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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "The Best Chrismukkah Ever"

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 13 - "The Best Chrismukkah Ever"

Directed by Sanford Bookstaver
Written by Stephanie Savage

Previously on The O.C.: Marissa drinks a lot on occasion, and sometime she mixes in some painkillers, too, but she WASN'T trying to harm herself, got it?  Caleb wants to build a housing development on a wetland and Sandy's been tasked with stopping him via high priced lawyering.  Seth finds himself with more dates than he knows what to do with.

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Two episodes ago was Thanksgiving, last episode was the week after Thanksgiving.  That can only mean that it's time for a Christmas episode!  Except our central family has one Protestant parent and one Jewish parent, so how do they settle their differences?  Well, according to Sandy and Kirsten, they never really knew how to go about raising Seth as far as that goes, so Seth went and invented Chrismukkah.  They try to get Ryan fired up for the holidays, but as you can guess from what we've seen of his past, holidays weren't super fun around the Atwood household, so he's reluctant to open up to the Cohens.  Seth, on the other hand, has "Seth Cohen Starter Packs" that he's wrapping.  He's organizing CDs with Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, and Bright Eyes, along with copies of The Goonies and Kavalier and Clay, one each for Anna and Summer.  I can't speak to the quality of the music, but Seth's got pretty good taste in movies and books.  Ryan sees the obvious flaw in getting two girls the exact same presents, but Seth insists that it'll all be okay, just like he thinks meeting up with the girls at the Newport Group's Christmas party will be okay.  Unfortunately for Seth, but fortunately for us viewers, both Anna and Summer run up to Seth at the same time at school to ask about the party, and now they know.  Oops.

Speaking of The Newport Group, Sandy's going to have to start working extra hard because Caleb has decided to turn down the wetland preservation society's offer of $200 million, even though it seemed like things were going well.  Caleb tells Kirsten that you can always get more blood from the stone, which is why he's asking for $300 million.  Kirsten figures that Caleb is just screwing with Sandy at this point and decides to take the holidays off instead of dealing with Caleb's crazy ass.

Ryan and Marissa both agree about how much the holidays suck (aside: Jimmy Cooper still doesn't have a job), and Ryan feels an odd need to get gifts for the Cohens, so they head to the mall after school.  We get a "teenagers at the mall" montage set to "Maybe This Christmas" by Ron Sexsmith, which fades out when they get back to the car, and by "they," I mean Ryan, Marissa, and the mall's security agent.  Remember when we found out that Marissa had an issue with shoplifting back in The Rescue?  Well, she's at it again, boosting a watch, some earrings, and a lipstick.

To kill some time, we check in on Kirsten's plans to not work and wrap presents.  She is failing miserably.  On the upside, she finds a record of some kind of survey of the wetlands area that Caleb ordered that she's never seen.  So she calls the survey company and asks them to fax her a copy.  Prediction: there's no way you can build anything on the wetlands anyway, so this is REALLY just Caleb screwing with Sandy.

Jimmy and Marissa are at home talking about the shoplifting when Julie EXPLODES through the doorway, howling about how Marissa is ruining HER big day of hosting The Newport Group's Christmas party.  Jimmy's grown a spine at some point, and calls her out on that foolishness.  Julie's called a therapist for Marissa as we find out that she hasn't been going to therapy as promised back in The Rescue, and Marissa says "I can handle it."  Oh, sweetie, no, you can't.  You pretty much just proved that.

Ryan and Seth talk about the shoplifting, and Seth realizes that he struggles to talk to Ryan about the holidays and Ryan's past the same way Ryan struggles to talk to Marissa about this kind of thing.  In any case, Seth gives Ryan his very own family Chrismukkah stocking.  Ryan's heart appears to grow, well, maybe not two sizes that day, but at least one size.

Sandy comes home to get ready for the party with the big news that Caleb settled for $250 million, then he reads Kirsten's body language and asks what's up.  She gives him the survey, and says that Caleb could justifiably fire her for doing that.  Downstairs, Anna's at the door, even though Seth said he would meet the girls at the party.  As Seth tries to hack this out with her, the doorbell rings again, and it's Summer with the exact same idea, including bringing mistletoe with her as a cheap excuse to kiss Seth.  This is Exhibit A why Seth is a moron, and Exhibit B is sitting on the couch between the two girls waiting to leave with his parents.  PICK A GIRL AND LEAVE WITH HER, IDIOT.  At least we get to see Kirsten and Sandy's reaction to the couch, including Sandy saying, "This is going to be one hell of a party."

Over at her apartment, Marissa and Ryan get ready for the party.  Ryan can see how therapy might help, which pisses Marissa off.  "I'm the only normal one in this family," she says.  This would only be slightly crazy if she just said it, but she follows that up with making Ryan go upstairs to get her wrap and then jams a fifth of vodka into her purse.  Serious question: If Jimmy doesn't have a job, why is he buying alcohol, and 2) Why is he buying alcohol and just leaving it around where his should-be-in-therapy-for-alcoholism daughter can just snag it easily?

Off to the party we go where Seth immediately abandons the girls and Sandy surprises Caleb with the news of the survey.  It turns out the whole thing is geologically unstable and what with earthquakes being a thing in California, there's absolutely zero chance he was ever going to get to build anything on that property.  Oops.  Sandy gives him a dollar for the property.  Meanwhile, Julie runs up to Marissa and Ryan to make Marissa talk to Caleb, and that goes about as well as you think it would, although Ryan's facial expressions are fantastic.

Anna tracks down Seth and gives him her Christmas present: A hand drawn mini-comic titled "The Adventures of Seth Cohen & Captain Oats," because Captain Oats is the name of the toy horse in Seth's room.  It's a pretty amazing gift, and because Seth's an idiot, he looks around the party instead of focusing on Anna, which leads to him focusing on Summer staring at them.  Idiot.

Jimmy and Kirsten slow dance, and I wonder what Sandy would think about this.  Jimmy asks about Seth, and whether they're doing a good job as parents.  Kirsten allays his fears by saying "we've got good kids," but obviously she doesn't know about the shoplifting.  As if to hammer that point home, we cut to Marissa in the bathroom pouring vodka into her... Coke, I guess?  She dumps a whole bunch in there and then chugs the drink.  Look, if you're gonna secretly drink a whole bunch of vodka at once, I don't know what the point of mixing it with something else is.

Summer leads Seth off to a darkened room in The Newport Group's offices to give him her present.  Her slightly goofy hairstyle is explained, as she unzips her dress to reveal a Wonder Woman costume.  Seth is over the moon with this revelation, but the moment is ruined when Summer's hands stumble upon Anna's mini-comic.  That must have activated a homing beacon, because Anna walks through the door seconds later.  Both girls think the other one's gift is better than their own, and they both come to the realization that Seth needs to make a choice before someone gets horribly hurt.

Marissa's all over Ryan like a bear rug on a cabin floor, which makes it pretty easy for him to notice the vodka.  Ryan points out her binge drinking problem and SURPRISE, she gets mad and storms off.  When we come back from a commercial break, she's hopping in her Jeep.  Dude, you're a pretty terrible valet if you give the keys to an obviously drunk and distraught 17 year old girl.  Ryan stands in front of the Jeep to stop her from driving, but her brilliant plan of "put car in reverse and jam on gas" in order to escape only results in plowing into a car behind her.  I actually blame this on the valets, because why's there another car just sitting around when there's a valet service?  In any case, this crackup convinces Marissa to let Ryan drive her home.

Sandy allows Caleb to save face publicly by announcing the sale of the wetlands for $1 to the assemblage of guests at the party, making it look like it was Caleb's idea.  Caleb gives Sandy the dollar back as a Hanukkah gift.

Marissa wants a drink while Ryan drives her home, so it's nice to see she's learned a lesson here.  She drops the cap as the red and blue lights pop on in the rear view.  Yep, there's the California Highway Patrol pulling them over.  Ryan is freaking out because he's still on probation and the vodka's an open container since Marissa can't find the cap.  Turns out the stop is due to the taillight that Marissa busted a few minutes ago, and as Not Erik Estrada starts to think something's suspicious, an "all cars respond" call comes over his radio.  Ryan lets the cop drive off, then hops out, comes around to Marissa's side of the car, opens the door, grabs the vodka and hucks it into the Pacific Ocean.  He then slams Marissa's door repeatedly, scaring the crap out of her, which was his plan.  Her drinking is scaring him, mostly because drinking and crying and policemen are standard issue items for an Atwood Christmas.  Ryan tells Marissa that he left this kind of thing behind and "I am not doing it again."

The next morning, the boys discuss their relative experiences and Seth thinks that Not Erik Estrada getting called away is a Chrismukkah miracle.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get a miracle of his own, but that's his own fault.  Anna and Summer both come over to the Cohen house and Seth gives them both a speech about how awesome they are but he just wants to be friends.  They both hand back the Starter Pack and tell him they don't want to be just friends.  Seth has mishandled this from the beginning and it's not getting any better.

Caleb wanders over to shout at Kirsten about blindsiding him by giving Sandy the survey, and then pulls a 180 and tells Kirsten he's kind of proud of her pulling such a dirty underhanded move.  "We'll make a real estate mogul out of you yet!" Caleb says.  Kirsten is not super excited.

Ryan's about to head out to go with Marissa to her therapy session, but Sandy lets him off the hook.  "You don't have to be the parent any more," he tells Ryan, and leaves out the party where going to someone else's therapy session means sitting in a waiting room for an hour.  Ryan agrees to stick around the Cohen house for a Chrismukkah movie, but that means Marissa ends up at the therapist's office on her own, where she meets a rather charismatic teenager by the name of Oliver Trask.

Sandy and Kirsten return home with three movie choices: Fiddler On The Roof, It's A Wonderful Life, and Over The Top, the Stallone arm wrestling classic as Sandy puts it, complete with Stallone impression.  Seth pawns off the Starter Packs on his parents as Ryan hangs up his stocking on the fireplace with the other three.

Best Sandy Cohen Line: "This is going to be one hell of a party."  It's Sandy at once looking forward to blowing up Caleb's ridiculously egotistical attitude and knowing that his son is in for a momentous evening where he's forced to make the decision that Sandy tried to get him to make at Thanksgiving.  It also works for the basketball playing Mr. Cohen hitting his first few shots of the game.

Best Sandy Cohen Moment: The delightful glee and sarcasm with which Sandy declares Caleb to be a wonderful and generous man when Caleb sells him the wetlands for a dollar.  If he were any more disingenous, Sandy might actually be one of the guys from The Manchurian Candidate.