The kids finally graduate from Harbor, and even Dawn Atwood gets to see it. She's so proud of Ryan that she gives him a car to celebrate. But you know what they say -- if a car appears in the first act, it will be in a tragic accident in the third. But more on that later. Kaitlin comes back to town to see her sister graduate, as well as announce her plans to stay in Newport and rule over Harbor High in her sister's place. Then she plays some rap music and throws posters of men's abs on the walls and makes it almost impossible to like her or look forward to her return in any way. The kids cement their future plans, with Seth (whose arrest for arson last week leads nowhere and is quickly dealt with and forgotten about) getting accepted into the Rhode Island School of Design for its spring semester, Summer is still going to Brown, and Ryan to Berkeley, and Marissa forgoing college for the thrill of the open seas, working as part of the crew on the boat her father is captaining. Unfortunately for her, Crazy Volchok will do anything to get her back -- including driving his new car and running her and Ryan off the road. Despite his section of the car being completely smushed, Ryan survives the crash with nary an injury, making him well able to carry Marissa's body out of the car before it dramatically explodes. And wow, it looks just like all those other times he's had to carry her body around, as we see in a montage celebrating this show's love of repetition instead of creativity. And as a barely-awake Imogean Heap sings "Hallelujah" over and over again, Marissa DIES. She dies! And even more pointlessly than she lived.
Previously: Marissa, Marissa, Marissa!
Ryan watches TV in the poolhouse. Kirsten folds some clothes. Finally, the moment they've both been waiting for arrives. No, not Marissa's death -- that comes later. It's Seth and Sandy returning home from the police station. Seth heads for Ryan and Sandy heads for Kirsten. They share their stories: Sandy told Seth to deny everything to the police, although he's not so sure that his son wasn't involved in the fire. Seth knows that the joint he forgot to put out must have caused the fire, but he doesn't know how to tell his parents the truth, because being honest with people is a trait that Seth does not possess. Kirsten doesn't think Sandy should let on to Seth that he doesn't trust them as their relationship is already strained.
Seth wants to listen to some sad music on his iPod, but he left it in the Rover. The Rover is still back on the street where Volchok tried to steal that car. He heads back to get it, only to come face-to-face with Volchok, who seems to think that returning to the scene of the crime is a good plan. Volchok says that he ditched the stolen car and ran back here, but he's sure that the cops saw him. Thus, he'll need some money to get out of town. And guess what? Ryan lives with rich people! Volchok threatens to tell the cops about Ryan's part in the car theft if he doesn't pay him off. Except that the cops saw Volchok with the car. They didn't see Ryan. So really, Volchok doesn't have any proof that Ryan had anything to do with the robbery and his threats are empty. Or they would be, if we weren't dealing with the Newport PD, whose standard criminal investigation technique involves a visit to Ryan Atwood that is usually followed by an arrest. Volchok even says that he'll tattle to Ryan's mother about this when she comes to town for his graduation: "I'm sure she'll be real proud." Actually, she probably would be. With that, Volchok runs off into the night.
California, here we come! Unless you're Marissa, in which case you'll be leaving it very soon.
In only a couple of hours, the Harbor students will be graduating. Summer, Taylor Townsend, and Marissa help set up for the event, giving them a nice opportunity to exposit that Seth only burned down a small part of the NewNewport Group and so those criminal charges pending against him shouldn't be serious enough to prevent him from graduating. As she does with most things, Taylor Townsend goes way overboard with the exposition and tells the girls that she had a threesome with Sung-Ho and Young-Na, who, if memory serves, ARE RELATED TO EACH OTHER. Taylor Townsend does a little dance in celebration of her adventures in incest, while Summer and Marissa both look equal parts disgusted and appalled. Julie strolls in to give Marissa some mail from her father and then leaves. Apparently, she's finally found some gainful employment with the United States Postal Service.
Dawn Atwood arrives at the Cohen mansion. Kirsten and Dawn share a realistically awkward moment at the doorway as they try to figure out whether they're supposed to hug or shake hands or just say hello. Kirsten invites Dawn in, and Dawn does her typical gawking over the amazing splendor of the Cohen foyer. She also makes a joke about being drunk that Kirsten doesn't appreciate. Although maybe Kirsten's just jealous that even Dawn has a longer sobriety record than she does. Ryan runs into the room and gives his mother a nice smile and a hug. Yay!