Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Road Warrior

“The Road Warrior”

See Josh, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

All it took was a little bit of comedy, a little bit of character progression, a little bit of storyline progression, a little bit of Kelly Rowan acting, a lot of Ryan acting Chino, and a very little bit of Marissa. Hmm, I wonder who thought of that. Oh, right:


See, this show’s success has never been a particular secret to anyone outside of the writer’s room. Even the teenybopper fans were aware that Ryan and Marissa just weren’t working. They knew that Johnny was a complete disgrace. And when those fans, the loyal ones who will regurgitate the company line at the drop of a hat, start to turn on you, you know you’ve done something wrong. But the praise for this episode has been rightfully overwhelmingly positive. In fact, most of the negative press that it’s gotten has been from fans who have already sworn the show off. Some, I believe, simply dismiss the show because it’s the cool thing to do. But I don’t think it’s quite that cool yet. There’s still a lot of good left, and it really looks like we’re about to get it.

So welcome back kids for another fun week. It’s going to be a short one again, but I really think it’s better that way. Don’t you? Okay, you don’t. Well, I apologize.

As you could probably tell from the intro, I was a very big fan of this episode for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly was the progression of character and storylines. The show had been plagued by character indecisiveness in the last few weeks, namely in the form of Marissa, Sandy, and Neil. But Thursday’s episode shot that down completely. A terrific, refreshing change. We’re on the right path, people. And I’m excited.

Obviously, the first place we need to start with Ryan and Marissa because that’s the most important aspect of this episode. It was terrific to see Ryan happy for once. He was completely at ease when he was with Sadie, and after watching him sulk and barely talk (okay, not too weird for Ryan) for half a season, it was refreshing to see him open up. He looked like he was having fun, and that’s probably because he was allowed to be himself with Sadie. True, he still played the savior, helping fix the house and trying to save Sadie from Johnny’s dad and the goons, but he was never in a situation where it had to be done. Sadie wasn’t helpless like Marissa. She was taking charge, something that I loved. But Ryan stepped in because it comes natural. Maybe the best thing was that he got his ass kicked. Could it be that we’ll begin to understand the rage issues that were blatantly discussed earlier this season? There’s a lot of good material to work with there. Now, a lot of people are picking on Ryan for the fact that he just up and left Marissa, and that he played strip poker and hung out with Sadie before he broke up with Marissa. While I expect that waffling from such a fickle fan base, I really have to wonder what show you guys are watching. Ryan owes Marissa nothing. She’s miserable because of her own mistakes (and I do want to interject, but only in a parenthetical because I certainly owe Mischa Barton nothing, but I want to say that she did a phenomenal job this week acting sad and depressed). She ignored Ryan, she ignored her friends, and she completely isolated herself in favor of Johnny. This relationship, for Ryan, ended a long time ago. So while people can complain that Ryan did too much with Sadie too soon or that he didn’t get an appropriate enough grieving period, I urge you to look back at previous episodes. He’s been grieving since last season. He’s had plenty of time to move forward and he has. And he’s better for it. Will this relationship with Sadie get him in trouble? Likely so because that’s what Ryan does, but that’s fun. Ryan’s a terribly flawed person, and we’ve spent too much time not seeing that. I want to see him struggle again.

Of course, no one’s going to struggle quite like Marissa. I’m not sure what to make of the Volchok relationship since it’s, well, random, but I think I like it far better than the Matt/Marissa fling that was hinted in the last episode and even a bit in this one (c’mon, “I think you know Matt,” is clearly a sign for, “I think you should do Matt”). Volchok, at this point, doesn’t care about Marissa, he cares about hurting Ryan. And there’s a delicious irony in the fact that Marissa is used to taking in the vulnerable, and now she is the vulnerable. If her heart is broken by Volchok, it’s very much deserved. I’m particularly interested in seeing the final showdown between Volchok and Ryan. It has potential to be Ryan/Trey-esque, and I’m hoping that the writers see that and plan on taking it that way. The psyche out in “The Anger Management” was cool, but the final payoff should be huge. It should be real.

Back to Ryan for a moment, I hear that people aren’t crazy about his relationship with Sadie with most citing a lack of chemistry or a lack of looks for Nikki Reed. She’s not Mischa or Rachel or Melinda or Kelly, and she’s definitely not Autumn, but I think she’s very pretty, and she’s much more the type of person I see Ryan with at this point in his life. Ryan’s just never quite adjusted to this life of luxury and beauty. This works far better for him, and I’m happy with the way this is all going. I know that Reed won’t be around for much longer, but I do suspect that through her, Ryan’s going to learn a lot about himself. If nothing else, he may learn how to play poker.

As Ryan struggles with his demons, we’re seeing the same thing from Sandy. He’s put himself in a terrible position, and he just seems blinded. This story, which started nicely despite fans’ cries that it wasn’t working, did really start to come to a halt when Sandy waffled terribly, and Matt was characterized as a moron. But this week, Sandy showed where he stands. He showed that he cares more about the hospital being built than he does about anything else. And he showed that he’s willing to hurt anyone. Matt, for once, showed a great vulnerability at the dinner scene. He wants the hospital too, and it seemed like it took something out of him to actually tell Maya that. Maybe I misread him, but I sensed hurt in his voice. He didn’t want to hurt her, but he had to tell her the truth, and the truth just didn’t sound pretty. The thing with Sandy, though, is that he wants to do a good thing, but there is only one way to do the good thing. Do the ends justify the means? I highly doubt that Caleb ever cared that much about doing good things, but I think that was we study Sandy, we’re learning more about Caleb. And as we learn about him, we see Kirsten’s reactions. I truly think that’s why she’s so insistent that Sandy wake up and see what he’s doing. She’s seen this business and what it can do. It’s got to be difficult watching her husband morally deteriorate.

Speaking of storylines moving forward, it was very nice to see Neil grow some balls and admit that he liked Julie. He was making such good strides before pussing out in the last episode. And he and Julie seem to be having a great time. The best part of this story, though, wasn’t Julie and Neil’s interaction, but Seth, Summer, and Taylor working together to uncover what’s going on. Okay, don’t get me wrong, I loved Julie as Sharon Stone, and I kept waiting for a Sharon Stone shot, but alas, it didn’t come. Still, the fun part was watching Julie’s horrified reaction as Summer listed all the qualities her dad looks for and all the qualities that he doesn’t need. Julie doing crossword puzzles is simple but hilarious. And that’s truthfully all I have to say about that. This story is progressing along fine, even though Seth is still relegated to supporting role. Hopefully they’ll come back to the pot storyline soon because I think it wrapped up far too quickly. College anst does not end that quickly.

Random Thoughts…

How freaking weird was that opening scene? I couldn’t decide if it was a drug-induced scene. Seth is in the hot tub with the two girls. Why? Seth doesn’t want to be with the girls. Why? It was funny, sure, but completely unnecessary.

But before that came an awesome dig at One Tree Hill (other people are saying that it was a dig about Grey’s Anatomy or other shows, and while I don’t doubt that, I truly think that OTH was the intended target, especially since Mike Kelley, who wrote this episode, was a writer with Schwahny and company on the WB in season one) with the voiceover. I wondered what the hell was going on, and when Marissa came in and actually turned the voice off, I cheered. What a perfect moment.

I really enjoyed the use of “Forever Young” in this episode. I didn’t think it fit the scene last time it was used, but it really made sense now. The last time, Ryan and Marissa thought that everything was okay, and in this episode, they realized it wasn’t.

The breakup scene was incredibly effective, I have to say. There was no need to drag it out. They have big melodramatic scenes every week. A simple phone call without many words was exactly the way it should be done. Kudos writers, and kudos Ben and Mischa for playing it very well.

Taylor’s back! She just has to hook up with the Korean barbecue guy. Please?

And that’s it folks. I can’t believe I finished this in one sitting. Writing less makes it much easier.

I truly enjoyed this episode. It was grittier, darker, and just more fun. And that’s what the show should be. Here’s to parties, fights, and Marissa and Ryan apart.

I’ll see you in seven.


Questions, comments, anything?


At 5:55 PM, Blogger Rodrigo said...

the voice over thing looked like a hint to OTH for me too... to the Lucas voice over, lol. I liked this ep very much. Seth/Summer/Taylor were awesome and i liked Mischas acting at the end too...

Loved you review, nice!! I cant wait til next week, when it seems to be SO MUCH going on in Ryan's birthday

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Eri said...

i absolutely LOVED mischa's acting, i think it was so good this week because what the writers did with her character actually made sense for once in a very long time lol
the break up tho- kinda didnt like it, just doesnt make sense that they went through SO much together, i felt like it was too little- i mean they made it thru all the trey stuff and then they just roll over and call it quits over stupid insignificant drama so quickly with a phone convo
oh and sandy creeped me out this week... he almost IS caleb, i miss everything about the old sandy, i want the funny perfect dad back!

At 10:29 AM, Blogger said...

she's amazing THE OC 4


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