TV Article

Untangled Web

On ''The O.C.,'' Summer and Seth are back! Plus, Marissa comes out to her mother and moves in with Alex, while Rebecca and Lindsbree get written off

Adam Brody, Rachel Bilson, ... | ARACHNOPHILIA Summer and Seth came to their Spidey senses
Image credit: Adam brody and Rachel Bilson Photograph by Mark Liddell
ARACHNOPHILIA Summer and Seth came to their Spidey senses

''The O.C.'': Summer and Seth are back!

Wow. I'm speechless. Which is good, because I have to write. I feel pretty safe in declaring last night's episode of The O.C. the absolute best show in the history of television . . . or at least on Fox in 2005. The infuriating and tired-out subplots (Rebecca's and Lindsbree's) have both been retired, Sandy and Kirsten have reunited, and Summer finally came to her senses and attacked a swinging Spiderman Seth with her luscious rain-engorged lips. Everything about the episode, from the countless self-referential moments to cutesy toy-animal pairings, was just so . . . perfect. It's like the show's been set straight. [Cough.] Marissalex. [Cough.] Okay, straighter.

It's almost like this episode was the season finale or something. In addition to the show's usual clever one-liners — which was better: Seth's ''that's very Melville of you, referring to the boat as a she'' or Summer's ''you haven't seen hostel till you put me up in one''? — there were so many other tiny yet meaningful moments (foreboding lightning!) that all led up to the final sparks between the two main couples. It could have even been the series finale! (Am I nuts here? Was it really that good? Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Eu-freakin'-reka!)

That Summer-Seth/Sandy-Kirsten montage at the end had me in tears — tears that admittedly started after I watched Summer gaze at a Cohen-at-age-6 type putting a wooden horse through a comic-book obstacle course in the airport. I'm sure Zach's wigged-out sister was right about the significance of their flight's delay, but Summer's sign severely trumps hers. In rock-paper-scissors terms, People beats The Economist every time.

At a few points, the show acknowledged a lot of its viewers' frustrations. Seth admitted to Summer that his visits to her bedroom (during which nothing ever happens) were getting repetitive. Yeah, we know. Check! During the Juju-Kiki cigar 'n' booze office extravaganza, Julie went haywire when Kirsten suggested that she and Sandy might not be able to work things out. ''I couldn't handle it if you didn't. . . . You two are like the moral center of the universe!'' Julie, you read our minds. Check! And Sandy basically gave us a huge tease in the motel with Rebecca when he said that the scene had ''all the makings of a great slasher movie.'' Ugh, we're all aware — it'd be like slashing the entire series to shreds. Check! Don't do it! Deep breath, everyone: He didn't.

Seth took the cake (bagel?), though, with his little quip to Kirsten and Ryan that the sailboat in the living room was ''an objective correlative. . . . I'm getting Summer back.'' The English major in me just melted, but whoa. Not even the vocab-on-overdrive Dawson's Creek ever went beyond big words into the treacherous land of somewhat obscure (at least to its high-school audience) literary theory. If we deconstruct this further, fellow scholars, the boat (recently renamed Gimmie Sex) symbolizes the indeterminacy of Seth and Summer's relationship, around which the rest of the plot revolves even (and especially) when the fulfillment of that connection is delayed. I'm pretty sure metonymy, synecdoche, and caesura are also involved.

The writers clearly had a ball with this episode. How about when Sandy offered Rebecca a choice between Ding Dongs and Cheese Stix? This one took me a while. I had to pause the show and ruminate for a few seconds about where I'd heard that particular vending-machine quandary before, besides a few days ago in my own head. Turns out it's the exact same choice posed by Ryan to Marissa at the even more sketchy cheap motel in between Newport and Tijuana during season 1. Except while Marissa went for the Stix, Rebecca opted for the Dongs. As in, ding-dong, the wicked witch of The O.C. is about to be stranded on a rainy highway without even a lip-kiss goodbye! Booyah!

And with the frequent mentions of The Valley in recent episodes, we knew that a not-so-subtle dig at Laguna Beach was coming. It surfaced tonight when Seth talked about tuning in to Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley: ''Why watch the angst of fictional characters,'' he said, ''when you can watch real people in contrived situations?'' It's almost too smart. I love it.

The pop culture references were rampant this episode — from ''No Rain'' (ha!) and Boyz II Men to when Summer peels off Seth's Spiderman mask while he dangles upside-down by a rope (the last thread of the web of their tangled relationship?). I just have to say, though — and some posters have noticed this too — with tonight's mid-'90s music choices and such ever-present toys as Care Bears and My Little Ponies, it seems like these kids should be . . . well, my age, instead of in high school. I get that they're younger embodiments of the late-twenties Josh Schwartz, but that decade of displacement can sometimes be jarring.

As for the actual plot (yes, that happened too), Marissa sort of ''came out'' to a gaping Julie, who revealed she had gone through a lesbian ''phase'' herself. I want to just continue typing out everything Julie said in the kitchen because I find her a comic genius, but I guess if you were watching, such genius was hard to miss. Speaking of hard to miss, um . . . the Marissalex Make-outs? How sheepish do I feel after coming down on Fox for not showing more than two seconds of kissing in past eps? The pair were like a study in horniness, perhaps prompted by the sexy, sexy rain. But Marissa moving in with Alex? Huh? It's like someone pressed the B button in Nintendo to propel their relationship's progress into warp speed. This whole Marissa-paying-rent thing obviously won't last one month, which is a shame for these two because Alex is Marissa's most believable love interest yet.

Oh yeah, and Lindsbree's outta there. Turns out she is Caleb's daughter. Does anyone care? I'm actually happy for the little crossbreed (Lindsay Lohan and Bree from Desperate Housewives, for newcomers), because I think she'll fit in much better in Chicago. I happen to know firsthand that they wear a lot of L.L. Bean.

What do you think? Can Seth and Summer actually stay together this time? Can you imagine Marissa washing a dish? And does anyone miss those cutesy nicknames I was using?

Originally posted Feb 25, 2005