The O.C.
The Model Home

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Joanna: B- | 1 USERS: A+
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Burnin' Down the House

Now, the recap. I promise. We cut to an exterior shot of the Big House, where Sandy grills poolside. Seth and Ryan drift lethargically in the pool, and I challenge any actor to express "lethargy" as well as Benjamin McKenzie does. What's that? You say Dustin Hoffman? Well, okay. But anyone else? Sandy beckons them for dinner, before heading inside, where Kirsten is talking with her father on the phone, expositioning that she understands the importance of "the model home," and promising that they'll sell the lots by Christmas. Sandy spies on the boys through the window, wishing aloud that he could do more for Ryan. An exasperated Kirsten points out that he's Ryan's "lawyer, not his guardian." Sandy "I know, I know"s her, promising to take Ryan to Child Services in the morning. Kirsten is clearly conflicted; all steely-faced and crossed arms she implores, "What kind of mother just abandons her child?" The camera directly focuses on Kirsten, but Sandy's profile lingers in the foreground of the shot; we see him pause, and then his eyes subtly drop, suggesting to me that Sandy knows exactly what kind of mother abandons her child, and either Kirsten is missing this significant fact about her husband's life, or she's supremely insensitive. Either way, this moment is why Peter Gallagher -- despite, or perhaps because of, his magnificent eyebrows -- is a terrific actor, and why I maintain that this show is -- for the most part -- well executed. Kirsten asks what will happen if Ryan's mother doesn't turn up, and Sandy explains that Ryan will go "into the system," at which moment plenty of women and men across the country think, "I'll take him in my system." In any case, Ryan will be in foster care until he's eighteen, and Sandy admits that although they'll try to "place him," finding a family for a child his age will be impossible. The camera zooms in on Kirsten's distraught face. Throughout this conversation, we see a tray bearing approximately twenty-five ears of corn on the counter behind Sandy. How many stray kids are they feeding these days, anyway?

Back at the pool, the boys drift past each other on their matching blue-and-white-striped lounge floats. Ryan is puppy-faced -- and unless I say otherwise, at least until things are sorted in Ryan's personal life -- just assume that Ryan is always puppy-faced. Seth proposes that they do something special for Ryan's last night; he doesn't know what, exactly, but suggests that they "possibly get a couple of tattoos. Or some hooker and lose our virginity." Ryan looks over at him skeptically, which may be an expression of doubt that this is something they would actually do, but is more likely disbelief that Seth actually thinks he's still a virgin. Seth concludes, "Okay, dude, I don't know. There's a shark movie at the IMAX...if that's what you're into." This gets a smile from Ryan, but still, he just wants to take it easy tonight.

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The O.C.

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