TV Article

Expel Bound

On ''The O.C.,'' a mean dean throws Marissa and Ryan out of school, Summer asserts herself socially, and Kirsten gets played by her stalker

Mischa Barton | PREPPED OUT Marissa may have to attend public school
Image credit: Mischa Barton: Matt Barnes/FOX
PREPPED OUT Marissa may have to attend public school

''The O.C.'': Marissa and Ryan are expelled

The Harbor School's annual ''kickoff carnival'' never fails to amuse me. Tonight's reminded me of the carnival at the end of Grease, without the happy resolution but with cooler musical montages. The exodus of power couple Ryan and Marissa was kind of like Danny and Sandy's takeoff from the fairgrounds (note that both pairs consist of a bad boy who corrupts a good girl), except that instead of riding away in a flying car, the Harbor rejects had to walk. Wait, maybe Summer and Seth were Danny and Sandy, because they finished the show in an above-the-ground contraption and their relationship is currently more stable than Marissa and Ryan's. Then again, Ryan was the one in the greasy leather jacket. Clearly the only conclusion I can draw here is that I should never have brought this comparison up in the first place.

A lot of the plots this week seemed recycled. We had Marissa in distress, Ryan throwing punches, Jimmy mismanaging money, and Julie being bitchy...oh, wait, that never gets old. But in a refreshing twist, the core couples seemed to be at war with outside forces — a power-hungry dean, an insufferable fellow student, and a scary stalker — instead of with each other.

The mean dean (Eric Mabius) kicked first Marissa and then Ryan out of a school he knows nothing about. He can't stop talking about the East Coast. Why doesn't he go back there? This guy is so obnoxious, perhaps a little overblown. I can't quite grasp his vendetta against Marissa, as he's only a novice Newpsie. You'd think someone who deals with teenagers would be sympathetic to a girl who nearly got raped, but Dean Hess' favor seems to apply only to queen bitch Taylor. The way their two faces were shown after Ryan punched the dean out made them seem like partners in crime. I'm thinking they're totally doing it. The dean's decision is a bummer, but I hope Ryan and Marissa get to go to public school. The show has rehashed most of Harbor's annual traditions, so a new school with more colorful, Skankalicious-esque characters and a new crop of teenage guys for the newly remarried Julie (providing a wedding actually happens) to manipulate would be more than welcome.

Then there's Taylor, the perfect reincarnation of Reese Witherspoon's character from Election, played by Autumn Reeser. (Summer vs. Autumn. Isn't that just delicious?) Taylor Townsend — a name really can't get any Waspier than that, huh? For reasons beyond my understanding, Taylor wanted Marissa's position as social chair for the senior class. Is she kidding? Remember last season's bonfire? The job sucks. Regardless, a suddenly school-spirited Summer had to step in as soon as Taylor took charge. I love how Summer and Marissa are rarely shown talking to other Harbor School females, but every so often they can suddenly will the masses to follow their schemes simply by declaring things like ''Mini is the new super size.'' I'm also enthralled by Summer's shots-of-soup idea. It would also work with ice cream. You could try 20 flavors and still not be full.

We met the third force of evil, Charlotte (or Seven of Twelve Steps), last week. I hope she doesn’t try to kill Kirsten in that isolated area. The creepy house and lake just scream murder mystery, but maybe I'm overreacting. I can't tell if Seven of Twelve's Kirsten obsession is a Single White Female thing (they do sort of look alike), an alien thing, or a quasi-lesbian thing, although I doubt the show would head in that direction again. Seven's interest might have more to do with Sandy, as she seemed eager to meet the man with the black Lexus. (I just realized I am obsessed with this car, but I'll try not to mention it every week.) After watching Seven act out a near-relapse, then wipe away fake tears, swig from her flask, and smile, I realized this character is on the Julie Cooper level of manipulation and deceit, and that's severe. I hope she and Julie have scenes together at some point, because Seven's scenes with Kirsten aren't much fun.

My favorite moments this week were during some of the less significant banter between two ditzy Harbor School girls seemingly programmed to agree with whatever Summer said. After Summer's suggestion that a hybrid car be auctioned off instead of an SUV, one ditz said, ''Air quality is so important.'' The other replied, ''I know. We breathe it.'' And speaking of that hybrid, I'm pretty sure the announced winner was named Gillian Flynn, the same name (though pronounced incorrectly) as EW's television critic. How ironic. Maybe my name will be incorporated into the next product placement. I'll keep on the edge of my seat.

Summer and Seth got to flesh out the groupies' banter with some of their own. They had some funny one-two punches while stuck up in the Ferris wheel. (After Ryan and Marissa got ratted out, Seth said, ''Taylor Townsend,'' and Summer added, ''She is Karl Rove!'') Seth didn't seem to mind taking a backseat to Summer's whimsy during the carnival planning, which was cute. His character seems to have toned down a bit, which I personally prefer.

Not to mention the positive change in Marissa. She's so righteous and bold these days that I've ended up rooting for her, a major step for someone whose favorite Marissa moment last season was when she wore a hooded sweatshirt for two minutes. She already wore a sweatshirt last week, so already season 3 is ahead. Keep it up.

What do you think? Which of the three evil forces is the most likable? Can Ryan and Marissa work through their issues? And is Julie about to cash in on Caleb's will, or will her service staff murder her in her sleep?

Originally posted Sep 15, 2005