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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "The Homecoming"

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 11 - "The Homecoming"

Directed by Keith Samples

Written by Josh Schwartz & Brian Oh

Previously on the O.C.: Remember when Ryan and his older brother Trey tried to steal a car?  Trey's still locked up.  Summer actually does like Seth, but she doesn't want anyone to know about it.  Kirsten told Caleb that Sandy's co-worker is the attractive and blond Rachel and Caleb used that against Sandy.  Caleb and Julie were dating in secret right up until Marissa told the whole world.

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It's Thanksgiving, and Kirsten has decided that she's going to cook a big traditional dinner.  Sandy and Seth think know this will be a disaster, and they start throwing themselves at various tasks, and Ryan jumps in, too.  Just as she's starting to assemble the conspiracy against her, the phone rings.  It's Trey, calling from prison, and he wants to see Ryan on the holiday.  Just a suggestion: Call BEFORE Thanksgiving to arrange visits.  Anyway, the Cohens encourage Ryan to go visit his brother, although he's not super excited about it because he expects that Trey wants something from him.  Seth tries to finagle his way into the trip, but Ryan points out that 1) Seth has to stop Kirsten from cooking and 2) Anna is coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sandy grills some corn on the cob, and he's putting way too much effort into this.  It's all wrapped in foil, so the chances of it burning are about zero as long as the heat is low enough.  There's no reason for him to be standing there poking at the ears.  Of course, there's also a pretty decent amount of smoke coming off the grill, so that might a problem or it might just be TV magic to let us know that the grill is actually on.  Kirsten and Sandy discuss their semi-evil plan to set up co-worker Rachel with Jimmy Cooper.

Marissa and Jimmy have a scene at the apartment that exists for two purposes: establishing that Marissa is going to Julie's for Thanksgiving dinner while Jimmy goes to the Cohens' and 2) Jimmy still does not have a job.  Two episodes back was the first day of school, so that's late August/early September.  Last episode, Marissa kept saying "if my dad just gets a job."  At least two months have transpired over the course of the last two episodes, maybe three since the start of the series, four at most.  WHAT THE HELL IS JIMMY DOING ALL DAY LONG?  How is he paying for this apartment?  How does he pay for food?

Anyway, Jimmy arrives for dinner and Marissa pokes her head in to see Ryan before going to Julie's.  Y'know, that's going to be a mighty dull Thanksgiving dinner, as Marissa said that Kaitlin was going to be at Grandma's house.  I can't blame Marissa for delaying spending time with Julie and Caleb as long as possible.  Ryan tells her he's off to visit prison, and while she wants to tag along, Ryan insists that she doesn't come with him.

Rachel arrives, which means it's time for Sandy and Kirsten to make things awkward.  It also means it's time for Ryan to leave for prison.  Sandy gives him his cell phone, which will become important later, and Kirsten gives him a pie to give to Trey, which will not become important later.  Marissa's waiting next to the Range Rover, because Julie said that it's okay that she goes with Ryan.  I don't know which I believe less: The Cohens letting one of the boys use the Range Rover again after all the damage that it has already incurred, or Julie saying "yeah, it's cool if you go visit Ryan's felon brother in the slammer."

All credit to the production team, as they pull out all the old lighting tricks from the pilot to show the difference between Newport and Chino.  Marissa's end of the visit lasts about 15 seconds as she decides it's awkward that she's there and wanders off.  Nice job, idiot.  As it turns out, Ryan was right about Trey needing something.  Turns out, he owes some dude named Gattas $6,000, and as it turns out, some of Gattas' friends are in prison as well, and they take every opportunity to remind Trey about this debt.  With their fists.  Anyway, Ryan has to go deliver a stolen car to Gattas to forgive the debt.  Marissa insists on tagging along again.

Back at Thanksgiving dinner, Anna arrives and impresses Sandy and Kirsten.  Seth looks like he might be turning a corner on the young lass from Pittsburgh as well.  In the living room, Jimmy and Rachel clear the air about not knowing about the potential set-up, but then they bond over the Cowboys-Dolphins game that's on TV.  Fun Fact: This actually was the Thanksgiving day game in 2003!

This is when Caleb and Julie show up.  The caterer's truck broke down, so they have no food.  I'd ask questions about catering for three people, but this is Julie Cooper we're talking about here.  If Kirsten can't cook, there's no way Julie has any idea what she's doing.  Anywho, Julie asks where Marissa is, proving I was right to doubt that she approved Marissa's trip.  Caleb makes rude comments about who paid for the house, and then "remembers" that football is on TV.  Seriously, who forgets that football is on TV on Thanksgiving?

Back over in Chino, Ryan visits his friend Arturo to get the car he needs to deliver.  Bad news: Arturo's sister Theresa is Ryan's on again/off again girlfriend.  Theresa helps us figure out how long Jimmy Cooper hasn't had a job for as she says she hasn't heard from Ryan in 5 months.  Marissa, Theresa, and Theresa's mom have a cute conversation about young Ryan (he was Snoopy in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown!), while Ryan and Arturo get the car ready.

In the Cohen kitchen, Jimmy and Julie throw down over Marissa's whereabouts and Anna tees off on Caleb over the wetlands while Sandy tries to not carry her around like Macho Man Randy Savage hoisting Miss Elizabeth.  The doorbell rings... and it's Summer looking for Marissa!  That means it's time for the worst part of this episode.  Seth drags her around the outside of the house to the pool house to avoid Anna, and that's when the making out starts.  This will turn into Seth ping-ponging back and forth between make out sessions with both girls, with Summer in the pool house and Anna in his bedroom.  I hate every single thing about these sequences.  Ok, well not everything.  Seth does call Ryan in the middle of this in a panic to ask for his help about what to do with the girls, and mentions in passing that Julie is flipping about where Marissa is, letting Ryan know that Marissa has lied to him.

Seth also accidentally throws gasoline on the Julie/Jimmy fight when he does the "shout after the blender turns off" bit and shouts that Marissa is in Chino instead of waiting until Kirsten was done blending margaritas.  In the middle of this, Sandy tries to get Seth to go to the pool house for something, but he's too busy running to Anna at the time.

Ryan says goodbye to Theresa and sends Marissa home with the Range Rover because of the lying.  He delivers the car, but as Arturo said: Gattas is crazy.  He decides that Trey owes him some interest as well, and a bunch of dudes start kicking the hell out of Ryan.  Luckily for Ryan, Marissa is a terrible listener and has followed him, so she provides a getaway car for him to hop into after a lucky elbow to the head of Gattas.

Sandy heads to the pool house to get whatever he was going to ask Seth for, and ends up being taken by surprise by Summer.  Of course, she's surprised that the noise she heard is Sandy, not Seth, which leads to Sandy staring in amazement as he begins to comprehend what is going on.  I'm reasonably certain that he wasn't staring at Summer's rather prominent cleavage.  As the shouting continues in the kitchen, Sandy corrals his son to try to get him to pick a woman.  There's not a lot of cons to either side of the column, though, at least for Seth.  I think the pros column for Anna is overwhelming against Summer, but that's just me.  Unfortunately for Seth, he can't come to a decision before the smoke detector goes off.  Amidst all of the shouting and arguing and woman juggling going on, everyone forgot about the turkey in the oven.  The noise brings both Anna and Summer running to the kitchen where they realize what has been happening.  Caleb grins in pride at his grandson and a fairly drunk Kirsten opines, "I always knew you were a late bloomer."

Ryan returns to visit Trey to let him know it's taken care of before heading home, and Trey tells him to never come back to see him.  Quite the turnaround for Trey, as he's gone from "I'm going to show you how to steal a car" to "Dude, you need to not get caught up in my crap."  There's Chinese takeout everywhere at the Cohen's, and the episode closes on Ryan, Marissa, and Seth in Seth's room, where Ryan says "It's good to be home."

Best Sandy Cohen Line: Sandy always goes for the witty icebreaker, and here's what he lines up for the high school girl that has elected to visit him for Thanksgiving: "So Anna, what's the deal? Your parents don't believe in celebrating the genocide of the American Indian?"

Ok, yeah, it's not a great line.  But it's either this, or Sandy telling Rachel that she and Jimmy are a perfect match because he's a thief and she's a lawyer, which is also not great.  Sometimes Sandy's best moments come from deploying those eyebrows, such as...

Best Sandy Cohen Moment: I think I have to go with Sandy being unable to move when accosted by Summer in the pool house.  See, Sandy's getting some vegetables or something, and Summer hears the noise.  She figures it's Seth, so she goes into flirty time mode, right up until Sandy turns around in surprise.  Sandy just STARES at her as she just keeps digging a hole in embarassment before she runs out of the room.