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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: "The Distance"



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 spent last summer recapping episodes from the first season of the classic Fox drama in order to assemble a pile of references to make when the basketball playing Cohen did something outstanding.  He had a relatively quiet freshman campaign, but that doesn't curtail our quest for entertainment, both during the season and during the quiet summer months.  So we're back again in 2015 with recaps for the 24 episode second season.

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

Season 2, Episode 1 - "The Distance"

Directed by Ian Toynton
Written By Josh Schwartz

Last Season on The O.C.: Ryan's old friend Theresa is pregnant.  Ryan leaves Newport to help her with the baby.  Caleb bought a massive mansion for Julie.  Marissa moved in with Julie and Caleb, but she's not doing so willingly.  Caleb's anticipating going to jail for... things.  Seth sails away from Newport because Ryan left town.

*     *     *     *     *

We open season 2 on a shot of a bunch of shirtless dudes doing some construction work.  Ah, there's Sandy, so this means that this is the Cohen house and not a Newport Group property.  From his conversation with the foreman, we learn that it's now September, so presumably months have gone by since we last saw everyone.  Also, Sandy actually points out how the disarray of the physical house is a mirror of the disarray of his emotional house/family.  Subtlety is dead.  Kirsten wanders in for some breakfast, but she's pissed off at Sandy over Seth running away from home and orders him to get Seth back home.

After the title sequence, we head poolside at the Caleb/Julie mansion where Marissa and Summer are sunbathing.  They've also got some Newport Beach Iced Teas as constructed by Marissa, but Summer thinks they might be made with lighter fluid.  They ogle the shirtless gardener/pool boy a bit, and he ogles them back.  We learn that Summer's super pissed at Seth and has moved on to some dude named Zach.  I wonder if we'll ever actually meet Zach.

Theresa drops Ryan off at his construction job with a nice paper bag lunch, including a peeled orange.  Ryan chides her for ruining all of his man credibility in front of the construction workers, and they make plans to play some pool that night.  Theresa drives off and Ryan looks wistful.

Julie wanders into the kitchen to tell Caleb about how she's spending his money on things for Kaitlyn.  Remember Kaitlyn, Marissa's younger sister?  Caleb's distracted by the flower truck he sees outside the house all the time, but Julie just buys fresh flowers every week.  He also thinks he hears a clicking noise on the phone, and I suddenly remember that this is just the local district attorney bringing charges against Caleb, and they're not putting THAT much effort into catching him.  Julie says she has to buy Kaitlyn a new pony because the old one has alopecia, and now THAT'S how you toss in a call back.  Caleb reminds Julie that she can't buy the pony with the company credit card because that would be illegal because it's not a business expense, but he seems massively insincere about it.

Kirsten brings home some groceries, and we see a phone number for Carson.  Kirsten calls it... and gets Luke.  What?  He passes the phone to .... Seth?  THE HELL?  Why was she so furious at Sandy about making him get Seth home when she can just call him whenever she wants???  Seth's not interested in coming home if Ryan's not coming back to Newport, and that ends that.  Sandy wanders in for the end of the phone call and we find out that he already called Seth earlier that day.

Jimmy Cooper arrives at the Cohen house because they had dinner plans, but Sandy blows him off because of the whole Seth issue.  Sandy and Jimmy chat about Seth a bit, and Jimmy points out that if Seth won't listen to his parents, maybe he'll listen to someone else.  That gives us a scene at Ryan's construction site where Sandy asks him to help bring Seth home.  Ryan doesn't know if he'd be of any use to Sandy on that topic because Seth's angry with him, but Sandy gives him a plane ticket to Portland in case he changes his mind.

The next morning, over the dulcet tones of You Got Me All Wrong by Dios Malos, Ryan contemplates where his life is.  Theresa had arrived to pick Ryan up while Sandy was still at the site, so here, roughly 12 hours later, Ryan gets around to explaining the ticket and what Sandy wanted.  Theresa tells Ryan he should go to Portland if he wants to, but Ryan says it's not his place because he's not part of the Cohen family any more.

After a brief meeting in a parking garage where Sandy has jokes but no legal dealings information for Caleb, we head up to Portland, where Luke and Seth work at a boat rental type place.  Some water skiing instructor girls wander in, one of which Luke is clearly dating and another that is perhaps interested in Seth, although he doesn't seem to reciprocate.  The boys wander into the Ward house and TA-DA, there's Sandy.  At dinner that night, Seth gets snarky with Sandy, and the elder Cohen fires back on his son.  They get into a bit of honesty and discuss Ryan.  Sandy points out that Ryan was free to do what he wanted to do, but Seth is angry that Sandy didn't even try to stop him.  Except Sandy offered to let Ryan and Theresa and the baby live in his house, but WHATEVER, dude.

Jimmy and Marissa show up at the Cohen house in Marissa's new Mustang GT, which is really just an excuse for Jimmy to point out that Marissa's in town but still distant, and this ultimately transitions to Marissa chugging vodka in a lifeguard station.  I don't know why we needed the bit at the Cohens', but oh well.  Since she's drunk, it's a good time to call Ryan at 11:10pm (we see Ryan's nightstand clock) and then not say anything for about a full minute.  Ryan eventually just hangs up and the camera dramatically pans over to Theresa, who is wide awake.

The next morning, Seth and Sandy talk.  Sandy tells Seth that he's going to back him up on living in Portland.  Sandy left home when he was about Seth's age, so he understands.  He tells his son that his parents love him and the door is always open for him to return home.  Down in Chino, Theresa reminds Ryan that she has a doctor's appointment on this sunny Saturday morning, but Ryan totally forgot about it until just now.  He was planning on using the plane ticket to go to Portland, and after a bit of guilting, Theresa seems to encourage him to go.

Over at the Julie/Caleb mansion, Marissa's poolside with her iPod.  Julie's upset because they were supposed to leave for CardioBar (whatever that is) 15 minutes ago.  This, of course, makes me wonder what she was doing 20 minutes ago instead of being upset when they're 15 minutes late.  Marissa essentially just shrugs Julie off, so Julie snags the iPod and tells Marissa that she's grounded.  They argue - again - and Julie tells Marissa that she just wants to know what's wrong.  Marissa says "You really want to know," and then has a massive freakout.  She lets fly with primal screaming for about a minute straight while tossing the pool chair and table into the pool before storming into the house.  Well, that certainly explained everything.

Ryan arrives in Portland as Sandy leaves, but first, we stop over at the Cohen house where Summer has a crateful of Seth's crap to get rid of.  After a discussion with Kirsten about Summer's therapist and vibrating on the right frequency, Summer takes the crate up to Seth's room.  She dumps the crate out onto Seth's bed and tells Captain Oats, Seth's toy horse, that she hopes that they can still be friends.  I presume she actually means the toy horse and not metaphorically Seth.

We get a few rapid fire scenes: Seth tells Ryan that he'll go home if Ryan comes with; Julie and Jimmy talk about stabilizing Marissa's family life because Kaitlyn is going off to boarding school; and Sandy tells Caleb to prepare for war.  I'm not summarizing that last one, either.  Sandy says a bunch of metaphors to Caleb but never tells him exactly what kind of charges that Caleb's facing.

Luke and Ryan play some video game hockey, and while Luke shouts at Ryan to hurt him and make him feel pain, Mr. Ward tells Ryan that there's a phone call for him.  Mr. Ward has exactly the right look on his face: "who the hell is calling this kid here when he hasn't even been here for 12 hours if it's not Sandy?"  It's Theresa, who tells him that the doctor's appointment went badly, as they couldn't find a heartbeat and she's lost the baby.  On top of that, she essentially kicks Ryan out, because she knows that he didn't really want to be with her anyway.  The call ends and Ryan tells Seth & Luke the news, and then goes and sits quietly in the Ward's spare bedroom.  Seth follows him, and they sit quietly.  We go back to Theresa's house, where her mom comes in to see how the phone call went.  That's some quality parenting, and some quality grandparenting, because Theresa was lying about the baby.  She's still super-pregnant, and I'm sure that this will never come back up ever again.

Ryan and Seth don't know what's next for either one of them, but Ryan's cab to the airport has arrived.  We get All The Arms Around You by Halloween & Alaska playing as Seth sits on the porch and Ryan walks to the taxi.  As Ryan touches the car door, Seth bolts to his feet and runs after him.  As Seth gets to the door, we find out that Ryan came back to the house, too, and it appears that they both have had an idea.

Amongst a bunch of plastic sheeting, Kirsten and Sandy eat dinner.  Sandy is his usual glib self, while Kirsten generally ignores him and aggressively cuts her food with a knife.  The boys wander in, and there's hugs for everyone.  Ryan heads out to Ye Olde Pool House to reclaim it in the name of Chino, and he literally closes the door on Seth.  Not "Seth runs into the door after Ryan closes it," not "Seth runs in," but "Ryan closes the door behind him without looking and pulls it shut while Seth is in the way."  Apparently the boys didn't actually talk during their trip back to Newport Beach, because Ryan demands the story of Seth sailing to Portland.  Seth explains that he got as far as Santa Barbara, a grand total of 140 miles up the coast before he pawned the boat and bought a bus ticket to Portland.  We fade to black on the season premiere as the boys discuss better stories for Seth to use when school starts up again.

Best Sandy Cohen Line/Moment: Nothing really great from Sandy here.  He exists to mostly just move plot pieces around so we can get back to having all of our main characters back in Newport for the rest of the season.  We'll have to try again next time.