Seth and Summer are still broken up. This is despite Summer's and Taylor Townsend's best efforts to the contrary, ending in Summer's standing on the coffee cart and telling Seth to tell her that he doesn't love her anymore. Which he does, because Seth loves lying to Summer. Meanwhile, Ryan heads for Albuquerque to invite his mother to his graduation, but ends up sleeping with her weird co-worker and deciding not to invite Dawn because he's afraid she'll embarrass his superior ass in front of his Harbor classmates. Then he changes his mind and invites her, and Dawn is very happy indeed. Aww. Volchok takes Marissa to a party where his friends drug an already drunk-out-of-her-mind girl and try to rape her. Marissa stops them with her incredibly bad acting and then goes crying to Julie, who spends the entire episode trying to be an actual mother and never quite succeeds. Kirsten flirts with drinking alcohol again after Sandy blows off a dinner with her, but doesn't because that would mean she'd actually have a storyline and we can't have that. And where is Sandy? He's saving Matt the Non-Entity from being killed when the idiot tries to extort money from the Evil Dr. Griffin.
Dinnertime at the Cohens! Sandy compliments Seth's grilling skills -- of which entirely too much has been said in this show's three short seasons -- and Seth turns it back on Ryan, saying that he doesn't need to be a fisherman after all, since apparently being good at grilling makes fish just jump into your freezer. "That was a bad idea," Ryan admits. Well, at least this show is finally admitting to itself how crappy its plotlines are. Perhaps next it will actually make an effort to write some good ones. Kirsten changes the subject to Ryan and Seth's graduation, where each kid has received only two tickets, because Harbor really is the ghettoest private school ever. Even Chino High School probably gives its students more tickets than that to their graduation ceremony. Then again, most of those students probably don't graduate. Sandy worries about getting a seat for The Nana. At least Caleb is dead, so they won't have to worry about him. Ryan graciously offers up his tickets, figuring that no one he's biologically related to will be going to his graduation. This results in an awkward silence, until Kirsten suggests that Ryan invite someone from his real family. GREAT IDEA, Kirsten! The only family member of Ryan's who isn't in jail or banished from Newport is Dawn, and at her mention, Ryan freezes up and then leaves to "wash up," even though there's a sink right there. Sandy wisely points out that this might not be such a hot idea of Kirsten's, but Kirsten says that Dawn is going to AA now (since when? Wasn't she in jail just last month?), and therefore is probably an awesome mother and person and things will go just fine. Kirsten even throws in a dig at Sandy being a crappy person lately as the unhappy couple passive-aggressively cuts vegetables.
Some time later, Kirsten comes to the poolhouse to apologize for butting into Ryan's business. He says that he had actually been thinking about inviting Dawn to his graduation, figuring that so much time has gone by since the last time he saw her, and that he thought his graduation would be their last chance to see each other. Ryan asks how his mother was when Sandy visited her, and Kirsten answers that Dawn is "not good." I would have thought being in jail was more along the lines of "absolutely terrible," but whatever. Maybe, Kirsten says, a visit from Ryan will change Dawn's outlook on life and give her something worth straightening out her life for. Because living with Ryan for fifteen years sure did the trick, right? Kirsten offers to fly to the dreaded Albuquerque with Ryan, but he says he needs to do it alone. Kirsten's face falls as she realizes that she won't have anything to do in this episode after all. "How bad can it be?" Ryan says. Well, I guess Dawn can't abandon you now that you're a legal adult.