Ryan, Seth, and Summer decide to get Marissa back into Harbor for their last semester, even though Marissa doesn't want to go back to Harbor, and none of Harbor's students want her back, either. Marissa's reason is Johnny, who thought he had gotten back onto that stupid surfing team, only to be rejected again and sent into a sulky funk. She doesn't want to leave him, so she craps on her friends' efforts -- which included snazzy t-shirts and buttons -- and refuses to attend the hearing they set up just for her. After a visit from Ryan, noble Johnny gets Chili to lie to Marissa that he did get back on the team and that his life is good again, sending Marissa running to the hearing just in time to hear how great and wonderful everyone thinks she is as a person and as a student. It's still not enough for the board, with Sandy-hating Judge Mercer and Taylor Townsend's insanely bitchy mother leading the anti-Marissa charge. Then Taylor Townsend risks the wrath of her mom to collect a petition full of student signatures on Marissa's behalf, while Matt Ramsey's private detective gets Sandy some information about Judge Mercer's junkie runaway son, and lo and behold, Marissa is a Harbor student once again! How lucky Harbor is to have such an awesome person like Marissa gracing its halls! Also, Julie and Dr. Roberts finally come clean to their respective daughters about living in a trailer and getting a divorce, only to find that their daughters don't really care.
"Last time on The O.C.," selected bits from the entire season were shown out of order or context in a desperate attempt to make it look like cool and exciting things happened.
The gang hangs out at the lamest bar in the whole world and sip "faux-jitos," a.k.a. fruit juice. I hope they didn't pay more than a dollar a glass for that stuff. Summer's enjoying the hell out of hers, but Marissa says she's "hit a wall" with the "mock-tails." She would know; I think it's safe to say that Marissa has hit a lot of walls. Summer moans that they have to return to school tomorrow after the awesome winter break they just spent together offscreen. Then she and Seth exchange really cute funny faces. Summer wishes she could've TiVoed their break so she could play it over and over again, which would make her one of the few people left on this planet who still care enough about this show to watch it at all, let alone multiple times. As usual, it is Marissa who brings the party down by saying that they're all going to be back at Harbor together, while she'll be suffering at Newport Union. Then she leaves to pee, and Seth goes to get more fake drinks. This leaves Summer and Ryan alone together to plot a way to get Marissa back in Harbor, hopefully before this Friday's senior class photos. Summer's hoping that now that Dean Evil is gone and some time has passed, no one will have a problem with Marissa being back in school, even though sweeps month is coming up, so if Marissa were going to shoot someone again, this would be the time. Seth returns with some cleverly-named mocktails ("Safe Sex on the Beach"), and they clue him in as to their plans. He's down for it, having resigned himself to doing nothing for the entire third season but going on little escapades to help Marissa out. They toast to Marissa's Harbor return and the waste of yet another episode on her and her problems. At least they didn't dirty alcohol's good name by involving it here.
The next morning finds Ryan to Dr. Kim's office to discuss Marissa's case with her while Summer and Seth plan their campaign. Ryan's late to his meeting, because it's always a good idea to inconvenience someone right before you ask them for a big favor. Dr. Kim politely asks how Marissa is doing, and Ryan reports that she's "as good as can be expected" at public school, which means, judging by what this show's writers seem to think public school is like, Marissa has managed to escape the bubonic plague and is making do with the temperamental Apple IIgs and three STD prevention pamphlets that comprise the school's library/media center. Dr. Kim is immediately sorry for giving Ryan such an easy opportunity to segue into what he came to talk about: Marissa's chances of getting back into Harbor the last semester. Dr. Kim isn't very hopeful, saying that it's the decision of the Board of Trustees, who are conveniently meeting this Thursday. Dr. Kim promises to try to get Marissa's case put on the docket, but doubts that the board would reverse its decision. She adds that since students aren't allowed to speak at board meetings even though it's the board of a freaking school, Ryan will need a parent advocate to act on his behalf. Dr. Kim says that Ryan can help his case by finding an instance where another student was expelled for violence and then let back in to use as precedent. She suggests paying close attention to fall of 1996. Nothing could make me love Dr. Kim more than if there wasn't anything remotely useful in Fall of 1996's transcripts and she was just saying that to send him on a wild goose chase. More likely, though, she wants Marissa back at Harbor as much as the rest of us don't.