Annie Barrett
December 01, 2006 AT 12:00 PM EST

It’s still on. It’s still good. Are you watching?

After only five eps, Kaitlin (Willa Holland, pictured) and Julie have already become a way better (also: believable, tolerable, interesting, juicy, couture) mother-daughter pairing than Julie and Marissa. I have no problem conceiving of Kaitlin as a main character now — a major improvement over last season, when she was annoying and sported inordinately severe hair parts. Remember those? Some of them were as low as her eyeballs. Kaitlin’s proved to be just like Julie — a bitch with a heart — by hyping up her mom to Bullit, the owner of Texas and a lot of cigars, after Julie literally horned her way into Kaitlin’s pseudo-romance with Bullit’s son, the tennis instructor. Yeah, it’s totally far-fetched. It doesn’t matter.

Not far-fetched? Ryan and Taylor as a couple. Apparently. But it works: the more she’s all over the place, darting between perky know-it-all and chirpy self-loather, the less effort he has to put in. The restless griever’s been in no condition to react to most of his sleep therapist’s 5,000 advances — excluding, of course, this week’s well-timed ass swivel and parting kiss. I was terrified at how jittery and animated Taylor was on the lean-in. Really nervous. Her face twitched like 20 times. Maybe three. But we know the smooch worked, because Ryan pulled a non-spastic Joey Lawrence as soon as he plunked down.

As an aside, this was a big week for asides. Julie and Taylor bothhad to rein it in (“Easy, girl!”) upon glimpsing their beefy man prey.Ryan had his “Whoa!” And my favorite moment of the night was when thewoman Ryan was waiting on not-so-subtly checked him out. Did anyonecatch that? Her eyes did a sneaky little abs-arms-face triangle. A nicedetail.

Summer’s college scene is becoming a little trite. Now that hersvengali-like bud Che did a complete 180 by ratting her out to thedean, she might get to come home. That was convenient. Maybe I’m asdense as the espresso brownie I have lodged in my left cheek, but Ireally thought Che was kidding as he went on and on about how his ownimportance to “the movement” was enough to risk Summer’s college careerover. What a turd. Speaking of which, I love how the rabbit Summer keptin her dorm room caused no mess whatsoever. It was more like a stuffedanimal — a new stand-in best friend, perhaps? Its name is Pancakes,and that’s what Marissa used to always order and supposedly eat at thediner. Mmmm… pancakes. The writers definitely have their foodfetishes. Bagels, pico de gallo, shrimp pad thai, Gold Medal Ribbon…What else, readers? This is very important.

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