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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "The Gamble"

Marquette basketball has a freshman coming in this fall named Sandy Cohen. There's only one logical thing to do: recap episodes of The O.C.

The near-unanimous reaction to hearing that Marquette had received a verbal commitment from Seymour (WI) guard Sandy Cohen was "What, the dad from The O.C.?" As such, it seemed the obvious thing to do would be use The O.C. references when he makes an outstanding play for the Golden Eagles. We'll spend some time this summer recapping episodes of the classic Fox drama, making notes of major Sandy Cohen moments along the way and giving everyone a guidepost as to what the hell we're talking about come November.

Makes sense, right? Ok, hit it, Phantom Planet!

Season 1, Episode 3 - "The Gamble"

Directed by Ian Toynton

Written by Jane Espenson

Previously on The O.C.: Instead of heading to a group home, Ryan hides out in an unfinished model home with Seth and Marissa as co-conspirators.  Marissa's boyfriend Luke gets all of the jealousy and picks a fight with Ryan, which leads to the house burning down.  Both Ryan and Luke are arrested for arson.  Also: Kirsten gives Jimmy $100,000 because he is B-R-O-K-E.

We open this episode with a callback to the second scene of the pilot, where Sandy meets up with Ryan in lock up.  Good news: Kirsten's company is dropping the arson charges against Luke and Ryan!  Bad news: Ryan was on probation because of the whole "stealing a car" thing, so he's going to have to stay in lock up for 30 to 60 days, depending on how the probation hearing goes.  Luke gets released during the meeting, because as turns out, his scumbag behavior isn't criminal and he doesn't have a record.  Ryan leaves the visitation area and bumps into Weevil from Veronica Mars! NEAT! Wait, Weevil's much meaner than I remember.  Hey, why are you jabbing Ryan in the neck with that plastic fork, Weevil??  BAD WEEVIL.

Back at the Cohen's, Sandy pokes some fun at how much Kirsten hates meeting with her socialite club, who are on their way over to finish plans for Vegas Night coming up this weekend.  Seth wanders in for some breakfast, and Sandy tells him he's lucky to only be grounded over his plan of hiding Ryan in the model home.  Seth is annoyed at his parents' reactions to all of this, seeing as Ryan is the first person his age he's met that "doesn't suck."

The socialite club meeting is lame, so Kirsten bails out using the old "well, I've got a thing" excuse, even though the meeting's at her house.  All that does is give Julie Cooper a chance to gossip about Ryan, and puts Kirsten out on the patio in time to catch Seth trying to sneak off to go visit Ryan in juvie.  Seth makes a reasonable case to Kirsten, and seeing as she hates her stupid club anyway, agrees to go with Seth to visit Ryan.

I guess they decide to wait until after the stupid club meeting, though, because Seth wanders over to the Coopers to invite Marissa to go with as well.  He gets more than expected, though, as Jimmy just wanders into his 16 year old daughter's room, giving Seth a look at Summer wearing only a bra and shorts while she tries on Marissa's clothes.  Look, Jimmy, I get that you've given up on life with your pajamas and bathrobe in the middle of the day, but that's no excuse to just toss open your teenaged daughter's door open all willy nilly.  With that said, Summer's not exactly scurrying for cover while Seth loses all cognitive function for at least 10 seconds until Marissa steps outside and shuts the door to send him into a hard reboot.  Marissa passes on the juvie visit because Luke won't return her calls.  To review: Marissa wants to spend the night in the model home with Ryan, he kicks her out, Luke kicks Ryan's ass over it but gets arrested for arson, and yet Marissa's surprised and sad when Luke won't call her back? C'mon, girl.

Over at juvie, Kirsten and Seth's visit lasts all of about 15 seconds before Weevil starts hitting on Kirsten from across the room.  Where are the guards to shut him up immediately, anyway?  Weevil decides that Kirsten just must not be hearing him, so he hops up to present his case for her affection in person and Ryan shoves him into a nearby wall.  STILL no guards doing anything.  Weevil tackles Ryan and starts raining hammerfists, and FINALLY security comes wandering in.  Oh, I see.  They're wearing red polo shirts and blue jeans - no, I'm not joking - so it's not like this juvenile detention facility is exactly well staffed.  They separate Weevil and Ryan, and Kirsten is HORRIFIED to find out what can happen in prisons!

Back at the Cohen's, Sandy comes home and hears Seth playing video games.  He's about to reprimand his son for violating the terms of his grounding, but finds Ryan playing with Seth.  That leads to a conversation about this development with Kirsten, naturally.  Sandy and Kirsten talk about how this can't be a permanent solution for Ryan, who overhears them and says he won't bother unpacking.

The next morning, Julie convinces Marissa to forget about the two boys in her life and come help her set up for Vegas Night.  Over at the Cohen's, Sandy has to go to work, which means Ryan has to go with Kirsten to help with Vegas Night, and Seth does, too, because he's grounded anyway.  AND GUESS WHO JULIE INVITED TO HELP!  IT'S LUKE!  What a kwinky-dink!  This leads to a rapidfire series of exchanges between the various combinations of Marissa, Ryan, and Luke, all of which go exactly like you'd expect them to at this point.

While all this setting up is going on (we'll come back to it as Ryan shows he understands Kirsten's business better than Seth does), Julie has somehow managed to wander off with a friend to gossip about the Cohens and Ryan at a local coffee shop.  Except Julie's a loud idiot and didn't notice Sandy sitting there hearing every word she says.  Sandy pops over to their table, calls Julie out on being from Riverside which is apparently exactly like Chino.  This amazing destruction of Julie's attitude is cut short by Sandy getting a call from a private investigator who has a line on Ryan's mom.  Sandy steals Julie's napkin to write something down, and we don't see it, but Sandy says "Thanks for the muffin," as he leaves, so apparently he steals Julie's muffin, too.  Julie heads STRAIGHT HOME to complain to Jimmy about how DARE Sandy Cohen talk to her like that!  Jimmy tells her to chill, because, y'know, he owes Kirsten $100,000.

Kirsten brings home the boys from working on Vegas Night to find Sandy and.... Ryan's mom!  NEAT.  They all have dinner at the fancy dinner table, but it ends up with Ryan not believing a word of what his mother is trying to say: she's stopped drinking, she ditched her abusive boyfriend, she's got a new job.  Ryan bails on dinner to head to the pool house, and Mrs. Atwood follows him and she unloads all of her emotional baggage about being a terrible mother to a very smart kid like Ryan.  Ryan eventually caves and decides to give his mom a chance.  This leads to Kirsten inviting her to go to Vegas Night.

Ok, Vegas Night takes up the majority of rest of the episode and A LOT happens, so bullet points:

  • Julie can't stop sniping about the $100K to Jimmy
  • Mrs. Atwood can count cards at blackjack and orders a tonic water with lime in front of Ryan before pushing him to go talk to Marissa
  • Luke stares at Marissa and Ryan talking, where she essentially blows Ryan off.
  • Seth bends down to pick up some fallen dice and ends up with Summer's cleavage in his face as they're her dice.  She's playing craps and Seth turns into her lucky charm.
  • Marissa and Luke have a spat
  • Julie tells Sandy about the $100K, which he pretends to know about
  • Ryan tells Luke Marissa picked Luke over Ryan
  • Mrs. Atwood starts drinking alcohol which Kirsten notices AND DOES NOTHING
  • Luke and Marissa make up
  • Mrs. Atwood gets ANOTHER drink and finally Kirsten does something, but Sandy interrupts to talk about the money
  • Julie gloats at Jimmy about telling Sandy
  • Sandy's annoyed that Kirsten just handed Jimmy "more than I make in a year."
  • Seth and Ryan bond before Summer comes looking for her "rabbit's foot."
  • Jimmy tries to intercede in the Cohen's conversation
  • Mrs. Atwood either trips and knocks down a waiter or flat out tackles a waiter to try to get another drink.
  • The Cohens all escort Mrs. Atwood out while everyone AND THE ROCK MEANS EVERYONE stares at the scene and Luke and Marissa hold hands.

The next morning, Mrs. Atwood tries to sneak out of the Cohen's house before anyone notices, but Kirsten catches her.  Mrs. Atwood says Kirsten's already a better mom to Ryan than she's been for the last 16 years and she's leaving Ryan with the Cohens.  Ryan comes out of the pool house just in time to wave goodbye to his mom.  Kirsten announces that Ryan's staying, Ryan says "Guess I'll go unpack" with a goofy grin on his face, and the episode closes with Seth talking Ryan's ear off, presumably about being Summer's lucky charm.

Best Sandy Cohen Quote: This one's a tie.  First, when Sandy walks in to visit Ryan at the start of the episode, he chirps "We have to stop meeting like this," which is exactly what I thought as the episode opened.  The second one comes after Sandy finds Ryan playing video games with Seth.  He starts his conversation with Kirsten by saying "Never knew you to be an impulse shopper..."  If I had to pick one, I'd go with the impulse shopper line, as it opens the door for the conversation that they have to have about Ryan, but lets Kirsten go in whatever direction she wants to start with.  Very smart lawyer work by Mr. Cohen.

Best Sandy Cohen Moment: It's an easy choice for this episode.  It's Sandy's scorched earth destruction of Julie in the coffee shop, particularly his use of where Julie comes from.  The best part of it is that he does nothing but state facts, as proven later when Julie is complaining about being accused of being from Riverside to Jimmy, and Jimmy's only response is to blink once and say to his wife, "You *ARE* from Riverside."  It ends up being a nice character note on Julie Cooper, who seems to have tried to completely erase any existence of a more simple background from her life in exchange for her very affluent present.