Every day," as if she just asked him if he ever wondered why someone he loved was dead, or better yet, "Did you ever wonder why you chose to wear that hideous choker around your neck?" And he says "Every day," as if it's been months that he's been thinking about and puzzling over this. I cannot deal with these two.

Most Recognizable Song: Death Cab for Cutie's "A Movie Script Ending," which will also be featured in a later episode because The O.C. has mad love for DCFC. And I am also going to go for the deep cut here and show off my '90s affection: Mazzy Star's "Into Dust."

Best Seth Cohen Line: While surveying the gross Tijuana dance club where a bunch of young tourist women are being drenched in booze by bros: "I love authentic Mexican culture."

Let's get into the next episode!

1.08 "The Rescue"

This episode is filled with some Foolish Games that would make even Jewel weep. On the one hand, I relate to Marissa Cooper (I know, I said it) - Marissa is going through some seriously troubled teenage times, her mom isn't listening to her, and she's using very inappropriate coping mechanisms, but she's also got some semblance of self-awareness about what she's going through. On the other hand, I cannot abide by some of the choices Ryan makes here, and I know it's just the beginning of more foolishness when it comes to Marissa. While recovering in the hospital from her Tijuana mishap, Marissa's dealing with the sort of drama one might find on an episode of HBO's Lifestories: Families in Crisis. Julie wants to ship her off to a mental institution (or what the kids are dramatically referring to as an "asylum"), but Jimmy wants Marissa to get therapy in Newport with her friends and her school, to try and maintain what little sense of normalcy she can. Much Julie Cooper bitchery abounds as she blames Ryan for Marissa's recent troubles.

Ryan and Sandy both have big first days ahead of them: Ryan has to try and prove he's worthy to attend the Harbor School with its tennis courts and promises of an Ivy League future, while Sandy has his first day at the new law firm, with its in-office gym and piles of Botox lawsuits. Ryan may not be a Cohen by blood, but as it turns out, he's got a bit of that Sandy Cohen passion when it comes to arguing his case, and convinces Dr. Kim to give him a chance to take the placement test at Harbor. And even though Julie threatened to have him arrested if he ever saw Marissa again, that doesn't keep him away (ugh). Ryan can't be bothered to listen to Seth whining about how Summer ignored him at school while trying to study for his super important exam, but when Marissa calls and pouts about her parental problems, Ryan drops everything to be there. Seriously, Ryan? You only have two hours to study for this exam. I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed in you.

What makes me empathize with Marissa in this episode is her meeting with the therapist, where we actually see the wheels turning in her head, and Marissa begins to consider that maybe she has been inappropriately coping with her issues - issues that maybe she didn't even realize she had. At the same time, she's also aware that her mother has a tendency to exaggerate and focus on the wrong issues rather than listen when Marissa tries to tell her what's really going on. When you're a teenager, you might not actually articulate these things clearly to your parents, but you try to tell them in your own way, and that's the frustrating part - feeling as though you aren't being heard, and that they nitpick you to death about all these stupid things that aren't right, or don't matter as much. Unfortunately, Marissa is still Marissa, and she relies on her friends to come to her rescue yet again, so Seth and Summer get Ryan to ditch his placement exam as if some girl he's only known for a few weeks is way more important than his ENTIRE FUTURE. (I am such an adult now. I am v proud of myself for this assessment.)

I'm also really into Kirsten, who throws some real sly, icy shade at Rachel and Sandy after discovering that the "welcome to the firm drinks with co-workers" was actually just "gettin' tipsayyy on margaritas alone with Rachel." Sandy and Kirsten have such a mature relationship, but Rachel is behaving kind of inappropriately. There's a super fine line she's walking on, and it's easy to cross that line from being friendly to being a little too overly-friendly and encroaching on a marriage - that's not to presume anything about Rachel, but just to say that, like, Sandy is being a little too aloof and needs to be a little more aware and considerate. At the same time, Kirsten needs to do the same and quit toting Jimmy around like a needy little puppy, asking Sandy to take care of him.

Sandy may not get to do a lot of the work he's passionate about at his new job in this episode, but he does get to play mediator at home, helping Ryan talk to Julie - who is not even hearing any of it. You cannot mention the word "Riverside" to Julie without giving her a stroke. But it sort of ends up OK because Marissa gets to say what she needs to say (which isn't much) and gets what she wants (AS USUAL), and gets to move in with her dad (for now). And Ryan once again shows off his pretty nice argumentative skills. Plus, we get an epic Julie Cooper storm-off. (What the hell was that tube top she was wearing in this episode? It was horrific.)

How many times did I have to drink? 9

Seth and Summer 4Ever: The hospital jail break gives us some pretty adorable exchanges, and Seth is also surprised to learn that Summer has read Madame Bovary five times. Summer is so mysterious!

Horsin' around: It's the first appearance of Captain Oats!

Worst outfit of the episode: Julie, WTF is this tube top, seriously. It looks like a casual daywear interpretation of the Ribbon Dancer portion of the gymnastics floor exercises at the Olympics. This is not OK.

Best Seth Cohen line: It's always so hard to choose! When he tries to correct Kirsten on how to pronounce "Tijuana," and tells her, "You're so white, mom."

Best Julie Cooper bitchery: Again, very hard to choose, especially in this episode because the entire episode is nothing but non-stop Julie Cooper bitchery, probably to make up for her total absence in "The Escape." Is it the moment when she threatens to send Ryan to juvie if he comes near Marissa again? Then there's the moment where she tells Jimmy, "You know I don't like that Brian." But I think we can all agree that her bitchiest moment is going behind Jimmy's back to have Marissa sent to the mental institution without his permission. SHADY.

--

So now I have a question for all of you: a couple of weeks ago some of you expressed how much you dislike Anna, or at least the idea/construct of Anna, which I found very surprising. I admitted to disliking Marissa, which I thought would be an unpopular opinion. But I want to know if there are some likable characters any of you actually do dislike. Are there any Seth haters out there? Any Ryan haters (this may be understandable)? BLOG FORBID - are there any Sandy haters among you? Tell me who and why! I want to know these things!

And a question for my dearest Meredith: Are you still rooting for Marissa and Luke, even after these last two episodes? I sort of am, if only because I think those two dinguses deserve each other and Ryan can do so much better.

Join Meredith next Wednesday as she discusses "The Heights" and "The Perfect Couple."

Britt Hayes's photo About the Author: Britt Hayes is a writer and sensible sweater enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She loves movies, watches too much television, and her diet consists mostly of fruit snacks and revenge.
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