Annie Barrett
December 15, 2006 AT 12:00 PM EST

Merry “Chrismukk-huh?” everyone! I hope you ate up last night’s WTF fest as eagerly as I did. The It’s a Wonderful LIfe twist was perfect for Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie, pictured, right). He needed closure on the Marissa thing, and since he’s always been focused instead on how much the Cohens have helped him, he’s probably never realized all the good he’s done for them. Here’s the premise: Taylor and Ryan fall off the roof and into a totally routine “coma light” together. They meet up in their dreams and run around Newport to see what it’d be like if they’d never existed. Taylor had her own bitchy mother-oriented issues to work out, of course, but I liked how she basically served as Ryan’s guardian angel — stepping out of his way when he needed it, popping up over his shoulder at the airport for support, and saying ambiguously wise things that would sink in with him when he was ready.

In Ryan and Taylor’s alternate universe, everything was just awful. Case in point: Johnny Harper had become a famous “surfing star.” Kirsten had married Jimmy (way!), kept on hitting the pinot, and told Ryan to “shoo.” Julie the philanthropist (“and I help people”) was her usual gym shorts-chasing self, and her husband Sandy (sorry, no way, nuh-uhh) was mayor of Newport and a buddy of Ahh-nold. Seth was as spastic and geeky as he was in the pilot — cringeworthy, to be sure, but dead on. Summer and old-school bad girl Holly (holla!) were full-on caricactures of the “mindless bimbo,” which pretty much meant they were Paris Hilton. Again — cringe — but it was such a train wreck you could not look away. (And that’s why the world is like this!) Somehow, Che was there, too, as “Chester,” Summer’s worthless, sleazy fiance, who reminded me of Kevin Federline. Makes sense, since Che-Fed had engaged in a slap-happy affair with Julie, who threatened to put Kaitlin in her lap during their car ride to “a very Britney Christmas” in Riverside.

So many good moments in this one. I liked Kaitlin complaining aboutTaylor’s Christmas carolling while wearing a shirt embossed withmusical notes. Summer and Che-Fed were alarmingly convincing as theepitome of wealthy trash. I think my favorite part was when theyre-greeted each other (“Heyyyyy, bitch!”) after walking out separatedoors six feet apart. Julie, my heart and my soul, killed me as shetried to make THONG an acronym for “The Homeless of Newport… Go. Orsomething.” I completely broke down when Sandy invited Ryan from jailto his house just like he did in real life!, and was all-outweeping when Ryan went to the lifeguard shack. Not really because ofMarissa. Because of Ryan. And that really dire song. The shack wasextraordinarily well-lit tonight, did you notice? Definitely added tothe extraterrestrial element of the show. (I expected a gentle alien friend to comfort Ryan as he whispered goodbye. “Beeee gooooood.”) So did the bizarro versionof the opening titles. It probably irked some of you to have adifferent song in there, but I adored it, because one night my roommateand I spent hours setting The O.C.‘s opening titles to as many eerie-sounding songs as we could think of. (We’re really cool.)

Die hard fans might quip that the idea of Kaitlin in college at 15is ludicrous, or that the framed photo of Marissa and Julie wasactually a publicity still from season 3 (remember, the promo where Ryan hurls the dining table into the ocean at the end?),at which point Marissa would have been dead almost two years. But it’scool with me, because I love that necklace. I remember Googlingsomething along the lines of “the oc what is black long beaded necklacemarissa” circa September ’05. I’m sort of fascinated with howilliterate people become when they Google things, but I suppose thissentence doesn’t really belong in this post, or anywhere.

Yeah. I’m done. What did you think? “Let’s get it started, Newport!”

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