How Will We Function?

Year One of The O.C. limped to a close on May 5, with scheming developer Caleb Nichol and scheming ho-bag Julie Cooper coming together as man and wife—and everyone else on Fox's hit teen soaper going their separate ways. Troubled teen Ryan goes back to Chino to be with his pre-Newport Beach girlfriend, Theresa, who may or may not be carrying his little bundle of juvenile delinquency. Ryan's main Newport squeeze, Marissa, goes back to the bottle because her life sucks so hard, what with the mumbling guy who's given her nothing but grief returning to the 909 and her being confined to a mansion's upper-story bedroom with private veranda overlooking the Pacific. Seth Cohen, tortured over the departure of his best friend and sorta stepbrother, just plain goes, sailing his teeny catamaran from the hell that is Newport—turn around and wave goodbye to Marissa if she ain't blotto yet—to an island where they shrink the heads of haoles who toss out terms like "Chrismukkah."

Oh, what will we do between now and next fall, which is when the show returns, according to the "special announcement" that was broadcast over the season finale's end credits? Indeed, our stupid lives now have as much meaning as Kirsten's—she's Caleb's daughter, Seth's mom, Ryan's sorta stepmom and the wife of Peter Gallagher's character, Sandy. With the gated-community walls crashing all around her, Kirsten is shown in the final frames sobbing and snotting uncontrollably into her hubby's Tommy Bahamas shirt. But is she making this Emmy-stealing scene because of whatever Seth wrote in his goodbye (or suicide?) note? Or is it the thought of losing the Chinoan who, frankly, she's just barely connected to to begin with? It's a tossup because Kirsten was suddenly transformed from a non-cooking career woman into a doting mom who makes Ryan a sack lunch for his drive to Chino—like it's some major cross-country journey or something. Without traffic, with or without the toll road, getting off the 15 and cutting across on Pomona-Rincon Road, it'll take 45 minutes tops. Unless the 91's fucked, as it usually is. Then it could take up to two days. In which case, he might need that sandwich.

Whoever Kirsten is crying over, she should look on the bright side: at least she gets her pool house back—and maybe Seth's room! Of course, what has set her off is but one question The O.C. wants viewers to mull over during the summer, and by summer, we mean the season, not Seth's hot little chicky. Will Caleb lose everything? Will Julie stick with the old codger if he does lose everything? Will Ryan start a family with Theresa? Will she even have the kid? Is the kid even Ryan's? Will Seth come back? Will Marissa sober up? And what about the Azerbaijanis?

But those aren't the questions on my mind as the first season comes to a close. I still want to know: Will Ryan ever learn to talk? Will Summer loan Cohen one of her balls until he finally grows a set? Will Fox 11 News come up with enough stories to fill the hour now that they'll lose those insipid tie-ins to The O.C. for a while? Will Sandy ever discover the many uses of cordless nose-hair trimmers? And there's the most-pressing question of all: Will I get a life?


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