TV Article

Friends With Benefits

On ''Laguna Beach,'' the kids throw a fund-raiser for local landslide victims, where Jess demolishes Jason and LC's relationship

Laguna Beach | HOME WRECKER Jess keeps messing with Jason's love life
HOME WRECKER Jess keeps messing with Jason's love life

''Laguna Beach'': When Jess jumped Jason

Laguna Beach is ending this month, and it couldn't come soon enough. I don't know how much more I can take. This week was one of the most overpowering chapters in Laguna history. How exhausting. What is it that I speak of? Could it be the return of Trey? Ha. Cedric in pink briefs? Pretty harrowing, but no. LC and Jason? Of course. Reliving the intensity of their falling out (which I did a few times, masochistic TiVo fiend that I am), I immediately recalled watershed moments like Shandi telling her boyfriend she cheated on him on Top Model's second season and Sue dissing Kelly during Survivor's first finale. Whoa!

So a bunch of houses fell in a landslide. What's that you say? Someone in Laguna in peril? Call Trey! After a long absence, the guy with all the hats returned to Fight the Slide 2005! Does Trey have some special pager at Bard College so that he only comes home for charity? And this time Trey came with Polster, who also wore hats. The damage to the houses did, indeed, look horrible, and it made for quite the tangible harbinger of the wreck to come later in the episode. There was something sadly artful to it all.

Like a thrilling game of Jenga, the pieces were carefully placed, all building toward the inevitable crash. LC, who was organizing Fight the Slide with Trey, asked Dieter to rally models. Dieter asked Jess. Jess asked Taylor and Kristin. Always skeptical of Jess' antics, Kristin got Jess to reveal that LC was running the show, and where LC goes, so goes new beau Jason, and where Jason goes, so goes perpetual J. Wahl hoochie Jess. (''Maybe you guys are just really good friends,'' Kristin snarled.) ''I'll model,'' chimed in Alex H. in mid-hair twirl. ''It's for a good cause.'' Thanks, Alex. We all know how tough it is for you to come out of model retirement to fight the good fight. (And let's not forget the irony of playing Ashlee Simpson's ''Boyfriend.'' For those who don't understand, read Kristin's Rolling Stone interview. Why can't you girls just leave Lindsay Lohan's beaux alone?)

Besides Trey, our dear Talan also returned (after a no-show during graduation) for the concert portion of the benefit. After taking in Talan's performance, let's just say he looked ''special.'' And what the hell was the future rock star singing about? To me it sounded like ''Lookin' for a fire, diamond starship.'' Damn. He probably didn't say that, but wouldn't it be awesome if he did? While Talan sang about fire, diamond starships, Dieter and LC both looked a bit miffed. Were they confused too? Perhaps Jason was the reason. The kid seemed to be having the time of his life during Talan's show. Of course, Jess' giving him a lap dance probably helped.

''Baby, she just sat down,'' Jason told LC. Yeah, girls will do that when you pull them onto your lap. Then again, it was novel to see J. Wahl try to comfort one of his gals after his foolishness. He never graced Alex M. or Jess with such kindness. And it almost looked as if Jason had LC convinced. But then the Laguna discontinuity monsters took control. Abruptly, the reconciliation didn't look so promising.

Jason: I wanna be with you too, but it's like you don't trust me....

LC: Why can't you just be happy with me?

At that point, LC clearly looked perturbed. But at least there was some amusement to be gleaned from it.

Jess: Why are you looking at me funny?

LC: Right now you're a very rude girl. You're sitting on everyone's laps. You're dancing around.

Jess: Whose lap was I sitting on?

LC: Oh, you should know that. [Turns to a friend.] I can't even talk to her; she's like a two-year-old right now. Just fix her makeup, put her in clothes and make her walk. If she falls, it's her own fault.

Oh boy. It's been a while since we've witnessed as good a catfight. Jess played the same naïve dimwit she always plays in these situations, while LC took a condescending, spunky 'tude. I liked it. Also, the pan to Kristin rolling her I-told-you-so eyes was classic.

But the fun was fleeting. Five seconds later (in TV time, that is), we saw Jess appeal to Jason, who replied, ''I still care about you. Don't worry about it.'' What the hell? Then he grabbed her. She pounced. They kissed. I yelled.

Cue Barber's Adagio for Strings. The drama has begun. ''Just hold it,'' said Dieter while embracing a sobbing LC. ''Just hold it. Hold it.'' Hold what? His statements didn't make much sense, but the image was affecting nonetheless. And I gotta give respect to Dieter. The boy has no reason to help Jason, but his loyalty to LC was so strong that he was willing to mediate the fight in the hopes of reconciliation. And so Dieter approached his quasi former romantic rival for an explanation.

Jason: She forced herself on me. What else could I have done?

Dieter: We'll figure out what happened. [He calls up Jess.] Why'd you kiss Jason?

Jess: That's funny because I know him and Lauren are hooking up and I didn't kiss Jason. No bulls---. When would Jason and I have kissed, ever?

At that moment, Jason looked like he was shot. The boy had the fear of God on his face. Weird though, seeing his desperation during the phone call to Jess, because nothing she could have said would have changed his fate. He did what he did, and this time, he was admitting it. Perhaps he truly did love LC and was madly seeking absolution. I hate to sound sympathetic. But the images killed me: on one side of the curtain, Jason sitting with head in hands, destroyed; on the other side, LC maniacally arranging clothes, trying to ignore the devastation swelling within. That's classic camerawork. The mise-en-scène was grand. Kubrick couldn't have done better.

Meanwhile, sharing in Jason's devastation was Dieter. It seemed part of him really hoped it'd turn out all right — not only for LC and Jason's sake but also perhaps for his own. After all, the boy still has feelings for Jess. And while there was nothing she could have said in that moment that would have changed anything, there was just something amiss about her flippant denial. For the lost looks on Dieter and Jason's face after her denial mirrored my own desolation. Whatever affection, no matter how slight, one could have toward Jess died. Jess means nothing now. Poor LC.

What do you think? Is Jason's regret real? Does anyone still like Jess? And did anyone else notice the partial nudity backstage at the fashion show (and I'm not talking about Cedric the Pink)? How can MTV get away with that?

Originally posted Nov 01, 2005