Saturday, September 10, 2005

"The Aftermath"

I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then

says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.

- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Well, what do you know? That was good.

Really good.

Even great at points.

Not perfect. No, there were things didn’t work. Half of it was horribly uneven. Lines fell flat. Performances were unconvincing at times. The twists were fun, but we probably should have seen them coming.

But it was really good all-in-all.

And that brings us here.

Welcome everyone to another season of in-depth reviews. It’ll be our first full season together and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts. Chaucer couldn’t write this any better.

So it’s season three. And as I stated in my season three preview, it’s a pivotal season. The real fans are here. Josh knows what works and what doesn’t. Next season is college. He has to be careful or he’ll break his fragile fans. We suffered through a lot last year to get to this point.

Sandy and Kirsten…

It felt nice to watch them. Simply nice. Things aren’t perfect and likely won’t be ever again because there’s a point where you can’t go back. But seeing them walk hand-in-hand at the rehab facility acting in love for the first time since season one was something special.

But that can’t last.

Kirsten’s not ready to come home and I can’t blame her. The house and the town are just memories of her father. And, as she said, he was the reason she began to drink. Certainly he wasn’t the only reason but he definitely influenced it. The house also brings her back to responsibility for others, something she probably feels she’s failed at. She watched her kids run away, she’s watched her family stage an intervention, and she can’t have that right now. I’m sure she wants it, don’t get me wrong, but in order to deal with the baggage that comes with being a parent, you have to be able to deal with yourself.

But Sandy’s keeping a secret. A fairly big one. I understand that you can’t tell someone in rehab that there’s trouble at home because that makes the process harder, but secret keeping is one thing that pushed Kirsten over the edge. Whether it was Caleb’s lies, Seth secretly sailing off, Rebecca living in Sandy’s office, or the fling with Carter, you can’t deny that lying influenced Kirsten’s fallout.

Even with the trouble at home, though, I think Sandy finally came around for good with this episode. For a majority of the second season, it wasn’t the Sandy that we knew. He was putting his family in jeopardy, something we wouldn’t have expected. By the end of the season, he’d come around and the way he was there for Kirsten was wonderful. Seriously, try watching “The O.Sea” and listen to “Fix You” in the background as Kirsten walks off after finding out that Caleb’s dead. It’s a haunting scene and it makes you realize that Sandy will be there for her. And he did take care of it.

Now the problem at home focused on the kids, but Sandy was still there. Remember when Sandy tried to punish Seth and Ryan for sneaking out with Alex and Lindsay? That wasn’t Sandy at all. The way he handled this shooting was. He was at the hospital, he was willing to fight for Ryan, and though he questioned Ryan, it was only out of concern. He never yelled (that we saw), he never shunned Ryan, and he never stopped fighting. The only moment where he lost his cool was when he was talking to Jimmy and that was because he wanted to protect his family.

I think the most telling moment for Sandy came when Ryan hugged him after Trey rode off. That is now my favorite scene of all time. These two are beyond surrogate father/surrogate son. They are father/son. They love each other. And that’s what we love so much about Sandy. He cares.

Jimmy and Julie…

Anyone who’s read my reviews for any length of time knows that I love Jimmy Cooper. I would watch a spin-off of Jimmy sitting in his boat while he sports a beard and drinks a beer. Much like Sandy, you never doubted that he cared about his family. He stayed with Julie just for his children. He stole from his clients because he had to support his family. It’s not an act I’ll condone, but at had a good intention. He was the hero who rescued Hailey. He did everything.

And that’s why I didn’t bat an eye when he came back to see Julie and Marissa following Caleb’s death. It was the typical Jimmy thing to do. He came back, he consoled his family, and he offered to help them rebuild. It seemed like the trip to Hawaii had cleared his mind.

So why didn’t it seem weird when Sandy mentioned how strange it was that Jimmy showed up after Caleb died? He couldn’t possibly be coming back to take Julie’s inheritance could he? He wouldn’t. He shouldn’t. But Sandy’s wise. He sees everything. And the previews back up that theory.

But if Jimmy’s changed, Julie sure hasn’t. She seemed to show real remorse after Caleb’s death last year. Watching her try to save him in the water and her morose look in the finale, you could feel that something was changing and really, it wouldn’t be for the better. With Caleb gone and Julie going soft, the edge would be gone.

She’s not soft.

She’s just as menacing as ever. Her speech to the lawyer, about how she’s a grieving widow, was a thing of beauty. She doesn’t regret lying, she doesn’t regret gold digging, she doesn’t regret being a bitch. And that’s great.

Her paying off Trey to take the fall was reminiscent of paying off DJ to stop seeing Marissa. But it worked so much better here because this wasn’t just asking two people not to see each other. This was asking someone to send his brother to jail and she just didn’t care. Here’s where we really see the difference between parenting. Remember how we talked about the fact that Sandy would do anything for his family? How he only questioned Ryan, but never antagonized him? And how he would stand behind Ryan no matter what? Julie wasn’t behind Marissa. She was behind herself. She knew that Marissa’s problems would cast a bad light on her and that the Cooper-Nichols would suddenly carry a horrible reputation. Julie can’t have that.

But self-fulfilling or not, she’s a wonderful character and as she struggles to make it on her own this year, I think we’re going to be in for a lot of great things.

Seth and Summer…

There’s just not much to say and I’m not going to pretend like there is. They seemed happy. They looked fairly cute. They supported their friends. That’s about it.

I need to note, though, that Adam Brody absolutely just phoned-in this performance. He had no enthusiasm, his delivery was incredibly flat, and he was absolutely expendable. I blame the script for most of it. There was no depth to the character in this episode. Okay, this show isn’t known for having extremely strong character development, I’ll give you that, but at least these characters always feel like they belong in the episode and they have a purpose. This was about jokes. Everything Seth said, with the exception of maybe two lines, was a joke and while they were worthy of a chuckle, they weren’t great. They were jokes for the sake of jokes. I suppose I’ll take jokes for the sake of jokes over whatever the hell Seth was last year, but we’re still waiting on Seth to return to normal. Josh, you hear me?

Summer taking charge was nice and it appears she’ll have a bigger role this season and I’m looking forward to it. And Rachel Bilson as a candy striper? Yes! Oh, and props to Ben for a fun (though not great), mockery of Summer. He tried and it was pretty damn funny.

Ryan and Marissa…

I bet you were wondering why I have that quote at the top, weren’t you? If you’ve never read the book, let me explain a bit…

Huck is on the run with an escaped slave named Jim. This being the pre-Civil War south, society has instilled in Huck the idea that Jim doesn’t deserve freedom, that he’s somehow less than human. There’s a scene where Huck decides to turn Jim in and he sits and he prays about it. He knows that a good Christian would never help a slave escape. But the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes that he can’t turn Jim in and he decides to sacrifice his afterlife so that Jim can be free. It’s a beautiful moment in literature and one of the most important.

So how does that relate to this story?

I’ve never been a fan of this relationship. Search through my old reviews at Editorial Newport if you don’t believe me. It’s true. I’ve always felt it was horribly forced. But even worse than that, I’ve always felt that Ryan’s sacrificed too much. He always rushes to her defense, he protects her, he tries to save her, and she continually gets herself into situations where she has to be saved. She brings far more on herself than she needs to so that she can play the damsel in distress. I think the worst instance came last season when she got Lindsay drunk, Ryan got mad, and was then forced to apologize. Just terrible. Marissa deserved to be yelled at, but somehow, she became the victim.

That’s probably why I liked Ryan and Theresa so much. People say she was a terrible person, but why? Ryan’s old enough to make his own choices. She never forced Ryan to leave Newport; she asked. Ryan was the one who was determined to leave. And then she made a huge sacrifice so that Ryan would be happy. Marissa had never done anything like that.

Until this episode.

Yes, she was going to be okay. She likely wasn’t going to jail. But there was still a chance. As long as she let Ryan go to jail, something he would have done for her, she had her freedom. Going to see Trey was scary enough for her. It’s been shown he’s unstable and while there’s not much he would have done in a hospital bed, he wasn’t safe to be around. But Marissa took the chance. She put herself in front of Ryan for once. He didn’t have to ask. She did it because she cared.

And that led us to the moment on the lighthouse. There wasn’t that moment that we would have predicted where they break up. They shared the most tender moment the two of them have ever had. It was the first time their relationship ever felt real. It was quiet, soft, and excellent.

And speaking of quiet, soft, and excellent moments, the show has never “gotten” a moment like they did at the bus station. There’s just never been a single scene that was quite as powerful and as real as that one was. There were no words, just a few looks. And in that moment, Ben and Logan said a lot. They completely disregarded themselves and became these characters, they became brothers. And, of course, that led to the moment that is forever etched as the best: the Ryan and Sandy hug. It was thinly veiled symbolism as Ryan says goodbye to another member of his former family and once again embraces his new one.

Random Thoughts…

Where are we going with this Charlotte story? Is it going to be Oliver or Alex? Let’s hope it’s a little more Oliver, but without the obvious psychotic overtones that the rest of the characters remain oblivious too. I’m not sure I can take another lesbian story.

Speaking of Charlotte, has there ever been a better MILF combo than Jeri Ryan and Kelly Rowan?

Anyone else dig the darker colors? I felt it made things feel far more ominous. Really excellent.

Who knew that Ryan had a sense of humor and actually did voices?

A lot of people complained that the episode wrapped things up too quickly and that’s probably true, but FOX needed to premiere the very good Reunion and couldn’t allot two hours, I guess. It definitely didn’t need a second week, so I’m happy.

Logan Marshall-Green was possibly the best guest star the show ever had. He definitely brought the show back around to greatness and did so with ease. He identified with the Trey character in a way that we couldn’t have expected and I hope to see him return sometime. I think the most important thing was Trey’s vulnerability. He made a lot of mistakes, sure, but it was because he didn’t know any better. It was a horribly tragic story in that sense. He was scared he couldn’t change and that made it even more impossible to do so.

Wrap Up…

And thus we come to our first conclusion of the season. Definitely a strong way to start the season, far better than last year’s “The Distance.” Wasn’t perfect, but it had to do a lot in a short time and knowing that, we couldn’t ask for much more.

I’ve got a big weekend next week, but I’ll still try to get the review out Friday or Saturday.

Make sure to head over to and drop comments to me or email me with your questions, comments, or death threats at I’ll look forward to it.

Just like I look forward to the next 23 episodes.

Welcome back to the O.C.!


At 8:01 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Hey Drew. As usual you hit the nail on the head. I was cruisin the forums and people seemed irritated that the premiere wrapped things up so neatly...but I agree with nearly everything you said. I thought the Ryan/Marissa story line was great. Unlike you I AM a R/M fan but I also liked of my favorite moments was when Teressa convinced Ryan to trust Marissa instead of Trey - They both just love him so much and she totally proved it with this episode. One thing you didn't touch upon is how their relationship was slightly could it not be ... she shot his brother who tried to rape her and kill him. How incredibly awkward. I also LOVED how Sandy gave Marissa the credit she deserved.

Also BEST MOMENT EVER Ryan and Sandy. E-V-E-R. the whole episode I was laughing and biting my nails and "ooo that bitch"ing Julie, cheering Sandy when he confronted Jimmy, but that moment brought INSTANT tears to my eyes so badly that I had to rewind my tivo to see what happened after that.

And yes of course Kirsten doesn't want to go home!!! Its reality! Great Review!!!

You don't really think they will do another lesbian story line do you? I mean it didn't work last year and their could be so many other story lines to go to - I was thinking she's a plant from a rival to the Newport Group designed to steal secrets so that they can stage a hostile takeover...Just my thoughts!!! Thanks for the review - GREAT JOB as usual!

PS I love the new beginning credits
Along with Reunion - great new show!


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