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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "The Links"

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 16 - "The Links"

Directed by Michael Lange
Written by Debra Fisher & Erica Messer

Previously on The O.C.: Marissa and Oliver have become fast friends, but Ryan remains apprehensive of Oliver.  Seth chose Anna over Summer, but it's still cool if they all hang out together!  Sandy lays down the law on his sister-in-law, Hailey.  Oliver got arrested for trying to buy cocaine, but Ryan (via Sandy) got him released.  We're just going to ignore the creepy window staring that the last episode ended on, huh?  Kind of missing a major plot point, Previously On segment.

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Oliver surprises Marissa at her "only temporary" apartment, bringing apologies for his behavior when he hit rock bottom.  He says he's reached out to his addiction sponsor, his parents, and even his girlfriend Natalie, and he's on a much stronger footing now.  Because Oliver feels a debt to Ryan, and therefore the rest of the crew, he invites everyone to visit his parent's place in Palm Springs for the weekend.  Oliver promises golf, meeting his parents, and meeting Natalie, and Marissa seems very enthused.  She leaves the room to call Ryan to see if he's on board, leaving Oliver to look around the Cooper living room, including the pictures on the mantle.  As ominous music swells, Oliver takes a picture of Marissa and Ryan and tucks it behind a picture of Marissa and Jimmy.

Ryan's going along with Marissa's idea, but he's not excited about it.  The idea of hanging around with noted cokehead Oliver is a bad plan for a kid on probation like Ryan, but he also doesn't play golf.  Or, as Seth points out after popping up from the bottom of the pool with another retrieved golf ball, Ryan doesn't play golf well.  Sandy's trying to give Ryan some tips, but the game just doesn't come well to Ryan's demeanor, especially with Oliver on his mind.  Sandy leaves Ryan to work on a few things with Seth and goes inside to talk to Kirsten.  The Cohens have their obvious reservations about this weekend at the Trask estate, but 1) Oliver's parents will be there and 2) they trust Ryan and Seth to not be morons.  Well, illegal morons.  Well, illegal morons more so than usual.  Kirsten's also twitchy about Caleb and Julie returning from Paris and what that means for Hailey's future in the Cohen house.  You can tack Summer on the list of people who aren't excited about this trip, too.  She points out that she and Luke will be the only uncoupled people on the trip and this sends her into a tizzy of whacky pranks to pull on Seth, including the old "hand in warm water to make him pee" bit.  Maybe she wasn't joking about suffering from rage blackouts.

Sandy bumps into Jimmy down by the piers, where Jimmy has been turned down for a job as the manager of some restaurant.  Hey, remember when Ryan had a job at that crab shack?  Those were the days.  Hey, wait a minute.  Jimmy was turned down for a job?  JIMMY STILL DOESN'T HAVE A JOB???  Jimmy's thinking about bailing town because his brother in Phoenix can connect him with a job, and Jimmy can't support himself and Marissa "for much longer."  DUDE, HOW ARE YOU DOING IT NOW?  Sandy confirms that they still have an arrangement for dinner that night to get him out of dinner with Caleb, and says he thinks he can get Jimmy a job as a file clerk at Fancy Time Law Firm.  Hey, remember Sandy's co-worker Rachel?

Everyone's getting ready to leave from the Cohens', and Ryan's still not thrilled.  Ryan points out that it seems odd about how Oliver just landed in their lives, and Marissa smartly points out that it's not entirely different from how Ryan just appeared.  Summer arrives, and instead of interrupting make out time in the pool house, she heads into the main house to find Seth, who, of course, is just about to get into make out time with Anna when Summer barges in.  Summer's enthusiasm for being friends with Seth and Anna is painfully false, and I can't believe it takes another 20 minutes of show for either of them to comment on it.

Oliver shows up as they pack up the back of Luke's truck with most of the gear for the weekend (It's a weekend trip, so why does Summer have about five bags?  I mean, I get the ridiculous amounts of alcohol, although not how exactly Luke acquired it...) and it turns out that Oliver and Natalie had a fight and there will be no Natalie this weekend, or, apparently, ever again.  I continue to doubt Natalie's existence.  This sad story gets Marissa to be interested in driving with Oliver so he can talk about it, leaving Summer to ride with Anna & Seth and Ryan to take shotgun on Luke's truck.  If you watched the pilot and skipped straight to this episode, Luke shouting, "Hey, Chino, c'mon, ride with me!" would melt your brain straight out of your earholes.

To kill time while the kids drive, Caleb and Julie arrive back in Newport Beach.  Caleb immediately ignores his girlfriend and oldest daughter in favor of Hailey.  They go on and on and on and on and on and on and Kirsten notes that Hailey looks just like their mother and Caleb can't bring himself to say no to her.  Hailey's "trips" just keep getting longer and wilder and Kirsten's worried that they day is coming that Hailey will just disappear forever.  Julie urges Kirsten to do something about that.

They arrive in Palm Springs, and by "they," I mean everyone other than Oliver and Marissa, as he raced ahead of everyone.  At this point, even Luke is suspicious of him.  So, where are your parents as promised, Oliver?  Oh, their plane was delayed in Zurich and they won't be able to make it at all.  A check of Orbitz shows a commerical flight from Zurich to LA taking 14 hours with a short stop in Dusseldorf.  Presuming that Oliver's parents are 1) real and 2) insane-o rich and are flying a private plane, Oliver should have known.... YESTERDAY that his parents wouldn't be able to make it.  This should not surprise you at all.  Oliver sets up all the sleeping arrangements, and "accidentally" gives Ryan & Marissa the room with two twin beds.  As Marissa changes for golf, Oliver sows seeds of distrust by talking about how much Marissa talked about Ryan's past on the way out to Palm Springs.

Sandy heads into the office on a Saturday to avoid Caleb, and bumps into his buddy Tom, who pretty much blows up the idea of Jimmy working for their firm.  He flat out tells Sandy, "if you want to work with Jimmy Cooper, why don't you go into business with him?"

Out on the golf course, Oliver does the stereotypical "I'm using way too much familiar touching with Marissa's hips to show her how to swing" bit and tacks on goofy overly friendly commentary on the top of that, so now Luke and Ryan are both sick of his act.  I get friends poking fun at their buddies' golf games, but to do this with a guy who has told you he doesn't really like you and 2) admittedly has never played golf before is just uncalled for.  Meanwhile, Summer is making Seth walk and carry her golf bag while torturing Seth and Anna with her "friendship."  Luke encourages Ryan to kick in a short putt because "no one's watching."  Hey, buddy, this ain't The Masters.  You want to take a gimme as a newcomer to golf who just wants to get off the course, go right ahead.  No reason to make an international conspiracy out of it.  Anyway, Oliver says he's had enough, and last one back to the clubhouse buys the first round.  Of frosty cold milkshakes, I presume.  Anyway, there's a spirited golf cart race, and Luke is bordering on starting to whip the cart like a racehorse with his putter, and I don't know what happens next.  One moment it seems like Luke and Ryan are right behind Oliver and Marissa, and the next, Oliver is charging at Ryan and Luke with murder in his eyes, causing Ryan to swerve into a marshy area.  Ryan is rightly pissed, I'm amazed that Luke isn't stomping a mudhole in Oliver right now, and Oliver claims that everything was harmless and he was just trying to have some fun.  Yeah, we saw the closeup of your murder eyes, buddy.  You might be able to fool Marissa, but you can't fool TV!

Caleb arrives to take his daughters out to dinner, but Kirsten's not dressed.  She's not going because we all know what this dinner is really for.  Caleb is astonished that Kirsten is telling him to cut Hailey off, but Kirsten points out that she knows that cutting Hailey off (and keeping his money) is exactly what Caleb wants to do.  Amazingly, Caleb actually does this, which leads to Hailey storming back into the Cohen house, shouting at Kirsten about how dare she interfere in Hailey's relationship with her father, grabbing all of her crap (amazingly quickly, really) and storming off in the cab that she's already called.  Well, that's that, then.  I'm sure we'll never see her again.

Seth and Anna are getting ready for bed at 9pm in an extension of this ridiculous "retired Jewish guy" gimmick that Seth's been working all weekend, and as soon as Seth starts putting his hands on the absurd T-shirt/nightgown combo that Anna's wearing, Summer bursts in.  Luke's hogging the remote, so she needs somewhere to watch TV with her friends.  She hops into the bed between the otherwise happy couple and off we go.  Eventually this turns into Anna and Seth making cutesy commentary about everything on TV while Summer angrily changes the channels.  Summer eventually has had enough of the jokes, comments about how much like brother and sister Seth and Anna are, and heads off to bed.  Anna rolls over and goes to sleep.  No sexy time for Seth. :(

Ryan cleans up the dishes from dinner because he can't not be the helpful responsible guy while Marissa gets changed for some hot tubbing, and Oliver comes into the kitchen to extend an olive branch.  Ryan's not really having any of it, and tells Oliver that if he wants to plan a weekend alone with Marissa to let Ryan know ahead of time so he can just stay home.

Oliver snaps.

He smashes a plate in the sink and starts slapping himself in the face repeatedly, calling himself stupid.  Of course, that's when Marissa comes in.  She tries to talk to Oliver about what's going on, but he insists on leaving to get stuff for breakfast, and Marissa blames this on Ryan.

Sandy and Jimmy have dinner at The Lighthouse, the last remnant of the old Newport Beach.  It's closing soon, and the men talk about the place's grand old days when John Wayne was a regular, and how easy it might be to get a loan to renovate the place given it's location and how easy it would be to rejuvenate the joint.  Jimmy used to manage the place, y'know.  Sandy has crazy ideas and orders two more martinis.

It's been two hours since Oliver left, and Marissa's phone rings.  It's Oliver and it turns out that he's decided to drive back to Newport and take a bunch of pills.  He refuses an ambulance, but he *does* want Marissa to come hang out with his dying ass.  He promises to go into the bathroom and go throw up.  Ok, I don't really care what Oliver says, but the obvious thing to do is to ignore his refusal of an ambulance, call the front desk of the Four Seasons where he's living and tell them what's going on.  The second most obvious thing to do is to just dial 911, tell whoever answers what's happened, and then let them relay the info to the appropriate department to respond.  Ryan and Marissa do neither of these things.  Instead, they make the drive back to Newport.

Marissa's in a panic because Oliver won't answer the phone.  Oliver won't answer the phone because he's busy dancing to Tom Jones, drinking a brown liquor of some sort, and emptying his pill bottles and hiding the contents in a jewelry box.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that he didn't take any pills at all, including the correctly prescribed amounts.

Sandy sneaks back into the bedroom in the most ridiculously comically drunken manner possible, including forgetting where the dresser is relative to the door, all in order to not wake up Kirsten.  The same Kirsten that's sitting awake reading in bed with a light on.  Sandy is very drunk.  He's also apparently agreed to go into business with Jimmy in running The Lighthouse.  Sandy likes having a friend in Newport since he doesn't really fit into the socialite society picture, and he also thinks Jimmy deserves a chance to get back on his feet.  Kirsten thinks it's very sweet of Sandy to do this, but he doesn't hear this, because he's already asleep.

Luke drives everyone else home from Palm Springs, and after dropping off Anna and Seth, he takes a swing at wooing Summer with the "the next guy to date you is gonna be awfully lucky because you're hot" line.  Summer is thankful for the comment but, y'know, remembers everything that happened in Tijuana, so yeah, dating Luke is out.

Ryan and Marissa end up at the Four Seasons finally, and after a lot of door banging, a freshly showered Oliver answers the door in a bathrobe.  He again refuses medical attention because they'd put him on suicide watch (well, no, they wouldn't, because they'd discharge him for being totally fine and a liar), and because he doesn't want his parents to know that he tried to kill himself, except he didn't.  He just wants to go to bed, and Marissa insists on spending the night in the penthouse to make sure that Oliver will be okay.  We obviously know he's going to be fine, Ryan is pretty sure that Oliver's working them, but of course, he doesn't have the proof that we do.  Ryan expresses his suspicions to Marissa, but she thinks Ryan's just being insensitive and tells him to go home.  The episode fades to black on Ryan reluctantly closing the penthouse door behind him.

Best Sandy Cohen Line/Moment: I know it's a cop out and I hate doing it, but since Sandy didn't have any great one-liners in this one, I'm going to go with the opening scene where he teaches Ryan to play golf.  He's got a bunch of quality lines where he wonders what exactly Ryan does do with his time if he doesn't play golf or go to the spa, and when Seth points out that he's good with the ladies and Ryan points out that he's holding a golf club, Sandy dismisses Ryan's vague threat by pointing out that Ryan doesn't have any idea on how to use said club.  It's stuff like this that makes Sandy Cohen one of the best dads in TV history.  Unfortunately, it doesn't do a lot for us trying to relate The O.C. to basketball, but I guess they can't all be winners.