Episodic Classics: The O.C., "The Model Home,“ ”The Gamble,” & ”The Debut” | Season 1, Episodes 2, 3, & 4
After some hurdles, Ryan Atwood makes his stay with the Cohens official
As someone who currently podcasts about The Vampire Diaries1, I can say with complete certainty that one thing that was always impressive about peak TVD was its ability to burn through plot, creating new status quo shifts in a fraction of the time other series would usually require. It was a burn bright and fast situation, though, as the series eventually proved it couldn’t sustain that pace forever forever. (It at least managed to maintain that pace successfully for its first six seasons, barring the issues it faced with its rocky fourth and fifth seasons.)
I would say the same was true for The O.C.’s first season, which successfully packed in seasons’ worth of plots and character development into 27 episodes.2 For those unfamiliar with the series—which seems to be a large number of people reading this coverage—here’s some food for thought. You can often ask a fan of the show about major early series arcs from The O.C. that happen after the initial seven episodes from the summer of 2003, and more often than not they’ll be shocked to know they didn’t happen in the second season (or even later). It’s a lot to take in.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is because of the way this Episodic Classics coverage will be done, there’s going to be quite a bit of episode bundling to get through all of this—we’ll be doing three episodes a week, for your own rewatch/viewing scheduling purposes. [MM here to say that I forgot to tell y’all this explicitly, my bad] In this bundling, I’ve gotten to really examine the way this season of The O.C. tells its stories and constructs its arcs, in general. I was pleased to see that the way this has all shaken out, it’s not a bunch of wildly disparate arcs or eras of the show lumped together. Instead, I quickly realized that the first three post-pilot episodes are a great microcosm and era on their own. (And that will only continue as this coverage goes on.) These three episodes—“The Model Home,” “The Gamble,” and “The Debut”—all function as a necessary bit of work in both solidifying Ryan Atwood’s place within the Cohen family and revealing the big Newport scandal right under everyone’s noses in the form of Jimmy Cooper’s financial crimes. Yeah, for all the demonizing of Ryan we get in these episodes, let the irony not be lost on you that Newport’s favorite son is the actual criminal, thief, and cheat.
And with “The Debut,” we also reach the end of a three-episode stretch of Marissa and Luke being shocked to see that Ryan has not yet left Newport Beach and returned to Chino. It was a good run.