Title: The O.C. S1.E21 “The Goodbye Girl”
The O.C. S1.E22 “The L.A.”
Released: 2004
Series:  The O.C.

Drinks Taken: 24

Last week, on The O.C.

Welcome back to The O.C., where we’re taking a little field trip this week! Last week, Britt asked me a vital question – where do I fall on the whole Ryan/Marissa/Theresa/Eddie love square? Am I Team Marissa or Team Theresa? I can tell you, with utmost assurance, that I am not Team Eddie, because Eric Balfour mediocred up all of my favorite early 2000s WB teen dramas. And also because Eddie is a maniac. But though I am obviously Team Theresa right now – she’s so cool and kind and mature – I never loved the way the writers handled her character once she moved to Newport. She just turns into kind of a drag, and suddenly Marissa starts acting so cool and kind and mature herself, that when Theresa takes off at the end of this first episode, I am (temporarily) relieved. 

Let’s drink because we’re being forced to side with Marissa under any circumstances!

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
Anyone references The Valley

Drink twice every time: 

Someone says “Newpsie”
Fisticuffs occur (three times for pool fights!)
Someone grabs a cup of coffee
Ryan and Seth read comic books
Someone reminds us that Kaitlin Cooper exists

Onto the episodes! 

1.21 “The Goodbye Girl”

So Theresa’s in town for the indefinite future, and everyone – Seth, Sandy, Marissa, everyone – keeps asking Ryan what the plan is. But Ryan doesn’t know! He’s only 16 (or something) for chrissake! Leave the poor boy alone! Theresa’s looking for jobs and assuring Ryan that she doesn’t need him to take care of her like “one of these Newport chicks” (burn, Marissa!), but Ryan’s still fretting pretty hard, especially regarding the Eddie situation. Theresa finally calls Eddie and tells him they’re through, and then she and Ryan have sex while Eddie totally watches through the motel window, because Eddie is looneynuts crazytoons. 

Meanwhile, Marissa is making her own enlightened attempts to embrace the friend, because, she tells Ryan, “I’m used to getting what I want, which I know is not the most attractive quality. But I also know that I can’t compete with a girl you’ve known your whole life. Not after everything that’s just come between us.” In the face of Marissa’s sudden wisdom, Ryan starts to thaw towards her, but right as it seems that they might be repairing their friendship, Eddie shows up at Harbor and starts throwing punches in Ryan’s general direction until security separates them, because – remember! – Eddie is looneynuts crazytoons. Marissa, seeing how messy this situation is, offers to help Theresa find a job, and when Ryan tells her Theresa’s not planning to attend the latest social event of the week because she doesn’t have anything to wear, Marissa pops by Theresa’ room at the Mermaid Inn with an invitation and several dresses. It’s really nice, and it says a lot about Theresa, too, that she doesn’t bristle at the gesture or treat Marissa like she’s being condescending.

Both ladies arrive at the party and Ryan is wowed at how beautiful Theresa looks, all dressed up in Marissa’s frock, and we can tell he’s also deeply touched by Marissa’s kindness. But then, OF COURSE, Eddie shows up again and starts throwing punches some more because – say it with me now! – Eddie is looneynuts crazytoons. This encounter turns into one of those infamous fights that land in the Cohens’ pool, so let’s go ahead and drink thrice for pool-related fisticuffs. The manly men (Sandy, Jimmy, Luke) throw Eddie out of the party, and poor Theresa is tearful and mortified. She goes to Marissa’s house to return the dress, and asks her to say goodbye to Ryan for her. “I’ve been fooling myself thinking this was going to be easy. I’ve made a huge mess of everything and I have this whole life to figure out…and so does Ryan. So take care of him.” Later, Ryan stops by the Mermaid Inn and sees that Theresa is gone, and he stares sadly through the window at the empty room. 

But Theresa’s not the only – or even the main – goodbye girl in this episode! No, that honor belongs to Anna, who’s tired of talking about plastic surgery and plastic credit cards and just wants to go back to Pittsburgh, where she can enjoy the seasons and eat peanut butter cup pie and visit the Jimmy Stewart museum. It does sound pretty great, Anna. Of course, Seth is Seth, so he’s convinced she’s leaving solely because of him, but he’s not really being obnoxious in this assertion – more desperate to convince Anna to stay. He comes pretty close to blowing it with Summer by obsessing over Anna’s departure, even during a makeout sesh with Summer, but when he tells Summer, earnestly, that this isn’t about anything other than his friendship with Anna, she tells him to go after Anna at the airport. He catches Anna just in time and they share a sweet, tearful goodbye that Seth draws out far too long, but Anna remains cool. And when Seth asks her what he’s going to do without her, Anna replies, perfectly

Anna: “Confidence, Cohen.”

How many times did I have to drink? 


The social event of the week

Caleb’s being honored as Man of the Year! Fitting, no? No. No, it isn’t. But his little KiKi’s throwing a big party for him anyway – even after he confesses to her (at Sandy’s insistence, if Caleb wants Sandy’s legal help) that he’s been up to some hella shady business that could land them both in jail. Even though Kirsten didn’t want Sandy to get involved, Sandy gets up to some hella shady business himself to protect his wife (and by proxy, Caleb), and he arranges a bribe situation that should clear Caleb’s name. Sandy feels dirty, but he probably feels better about it after he and Kirsten end the episode with some hot sex, because that is how they do.

Best Seth Cohen line

Marissa and Theresa each show up the same morning with respective offers to drive Ryan and Seth to school, and the situation devolves into amazing awkwardness very quickly until both ladies bolt with mumbled promises to call first next time.

Seth: “Well, looks like we’re hitchhiking.”

Best Ryan Atwood line

It’s more in his delivery, but as Seth dwindles down yet another Anna babble, he asks Ryan, “You know what I mean?” and Ryan sighs, “Hardly ever.”

The truest thing anybody said this week

As Theresa admits to feeling embarrassed for causing a huge brawl at a fancy party, Marissa comforts her, “Actually, not the first time that’s happened.”

Why Luke rules

Well, first of all, he’s keeping the sexual attention of a BAMF like Julie Cooper. Second: he sits outside the school strumming his guitar like the goofiest cutie, and then he gives Marissa really great advice about moving on from Ryan, the way Luke had to move on from Marissa after he lost her trust. (Spoiler: he’s about to lose it again, and then some.)

Why Summer rules

She defends Marissa to Ryan at the party, telling him gently, “I get why you’re doing what you’re doing, but she does really love you, Ryan. The Oliver thing, I know, it was messed up – but hey, she dated Luke for years, you can’t always trust her judgment! But she has a good heart.”

And then! I LOVE her goodbye with Anna. 

Summer: “Well, you might not believe this but…I’m gonna miss you.”

Anna: “What’s even more unbelievable is that I’m gonna miss you.”

Summer: “It is pretty unbelievable!”

Anna: “Bye, Blanche.”

Summer: “Bye, Rose.”

And then they share a sweet, laughing hug. Those girls! <3

I can’t believe they got this past the censors

When Luke stops by Julie’s house for a little afternoon delight, he teases her, “I just thought that you needed help with your DSL.” Scandalous! Of course, when Jimmy shows up a minute later, Julie cinches the cover story: 

Julie: “Luke just came by to defrag my hard drive.”

Shockingly, Jimmy isn’t buying it, and he tells her later at the party, “This can’t possibly be happening, right? I must be crazy,” and when Julie pretends ignorance, he continues, “Okay, that’s what I thought. Because it would destroy Marissa. And I think we both know she’s been through enough.” All good points, you killjoy. Also, Julie Cooper does have some amazing lips – a fact that has not escaped Caleb, who attempts to reconcile with Julie at the party. She tells him coyly, “Plan the perfect date, run it by me. We’ll see,” and I wish I could say that to a man and expect him to respond as Caleb does.

Best pop culture reference

Seth, grilling Ryan about his kiss with Theresa the night before, “Just tell me this – what sort of level of kiss are we talking about? Was it like a Christina-Madonna peck or was it like a Britney-Madonna sorta smooch, or was it like a full-on Al and Tipper lip-lock?”

Most recognizable song

As Ryan drives a tipsy Seth to the airport to say goodbye to Anna (he had three glasses of champagne! You know how it goes straight to his head), he’s listening to Journey’s “Separate Ways.”

Seth, disgusted: “What is this music?”

Ryan, steely: “DO NOT insult Journey, all right?”

1.22 “The L.A.”

I love this episode! 

It opens with Seth and Ryan returning to the Mermaid Inn to retrieve Ryan’s watch. Seth’s trying to convince Ryan that it’s a good thing that Theresa’s returned to Chino, because Ryan’s been all about girl drama ever since he moved to Orange County. “Okay, Ryan Atwood, this is Clean Slate Ryan. Finally you have no women to protect from violent goateed factory workers or pill-popping manic depressives!…You know what? You’re gonna get a break because you deserve it. I think I’m going to declare this month…Angst-free Ryan Month!”

Of course, at that moment Ryan and Seth see Luke exit Julie’s motel room, where they share a long, clearly post-coital kiss on the balcony. Ryan, aghast, “It didn’t even last the night.” Credits!

So the boys are wigging, and Seth convinces Ryan that it’s his job to confront Luke, because that’s more Ryan’s “specialty.” Ryan does indeed confront Luke, awesomely, just strolling up to him at the Harbor billiards table (?) and breezing, “So, you have sex with Julie Cooper today?” Luke babbles a few excuses but Ryan cuts him off, telling him he has to end it, immediately. Luke tries to tell Ryan that he has feelings for Julie (aww), but Ryan ain’t having that. He tells Luke that Marissa, Ryan, Seth and Summer are all going to LA that weekend, and that Luke should take the opportunity to end things with Julie. Luke reluctantly agrees.

Why are the kiddos heading to Los Angeles? Because The ValleyThe Valley is my favorite inside joke on The O.C., an in-universe, even-more-fictional version of The O.C. with which Summer is wholly obsessed. Summer and Marissa are at the beach when they run into Grady Bridges, the star of The Valley who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for Adam Brody/Seth Cohen. Summer fangirls all over Grady, which he quite enjoys, and he invites the ladies to his birthday party that night in the city. Summer then invites the boys, and Seth is instantly jealous and neurotic, as his is wont, so he insists that he and Ryan attend to safeguard the sanctity of his relationship with Summer. A few obstacles try to keep our foursome from attending (parental interference, Marissa drama), but eventually it all works out, and these pals are taking a road trip!

Meanwhile, Sandy and Jimmy are already broke over their Lighthouse endeavor, so Kirsten recommends they hire a free Julie as designer – a suggestion that makes Jimmy want to barf – and then Julie recommends they bring on Caleb as an investor – a suggestion that makes Sandy want to barf. But these women are powerhouses who will not be denied, so Julie and Caleb are brought into Sandy and Jimmy’s “happy place” project. All the adults decide to host a trial dinner at the Cohens’ with some other investors and Newport bigwigs, and after a little meatloaf-related controversy, it all goes smoothly. Until Sandy gets a call from Ryan: Hayley, who’s split town since her flirtation with Jimmy, isn’t an aerobics instructor in Turks and Caicos as she’s claimed, but is instead stripping at Grady Bridges’ birthday party. Jimmy hears the news and takes off to rescue her.

At the party, Seth and Summer are busy making each other jealous with Paris Hilton (uh-huh) and Grady Bridges, respectively, while Ryan and Marissa are teaming up to White Knight poor Hayley, who’s just humiliated that these teenagers are judging her for her poor decision making. The stripper boss is a jerk, as television tells us all stripper bosses must be, and he kicks out Ryan and Marissa for disturbing the strip-show, but Marissa cleverly sneaks them back in by pretending Ryan is a star on The Valley and she’s his superfan. (Ryan is certainly handsome and muscular enough to be a TV star. We can tell because he’s played by Ben McKenzie, a TV star.) But after they’re spotted again, they’re about to get in big trouble with the bouncer when Jimmy shows up to save the day. He sends the kids home, and then he’s so sweet and tender with an embarrassed Hayley. He brings her back to the Cohens’ house, and for once Kirsten, Sandy and Caleb don’t act like disapproving mommies and instead give Hayley the love and care she’s clearly needing right now.

All this time, Luke’s been popping up at the Lighthouse investor dinner, trying to talk to Julie through windows and doors while she swats him away in a very Three’s Company fashion. After the dinner’s a success, Caleb is very attentive and swoony to Julie, which probably cushions the blow when she returns home to find Luke waiting there to dump her. She’s surprised but admits it’s a good idea, and it seems like this drama’s going to end without any casualties. But after their fun in L.A., Marissa’s hanging out in the pool house with Ryan – all cute and pillow fighty –  when Luke storms in, announcing, “I am done having sex with Julie Cooper.” Then he sees Marissa, who is GUTTED. She sobs and runs out of the house. D’oh!

How many times did I have to drink? 


Guess who? 

Yes, that’s right, Paris Hilton is here. And while I despise her one-off appearance on another one of my favorite WB/CW teen dramas, Veronica Mars, I kind of like it here. First, because we’re meant to believe Miz Hilton is a Pynchon-reading intellectual, which is kind of hilarious, and second because she “ew”s Summer better than Summer.

Paris Hilton: “I’ve been up all night working on my thesis, ‘Magical Realism in American Literature’.”

Paris Hilton: “Gravity’s Rainbow is his masterpiece!”

And last because she has an immediate crush on Seth Cohen, and FINALLY, someone on this show can admit that Seth Cohen is a regulation hottie.

And that’s not all! Grady Bridges is played by Colin Hanks! I LOVE COLIN HANKS! He is amazingly smug and self-satisfied as the Adam Brody stand-in, which makes me love both Colin Hanks and Adam Brody for their excellent senses of humor.

Best Seth Cohen line

I enjoy his delicate dismay at the Juke situation. “I can’t believe they were at a motel. It’s just so cheap. It’s so tawdry.” He is such a granny!

Sandy Cohen burn

When he hears from Jimmy that the Lighthouse is broke already: “Well, you are really not so good at managing the money, are you, Coop?” 

Most bromantic moment

It’s not quite bromance, but gah, I love the rapport Seth and Ryan share. Regarding the LA trip:

Ryan: “You don’t even know if your parents are gonna let us go.”

Seth: “I’m going to handle it.”

Ryan: “So you’re gonna lie to them.”

Seth: “No, that was the old me. I have evolved, and now I’m a man of honor, Ryan. So I’m going to need you to talk to them. It’s kind of more your specialty.”

Ryan: “It seems like you’re making a lot of things my specialty these days.”

Seth: “Yeah, well, great leadership is all about delegation.”

Ryan: “So now I’m your employee?”

Seth: “Noooo, we’re partners.”

Ryan: “What do you do?”

Seth: “I’m working on the business plan, okay? That’s gonna be awesome. I just need you to convince my parents, convince Marissa, and I’m going to supervise. God, it’s so easy.”

Ryan, muttering under his breath: “I should go into business for myself.”

Best besties

Paralleling Seth’s pep talk to Ryan, Summer tries to convince Marissa that she’s better off without all this boy drama. 

Summer: “You need to be independent, or how else are you going to find a new guy? You can’t be with someone else until you can be by yourself.”

Marissa: “Hey, I can be by myself!”

Summer: “And by yourself, I mean still hanging out with me.”

Marissa, laughing and hugging Summer: “Okay, good, thank god.”

Best pop culture reference

As they’re stuck in traffic on the way to LA, Summer mutters, “It’s times like these I wish we had a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Seth immediately replies, “I always wish we had a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – it’s a flying car.” These two are perfect for each other. Also we learn that Summer has a big crush on Legolas.

Worst outfit

Marissa, NO.

Most meta moments

These are the reasons I love “The L.A.” so much. There are so many clever in-jokes tying The Valley to The O.C.! Colin Hanks was in a movie called Orange County. Summer lauds Grady Bridges for his improvisational prowess. Seth asks how Grady can play someone in high school (Hanks and Brody were both in their mid-20s when this episode aired). Marissa, pretending that Ryan is a Valley star, says he’s “a little shorter than I imagined.” And then, of course, when Summer finds out that Grady is dating his Valley co-star, her reaction is priceless. 

The Breakfast Club

And the other reason I love “The L.A.” – after the party hijinks have ended, our four besties are walking down the street, teasing each other about the night’s escapades. They decide that of this outfit, Seth’s the brains, Ryan’s the brawn, Marissa’s the beauty and Summer is either the boobs or the bitch, depending on your outlook. I know it sounds sexist, but it’s actually adorable, and this show is never better than when these four cuties are having a blast together.

That’s it for this week! I have a question for you, FYA: Who’s your favorite and/or least favorite guest star on The O.C.?

And a question for you, Britt: when you were watching this live, how aware were you of the Valley in-jokes? Did you know Adam Brody was known for ad-libbing his lines? Were you freaking out that he and Rachel Bilson were a couple IRL?

Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she covers “The Nana” and “The Proposal.”


Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.