'The O.C.': It's Ryan's Wonderful Life

15510__ben_lMerry "Chrismukk-huh?” everyone! I hope you ate up last night’s WTF fest as eagerly as I did. The It’s a Wonderful LIfe twist was perfect for Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie, pictured, right). He needed closure on the Marissa thing, and since he’s always been focused instead on how much the Cohens have helped him, he’s probably never realized all the good he’s done for them. Here’s the premise: Taylor and Ryan fall off the roof and into a totally routine "coma light" together. They meet up in their dreams and run around Newport to see what it’d be like if they’d never existed. Taylor had her own bitchy mother-oriented issues to work out, of course, but I liked how she basically served as Ryan’s guardian angel — stepping out of his way when he needed it, popping up over his shoulder at the airport for support, and saying ambiguously wise things that would sink in with him when he was ready.

In Ryan and Taylor’s alternate universe, everything was just awful. Case in point: Johnny Harper had become a famous "surfing star." Kirsten had married Jimmy (way!), kept on hitting the pinot, and told Ryan to "shoo." Julie the philanthropist ("and I help people") was her usual gym shorts-chasing self, and her husband Sandy (sorry, no way, nuh-uhh) was mayor of Newport and a buddy of Ahh-nold. Seth was as spastic and geeky as he was in the pilot — cringeworthy, to be sure, but dead on. Summer and old-school bad girl Holly (holla!) were full-on caricactures of the "mindless bimbo," which pretty much meant they were Paris Hilton. Again — cringe — but it was such a train wreck you could not look away. (And that’s why the world is like this!) Somehow, Che was there, too, as "Chester," Summer’s worthless, sleazy fiance, who reminded me of Kevin Federline. Makes sense, since Che-Fed had engaged in a slap-happy affair with Julie, who threatened to put Kaitlin in her lap during their car ride to "a very Britney Christmas" in Riverside.

So many good moments in this one. I liked Kaitlin complaining aboutTaylor’s Christmas carolling while wearing a shirt embossed withmusical notes. Summer and Che-Fed were alarmingly convincing as theepitome of wealthy trash. I think my favorite part was when theyre-greeted each other ("Heyyyyy, bitch!") after walking out separatedoors six feet apart. Julie, my heart and my soul, killed me as shetried to make THONG an acronym for "The Homeless of Newport… Go. Orsomething." I completely broke down when Sandy invited Ryan from jailto his house just like he did in real life!, and was all-outweeping when Ryan went to the lifeguard shack. Not really because ofMarissa. Because of Ryan. And that really dire song. The shack wasextraordinarily well-lit tonight, did you notice? Definitely added tothe extraterrestrial element of the show. (I expected a gentle alien friend to comfort Ryan as he whispered goodbye. "Beeee gooooood.") So did the bizarro versionof the opening titles. It probably irked some of you to have adifferent song in there, but I adored it, because one night my roommateand I spent hours setting The O.C.‘s opening titles to as many eerie-sounding songs as we could think of. (We’re really cool.)

Die hard fans might quip that the idea of Kaitlin in college at 15is ludicrous, or that the framed photo of Marissa and Julie wasactually a publicity still from season 3 (remember, the promo where Ryan hurls the dining table into the ocean at the end?),at which point Marissa would have been dead almost two years. But it’scool with me, because I love that necklace. I remember Googlingsomething along the lines of "the oc what is black long beaded necklacemarissa" circa September ’05. I’m sort of fascinated with howilliterate people become when they Google things, but I suppose thissentence doesn’t really belong in this post, or anywhere.

Yeah. I’m done. What did you think? "Let’s get it started, Newport!"

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  • Melissa

    loved it…every single minute…did anyone else think that Marissa was going to come around the corner in the jail to save Ryan? Too bad not that many watched…they have no idea what they’re missing this yr..next week…omg!!!!! what a great early Xmas present!!!

  • mike

    Call me jaded, but hasn’t every TV show pulled out the It’s a Wonderful Life episode? I had DVR’d, so I was able to run through most of it. I didn’t buy that Sandy and Julie would have gotten married, if there had been no Ryan. Still, this season has been better than the last couple.

  • theBigE

    I recorded the show, but watched bits during the commercial breaks of “Scrubs” and “30 Rock.” It looked awful! Horrible, as in jumped-the-shark 1000x! Was the show actually worth watching? Or should I delete it?

  • harry

    Such a great episode. I have never seen a Wonderful Live version does this funny, weird or original. This season continues to impress (creatively) and depress (ratings…) But I loved Chester and Summer and Holly, and Chester spanking Julie and meowing. And when Ryan thought he found Marssa and it was Kaitlin… I died. Of relief. I hate Mischa Barton. But Adam Brody ruled the roost for me when he yelled “I haaaaate my liiiiiifffeee”. So funny. So good.

  • Amber

    Kind of cheezy, but LOVE the OC now. Loved white-trash Summer! Loved what a biatch Veronica Townsend is…Taylor is just another orphan for the Cohen’s to take in.

  • Shannon

    I loved this whole episode for so many reasons, but more than I anything I loved it because it gave Ryan closure on Marissa’s death and made him & Taylor become all the more closer to one another.

  • daisy

    Does anyone know where I can view this episode? Why are ABC and NBC shows EVERYWHERE (official sites, iTunes, etc.) but Fox shows are no where? A little help?

  • Karoline

    I loved this episode, although the shameless plug for ’24’ (when Kaitlin proudly compared Julie to Jack Bauer)was a bit much. But, overall, this season rocks and this was the best Chrismukkah episode yet. The actors seem to be having fun again (is there any way to somehow keep Chris Pratt in the cast?) and this episode must have been a blast to shoot.

  • cRAIG

    the last few episodes have been pretty good, but it’s most likely too little, too late for The O.C.

  • Vicky

    Daisy-
    go to http://www.myspace.com/fox. You can watch episodes there for free. You have to download some player I think, but I’d say it’s worth it.

  • beachmom

    it’s really bothering me that i missed the reference to johnny and i erased the ep from the dvr…how was he mentioned???
    alt-world summer wasn’t too far off from season one summer…
    seth was heartbreakingly awkward..painful to watch!
    and yes, sandy taking ryan from jail, was a goose-bump moment!!!
    what’s up with the new, slow version of the song??? will it be that way from now on???

  • Albert

    What a great episode, definitely one for the fans, as it mined the whole history of the O.C. from the past four seasons. I loved how it speculated about the effect that Ryan had on everyone’s lives around him. It just makes you wonder about the effect you have on the people around you, and how much your influence affects people’s destinies, if you’re not having an effect to those close to you you should definitely get out and do something about it.
    And that poster in the mall, definitely had Johnny Harper’s name but no pic, as star surfer for PacWest. What a great throwaway. Now I’m wondering what happened to some old O.C. characters like Anna, Luke, and Trey. Maybe they were just ships passing through. Anna’s probably doing her thing in Philly. Judging from Luke’s brothers, Luke probably turned out to be the same gay-repressed obnoxious jock, I wonder how Marissa’s death affected him, if any? Trey is probably stuck in jail as a bad seed, probably hanging in the same circles as Vulchok and getting wasted. Also, Seth’s grandfather Caleb probably got arrested for business fraud, which prompted Kirsten to take over the Newport Group. Ryan’s old ex Sadie is probably off making jewelry, and his other ex Lindsay is probably studying hard without Ryan there to loosen her up in college. Oliver’s probably stalking some other girls. Matt, Sandy’s old employee, probably never got hired and fired and is working the shady business angle in another company.
    I agreed with another poster that Julie and Taylor’s mom were practically the same in the alt-universe. I guess it’s easy to be bad, and hard to be good. Julie maybe got a liitle more naughty with no real moral influence in her life, we saw glimpses of that in recent episodes. I guess its part of their nature.
    [Spoiler warning!] The most surprising was definitely the Marissa twist, with Kaitlin as a young prodigy freshman at Berkeley. A weird turn-around, possibly Marissa’s early death scared Kaitlin into changing her bad-girl ways and go straight into nerddom. Interesting, but improbable, because Kaitlin is the daughter of Julie Cooper after all. Maybe she met up with Lindsay, Ryan’s old studious ex, who became a good influence, and got her to become a teenage prodigy! Lol. I love the permutations and possibilities here with all the intertwining destinies. Great episode!!

  • Danielle

    I really loved this episode…especially the end where Ryan finally got closure. Marissa was destined to meet a tragic end whether he was there or not, but he presence gave her 3 more years. I’m going to be so sad when this show is over because it has been so good this season.

  • Emily

    Annie Barrett, I’m glad you’re still writing about the O.C. And your commentary for last night’s “Chrismukk-huh?” was dead on! Until I read your commentary, I couldn’t properly express why I loved last night’s episode. Thanks for making me smile!

  • Maeve

    The OC is my new favorite show again!!! It is so fresh and inside-jokey and Ryan is now actually allowed to be a funny character with personality and not just an ass kicker with a thing for Marissa.
    And maybe I’m like Annie, but I get all sappy when the Cohen parents refer to Ryan as one of their kids, and last night, when the nurse called Ryan “your son” to Kirsten and she just nodded…it got me.
    But please, FOX, put it in a better time slot! Why did they put it at Thursdays 9pm to die when it’s better than ever?

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