The O.C. S2.E01 “The Distance”
Drinks Taken: 21
Welcome to this week’s installment of The O.C. Rewatch Project! Last week, Meredith asked me which episode of season 1 is my favorite, and I think I have to go with either “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” or “The Nana.” I’m just a sucker for Seth Cohen’s Christmas shenanigans, as well as old Jewish ladies.
This week, we’re ending season 1 and beginning season 2, so let’s drink to that!
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!
1.26 “The Ties That Bind”
It’s the season 1 finale, and the melodrama has taken a back seat to real drama. Even Marissa isn’t acting like her typical, nutty, self-involved self. Everyone is preparing for Julie and Caleb’s wedding, but there’s so much more important stuff going on that isn’t the wedding – Caleb is in serious trouble with the feds, and he’s dangerously close to losing his money and his property, and he’s pretty confident that Julie isn’t marrying him for his money, and while that’s somewhat true, he still doesn’t seem to know his bride-to-be all that well.
“The Ties That Bind” is one of those Very Important Episodes, as Teresa struggles with whether or not she should have the baby that may or may not be Ryan’s. At her age and with her measly waitress salary, along with Ryan still being in high school and having so much of a future ahead of him, Teresa thinks that an abortion is the best choice. The episode approaches the subject matter with the appropriate emotional complexity, with Kirsten revealing her own past abortion to Teresa, and saying the absolute perfect thing: that she just wishes that when she was faced with this decision, someone had been there for her, and she – along with everyone else – will support Teresa no matter what choice she makes, but it is her choice to make in the end, and there is more than one option. It’s such a beautiful moment, and the argument afterward with Sandy is another great examination of the complexity of the issue, with Sandy arguing the more logical points (finances, education, future, maturity level), and Kirsten arguing the more emotional and personal side of it.
Ultimately, Teresa decides to keep the baby because for her, that’s the right thing to do. But she has no one to help her and no one to turn to, so she has to go back home to Chino to tell her mom and try to keep her life together as best as she can.
And this leads Ryan to decide that he needs to step up and help his friend – even if he isn’t the father, he feels that’s the right thing for him to do. Seth valiantly tries (and fails) to sell Summer Breeze to get some cash to give to Teresa, which goes a long way with Summer, who’s still abstaining from intimacy with him after the whole prostitute thing in Vegas.
With Ryan leaving, Julie and Caleb’s wedding becomes a somber affair, and I have to give it to Marissa for handling the situation with grace and maturity. She’s supportive and understanding, but she still lets Ryan know that she’s very sad about the whole situation and she wishes it didn’t have to be this way. The moment out at the beach when Ryan reveals that he’s leaving, there’s a shot of Marissa where you can see how this affects her – her immediate desire is to say something to stop him, to beg him, to tell him it’s not fair and it’s not OK, but she stops herself from saying anything at all and solemnly listens to Ryan, who isn’t just her boyfriend, but her friend. And this is the right thing for Marissa to do.
The end of the episode is so incredibly emotional, with Kirsten asking Ryan if he’d stay if she could learn how to cook, and Seth trying to put up a wall between himself and Ryan to make the departure less painful – though he reveals why Ryan has been such an important friend and person in his life in a lovely moment of candor, with Summer reminding him that she’s his friend, too.
But really, it’s Kirsten’s emotional breakdown that destroys me. Here is a woman who was initially hesitant to bring this boy into her home, worried about the influence he might have on her own son, but by the end of the first season, he’s become just like another son to her and she genuinely loves him. And then she loses both sons. It’s so heartbreaking.
Ending the season with Ryan driving off with Teresa, while glimpsing Marissa in her driveway, backlit by the sun, is such a fantastic callback to the pilot, and the perfect ending for this season. Meanwhile, Seth takes Summer Breeze and sails off, leaving a farewell note behind because he just can’t stay in the O.C. without Ryan.
How many times did I have to drink?
Most recognizable song
That’s British singer Jem performing her cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed” at Julie and Caleb’s wedding. But the song that’s more recognizable than that is Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” playing over the last few minutes of the episode. We’ve heard this song before and we’ll be hearing it again throughout the series, as it becomes a chorus for sadness in the O.C.
Most bromantic moment
Seth trying to sell the Summer Breeze to give Teresa money to help raise her baby. It’s so selfless and wonderful of Seth, and shows how much he loves Ryan. Similarly, Ryan’s gift to Seth at the end, and Seth talking about what Ryan means to him – guys, I can hardly stand it.
Best pop culture reference
Seth thinks Ryan should name his kid Thor.
Seth: “Thor. It’s a strong name. No one’s gonna mess with Thor.”
Sandy and Kirsten 4Ever
These two making out in the kitchen is just the dang cutest. And kind of hot. Side note: if you’re itching for more Sandy Cohen action, Peter Gallagher is on the new HBO series Togetherness and he’s a total silver fox now. You should def. watch.
2.1 “The Distance”
We begin season 2 with the Cohens’ home under construction, reflecting Kirsten’s feelings about her broken home. Over in Chino, Ryan works in construction, which similarly serves as a metaphor for the life he’s trying to build with Teresa. But he’s not happy there with her, and she’s not happy because she feels like she’s holding him hostage, and we glean all of this from quiet moments, turned backs, and distant stares in the dark.
“The Distance” doesn’t kick off season 2 by immediately putting everyone and everything back together, which makes most of the episode a huge bummer. Seth is living in Portland with Luke and his dad, and since no one knows about his dorky, bullied past back in Newport, he’s a pretty big charmer with the ladies. With Kirsten giving Sandy the icy treatment, he travels up to Portland (making a pit stop in Chino to try and convince Ryan to do the same) to try and get Seth to return home, (rightfully) pointing out how ungrateful he’s been. But there’s nothing Sandy can do short of forcing Seth to come home, where he might just run off even angrier again.
Enter Ryan, who bails on Teresa’s prenatal check-up to visit with Seth and try to make things right between them. But while he’s in Portland, Ryan receives a call from Teresa, who lies about a miscarriage, knowing the baby is the only reason he’s with her – without the baby, he’s free to go back home to Newport, and maybe everything will fall back into place. It’s such a selfless moment from Teresa, who sacrifices this faulty relationship with Ryan so he can be happy. She knows that to keep him in Chino is selfish, and that Ryan basically has one foot out the door at all times. Whatever support he’s providing isn’t 100%. You can’t make someone commit to you. You can’t force someone to be the person you need them or want them to be. I feel so bad for Teresa.
Meanwhile, Marissa is dealing with Ryan’s absence about the way you’d expect, drinking at her fancy mansion pool all day, and drinking at the beach at night, where she calls Ryan and hangs up without saying a word. Summer has taken a different approach, divesting herself of Seth’s belongings and dating someone new, basically ignoring her feelings for Seth.
And in grown-up news, Caleb is about to be indicted hardcore by the feds for his unethical and illegal business practices, so he’s gone Full Nixon, acting straight-up paranoid about bugs on the phone and in their homes. But a handsomely scruffy Jimmy is doing OK, and he unites with Julie in the pursuit of being good, emotionally available parents to Marissa, who needs support. Even Julie is kicking off this season in a much better place, thanks to her happy union with Cal. If only she knew the storm that’s about to blow in.
While much of the episode is definitely distressing, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: without the baby, Ryan is free to go home, and with Ryan returning, Seth finally feels like he has a reason to belong in Newport again. But they’re both right: Monday at school is going to be awkwaaaaaard.
How many times did I have to drink?
Julie Cooper, world class mother
Best pop culture reference
Julie compares Marissa to the “spawn of Chucky and Keith Moon.” Julie Cooper with a joke, guys!
Most bromantic moment
Ryan and Seth bonding in Portland and coming back home, where they easily slip right back into their cute banter. When Ryan goes to leave and he and Seth run back to each other, it’s so bro-rom-com.
Good god, Marissa Cooper
This week, Marissa throws an impressively awful temper tantrum. It is ALL TIME.
Hailey is limber. Caleb is not.
50 Shades of Luke:
And that’s it for this week! A question for you, dear readers: how do you feel about Teresa’s pregnancy plot with Ryan? Do you think she made the right call in letting him go, or do you feel as though either or both of them are being selfish? I want to know your thoughts.
And two questions for Meredith: 1. How do we feel about bearded Jimmy Cooper? 2. How much did you love/hate Marissa’s tantrum?
Meet Meredith back here next Wednesday morning, when she covers “The Way We Were” and “The New Kids On the Block”!
About the Contributor:
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.