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THE O.C. Rewatch Project: The Great Anna Stern Debate

Let us settle the question once and for all: who's better for our sweet Seth?

THE O.C. Rewatch Project: The Great Anna Stern Debate

Last week, on The O.C.

Follow the whole rewatch here!

It's Week 5 of our Rewatch Project, and things are really getting good in Newport. Last week, Britt asked me if I'm still rooting for Luke and Marissa in spite of all the cheating and drug overdoses, and the answer is a resounding YES. I agree with Britt that Ryan deserves better and these two goobers deserve each other, but also, when you think about it, Marissa's never actually in a better place than when she was Luke's girlfriend. Granted, everything else in her life starting falling apart at the same time she and Luke broke up, but I also think there's something in his sweet, dumb devotion that grounds her.

Let's drink!

 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 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 episodes!

1.09 "The Heights"

It's the first day of school, and all the kids are nervous! Seth is nervous because he has spent his entire life being mocked and bullied, because Orange County is a bizarro world where cute, fun, smart, creative boys with great hair are considered losers. Ryan's nervous because it's his first day at Harbor School and he had to work his butt off just to get admitted. Marissa's nervous because everyone at school knows that her dad's a crook, that her parents are divorcing, that Luke cheated on her with Holly and that she overdosed on narcotic medication intended for Summer's storied step-monster. Summer's nervous because - just kidding! Summer's never nervous. She's too busy awesomely defending Marissa from a well-meaning Luke and from some catty bitches.

Marissa and Ryan make plans to hang out after school - "something to look forward to," they both cutely aver - but Marissa's duties as Social Chair interfere, and the hardass Harbor School principal isn't about to let her abandon her responsibilities no matter how many insane, life-altering melodramas she's had to face over the past eight episodes. But all in all, Marissa's doing pretty well: she's enjoying living with Jimmy in spite of his heinous French toast attempts, she and Ryan are closer than ever and she has the world's best friend in Summer.

But still Luke pursues her - stalking her relentlessly in his pitiful attempts to apologize. Finally, Luke corners her after her Social Chair meeting, and after Marissa gives him a righteous telling-off (she's pretty tough here), she finally thaws a bit when Luke starts crying. Ryan sees them engaged in intimate conversation and assumes the worst, but Seth wisely advises him to be straightforward with Marissa and ask her about it (I'm going to miss this Seth). Meanwhile, Summer is unwisely advising Marissa to keep her exchange with Luke from Ryan, so when he does ask her about it, she lies. Then Ryan goes all Crazy Aggro (I will not miss this Ryan) on Luke at soccer practice, and Marissa is PISSED. Seth, again wisely, "Huh, and women usually find stark brutality so romantic!" Ryan's suspended for two games, and Sandy gives one of his patented perfect parent speeches, telling him earnestly, "We're always one mistake away from someone taking you from us." Then he tells Ryan he'd like to go to some of Ryan's games, and Ryan looks touched, as this is surely the first time a parental figure has shown any interest in one of his extracurricular activities (which, to be fair to Dawn, until now mostly consisted of stealing cars and brooding.)

In other Sandy news, it's also his first day at his new job, and in order to keep his mind on his remarkable wife instead of on his "attractive coworker" Rachel, Kirsten sends him off to work with a legendary makeout sesh on the bed. She may be feeling less amorous soon, however, because Rachel - who is making no bones about wanting to break up Kirsten and Sandy - invites Sandy to be her partner on new legislation protecting the Balboa Wetlands from being destroyed by a posh housing development proposed by the Newport Group. That's right - Sandy's company is suing Kirsten's company, and Sandy's going to take the case. He and Kirsten fight about it, and I love it whenever Kirsten gets ice cold as she is so good at it, but they make up with hot sex because they are the best couple ever, and anyway, Kirsten knew what she was getting into when she married Sandy. That Sandy Cohen - he's a handful, but he's worth it.

Finally, Anna Stern's back! She beelines for Seth in the Harbor hallway - but beelines in a cool, non-clingy way, and I'd like to know how she manages that trick - and when she sees that Seth is still mooning over Summer, she gives him what's for about it.

Seth cluelessly asks Anna for help in attracting a not-having-it Summer, and Anna cluelessly agrees in the hopes that spending more time with Seth will lead him to realize that Anna is the girl for him. It's funny how her approach works - she flirts with Seth lots in close proximity to Summer, which means that she gets to flirt with Seth lots, but also it really does succeed in making Summer jealous. By the by: it's nice seeing how Seth's friendships with Anna - they're joining the literary magazine together, my own high school extracurricular! - and Ryan are protecting him from the misery that a new school year used to bring him. "School might not suck this year!" he cheers in the hallway. Aww, Seth.

All of the teen relationship stuff wraps up at the Harbor School Kickoff Carnival, where Anna tries to tell Seth that she likes him by laying a big, hot kiss on him - and he thinks it's just part of the plan to make Summer jealous, and marvels that it's working, because Summer's staring at them gloomily. He and Summer run off to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl together while poor Anna is left alone and sad, holding a sock monkey Seth won for her. Seth, you big doofus.

And Ryan's taken some more of Seth's sage advice (seriously, Wise And Honest Seth, don't leave us!) and apologizes to Luke and then rides the Ferris wheel with Marissa, despite his fear of heights, so they can make up and make out. And that they do!

How many times did I have to drink? 14.

The social event of the week: The Kickoff Carnival, the organization of which falls to Marissa as Social Chair. She and Ryan agree that the carnival should have cotton candy instead of funnel cake, and that leads me to two questions: 1) why can't they have both? This school is rich! and 2) who would EVER choose cotton candy over funnel cake? Maybe Ryan and Marissa do deserve each other.

Most bromantic moment: When Seth can tell that something's wrong with Ryan, and he patiently chips away at Ryan's walls until Ryan finally spills about Marissa and Luke. "What's wrong?" "...nothing." "No, that wasn't nothing. I saw something! I saw thoughts forming. I saw words percolating." Seth's as good for Ryan as Ryan is for Seth, and we should never forget it.

A friendship I'd like to see more of: I love the moment at the carnival when Ryan calls Anna out for her crush on Seth, and she admits to it sheepishly. "Why are you helping him with Summer?" "Seth doesn't see me that way. When he looks at Summer, he sees lips and hair and boobs. When he looks at me he sees...a lab partner. We're friends." Ryan's so cute when he shrugs, "And you're gonna let that slide?" Ryan is clearly Team Anna, and whenever these two share a scene, they come across as warm and authentic. I wish they had more to do together.

Summer snap: Seth to Summer, "If you would care to join me for lunch today, I can arrange to have an empty chair available at my table." Summer: "There's nothing but empty chairs at your table." She's so good at that!

Best Seth Cohen line: When Seth's trying to convince Ryan to go out for a real sport, unlike the fencing and archery Sandy has suggested, Seth says, "With Ryan we have an opportunity to have a real athlete in the family. Somebody to achieve all that your Jewishness has prevented me from accomplishing." I also like when Summer says of the Tilt-a-Whirl, "I may vomit," and Seth replies smoothly, "I like those odds."

Most recognizable song: Kirsten's listening to Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up On Me" in the hot tub with a glass of wine, and is it any wonder that she and Sandy immediately reconcile? Mr. Solomon Burke can heal any rift.

Worst outfit of the episode: Anna's the coolest, for sure, but I truly loathe her wardrobe. Here we have a black spandex shirt layered with a pink sparkly tube top, a military skirt with a superfluous belt, and rubber Wellies with knee socks. Girl, one or more of those pieces has got to go, and let's start with the sparkly tube top.

Peter Gallagher's eyebrows say: I love how surprised Sandy is to hear that Seth is having women - multiple! - problems.

I also love when Sandy refers to the Harbor School attendees as "preppy little savages."

Onto the next ep!

1.10 "The Perfect Couple"

Sex is the word of the day in "The Perfect Couple," which opens with Marissa and Ryan doing some hot-and-heavy-petting in the poolhouse, before Kirsten accidentally walks in on them without knocking. She's so chagrined, and offers quite reasonably as her explanation, "That's never happened with Seth." Hah!

Later, Seth asks Ryan about sex, specifically how many times he's had it and with how many women, and when Ryan takes several minutes to count under his breath, poor Seth says, "I need to sit down." Marissa's not sure she's ready to be Ryan's next conquest (and to be fair, I don't think of Ryan as a Dog so much as a Stud - he's obviously a gentleman, just a gentleman who gets around), and Summer's all WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, which is Summer's advice any time Marissa's hesitating to have sex with any of her boyfriends.

Ryan, proving that he's a gentleman, asks Marissa out on a "real date," but when she walks up on Seth and Ryan talking about sex, Seth panics and tells her they're discussing the upcoming date, assuring her Ryan's planned something legendary. Ryan's eyes are clearly pleading for Seth to shut the crap up, since he has no such legendary plans, but the impending Three's Company conflict ends up being moot. Julie Cooper turns on some real waterworks at Jimmy's house, asking Marissa and Jimmy to attend her yacht charity thingy so they can present themselves as a family, and Marissa starts to buy into it, thinking her parents might reunite. When Ryan happens to see Julie Cooper and Caleb Nichol making out on Julie's front porch, he knows better, but he's having trouble spilling the beans to an optimistic Marissa, who's asked him to attend the yacht party with her instead of whatever he had planned for their date.

Not Having Sex: Seth Cohen, who has finally worn out his welcome when it comes to Anna listening to him prattle on about Summer. She tells him she'd like to talk about anything else for a change, and we get a glimpse of Later Seth as he turns all neurotic and stammery and self-absorbed about it.

But Seth's descent into Woody Allen territory is postponed, as he then realizes Anna's right, and vows to check the Summer topic at the door when they're together. Ryan, ever Team Anna, convinces Seth to invite Anna to the yacht party, and she happily agrees, and they're so cute together at the party, laughing and joking and having a wonderful time - to Summer's super evident dismay. Summer spends the party glaring at them and bitching about Anna to Marissa, who teases her for having a crush on Seth. Summer finally realizes this is true, and she's aghast, but that doesn't stop her from laying yet another big old kiss on Seth Cohen the moment she gets him alone. She admits she likes him and then threatens him with assassination if he tells anyone, and poor Seth is happy and confused, but goes home with a glowing Anna.

Also Not Having Sex: Kirsten and Sandy, because they've both been too busy preparing for this big Balboa Wetlands deposition. They're hoping to come to an agreement so the case doesn't have to go to trial, but the deposition goes SO POORLY because Caleb's there, and Caleb loves to ruin things. He accuses Sandy of having an affair with Rachel and then takes off, all "C-U-L8R." Sandy and Kirsten fight - he can't believe Kirsten told Caleb that she's suspicious of Rachel - but Rachel just loves hearing this, and immediately takes the opportunity to try to seduce Sandy. She's wearing the tiniest t-shirt and the lowest-cut jeans, and she keeps stretching in weird ways that show off her navel or her upper-butt, and when Sandy doesn't take the bait on those smooth moves, she finally crawls across the floor and tries to kiss him. I hate Rachel, you guys. But not Sandy - I love Sandy! He simply says, "I've got a boat to catch," and takes off to meet Kirsten at the yacht party, where they reunite and go home to have more hot sex. These two and their sex! I love 'em.

Finally, Ryan can't handle Marissa's naivete about her parents, so he tells her about Julie and Caleb. Marissa goes to a crazy place within seconds, as is her wont, and announces to the entire yacht that Caleb and Julie are seeing each other. Kirsten's like WHAAAAAAAAT. Seth's like WHAAAAAAAAT. Sandy's like WHAAAAAAAAT. It's the best. Then Marissa and Ryan go home and also have sex! Everyone's having sex! Except Seth.

How many times did I have to drink? 13

Best Seth Cohen line: To Ryan, "So when you lost your virginity, I was playing Magic: The Gathering." Ryan: "You still play Magic." Seth: "Yeah, but less."

The social event of the week: a children's hospital benefit on a yacht. All of the ladies look so pretty for this event! Plenty of drama, but no fisticuffs.

Even so, the truest thing anyone said this week: Ryan, after Marissa invited him to the yacht party, “Whenever I go to one of these things, somebody gets into a fight.”

The great Anna Stern debate: Okay, here's the deal - Anna can be so cool, and she's crazy smart and perfect for Seth in a million ways. BUT I don't like it when she treats Summer like a moron. I don't like the way Summer talks to Anna, either, but I sort of expect more from Anna, and she insults Summer's intelligence a half-dozen times in this episode. This behavior just feels beneath Anna. That said: she and Seth are so cute together this episode.

Even so, Seth and Summer 4ever: I love when he says "Walk you to class, Summer?" and she snarks back, "I can walk myself, thanks," and Seth just smoothly replies, "Great, then you can walk me too" and falls in step with her.

--

That's it for this week! So let's settle this debate, FYA: Team Anna or Team Summer? And Britt, a question for you next week: how do you feel about Julie and Caleb together? I love this pairing.

Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she covers "The Homecoming" and "The Secret"!

Meredith Borders's photo About the Author: Meredith is the Editorial Director of BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH. and the Alamo Drafthouse, and the Social Media Director for Fantastic Fest.
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