For the first time in...uh...like...FOREVER! Marissa goes an entire hour (or 22 minutes when you lift the commercials and promos) without tears streaming down her Neutrogena'd face. Don't know if this is because her character has finally moved beyond Ryan of Chino, has found new happiness with DJ of Santa Ana (I assume that's his hometown; go ahead, call me racist) or if the Prop Department just ran out of Lacrisert. Or maybe Mischa Barton, the (ABOUT TO USE A TERM VERY LOOSELY ALERT!!!) actress who plays Marissa couldn't bring herself to sob out of shear embarrassment after being forced to kick off tonight's show in a getup left over from the Disney bomb Newsies. All I know is the new romantic alliances have been set: she's with the Latino gardener; Ryan's linked to Lindsay (shaping up to be something of a Leftie. In Newport. Go figure); Summer's elected congressman's son Zach; and puppy-wuuvy Seth is snuggling up to hard-edged, rock-chick Alex—who's gotta be the tuffest riot grrrl in all of O.C.land 'cause she goes by "Alex" (like a BOY!!!) and wears her hair all pompadour'd and is partial to sleeveless baby tees that expose a butterfly tattoo--albeit the crappiest temporary tat ever! Meanwhile, in pure adult-on-adult action (we're not counting any of the thirtysomething cast members playing teens in this instance): Caleb's secretly scheming to either stash cash or pay someone off for something (perhaps to stay outta the joint, where Ryan's bro could be his cellmate!); new Newport Group CEO Julie's using her bod and booze to keep inventors in the fold; and suddenly outta-the-loop Sandy and Kirsten are thinking about just walking away from the whole mess. As Sandy puts it, "We can let the Gruesome Twosome wreck our careers or we can sit here, watch obscene amounts of Dr. Phil and wreck them ourselves." I'd go with option C, the option I wished I'd taken instead of watching this dreck: join now-without-a-storyline Jimmy on that goddamned boat and sail the hell away. LINE OF THE WEEK: "She was my shorty last year until she got served," Seth describing who Summer is to his date Lindsay.