Title: The O.C. S1.E17 “The Rivals”
The O.C. S1.E18 “The Truth”
Released: 2004
Series:  The O.C.

Drinks Taken: 24

Last week, on The O.C.

Here’s the deal, guys – we’re in the final inning of this Oliver business, so let’s hustle our way through it. Last week, Britt asked me the best question, based on Anna’s ghastly tank/camisole look and on my own fondness for Delia’s (may it rest in peace). What was the most embarrassing thing I wore in the late ’90s/early ’00s? So many to choose from! I did a lot of the army skirt/combat boots/frilly shirt look, and I often tried to dress exactly like Liv Tyler in Empire Records. But the most embarrassing look I rocked (often, as in weekly) was definitely my wide-leg skater jeans and an XL Star Wars or Pink Floyd t-shirt. Oh, tiny teen Meredith, why did you drown yourself in fabric?

Let’s drink away the memories! 

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

Onto the eps!

1.17 “The Rivals”

Seth keeps advising Ryan to “embrace the friend” when it comes to Oliver, and in general this is advice I live by, myself: if you’re jealous of someone, make that person your friend. You’ll conquer your jealousy, look magnanimous instead of petty and you’ll get a new friend out of it. But this groovy tip is made moot when the person in question is totally batshit looneynuts, like Oliver. Right after Ryan promises Marissa he’s going to make an effort to befriend Oliver, Oliver shows up at Harbor School, all, “Hey, I go here now! And by the way, I have the exact same schedule as Marissa. What a coinkidink!” Ryan’s suspicious are revived, and everyone keeps trying to tell him that he’s overreacting when, c’mon, they are clearly underreacting. It’s CRAZY that Oliver is everywhere we turn all of a sudden. I feel like Ryan: I didn’t sign up for this! I didn’t agree to just hang out with Oliver all damn day, everywhere I go! How did this happen?!

Based on a sarcastic non-suggestion from Seth, Ryan breaks into the principal’s office and steals Oliver’s permanent file, and he learns that Oliver left Pacific School after he tried to kill himself when it didn’t work out with some girl he was stalking. Ryan gets caught, naturally, and is sentenced to detention and possibly worse, and Kirsten and Sandy and that awesome Harbor principal are all so disappointed in him, but NOBODY seems to care that Ryan has proven that Oliver is definitely unhinged. Then Ryan does something even I can’t get behind: he sees Oliver leave a note in Marissa’s locker and he steals it. He tells Seth, and Seth is SO disapproving, but Ryan reads it anyway, and it appears to be evidence that Oliver is desperately in love with Marissa. When Ryan confronts Marissa about the note, she tells him it’s a draft of Oliver’s letter for Natalie, his “girlfriend” (sorry, no spoilers, but I could see this coming a mile away when I first watched it and I bet you can too), and she tearfully breaks up with Ryan because she doesn’t trust him anymore. Ryan is chagrined, and apologizes to Oliver, who immediately reveals his true colors, taunting Ryan that he and Marissa are meant to be together. “At this point, who’s gonna believe you? Walk away – you have a chance to really make something of yourself. Don’t blow it over some chick you’re not gonna care about in ten years.” Surprising no one, Ryan beats the crap out of Oliver in front of Marissa and a bunch of teachers. Ruh-roh!

When Seth’s not busy castigating Ryan, he’s ignoring his own advice and growing increasingly annoyed at Summer’s new boyfriend, Danny. Everyone thinks Danny is so-o funny, but Seth doesn’t, and neither do I. Danny’s super obnoxious, actually, and Seth’s irritation feels in proportion to Danny’s lousy jokes, but Anna thinks Seth is jealous (also he is). She tells him to “embrace the friend” and Seth invites Danny over to hang out. At first it seems he’s really trying, regardless of how amazingly unfunny Danny is, but when Danny tells him that Summer said Seth is the funniest guy she knows, we see his gears switch and he goes into sabotage mode. He tells Danny that he should “go a little bigger” in his humor, and Danny gets so loud and broad that Summer can’t handle it and dumps him. Summer’s sad, because she thought she found someone she could really like, and she and Seth look longingly at each other – and it’s telling, comparing this one laden exchange with any moments Seth shares with Anna. Seth spends the entire episode pulling away from Anna after Summer said they’re like brother and sister – he’s embarrassed that he and Anna dress alike and enjoy the same activities and eat the same tuna melts, but honestly, all of that stuff sounds awesome. And he probably wouldn’t mind any of it if it were Summer instead of Anna going to the IMAX and eating tuna melts with him.

In grown-up news, Sandy’s dead-set on buying The Lighthouse with Jimmy – first, so Jimmy can have a job and doesn’t have to move to Arizona, and second because Sandy just really wants to do it. They have a Gary Cooper-themed brainstorming session (this will be a very man’s man seafood restaurant, apparently, with two mom-approved meatloaf recipes), but when push comes to shove Jimmy almost chickens out. Turns out he’s afraid of failing again, but Sandy talks him through it and now they’re in business together!

How many times did I have to drink? 


Best pop culture reference

Seth, when Ryan tries to get him to read Oliver’s letter, “That letter is like The Ring. Anyone who reads it is going to die.”

Guess who? 

Danny is played by Brett Harrison, who’s been in a ton of stuff but who will always be Brad from Grounded for Life to me. Remember that show? With Donal Logue? So good.

Best Seth Cohen line

When Danny eagerly refers to a Leno episode, Seth grumbles to himself, “He watches Leno. That explains everything.”

How we know Seth and Sandy are related

After overhearing a couple of Danny’s “jokes,” Sandy is aghast, and he and Seth have the best exchange, all urgent and whispery in the kitchen: 

Sandy: “Whoa, that kid is not funny.”

Seth: “Thank you, I know!”

Sandy: “He makes Ryan look funny.”

Seth: “He makes Marissa look funny.”

Sandy: “Gentiles. I love your mother more then words, but not funny. Get yourself some funnier friends.”

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

She begs Kirsten for a chance to decorate a model home and prove she can be The Newport Group’s new Director of Design. Against her better judgment, Kirsten agrees, and Julie immediately turns Kirsten’s office into a war zone and destroys the project. When Kirsten finds Julie crying and completely panicked that Caleb will be furious, Kirsten helps her finish in time, and then when Caleb loves the work, Julie takes immediate credit for it. Now she and Kirsten are coworkers, hooray!

Why Luke rules

He’s the only person who agrees with Ryan that Oliver is fishy. He’s all, “Want me to beat him up for you? I’ll totally beat him up for you!” Aww, Luke.

Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows say

Gah, Sandy gives the best lectures.

After Ryan gets in trouble, he asks if Sandy and Kirsten are going to throw him out of the house. Sandy: “You think you can mess up so bad that we’ll just give up on you? You can’t. You are part of this family now, and you’re going to feel the full weight of that. You’re gonna wish we threw you out.” Scary and supportive at once! He really is Super-Dad.

1.18 “The Truth”

Ryan’s been suspended, with the possibility of expulsion, and everyone is so upset with him and can’t understand why he’s behaving this way. BECAUSE OLIVER IS DANGEROUS AND HE’S TRYING TO WARN YOU. Sandy’s disappointed, Kirsten’s fretful and – most uncool – Seth is treating Ryan with this gross, uppity condescension. Ryan, hurt, says to Seth, “You’d think you of all people would believe me. I’d believe you,” and somehow that doesn’t melt Seth’s heart at all. He just shrugs it off and goes back to juggling Anna and Summer (more on that in a minute). 

But slowly, everyone’s starting to see Oliver’s weird monopoly on Marissa now that Ryan’s out of the picture – he’s deleting her voicemails from Ryan, convincing her to skip school with him and inviting her to Paris. He’s so pushy, and Marissa finally starts to see a little of what Ryan has seen all along. Then, when she realizes that the concierge at the Four Seasons is named Natalie Bishop, and that’s supposedly Oliver’s girlfriend’s name, she confronts him, and he goes NUTS. He’s got her locked in his penthouse, waving a gun around and sobbing about how nobody loves him.

UGH, Oliver, you are the WORST. This is why nobody loves you! This right here! Marissa has a second to call Ryan, and he grabs the keys and starts to barrel out to rescue her as is The Ryan Atwood Way, but Sandy stops him. Ryan says, “You said if I needed help, I could come to you,” and Sandy takes the keys and drives Ryan there himself. Yay Sandy! Along with the real Natalie Bishop, they break down the door, and Oliver tries to kill himself AGAIN but Ryan manfully talks him out of it. Marissa, sobbing, throws herself into Ryan’s arms, and good lord, finally we’re done with Oliver. 

Meanwhile, Summer’s feeling left out since Marissa’s new bestie is Oliver, so she asks Seth and Anna if she can hang out with them. She tells Seth she wants to learn about comic books, and Seth nearly wets himself in excitement. They’re all cozied up and flirtily laughing while Anna sits silently off to the side, and Sandy can’t help but notice. He scolds Seth, who blows him off, but when the big Oliver showdown shakes out and Seth’s first instinct is to call Summer, Anna finally throws in the towel. She breaks up with him sadly, saying, “Seth, look, I think you’re a great guy, but I’m not going to stand here and pretend like I’m your girlfriend when I’m not. At least not anymore.” Aww, good for you, Anna. You deserve better.

Lots of break-ups are happening this week – Julie’s driving everyone at The Newport Group crazy, and when Kirsten confronts Caleb about it, he asks her to break up with Julie for him. Kirsten still doesn’t know how to say no to her father and somehow agrees to this appalling request, and Julie is heartbroken (though in a really kickass, imperious way I’d like to master) to be dumped by Caleb via Kirsten. Poor Julie then quits before Caleb’s proxy Kirsten can fire her, meaning she lost her boyfriend and her job in one fell swoop.

How many times did I have to drink? 


Most recognizable song

As Ryan is banished to the pool house for most of the episode, he keeps listening to “Love of the Loveless” by The Eels. 

Best Seth Cohen line

When Anna snarkily suggests Archie comics for Summer to try and Seth scoffs, Sandy chimes in, “Hey, I’m with Anna. Life’s gritty enough. Comic books are for fun.” Seth: “Life’s gritty enough? We live in Newport.” (I also love how sweet Sandy is to Anna this whole episode. What a mensch.)

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

When Ryan tries to warn her about Oliver, she sniffs, “The boy who lives in the pool house is trying to warn me about the boy who lives in the penthouse?”

Why Luke still rules

When he hears of Ryan’s suspicions that Oliver invented Natalie, he does a little investigating and confirms that there is, in fact, no Natalie Bishop at Pacific High. Luke is such a Hardy boy!

Most bromantic moment

Ryan’s reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and we all know that’s one of Seth’s favorite books (and mine, btw). After Ryan’s home safely from the Oliver fiasco, Seth redeems himself by gesturing to the book and saying, “Well, it’s a good story, Ryan. It’s the tale of two young men who couldn’t be more different, but they learn to overcome their differences. They team up and essentially become brothers not unlike you and me…except that I blew it.” Ryan says that it’s okay, and Seth continues, “No, it’s not. Ever since the day you got here you’ve totally had my back, and I promise you, from now on, I will never fail you again. I am so sorry.” TEARS. You are forgiven, Seth Cohen. 

Most amazing WTFery

Luke drops by Julie’s house to pick up some clothes for Marissa, per her request, and he finds her crying over Caleb. He tells her clumsily, but sweetly, that he’s there if she needs him, and she kisses him on the cheek and then they exchange A LOOK. It is hot and steamy and unbelievably inappropriate and I am so excited for this dumbness to start.

That’s it for this week! I have a question for you guys – I think Marissa actually handled the entire Oliver situation pretty well. She kept trusting him for understandable reasons – she met him in therapy, and if she dismisses him as crazy, then she’s crazy, too. She never blew off or mistreated Ryan, and only broke up with him when he stole the letter from her locker, which is valid. Oliver’s the worst, but he played Marissa like a fiddle, and I don’t blame her for falling for it. Agree/disagree?

And Britt, since you’ll be getting to write about the brunt of it, you lucky duck – how do you feel about Luke and Julie as a plot point? I am SO FOR IT, but not because I think it’s a good idea. It’s just so deliciously terrible!

Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she covers “The Heartbreak” and “The Telenovela.”


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.