''Laguna Beach'': The kids face their futures
At the beginning of tonight's season-finale episode, we found ourselves at the ol' MTV studios. VJ Damien promised a surprise after the show. Sounded good to me, especially considering that during the actual episode, there were few surprises. Of course, we've all made quite the hullabaloo over what scenes this season were scripted, or less real than others. But this week's chapter was perhaps the season's worst in that respect. Clearly the producers set up a bunch of meetings between various cast members and advised each participant to follow the same protocol: Wax nostalgic with your pal, wistfully stare off into the sea or sky, mention future hopes (e.g., college, L.A.), cry, hug, and say, ''I love you.'' (I counted 12 utterances this episode.) After all that, the visiting cast member would drive off.
Alex M. and Taylor's adieu was kinda touching if for no other reason than it was one of the first. Taylor told Alex M. how weird it was packing (probably because Taylor was trying to do the brunt of the work herself). And did Taylor call her mom by her first name: ''Karen, say bye to Al''? Weird. But Karen said bye to Al. They hugged. Then Taylor and Alex hugged. They said, ''I love you,'' beside Alex's car, whence Alex apparently drove off.
At Kristin's house, our beloved narrator bemoaned the horrors of goodbyes to Alex H. Then Jess arrived, and while the words echoed the sentiments she shared with Alex, Kristin's actions were somewhat different. She got up from her bed to throw something away and passively moaned, ''Omigod, I don't believe I'm saying goodbye to you, J.'' Do what you want with that information, but for me, the image of Kristin tossing some trash away while simultaneously discussing her goodbye to her throwaway doormat of a friend was just too poetic an ending for Jess.
Then they mentioned the future: Kristin cried, ''I can't believe we're going to college.'' The three hugged and said, ''I love you.'' And Jess drove off. The group hug and I love yous (I counted seven for that scene) were nice, but was it necessary for Alex H. to fiddle with her décolletage every three seconds? So distracting.
Then there was Jason and Cedric's final moment in the sun:
Cedric: Water's getting colder.
Jason: Yeah. How weird is it us leaving?
Cedric: It's weird....It's just gnarly seeing everyone go their own way.
Jason: It's gnarly.
Jason's vocab and Alex H.'s amusing brassiere management aside, tonight's big finale was just a big yawn (or at best a glorified commercial for season 3 and LC's new series The Hills). Plodding along one after the other ad nauseam, all those portentous farewells simply couldn't amount to anything. Besides, if you read the tabloids, you already know that the group remains largely intact to this day, canoodling with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton at the Ivy or whatever it is eminent Angelenos do nowadays. What difference did all this make when most everyone was heading for the same destination? Doesn't that mean the time the group spent apart (left-behinds Jess and Alex M. notwithstanding) was just a few hours? But you proved your point, MTV: We'll watch anything you want us to as long as you tag on the Laguna brand. The Hills? Season 3? Bring 'em on.
But the producers denied us scenes that could have shown five truly important and much wanted resolutions. First, Cedric: The emulation of Jason. The pink undies. Come on, buddy! It's the age of Ellen and Gavin Newsom. You know we love you no matter who you are.
Second, for all of MTV's ''new girl'' promotions, Casey the horsey face was surprisingly AWOL this week. Nada. How come? Perhaps her maid finally exploded from having to make so many kaysuhdilluhs and ended Ms. Horsey Face's reign of salsa-flavored terror. I just wish we could have seen it happen. Alas. But RIP, Casey. The next box of Velveeta I buy is to honor you.
Third, I really wanted to see LC finish that jigsaw puzzle.
Fourth, we know from our gossip-rag reading that Jason and LC are back together. And we also learned (via that aforementioned surprise) that the cameras followed LC to L.A. for The Hills. So it'd be safe to assume that the reconciliation was taped. But there was no mention or even hint that it did or would happen. Why not? The end of the fashion-show episode where Jason was sitting down agonizing with face in hands on one side of a curtain while LC stood on the other fiddling with clothes still gives me shudders. And yet the producers opted to bore us with monotonous rubbish this week when they apparently had some TV gold at their disposal.
I was reminded of the fifth unresolved thread by what LC told Stephen during their goodbye: ''Everyone's changed and grown. But you're always gonna have that group of friends that you can come back to.'' If that's the case, then where the hell has Lo been all season? LC's new pal Heidi is certainly hot. But Lo's my love.
All that said, I did appreciate the attempt at resolving the relationships between the show's core three: Stephen, LC, and Kristin. In terms of Stephen and LC, it seemed that they would remain friends. LC would remain in love with Stephen. Stephen would pretend not to notice and, more important, would continue to butcher the English language.
LC: It'll work out this time. I love L.A. I feel completely different from last time. Last time I was scared out of my mind to leave. Now, I know I can do it. I'll be single girl in the city.
Stephen: You're gonna find someone so qui [LC glares at him.] Do you wanna find somebody?
LC: I don't wanna look. I want someone to find me. I just don't have very good luck dating. I have bad judgment.
(Me: Nice point, Stephen.)
LC: You're gonna disagree with that?
(Huh? How the hell was she able to decipher that boy's gibberish? ''Ba-duhhh-ehhhhh'' apparently expressed disagreement with what LC said. To me, it seemed like he was about to repeat ''bad judgment'' before suffering some seizure. But no, he said, ''Ba-duhhh-ehhhhh.'' Translation: ''Actually, Lauren, I must contest your assertion that you possess unsound discrimination with regards to being courted by my fellow males, which does not strike me as being altogether precise.'')
Stephen: No, I'm not. I was just gonna I was just ooomhooomooomhooom.
Shrewd observation, my friend. Shrewd. Whew. Everything's gonna be all right as long as LC continues to misplace her affections and Stephen makes Jason sound like Henry James.
Meanwhile, after beginning the season with hostility, then continuing on to uncomfortable awkwardness, it was refreshing to see Stephen and Kristin appear to make amends.
Stephen: I always got the vibe that I did something super super harsh and, like, I'm the assh---.
Kristin: You did! Okay, I'm not gonna have this conversation.
Stephen: Ooooheehhhh. I don't miss the tone of that voice.
Okay, maybe not complete amends, but they laughed and Stephen rode Kristin pony back into the sunset. Then she cried. They hugged. He drove off. Throw in a time-filler montage of Kristin reminiscing over the past two seasons (at this point, I wouldn't have minded commercials), and the finale was finito.
But while I have been disparaging of this episode, as well as much of the season, I must admit I'm gonna miss these kids. Including Cedric. (Maybe not Horsey Face, though.) While talking to Stephen, Kristin rued the ''phase'' in her senior year when she allowed herself to feel bored with her repetitive high-school life: ''We were over it....'Wow, it's the same thing every night.' I really wish I didn't do that.''
The same could be said about my feelings for tonight's episode. Wow, I wish it wasn't the same hackneyed adieu every scene. But I wish I could have gotten over that because I know this time next year, I'll be missing these guys and gals. In future incarnations of Laguna, we'll be stuck with the likes of Cami and LC's supposed queen-bee little sister (and probably also Jason, who I'm sure will return for his 16th attempt at senior year). As Alex H. said, ''Laguna is so like our comfort....And now, none of our friends are here.'' Then, indeed, we will really be over it. Wow. Gnarly. Ba-duhhh-ehhhhh. Ooomhooomooomhooom. Dunzo.
What do you think? What were your fondest memories of the past season? Do LC and her sister share any physical resemblance? What are you looking forward to more: season 3 of Laguna or The Hills?