Tom Conroy
November 02, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Laguna Beach”: Spring-break heartbreak

Someone skilled at social anthropology will have to explain to me the dating and mating habits of the teenagers of Laguna Beach. I simply can’t understand the romantic behavior exhibited on this episode, which covered the traditional spring-break migration to Cabo San Lucas. (I’m sure your regular Laguna Beach TV Watcher, Jennifer Armstrong, could have helped me out, but her DVR proved to be about as reliable as your average Laguna Beach guy tonight. Don’t worry: She should be back next week.)

Even though Cami warned Kyndra that her older ex Tyler was probably going to spoil their trip, Kyndra devoted her entire vacation to him. First, she laid into Tyler when he called her and her friends ”stage-five cling-ons” for being in the same hotel as him. (Hey, Tyler: You’re the one hanging around with high-school kids. And by the way, what’s a college guy doing spending spring break with his sister and his mom?) Then, in a nightclub, Kyndra flirted with her one-time hookup Cameron, reminding him that they were now both single. Tyler, enraged, screamed at her, ”You’re a f—ing slut!” Those, apparently, were the magic words that unlocked her heart, because she peeled off from Cameron and started nuzzling Tyler, reminding him of their happier forehead-kissing days. Too-close dancing, smooching, and shots of the frustrated Cameron ensued.

The next night, Kyndra was shocked to learn that Tyler was at the same nightclub as her and dancing too close with another blonde. (Assuming that our attention spans are as short as Kyndra’s, MTV helpfully ran a title reading ”Tyler: Kyndra’s Ex-Boyfriend” on the screen.) It’s unclear whether she was shouting, ”Slut! Slut!” at him or his new friend, but this time the S-word didn’t work its magic, and Kyndra apparently spent the rest of the evening — and the rest of the vacation — alone. As Cami put it later, ”That was by far the most bad trip, Cabo trip, we’ve ever been on before.”

Sluttiness was the episode’s unifying theme. While preparing for her vacation, Breanna admitted she was planning to kiss Derek, even though he had only just broken up with Tessa. When her friend Kylie pointed out that rebound kissing was illegal under Laguna Beach’s dating bylaws, Breanna’s mom chimed in: ”I think that’s a stupid rule. Once you’re broken up, you’re broken up, and free game.” Kyndra was having none of that: When Breanna and Derek did finally kiss in Cabo, Kyndra and her friends shouted (you guessed it), ”Slut! Slut!”

Evidently, in Laguna, once two people kiss, they’re supposed to be paired off for life. That would seem to be fine by Tessa, who is still clinging to the hope that she can get back together with Derek, her one-date wonder. Chase, the enabler, didn’t help her when he said that Derek would probably come back from Cabo and tell her that he missed her. When Tessa finally joins Doormats Anonymous, the first thing they’re going to tell her to do is stop talking to Chase.

In general, Tessa is proving to be a disappointingly dull protagonist. The latest outrage: She spent spring break with her family in Virginia. Would it be too late to replace her? Although the pickings are slim, Lexie is kind of growing on me. When Breanna asked her if she wanted to hook up with the admittedly ball-less Kelan (who was standing right there), Lexie responded with a series of devastating head shakes, then began methodically chewing her gum as if it would emit a dork-repelling gas. That’s the kind of mean-girl poise that could make for a truly compelling Laguna villainess.

What do you think? Is Tessa making you irate? (Or Irish?) Who should replace her? Can a boy be a slut? And does Kyndra wear a black cowboy hat because she’s a bad guy?

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