EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community
\'The O.C.\' nostalgia recap: I\'m comin\' out. I want the world to know.
Season 1 | Episode 4 | “The Debut” | Aired Aug 26, 2003
'Dawson's Creek' recap: 'It's all about romance. And Chapstick.'
'The O.C.' nostalgia recap: Model citizen
For the locals, that means tradition, family, and parents dressing their children up like dolls in order to best show off for one another. So what’s in it for Newport’s teens? Per Seth, the ball is “another reason for them to get wasted and throw up on themselves.” Can you blame them?
The official function of the function is to welcome the town’s “most accomplished young women” into society. But it’s not just the ladies who will be making their debut. Cotillion is to be Ryan’s first foray into the moneyed coterie as an official member of the Cohen family.
After a chat with Child Services, Kirsten and Sandy make Ryan an offer: be theirs, permanently. “I can’t ask you guys to do that,” Ryan says, having had it drilled into him his entire life that he’s nothing but a burden. “Well, you don’t have to,” Sandy replies, amused. “We’re asking you.” If Daddy Warbucks shows up with a brand new locket, I’m officially going to lose it.
“Dude, you’re a Cohen now,” Seth announces. “Welcome to a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt.” He’s not kidding. Ryan is on eggshells immediately, hoping to honor the Cohens’ trust in him by steering clear of trouble. Not so easy, when the town feels smaller than a bread box and its lead alpha male is gunning for him. If only Ryan could switch off the sexual tension he has with the girl next door. But he runs into Marissa at his tux fitting and she smiles like he just handed her a beautifully wrapped present when he tells her that he’s staying and really, what’s a guy to do?
The cotillion escorts are known as “White Knights” in this instance, and it’d be sexist and archaic as hell if the women weren’t so obviously in charge. The boys are shuffled about; their main duties being a) to look dashing (or at somewhat comfortable) and b) to properly show off the lady on their arm. But which lady? Our successive scenarios:
Promised to Luke, obviously, perpetual chairperson Marissa sets up Ryan with new girl Anna Stern. We know Anna is going to shake things up, because she’s just moved from a city that sees snow (“Pittsburgh? Ew”) and because she wears hipster buttons on her blazer. That leaves Summer rolling solo. She’d been lobbying hard for Ryan, which is presumably why Marissa steered him elsewhere. Lucky for Summer, there’s one White Knight available, and he worships her.
Some tense moments at rehearsal make it clear that Luke is dead set on picking another fight with Ryan. And with everything riding on his conversion to pacifism, Ryan decides it’s safer just to bow out. He sends Seth to Anna with the news. (“Oh, don’t worry. Your hit man already took care of it. I didn’t feel a thing.”) She gets it. She’d already deciphered Ryan’s feelings for Marissa with her East Coaster’s intuition.
Marissa seems to still be weighing her options until another one of Julie’s horrifying pep talks does its thing. Julie’s concerned about Marissa’s “future.” She wants her “to be comfortable.” That’s the security that Luke—violent tendencies and all—can offer. It’s deeply disturbing that a mother would put this kind of pressure on the relationship of her 15-year-old daughter, but at least Marissa is savvy enough to rebel against it. There’s no great love between her parents, she can tell. Jimmy was Julie’s ticket out of Riverside, and we see how well that turned out. Marissa backs out of the dance.
Last seen trying to swap Jack Johnson tickets for Holly’s date, Summer can now ditch Seth for the more socially appropriate Luke. That pairs up Anna and Seth, who get right down to nerd bonding. “I can’t believe you read comics,” Seth wonders at her. “I mean, you’re a girl!”
supposed to mean?” Anna answers, anticipating the “fake geek girl” debate ten years early. We like her.
Sandy and Ryan enjoy a boys’ night in of video games and deep talks, not a cummerbund in sight. Sandy reads Ryan’s concerns about fitting in and assures him that there’s no one who does. (“I guarantee you, every person at that cotillion feels like a fraud.”) They’re interrupted when Marissa shows up at the door in a very unsubtle red to tell Ryan that they should go and face their fears together. Ryan’s covert nod to Sandy and Sandy’s subsequent enthusiasm are equally precious.
Luke is out the door as soon as he sees Ryan and Marissa arrive together. Ryan offers to take his place, and we’re in for the most tentative and highly charged dancing we’ve seen since the ball at Netherfield.
Down one date, Summer tries to recommit Seth. But Anna had gotten to him first, chiding him for his sulky response to Summer’s initial dumpage. Whether his dream woman ever looks his way or not, Seth will have other chances. In fact, he’d just run out on a cute girl who seems to share his every interest just to brood about the one who’s always treated him like he doesn’t exist. Anna will have none of this nerd entitlement. “Confidence, Cohen,” she says, and this character’s entire purpose is made clear. Meet Seth’s starter girlfriend.
The cotillion starts. Parents tearfully applaud; their kids are so young and impossibly pretty and endearing awkward with one another. But the spell is broken when Holly’s dad Greg finally forces Jimmy to admit why he can’t cash him out. Jimmy has not only lost his own money, he’s lost half the town’s. Including Greg’s. The other man tackles Jimmy, and both Sandy and Ryan end up in the fray.
Sandy’s right. Everyone in this town is so lost and so desperate to keep up appearances. They project their dreams and goals and insecurities onto their kids, who cannot possibly deal with them. The whole mirage comes crashing down around them, and no one is more bereft than idealistic Marissa. And despite their efforts, neither Ryan or Luke can make her better in that moment. Not when the main man in her life has already let her down.
Ryan can’t even look the Cohens in the eye when they ask him to stay. He’s too afraid that none of this is real.
They haven’t even shared much screen time yet, but these first few episodes have given us enough little moments between Jimmy and Marissa that we know there’s a deep bond there.
Seth calls out Summer for being nasty. She almost looks ashamed. We’re getting to it!
Anna refers to Marissa as “Princess Mononoke” and I’m still trying to unpack the point of that reference.
Sage Young and Kim Rogers bonded hard over Friends trivia and then founded Head Over Feels as an outlet for their intense obsession with pop and fandom culture. When not taking on fan conventions like a contact sport, they post regular TV recaps (Doctor Who, Parks and Rec, Sleepy Hollow, etc), movie reviews, character appreciations and lists for their rapidly growing audience. Sage and Kim consider themselves semi-professional podcast guests and are dead serious about live-blogging award shows. Basically, they just have a lot of feelings. Find them at Head Over Feels.
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