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The Sandy Cohen Chronicles: “The Last Waltz”

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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 the summer of 2014 recapping episodes from the first season of the classic Fox drama in order to mine for gold for when the basketball playing Cohen did something superlative. Four years of eligibility conveniently matches up with four seasons of the TV show, so we’re back in 2016 with Season 3.

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

Season 3, Episode 4: The Last Waltz

Directed by Ian Toynton

Written by John Stephens

Previously on The O.C.: Summer squabbles with Taylor Townsend over who gets to be social chair with Marissa gone, with Summer coming out victorious. Dean Hess catches Seth "stealing" school property and gives him two month’s detention unless he snitches on his co-conspirator, which happens to be Summer. Caleb’s will was read, and he was flat ass broke. Oh, and neither Marissa nor Ryan attend The Harbor School any more.

*     *     *     *     *

Off we go to Newport Union High School for Day 1 for Marissa and Ryan.... except Sandy’s paying for a home school tutor for Ryan, so it’s just for Marissa. Seth and Summer attempt to lighten the mood from the back seat, but no matter: Marissa sees this as 1) unavoidable, since Julie can’t afford private school anyway and 2) this way no one knows every detail of her life. She walks off, gets snarked at by a bunch of Mean Girls, and Seth jokes that this was the last time that anyone would ever see Marissa Cooper ever again.

Over at Harbor, Summer gets elbows deep in dance planning while Seth operates as her coffee minion. Dean Hess wanders in to advise Seth that he’s got some locker room cleaning in his future for detention this afternoon.... unless he wants to confess about his partner? Still no. Why is Hess still fishing on this one? Weird.

Ryan returns home after dropping everyone off and offers up the idea that he attend Newport Union, too, just to make things easier on Marissa. Sandy tells him to smarten up and focus on his own future, including college and the SAT. That transitions us over to Kirsten out on the patio prepping an herb garden. The rehab doctors said she needs to confront her fears, and for Kirsten, that means her cooking abilities. Sandy and Kirsten get cutesy-shmoopy about her being back at home.

Stately Cooper Manor is still stately and a manor. However, a process server shows up to give Julie 48 hours notice to get out because the house and its contents are being seized to pay off Caleb’s outstanding debts.

A random girl roams the Union hallways putting up posters for a convenient plot device the Back To School Dance on Saturday. Half of the poster is taken up by rules for the dance. Anyway, the bell rings, classes empty, and Marissa attempts to decipher her map. She turns around and promptly smacks into the lead Mean Girl, who is identified as Heather. Heather goes out of her way to pick a fight with Marissa with the most juvenile nonsense you’ve ever heard in your life. ("I’ll get out of your way when you admit you think you’re better than me"), but a girl named Casey intervenes and sends Heather on her way. Marissa thanks Casey for being the first nice person that she’s met at Union, and Casey says she’s not even that nice. Rough crowd.

Summer’s dealing with classmates who don’t know the difference between a triangle and an octagon (that’s not a joke), when Taylor essentially begs to be allowed to help with the dance. See, Taylor knows she can be a bit controlling, and that tends to push people away, so she has no friends. She’d really like it if her senior year could be different. Summer agrees to let Taylor help out.

Marissa struggles with opening her locker, but that probably has more to do with trying to open a locker that belongs to a guy named Johnny than either Marissa’s ability or the locker’s physical condition. Johnny’s quite a friendly type, and, due to the law of conservation of characters, he also happens to be dating Casey. Johnny and Casey are friends with Dennis. Our introduction to Dennis is him just clattering some poor bystander with his skateboard, declaring that he’s attempting to nickname himself "Chilly" because his last name is Childress, and finally, declaring his eternal love for Marissa. Awkward. They ask Marissa if she wants to get something to eat with them, so Marissa calls Ryan to tell him to not bother picking her up. Ryan’s a responsible type, though, so he’s already waiting outside for her, but he lies and says he was just leaving the house.

The next morning, Marissa’s picking out a new purse because Casey pointed out that her designer bag was kind of making her a target for Heather and the Mean Girls. Julie comes in and suggests the idea of staying with Summer for a few days. She’s trying to make it sound like it was some confusion about when they were moving out, but Marissa catches on that this is actually an eviction. Marissa knows her mom is a survivor, so this will all work itself out eventually. Besides, Julie must have been stacking up cash over the years in case of a rainy day, right? RIGHT? Uh oh.

Kirsten gets a flower delivery at home. That’s it, that’s the whole segment. This doesn’t become important until two segments from now, when Charlotte calls to set up a lunch date. Turns out the flowers were from Charlotte, and oh, Charlotte’s lying about still being at the lake house, and oh, the flower delivery guy just wandered out of the bathroom of the motel room that Charlotte’s in right now. WELL THEN. He mutters something about money, and I think I know where this whole Charlotte thing is going.

Taylor sees Summer lugging around a gigantic pile of binders for dance prep and runs over with some HIGH PRIORITY GOSSIP. She was walking past the teachers’ lounge when she overheard Dean Hess tell Dr. Keiko that if Seth doesn’t confess who his partner was, then Seth is going to get SUSPENDED. This story does not make a lot of sense. If Hess wanted to suspend him, he would have done it already. Anyway, hush hush, don’t tell nobody.

Kirsten checks on the quiche in the oven for lunch while Sandy brings up an issue that they need to discuss: the future of The Newport Group. Caleb’s personal finances took a massive bite out of the company’s viability. They’re going to default on their loans in six weeks, so there’s two options. Either A) sell off a few bits and restructure to keep it going or B) full liquidation to pay off the debt. Sandy points out that the Cohens are financially stable, so they don’t need Kirsten’s income. Kirsten decides that it’s time to let her father’s business go and Sandy volunteers to take care of the details.

Summer visits Dean Hess in his office. She admits her complicity in the theft of the tiki hut. Well, says the dean, with this on your record, you can’t very well be social chair any more, can you? Summer realizes that Taylor worked her, although Hess doesn’t actually have an answer for whether he was ever planning on suspending Seth.

Julie rolls into Sandy’s office at The Newport Group wondering about the possibilities of loans to officers of the company. Or, rather, spouses of former officers, I guess. It’s highly illegal, of course, and besides, there won’t even be a Newport Group to pay back soon. I’m actually kind of surprised that Julie asked, given that the company’s financial difficulties were touched on during the reading of Caleb’s will.

Marissa studies a poster for the Back To School dance, and Johnny asks if she’s going to go. While there’s not a theme for the dance (public schools, amirite), Johnny says he, Casey, and Dennis are all going, so maybe they can all go and not have fun together? Mean Girl Heather wanders up to apologize for her behavior yesterday. Hey, this is nice. After Marissa accepts, Heather follows up with a "SO YOU’RE NOT GONNA SHOOT ME, ARE YOU?" Subtle. This sends Marissa off to cry in a corner and Johnny tries to point out that everyone saw the story on the news anyway. Ryan is able to see this consoling from his spot in the parent pick up line, and all he sees is some dude making Marissa cry. Of course this means he comes flying in as her guardian angel, and y’know, it’s not taken very well. Johnny gets what happened, but Marissa’s mad.

The calendar flips over to Saturday as Ryan does some school work outside the pool house. Seth gets the recap of yesterday’s events and tells Ryan to stop being a nimrod and call his girlfriend. He then gets a dig in on how homeschoolers are pathetic. Nice. Over at Summer’s house, she and Marissa have the same conversation. Ryan calls, Marissa takes full blame, and Ryan doesn’t apologize at all. At least try, dude. Marissa says she wants to study to make sure she stays on track for the first week, but maybe there’s time for a study break later.

At the Yacht Club, Charlotte meets up with Kirsten and launches into her plan. Heeeeeeey, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place for nice ladies like you and me to go between rehab and home? I was scouting locations and then I thought HEY, I’ve got to involve Kirsten!! This is a crummy con artist idea. Anyway, Kirsten doesn’t have the kind of money needed to invest in something like that, especially after Caleb died broke, and The Newport Group is going away soon, too. Charlotte tries to plant a "don’t get rid of the company because it won’t get rid of your issues with Caleb" idea in her head.

The process server guy shows up with a sheriff’s deputy and a bunch of movers to empty out what was formerly Stately Cooper Manor. Julie seems to be a bit freaked out by their presence.

At the Cohen residence, Kirsten’s getting ready to cook lamb ragout with the groceries Sandy just brought home, while the boys are on their way out. Seth’s headed to the dance, while Ryan’s going to do a surprise drop-in on Marissa. Kirsten wonders if they’re doing the right thing with The Newport Group, and then suddenly remembers they need oregano and runs out the door.

After some light convincing from Johnny, Casey, and Dennis, Marissa is slightly dressed up and headed out the door to the dance with them right as Ryan and Seth pull up. You’d think this would go poorly, since Marissa said she was going to study, but Ryan’s still on his "well, she’s gotta make new friends" kick, and off they go. Off goes Summer and Seth, too. Ryan is alone.

The Union dance is maybe the lamest high school dance ever. It’s a guy DJing and a snack table in the gym. They didn’t even do anything interesting with the lighting. While Dennis goes off to spike the punch, Mean Girl Heather sends Marissa a finger gun from the other side of the room. This tips her over the edge and sends Marissa on a crying jag again. Her new trio of friends follow along, point out that it’s stupid ol’ high school and just ignore Heather’s dumb ass.

The Harbor dance is the opposite end of the universe from the Union dance, thanks to the meticulous planning by Summer. Taylor’s the social chair, though, so she hops up on stage and takes allllll the credit. Summer is livid, and she’s ready to destroy Taylor when she caps off her speech with the theme of the dance "It really is the end of summer." GET IT.

Flower Guy flips out about spending $30,000 to send Charlotte to rehab to find a mark, only to have it end up with a mark that doesn’t have money to burn. See, this is why this was a bad plan. A good con artist identifies the mark AND THEN concocts a plan to separate them from their money. Charlotte tells Flower Guy to relax and they’ll come up with a way to use Kirsten to their benefit.

Sandy tracks Kirsten down digging through old files at The Newport Group office. He says they don’t have to sell it if she doesn’t want to, but no, she just wanted to say good-bye. Upside: Sandy brought a picnic basket to solve the whole "too late to make lamb" issue.

Ryan is alone and sad at the pier diner when Seth calls to tell him not to worry about losing Marissa or something silly. Of course, this makes him think exactly that, so he runs off to the Union dance. Seth, realizing the problem he created, manages to get there just in time to stop him from going in. The boys disappear from the doorway right as Marissa turns and looks at where they were just standing. Bullet dodged, I guess?

Summer leaves Seth a message because he’s been gone waaaaaaaay longer than 10 minutes when she sees Taylor trying to sneak off somewhere. Taylor’s really bad at this, because Summer easily spots her while she’s looking over her shoulder to make sure no one’s watching her. Anywho, Summer follows her out into the school hallway where she sees Summer hardcore making out with someone. I’ll give you three guesses as to who her partner is, and the first two don’t count. YEP, IT’S DEAN HESS.

We montage down to the finish line: Julie gets a crummy motel room and cries; Seth returns to the dance while Taylor asks if Summer is having fun; Ryan comes home to find Marissa in the pool house, Charlotte smokes in her crummy hotel room with Flower Guy; Sandy and Kirsten eat dinner from the basket; Summer watches Taylor and Hess exchange glances, and finally, Ryan and Marissa share a dance as Youth Group’s cover of Forever Young plays.

Best Sandy Cohen Line/Moment: Well, there’s not a lot here for Sandy, but his best line is probably when he tells Kirsten that her cooking is one of his biggest fears, too.