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Title: The O.C. S1.E15 “The Third Wheel”
The O.C. S1.E16 “The Links”
Released: 2004
Series:  The O.C.

Drinks Taken: 22

Last week, on The O.C.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The O.C. Rewatch Project! I am super jealous that Meredith got to recap the Chrismukkah episode for you guys because Chrimukkah episodes are THE BEST. Last week, Meredith asked me how I feel about the way Marissa handled Ryan when he didn’t say he loved her back, and I have to say that I agree with Meredith – I mean, it’s both passive-aggressive and kind of awesome. That’s high praise coming from me because I really can’t stand Marissa, but revisiting the series – especially years removed from my own rowdy youth – she’s more likable in the first season. Her issues come off as those of a typical troubled, needy teen. I get it. But I also know she only gets worse from here.

Let’s drink to keep up with Marissa!

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 first episode!

1.15 “The Third Wheel”

It’s always satisfying when an episode of a television series finds a great way to thematically tie all its plot threads together, even if “The Third Wheel” does it in a way that’s a bit obvious. The title references three different third wheel scenarios (today’s magic number is three!), so let’s start with the first one: Hailey, who is making herself a little too at home with the Cohens, and keeps devouring all the best bagels, which is the least of her houseguest crimes. I love Hailey because she’s willfully regressive, which is one of the most relatable character traits (for me anyway; your mileage may vary) – she’s watching Golden Girls marathons (her favorite childhood show), and she pulls out all her old board games for a fun evening cozying up to her old babysitter, Jimmy Cooper.

And everything would be OK if she would quit sticking her foot in her mouth, casually insulting Kirsten by taking digs at her older sister’s career and their father’s shady business dealings. Yes, it’s a bit inconsiderate and rude, but Hailey isn’t exactly lying about Caleb’s ethics. The truth just stings when it comes from someone else’s mouth. But Hailey isn’t totally a lost cause, and staying with the Cohens and hanging with a similarly adrift Jimmy is making Hailey realize that she might need a change of pace.

The next third wheel is our least favorite person: Oliver. While you might be able to chalk his behavior in the last episode up to good-natured and a tad oblivious, his behavior in this episode is overtly manipulative and bad. He’s definitely trying to drive a wedge between Ryan and Marissa, having chosen to latch onto Marissa as some symbol of emotional stability. On the one hand it’s like, hey, Marissa, you know you met this dude in therapy for a reason. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why Marissa would dismiss some of these early warning signs because she’s also been misunderstood due to her own irresponsible and careless behavior. Sure, a cursory glance makes it seem like Ryan is being a typical jealous boyfriend, but he has every right and reason to distrust Oliver! He may have gotten them into a sold out Rooney (remember them? FEEL OLD) show for free with his connections, but he gets busted trying to buy coke after we glimpse a little bit of his mentally unstable side – the way he acts flustered and frustrated and gets that crazed look on his face when Ryan drags Marissa away from him, for instance.

Sandy is the glue that holds this entire episode together, unifying all three of the episode’s major plot threads. Not only does his kindness and patience with Hailey help lift her spirits (along with the bagel he generously splits with her), but he’s also there to help bust Oliver out of jail. We should all aspire to be more like Sandy Cohen in our daily lives: empathetic, patient, and kind, but also able to express his feelings and frustrations in a civil but direct manner. Plus: bagels.

And on top of all of that, Sandy takes time out to listen to a little Rooney before he allows Seth to go to the show, and offers him some great fatherly/manly advice on how to handle the increasing anxiety of the Seth-Summer-Anna triangle. Seth needs to be honest, period. It’s great that he’s developed some confidence, but honesty is something else he needs to work on, even if the person he needs to be honest with probably won’t like hearing the truth.

So Seth procrastinates and keeps putting off telling Summer about Anna, even though they’re all at the same concert. He thinks it might be best to put it off until school on Monday, when Summer can reflect on what a great time they all had together at the show, and won’t be so hurt by the revelation that Anna and Seth are now a couple. But Anna lives up to her last name and gets a bit stern (hey oh!), deciding that she’ll just take matters into her own hands and break the news to Summer if Seth is going to be such a fussy baby about it. Unfortunately, Summer overhears the two of them talking about something they need to tell her, and they’re confronted with an awkward moment.

But they tell Summer the truth, and she decides to play the passive-aggressive long game: sure, they can all be friends! And it’s cool that Anna and Seth are together (side note: I keep typing “Summer and Seth” instead of “Anna and Seth,” which is super telling), and everything will be just hunky dory! Except: Summer is making sure to come between them, killing them with friendly kindness, and insisting that she tag along with Anna and Seth. Summer is playing the Oliver “we’re just super good friends” game, but she’s doing so in a way that’s more cute and overt and kind of hilarious, whereas Oliver’s whole approach is a bit douchey. I mean, we feel for Summer and know that what she’s doing comes from a place of love for Seth (even if she doesn’t entirely get that yet), but Oliver is just a total sociopathic nutcase.

How many times did I have to drink? 

10

The social event of the week

The Rooney concert, which takes me back to the high school days of loving bands like Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional, and Thursday. The lead singer of Rooney is Jason Schwartzman’s brother, Robert Coppola Schwartzman (they have a super talented family), and Jason (my dream husband) also used to be the drummer in the band Phantom Planet, which provides The O.C.‘s theme song, “California.” AND ALSO, Jason has another musical project called Coconut Records which you should check out because it is super lovely. I am just filled with knowledge about the Coppola family, guys. BIG FAN.

Sandy Cohen’s words to live by

“It’s never just a bagel!” It’s true. A bagel means so much more than its surface level dietary designation.

Best pop culture reference

When Summer sees Rooney arrive and exclaims, “The band’s here! It’s all happening!” Which is totally a reference to Almost Famous.

Best Seth Cohen line

So many! So hard to choose! It’s definitely two: One, when Luke comes between Ryan and Seth’s bromantic time, and Ryan reminds Seth that Luke’s having a hard time, so Seth goes, “Dammit, what do you think he wants on his pizza?” Luke makes some bro-y comment about a video game in the background, and Seth reminds himself, “Luke has a gay dad. Luke has a gay dad.”

And this one, of course – apparently the best Seth lines are Luke-centric in this episode:

Most womantic moment

(Womance is the love between two straight ladies; I also like to call it “homance.”) When Summer and Anna are both primping in front of the bathroom mirror during the Rooney show and Anna joins Summer in singing the theme to the Golden Girls – it’s my absolute favorite Summer and Anna moment (or homent), and it’s the moment when I knew I really did like Anna a lot.

Let’s get into the next episode!

1.16 “The Links” 

We Need to Talk About Oliver. First of all, this whole side trip into Oliver’s twisted manipulations is reminiscent of the second season of Friday Night Lights. In that season, the writers were forced to brew up some majorly dark drama to try and hook more viewers, which wasn’t entirely bad – I mean, it did give us Landry and Tyra, the most unlikely but wonderful pairing. But it also felt so unnecessary, and the writers knew it too, which is why it was never mentioned on the show again after the end of season 2. This thing with Oliver on The O.C. also obviously brings to mind cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch (Josh Schwartz & Co. must be aware of this, right?), a late addition to the clan to try and spruce things up a bit, plot-wise.

What I am getting at is this: Sure, The O.C. needs to bring in transfer students to Harbor and introduce new teens in creative ways, to constantly shift the dynamics for the dramatic element, but Oliver is a big misstep and feels too forced and contrived. He’s almost cartoonishly bad.

Anyway! So to thank Ryan for keeping him out of jail in the last episode, Oliver so graciously offers to take the whole gang to his parents’ mansion in Palm Springs for a weekend getaway – “Even Luke!” he says, as if Oliver has any right to judge Luke’s sweet, simple mind. Of course, it’s little more than a ploy to get Marissa alone and cry crocodile tears on her shoulder, winning her pity and hopefully her affections. Once again, we see two different sides of the same coin: on one side, there’s Oliver, who insists he’s just friends with Marissa and that he’s troubled, using his “girlfriend” (oh please) as proof of how harmless his intentions are. On the other side of the coin is Summer, who has reached some higher level of passive-aggressive behavior, constantly wiggling her way between Seth and Anna with her overly nice and friendly demeanor – eager to constantly remind Seth and Anna that they are all friends, which guilts them into allowing Summer to come between them constantly.

All it takes is one comment from Summer to turn both Anna and Seth off of each other: “You’re like brother and sister!” Pop. Romance balloon deflated… for the moment.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), it’s not as easy for Oliver, whose machinations are far more sinister. At least Summer means well, and she’s only directing her passive-aggressive attitude toward Seth while maintaining genuinely kind feelings for Anna because it’s not Anna’s fault, really. But Oliver’s feelings are far more… seethy, to borrow a term from Meredith. He is perpetually on the verge of erupting and spraying his seethy insides all over those closest to him. He fakes a suicide attempt with pills and convinces Marissa and Ryan to hightail it back to Newport, where he’s holed up in his hotel room, totally fine. Ryan sees Oliver for who he is, and it speaks to Marissa’s naiveté (and her dummy brain) that she remains willfully oblivious to Oliver’s BS. Ryan calls him out on it, but that just gets Oliver to go full-blown nutty and sends him off to fake his suicide attempt, which just pushes Marissa away from Ryan and further into Oliver’s gnarly grasp.

Meanwhile, at the grown-ups table, Caleb and Julie (with a new haircut!) are returning from Paris, which means Hailey is primed to hit her father up for a blank check and head back to Europe somewhere to party it up on daddy’s dime. Kirsten knows that Caleb is being willfully gullible because Hailey reminds him so much of his dead wife, and because he loves her so damn much, but Kirsten also knows something Hailey doesn’t: deep down, he really doesn’t want to bankroll her lifestyle anymore. Even Julie senses what Hailey is up to, and if Julie Cooper of all people doesn’t approve of your gold-digging, that’s kind of major. Kirsten and Hailey end up having it out when Caleb cuts Hailey off for good, and Hailey storms out to get in a cab and go… who knows where, but she has no money, so I’m not sure how she’s paying that cabbie. Unless she means “no money” in the way that most of us do, which is like, “I have money for bills, but not for fun times.”

Sandy tries his damnedest to help Jimmy get a job after a seafood restaurant turns him down, but Sandy’s firm doesn’t want to get mixed up with Jimmy after everything he did. It seems as though Jimmy’s days in Newport might be numbered, but while the guys bond over dinner and many drinks at their favorite restaurant, Jimmy reminisces about managing the place back in the day and how it was the best job of his life. So Sandy suggests that they buy the place since it’s going out of business, and they can run it together. It’s very old school sitcom, and I love it.

How many times did I have to drink? 

12

Seth and Sandy’s greatest hits

I love when these two Cohen boys gang up on Ryan. This time, it’s about Ryan’s inability to play golf, and they both tease him adorably.

Most womantic moment

Julie forgoes her bitchery this week to have a genuine moment with Kirsten. Rather than scoff and act shady about Hailey asking Caleb for money, Julie simply sympathizes with Kirsten, gently acknowledging that that’s exactly what Hailey is doing. Julie has legit feelings for Caleb and after the whole Jimmy situation, she realizes that Kirsten is her one good friend. It’s too sweet, these two.

How we know it’s 2003

Anna wears a t-shirt under her silky camisole… TO BED. Instead of wearing sleepwear like the rest of us normal people, she wears it over a shirt, like she’s a very religious person who can’t show her skin when she goes swimming. You’re not a Mormon, Anna. You are sharing a bed with your boyfriend. Remember when we used to think shirts under strappy dresses and tank tops was a cute thing?

Most recognizable song

Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” obviously. But then there’s that awful, awful Puddle of Mudd song that serves as Ryan’s rage-y theme song. Ugh, remember them? Let’s agree to never acknowledge this again.

Sandy Cohen’s eyebrows say

He’s just a little drunk.

Kirsten: “Sandy.”
Sandy: “Hey, you’re awake.”

That’s all for this week, but I have a question for the FYA readers: How do you feel about Summer’s passive-aggressive behavior? Are you more empathetic to her because you prefer Summer to Anna, or, regardless of how much you adore Summer, do you find her behavior to be a bit inappropriate and immature? Personally, I think Summer is letting a boy make her act crazy a.f. (still love her though).

And for Meredith, as a devout Delia’s shopper since your teen years, I know you are totally up on the evolving fashion trends of young women. My memories of Delia’s (and Alloy!) are mostly from the early ’00s, and I feel like Anna would totally be a Delia’s girl. How do you feel about this whole shirts-under-tanks look? Please share your thoughts and also tell me the most embarrassing thing you wore back then. Maybe I will reveal my own shame!

Actually, FYA readers, I want to know the most embarrassing stuff you wore back in the late ’90s and early ’00s! TELL ME ALL OF IT.

Join Meredith here at the same time next week as she revisits “The Rivals” and “The Truth”!


Contributor Britt Hayes

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.

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This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.