TV Article

Mexican Standoff

During LC's south-of-the-border birthday trip, Stephen almost seems interested in her; meanwhile, Kristin starts working on her love triangle with Taylor and Talan

Laguna Beach | ALL TACO, NO ACTION Stephen needs to do more than just tell LC, ''I love you''
ALL TACO, NO ACTION Stephen needs to do more than just tell LC, ''I love you''

''Laguna Beach'': Stephen and LC's alone time

Following last week's pointless sham of an episode, Laguna Beach came back with one of its strongest and most heartrending chapters to date: the birthday show! Through the eternal irony of God (or the show's producers), it just so happens mortal enemies LC and Kristin celebrate their days of birth at the same time and, consequently, in different places. Thus, this season's narrator had to split screen time with her rival. Finally, we got to see the payoff that the move to San Francisco has failed to deliver: Stephen and LC together, miles away from Kristin.

Meanwhile, with Stephen in another country and incapable of making his awkward advances to Kristin (or so we think), we could enjoy the start of what seems to be this year's dramatic love triangle. Kristin-Taylor-Talan cat-scratch fever has begun, my friends. And Kristin's more feline than ever (let's call her the Cheetah!), excluding Taylor from her party.

But Ms. Taylor wasn't too destroyed by the news, because she actually went out to dinner with Talan. (And let's not forget, during her predate primping, her mother's timeless maternal query: ''Do you think he'll try to kiss you?'' It's one thing for Lo to force-feed plot-driving questions to LC last week, but to hear someone's mother act so intrusively? I mean, I remember every time my mommy asked me when I was next gonna knock boots. Icky.) So long story short: At dinner, Talan professed his love to Taylor. ''Every girl I try to date,'' he said, ''I compare to you — wow, it's like a line from a movie — but there's no comparison.'' Cue Sinead.

At her party, Kristin whooped it up with everyone (but Taylor) and made drunken, flirty eyes with Talan, who denied to her that he was even dating Taylor. And Kristin later revealed that the ever-elusive Matt's not her boyfriend. As Talan put it, ''Kristin has a penis mentality.''

This is all very intriguing, but fodder for another column, because such affairs — no more Matt, private-parts dirty talk — all paled in comparison with the night's main event: LC and Stephen. The two of them, along with Dieter and Kaitlyn, headed south of the border for LC's birthday. (Funny, we don't know Kaitlyn too well, but she made the birthday-road-trip cut. Um, where the hell is Lo?) During the drive (and In-n-Out Burgers!), the four quizzed one another on which of several hypothetical pairs they would rather hook up with. Stephen refused to play, while Dieter (who shouldn't wear his hat backward) teased the supposed couple (Stephen and LC) over the supposed inevitable. But given past episodes, it was hard for us to take the possibility seriously. Have we seen definitive evidence of Stephen and LC ever actually getting their swerve on? And yet, with Kristin out of the picture, things did change for the better, and sweatier, and swervier. At least, for a bit.

Between the cherry feedings, stolen kisses, and whipped-cream nose lickings over dinner, tension and affection between Stephen and LC definitely did heat up. But where does one go from here? Well, the next scene found Stephen sitting in his Rosarito motel room calling Kristin, who curtly dismissed his birthday greetings. (''Why can't he just, like, grow up?'' Why can't he just be totally cute like these like earrings?) But it's hard to feel bad for Stephen's telephonic emasculation, given he was kinda betraying LC. She loves the boy so much. And for the first time (for me, at least), I felt an undeniable empathy with her and her devotion to Stephen. It really was warming to see LC believe she was going to get everything she'd ever wanted from the guy of her dreams. And indeed, Stephen and LC kissed, snuggled, and straddled a bull together, and he even told her, ''I love you'' — the natural next step after one straddles a bull with another, of course. But given the phone call and the gloomy wistfulness weighing on Stephen's face throughout the trip, it seemed he'd prefer to be somewhere else, with someone else. I hope I'm simply not giving Stephen's feelings for LC enough credibility. Regardless, the nascent relationship (at least the one before our eyes) was short-lived, for Stephen had to return to San Francisco. Alas.

What do you think? Following their honeymoon in Mexico, didn't Stephen seem a bit aloof during his farewell to LC? (It almost looked as if he were giving her a pat-on-the-back buddy hug. Geesh.) Is Kristin slowly being phased out as the season's primary focus and narrator? And finally, a week after the car sing-along by LC and Stephen, ''Don't Stop Believin' '' ascended to the iTunes top 10. Which of you have been juicing the Journey train?

Originally posted Aug 09, 2005