The Sia cover of "Paranoid Android" plays Ryan into the airport in slo-mo. You can see her pink Berkeley hoodie in the offloading passengers; Ryan approaches and says her name, which echoes: "Marissa?" The girl turns: it's Kaitlin. "You knew my sister?" She explains that she's at Berkeley and throws some spackle on it about how she's a prodigy or something. Which I don't doubt. I am fairly certain she'll have a puppet government in at least three South American countries by the time she graduates, but again: in alt-world no explanation is better than an explanation that makes no sense, because I'm prepared to let it go right up until you start yelling at me about how it makes total sense when we both know damn well it doesn't. Man, I hate that. Never complain, never explain. Kaitlin's like, "Who are you?" She is very sad to tell Ryan that Marissa died three years ago: she OD'd in an alleyway in Tijuana. That was the second time I was like WHOA, because the words are funny but the concept is vastly painful at the same time. Kaitlin is clearly unhappy to be talking about it; she knows it'll cast a shadow over her holiday. "Who are you again?" No one, he says. "Okay, well. Merry Christmas," she says, not unkindly but still thrown off by all of it, and takes off. Taylor appears out of nowhere and simply says she's sorry.
Back at the diner, Taylor's comforting Ryan that at least he gave Marissa three more years: she got to fall in love, and graduate... (And shoplift, and get nearly raped, and get disappointed by Jimmy a billion times, and get locked up in a tall tower with a bottle of vodka and no Ryan, and hook up with Seth's sloppy seconds, and have sex in a tiki hut, and go into the mother of all slut spirals.) And also: die anyway, he points out. Taylor says this proves that he wasn't meant to save her by the rules of alt-world, so just drop it and let it go. "You saved the Cohens!" She points out how in Ryan-less alt-world, Seth is the next Unabomber, Sandy's married to "Slutty McSlutterman," [And Taylor? We've officially stopped doing the Thingy McThingerson thing. Like a million years ago. Just FYI.] and Kirsten hasn't had an orgasm in like a year... He puts a stop to that with a quickness, because it is always so funny how creeped out Ryan and Seth get about their mom's sex life. Taylor tells him, however, that there's no way she's going to let him off the hook for fixing alt-world. "Has anybody ever said no to you?" Only once, she says: "I pushed him off the roof." Ha! She says she's kidding, although careful review of the footage shows her actively grasping at him as she went down. Which describes his relationship with Marissa, again, to a T. "Let's save the Cohens and go home." It's something I was confused about all season, this thing where Marissa's death somehow invalidated Ryan's place with the Cohens. I mean, he's always running off, 90% of all storylines on this show have always revolved around Ryan suddenly feeling like he shouldn't live with the Cohens anymore. But this season they seem really linked, no Marissa equals not being good enough to be a Cohen, and this episode makes it obvious that this is the case -- or rather, that Ryan's propensity for doing this is misguided -- but I'm not done thinking about it. Maybe it has nothing to do with the politics of his status as a Cohen, and it's just him retreating to a hole like a wild beast whenever he gets hurt and forgetting that they love him and are there for him. Maybe that's all it is. Also, why does spellcheck know "Unabomber"?