Wednesday, May 17, 2006


“The College Try,” “The Party Favor,” and “The Man of the Year”

It’s been a while, I know. C’mon, lay off of me, I have reasonable reason (that’s not even a really good phrase, and I think it’s grammatically incorrect, but I don’t particularly care). College life is tough. The last couple of weeks were really rough, but let me tell you this:

I have now written a short novel.
I have now written a scholarly article (once it’s past 10 pages, to me, it becomes more than just a paper).

So there we go. I did make the Dean’s List after three semesters of my dad pitching a fit when he saw my friends’ names in the paper and not mine. That’s cool, though. There’s a first time for everything.

So how about The O.C.? What do I think about it? Well, let’s run through a couple of quick thoughts on each individual episode and then a character analysis as we head into tomorrow night’s (or tonight’s, or even last night’s, depending on when I finish this and/or when you’re reading it) finale.

“The College Try” – A good episode. Aside from Anna’s ridiculous hair and fake tan, she was a pleasant addition to the cast. I didn’t like that we didn’t hear much about her, and that they relegated her to a plot device in the end, but Samaire and Adam have a great chemistry. They’re always fun. I became very disgruntled with Seth at times because he wouldn’t tell the truth, but I won’t hold that against him since there is method to his madness (we will discuss that in a bit). It was nice to see that Seth didn’t actually get into Brown because that would have been shockingly unrealistic, even for a primetime soap opera. Marissa was essentially a non-factor in the episode since her relationship with, um, the guy at Berkley, was unbelievably tame. There was a nice ending where she cuddled up to next to Volchok, but that’s about it, really. Oh, and she wants him to be a Nazi. He kind of turns out to be a dickhead, so Marissa = psychic! Ryan was probably the most interesting character in the episode, as we saw him settle in to a new world only to realize that he can’t escape his old one. That’s his life in Newport, and that’ll be his life at Berkley. The writers tossed aside the baby story in one fell swoop, but I hope that’s just a swerve before another swerve, and they’ll actually bring it back. The kid was cute, though. And it was actually more enjoyable, for me, to see Theresa than Anna because while I love Anna, her role was to be with Seth. I like Seth with Summer. Theresa’s role was to be with Ryan. I don’t like Ryan with Marissa. So anytime he gets a shot with someone else, I’m excited. Ben played the scene so well, too, as you could sense that there was a bit of disappointment that it wasn’t his seed that spawned the kid who looks exactly like him.

“The Party Favor” – Definitely enjoyed this episode, maybe even more than last year’s prom episode, one of my all time favorites. This one worked for the odd couplings, if nothing else. There was a perfect symmetry to Ryan and Theresa going to senior prom together. There was a nice symmetry with Anna and Seth together in formal attire since that’s how they met (well, how they got to know each other) and how Seth learned he didn’t have to be a total moron around girls. Marissa, the girl who is always looking for a way to get into trouble whether she realizes it or not, dug her grave with Volchok. Or Kevin as he is now called because the writers realized that when someone has just a last name, he’s too hardcore, but when he has a first name like Kevin, he’s much more primetime television acceptable. Summer was forced to go with Big Korea, and I don’t even know what to say about that. I love the guy. Not as much as I love Sung Ho (God only knows if I spelled that right) being the right man for Taylor. Taylor is essentially the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, and when Theresa indicated in the next episode that Taylor, Big Korea, and Sung Ho had a threesome, I voted it best moment ever. That doesn’t quite excuse Taylor leaving the money around at the Bait Shop, but she scored a major zinger when she said her prom was better than Marissa’s. So true. And Kevin laughed! Ha. Of course, in this episode, Sandy got into a little trouble, but that didn’t come to a head until the next episode. And then there was one of the best endings on the show ever. Maybe the best ever. Some are arguing that it’s repetitive, unoriginal, bland, etc. That’s wrong. Yes, it’s an opinion, but I’m willing to argue that it’s actually a wrong opinion. Reasons are coming up in the Ryan analysis, I promise.

“The Man of the Year” – Seth and Summer are back together (yes, I ignored that in the above recap but with reason), and someone named Continuity reared his head long enough to help Summer basically screw with Seth. And, of course, somewhere along the way, Seth decides it’s cool if he smokes. After all, everyone knows he lied, his mom’s drinking again (and Seth’s the only one who knows it leading a beautiful scene where he takes care of her and then cleans her mug), and he has to face his father and all of the family problems. The scene with Seth and Sandy was just brilliant. And as Seth said, it’s good that all of his lies were out. What’s not so good is that Seth lit the Newport Group on fire. But hey, we all make mistakes, right? Yeah, not like that, I know. Seth telling Sandy off leads to Sandy taking the high road and agreeing to compromise with the D.A. in the investigation of Griffin. He just doesn’t want to be Man of the Year. Who can blame him? Last time that happened, there was a fight. I think. Or Caleb lost some wetlands. Either way, it wasn’t pretty. Then there’s Ryan. Yikes. He’s in trouble. That’s all I can say. And, of course, Marissa and Kaitlin and mini-Summer, who only knows how to say, “Obvie” and has a Josh Schwartz replica for a dad, need to cause havoc. It proves nothing other than to remind us Kaitlin’s on board for next season, that Mischa’s accent isn’t that great, that her belly button is ginormous, and that she’s HOT as a school girl. If only Schwartz could have written the Coopers as a Catholic family.

Now on to our beloved characters who have been far more complex than ever before. Some are complaining, as usual, but few have valid complaints about where the characters have been. Most have already decided to hate the show, and that’s fine. But I can’t imagine a time when the characters (not the lines or the storylines) have been written with more consistency and with more complexity. Kudos, Josh. Let’s start with the one who’s been through the most hell lately, the one who has become so unbelievably dark that it’s scary: Ryan.

This poor kid just can’t catch a break can he? One of the reasons the second half of the season (or final third, I guess, since Johnny took up an abnormal amount of episodes) has been better than the other part is that Ryan is finally being forced to deal with his problems. The problem with that, though, is that his problems aren’t simple. Volchok has been an effective character because he essentially stems from Trey (Trey sends Marissa to Johnny who brings out Volchok), and they are, of course, very similar, and it’s not just that they call Ryan “little bitch” (even though I wasn’t bright enough to make that connection early on). It’s that they both want to take others down with them. Ryan is a good target because he’s impressionable. He’s strong-willed at times, but overall, he doesn’t know how to say no. He’s got a complex that tells him that he can’t be anything more than Chino. His trip to Berkley and the subsequent return were sad for that very reason. To tie this back around to Volchok, Volchok knows how to bring out the worst in Ryan, the Ryan that Ryan believes is the real Ryan (see if you can decipher that one). He knows how to egg Ryan on, to make him feel as if he belongs in the world of underhanded tricks, drugs, and violence. And Ryan feels this is true because he’s never deals with his issues. He accepts them as an unchanging part of who he is. That’s why the end of “The Party Favor” was so brilliant. The fight was an intentional parallel to the fight with Trey. Ryan suddenly had to come to terms with the fact that he was scary, angry, and unsure. It was a terrifying scene because it finally revealed just how deep Ryan’s problems ran. The follow up to it was interesting, as well, though less terrifying. Ryan’s rage, his problems had gotten him into trouble again, and there was no right way out. He ran, and some people say that’s out of character, but I find it perfectly in character. True, he’s always stood up for others, but now he’s trying to deal with the one person he can’t save: himself. That’s where Ryan stands now. He has to overcome himself, to realize that his problems aren’t going away unless he attempts to confront them, and to understand that he can rise above the Volchoks and Treys of the world. As I stated, Ryan is a darker character than most of us ever thought. But it makes perfect sense in the context of the show. He’s always been this way. It’s just now coming to a head as he attempts to deal with the ultimate change in his life. He deserves everything good that he has, but he often seems to forget that. I hope that will change soon.

Seth. There’s another character that’s taken a dark turn, but I don’t find it too out of character. Over the last two seasons, we’ve seen Seth become even more self-absorbed. It was slightly out of character in season two, but since the writers have held back on it a little, it’s become normal. He’s someone who takes everything to heart, someone who internalizes everything. So not getting into Brown was awful for him. It completely defeated his sense of self-worth. I’m not advocating his lying to Summer. He shouldn’t have done it. He should have told her from the beginning what happened. But I understand that he couldn’t. The minute he told her, he not only ruined her chance at a great school (and yes, it wasn’t her dream, so his head wasn’t in the right place, but his heart was—it’s easy to confuse our dreams with those of others), but it all became real to him. How hard that would be? He was not only struggling with his girlfriend, but he was struggling with himself. Drunk Summer at the prom was excellent, too, handled in a way that I remember high school alcohol actually being. I didn’t know many Marrissas, but I knew a lot of Summers, people who drank just to forget the night. Her perfectly choreographed flip, along with Taylor’s faux-melodramatic, “Man overboard!” was an episode highlight. Anna’s presence wasn’t necessarily needed, as I think that Taylor or Ryan or even Sung Ho could have given the same advice, but it was nice to see Anna tell him because we know just how wise Seth thinks she is. What’s the song lyric? “You were unexpected but not unwelcome”? That kind of works here. She wasn’t really needed, but there’s no reason for us to hate her. I suppose we could argue the ethics about Summer actually giving that list of things to Sandy, but I don’t think that argument would go anywhere. Not only should Seth have confessed to those things himself, he told Summer to do it. She really shouldn’t have even tried to get it back, though I understand why she wanted to. Summer’s problems, thankfully, have been minimal. They’ve been related to an inability to trust Seth, and since I think that Seth is learning from his mistakes, I think things will be okay. But Seth’s not completely clean, I guess. He’s still smoking pot. He’s still anxious. He’s still not sure what he’s doing with his life. Things are still okay in Newport, he’s fixed his parents, he has a best friend and a girlfriend, and he could easily not leave his comfort zone. Maybe things are too perfect. And that can just as easily push someone over the edge.

I’m not going to spend time discussing Marissa, though it’s not because I dislike her at this point. I’m enjoying her spiral, and I like that she’s not hogging the screen. I can just say, though, that her problems are the same as they always were: she lets herself get involved with things she shouldn’t. Volchok was clearly bad. There were no two ways around it. The Sound of Music thing fixed it slightly, but that came after Marissa was involved. Anytime someone kidnaps you, don’t get with them. But Marissa did it anyway because she, too, is unwilling to actively cope with her problems. And no, throwing a laptop doesn’t work because that just shows that you have no sense of the almighty dollar. If she expects to move on with her life, then she’s going to have to understand that many of her problems are self-inflicted. She’s not always looking for trouble, but she almost always finds herself in it.

Nothing good to report on Julie this time around. I’m definitely enjoying calm Julie. I want bitchy Julie to come back eventually, but for the time being, let’s let her have some peace, support her friends, and just have wild sex with Dr. Neil, the greatest soft-spoken man ever.

Nearly a year ago (or nine months, something like that), Sandy decided to take over the Newport Group himself. Easy enough, right? But then something happened. He decided that he could do a lot of good for a lot of people if he sold his soul. This story didn’t work for a lot of people, but it did for me since I always felt like he was struggling slightly. He was never outright a bad guy, but his actions were wrong. He was ignoring his family, and that should have been his first priority. And it finally pushed Kirsten too far. Calling Sandy out at the hospital dinner and comparing him outright to Caleb may have been a little too expositional, but I can forgive it because, at the very least, he needed some exposition to wake him up. And it was crushing when she finally went back to the bottle. It’s a hard to habit to break, to put it mildly. The scenes were very reminiscent of the Rebecca debacle with Sandy knowing his wife was there and choosing to ignore her, whether it was to save Matt or put papers in a safe or whatever. He chose himself over Kirsten, and that had to be difficult for her to deal with. I’m glad that the Cohen family—and I’m only including Seth, Sandy, and Kirsten here, so don’t e-mail me angry that I’m not including Ryan—caught each other, that they all saw their imperfections. Maybe it wasn’t quite the explosion that Josh promised, but it was a scary reminder that the Cohens had become what Seth feared: they had become “that family.” Sandy’s speech at the Man of the Year dinner was a little too maudlin for my tastes, but it was still a nice moment. In the end, we all want Sandy to do the right thing, and we hope that he will. If he didn’t, we’d lose such awesome lines like, “Sometimes I scare myself, Summer.” Is there anyone in this cast who could pull off a line like that other than Peter Gallagher?

So the finale’s tonight (yeah, it’s now Thursday as I finish this), and rumors abound. Apparently, a certain cast member has gone on record claiming to be the person who won’t make it through the night (no spoiler here). There have been spoilers and foilers and speculation aplenty, and I don’t know what to make of any of it. I know that the finale has tons of promise because every graduation episode of every show is good simply because it’s really hard to mess with the emotion of graduation. It writes itself. Still, according to the Fox preview guy, we’re going to lose Sandy, Ryan, Seth, Marissa, or Summer. I’m not sure which it’ll be. I have my thoughts, but I won’t say them here. Let’s just say that Orange County will never be the same.

Since next week is the finale, I’ll have a long review taking a look at the finale and the season as a whole. I hope to have it e-mailed in by that Tuesday since I’m leaving either Wednesday or Thursday for vacation. As last year, I’m looking for volunteers to write in with your season three comments and season four predictions. What did you like? What did you hate? What do you want to see more of? PLEASE! try to use proper capitalization, grammar, spelling, etc. I’m not asking for perfection because I’m not good at all that either, but I do ask that it’s readable. Last year, some of the responses I got were so bad that I had to spend an additional hour editing. So do your best to make it readable so that I can help share it with every visitor to Editorial Newport and The O.C. Community and my blog. Oh, and the deadline is SUNDAY MAY 21, 2006 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

I know this review wasn’t the mind shattering, brain swelling in-depth look you all might have hoped for, but it’s been a few weeks. I’m trying to get into the groove again.

Have a great time watching the finale. I look forward to hearing from some of you.



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At 4:25 AM, Blogger jeeter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger jeeter said...

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At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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