The O.C. Sundays – Volume Two – Season One: Episode Three – The Gamble

Recap by Holly Hill


Why Rewatch The O.C.?

The O.C. premiered on August 5, 2003 and ended on February 22, 2007. Or May 18, 2006 if you like to pretend that the fourth season never happened (a lot of people do, it’s okay). The O.C. not only introduced a lot of people to some fantastic music through its heavily bought mix tapes (this is before YouTube, Spotify, & Apple Music), it also created Chrismukkah, and inspired a decades worth of ‘THE REAL’ reality shows.

Not sure what I mean by that? Well The O.C. prompted the reality show Laguna Beach: The Real O.C., and a thousand other spinoffs to it. The catch phrase ‘The Real O.C.’ morphed into The Real Housewives of fill in the blank rich people cities.

Needless to say, despite its shortcomings, The O.C. had some great writing, a fantastic soundtrack, and truly inspired a generation worth of TV, for better or worse. The O.C. is the only TV show I own on box set. I haven’t watched it in awhile, so why don’t we watch it together? Whether you’re new to The O.C. (you can stream it on Hulu) or a long time fan, it’s a show anyone with a love for the dramatic can enjoy.



The episode starts with some classic Ryan/Seth time dueling it out on their sweet ass PlayStation. Sandy and Kirsten tell Ryan that they went to child services and told them they want him to stay with them, but because he’s a minor, they have to assume all legal responsibility for him.

“I can’t ask you guys to do that.”

“You don’t’ have to, we’re asking you.”

“We’ve all talked about it and we want to be your legal guardians.”

Talk about a 180 from Kirsten. Ryan’s face is just as you’d imagine it, full of hope, anticipation, fear of screwing this up, but most of all, happiness. It’s a dream come true. Ryan asks what happens if they change their mind and it doesn’t work. Sandy jokes that he’s already beaten up the captain of the water polo team, burned down a house, and stolen a car, so what else could possibly go wrong? At this point, I took a moment to pause and reflect on all that is yet to come in this season and others to come. I figure that if Sandy and Kirsten only knew how much else would go wrong, they would have been kicking that Chino kid out ASAP.

Ryan promises to stay out of trouble and they welcome him to the family. Ryan almost cries, I definitely cried, Seth welcomes him to the family, and they half joke about how now he just has to stay out of trouble.


Kirsten gets Ryan settled into the pool house and wants to buy him more things, but he insists he has everything he needs. Kirsten bets he doesn’t have a tux. He’s gonna need a tux. This is a world of events every weekend and charity galas and of COURSE there is a goddamn cotillion.

Sidenote: Have you ever been to a cotillion? You haven’t? Well, that’s because you’re not an asshole. Cotillion is something rich assholes send their kids to to learn manners and become part of civilized society. Then at the end, you ‘graduate’ or ‘debut’ yourself as an accomplished person. This particularly applies to the women who have to wear white like they’re debuting from a fucking convent while their dude escorts try to cop a feel. Lots of dining, dancing, and debuting. Hence the title of this episode. As a person who grew up in Orange County, I’m sad to report that this bullshit cotillion thing does exist. I never went, but I have lots of friends who did it and they all hated it. However, their parents LOVED to show how much money they all had to waste on shit you could just learn by reading a fucking book. God I hate cotillion. Anyway, back to cotillion.

Sandy is coming back from a morning of surfing and Jimmy shows up in his driveway. Jimmy admits he didn’t ask Sandy for the money because he was embarrassed of what Sandy would think of him. Sandy asks how much money he lost and how he lost it. Jimmy refuses to answer and he is so very clearly STILL HAVING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, which only Sandy seems to notice.

Kirsten takes Seth and Ryan to the county club to get a tux fitted. Marissa is picking up her shit at the club and her and Ryan breathily ‘hey’ at each other for not even remotely the last time. Marissa says it’s great he’s staying now because they can be FRIENDS. Right, they’re so good at that. Luke shows up and flexes his pooka shells. Summer flirts with Ryan in front of Seth and Seth says cotillion rocks. Wrong Seth, cotillion does not rock.

Back in a dressing room, Summer is in a bra again because apparently, it’s in Rachel Bilson’s contract that until she gets a personality, she’s not allowed to wear a shirt. Summer wants Marissa to set her up with Ryan, and Marissa is clearly like, ‘back the fuck off, Ryan is mine.”

Later that day, Sandy is at work when a BLACK PERSON comes in from the Securities and Exchange Commission, enforcement division. HE SPEAKS. AND IS SMART. He doesn’t live in Newport though, but we have to work our way up to that kind of diversity in this show. It’s only episode four. He’s here to tell Sandy that the check his wife wrote to Jimmy is suspicious because it turns out Jimmy is apart of an SEC fraud investigation. Oh shit, Jimmy. Turns out Jimmy has been siphoning money out of his clients accounts to pay for his own debts, and Sandy is semi-thrilled that Jimmy is kind of a scum bag. Kirsten makes Sandy promise to not tell anyone until she talks to Jimmy wanting to confirm.

Back at home, Ryan doesn’t want to go to cotillion because cotillion is fucking worthless. Seth is like, you gotta go, it’s a FAMILY thing. WE ARE WHITE KNIGHTS. Ryan is worried about a fight breaking out so he goes to Marissa’s place to tell her he’s backing out of cotillion and of course, at this exact time she’s trying on her virgin wedding cotillion dress and can’t reach the clasp! Thank god Ryan has shown up. Ryan clasps her up in slow motion and when he’s done Marissa wants to know what exactly he wanted to talk to her about in regards to cotillion. But thanks to Ryan’s newly minted boner from clasping a dress together, he decides he’s definitely going to cotillion.

Later that day, Ryan and Seth show up for cotillion rehearsals and Ryan realizes for the first time that there is DANCING involved. Oh the horror. Ryan doesn’t like music and he sure as shit don’t dance.

“You didn’t tell me there was dancing.”

“If I told you there was dancing I’d be here by myself right now.”


Seth then shows off his own dance moves and in response, Ryan looks mildly disturbed.

Summer is pissed that Marissa gave Ryan away as an escort to ANNA STERN. WELCOME ANNA. Fans of The O.C. tend to either hate Anna or love her. I’m with the latter group. Ready for another love triangle? Was Ryan/Marissa/Luke not enough for you? Welcome to Seth/Summer/Anna. Anna is a punky chick who is down to earth as fuck. Anna is from Pittsburgh, and is super into comic books. It’s the female version of Seth, but she’s partnered with Ryan, and Summer is with Seth.


Marissa has to demonstrate to Anna and Ryan how to dance, and Anna is sensing the chemistry, and luckily, Luke isn’t there to witness it. Oh nevermind, here he comes.

“I’d be jealous right now if Chino wasn’t so gay. What? He was born that way!”

Sweet, Luke. You just wait buddy. Shit’s about to get real ‘gay’ for you in a few episodes.

Holly is having another goddamn beach party cookout that night to celebrate fucking cotillion. She invites them all and Ryan is like, nope, that sounds like a fight. And Seth is like, you have to go because Summer will be there and I can’t go alone.

Holly’s Dad runs into Jimmy and he wants to talk to him about money. He wants to pull $250K out of his account that Jimmy manages – the same account that Jimmy has basically drained. Jimmy is fucked.

Back at Holly’s beach house, Summer is in a bikini top trying to pay people to take Seth over as her escort. Seth asks if she can pretend to be excited about them going to cotillion together and Summer gives him a big ol’ nope. Marissa pretty much starts shit with Luke because she is wanting to talk to Ryan, and Luke wants Marissa to not talk to him, and Luke punches Ryan, starting off a sequence of events where Marissa gets Ryan in trouble by doing Marissa things.

The night of cotillion, Ryan decides he’s not going because he’s not going to miss out on being a Cohen just to kick someone’s ass. Marissa and Luke are fighting, so she decides to not go either. Sandy also doesn’t want to go because he hates Jimmy Cooper. Kirsten and Seth take off and Sandy and Ryan play video games.

Seth goes to tell Anna that Ryan isn’t showing up. Luke and Julie make Summer call Marissa, but she still ain’t coming. Summer tells her that Ryan didn’t show up either and since Marissa isn’t coming, she eyes Luke as a potential new escort, ditching Seth.

Marissa shows up in a halter with no bra at Ryan’s house, probably hoping that Sandy wasn’t there so they could get it on. Marissa says she’ll go to cotillion if he goes. Sandy is finally getting into video games when they announce they’re going to cotillion. Sandy says he’ll get the car. NOW EVERYONE IS GOING to GODDAMN COTILLION. You people never learn your lesson.

Ryan and Marissa show up together and Luke freaks out. Luke cries a little and dumps Marissa, and she gives Ryan a look like it’s his fucking fault. Now Ryan is going to escort Marissa, much to her eternal satisfaction. Anna gives Seth some shit about being lonely and tells him he’s not a man. She gives him a lesson on confidence.

They are now escorting each other and Summer doesn’t have an escort anymore since Luke took off! Then she finds Seth and thinks she can just weasel her way back in, but he shoots her down pretty hard with all that new confidence.

Marissa and Ryan come out of their respective dressing rooms looking like they’re about to get married. They HEY at each other some more. Their names are called and they bow and curtsy. This event literally costs more than most people’s weddings.

Everyone is dancing and having a good time when Holly’s Dad comes up to Jimmy and demands his money. He punches Jimmy in the face, calling him a thief and they tussle on the floor. Now everyone should finally fucking know that JIMMY IS HAVING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS in case it wasn’t already incredibly obvious. Sandy defends him, and Kirsten and him are all good again. Ryan gets in there too and they make an exception for Ryan. Sandy says, ‘as your attorney I advise you to get out of here.”

Anna says she’s spending the rest of the summer on a sailing trip to Tahiti. She is either stalking Seth or they are the same person. Marissa is outside crying because that’s what she does best, upset that she’s probably poor now and her Dad got beat up. Ryan gives her his jacket and he comforts her. They turn around and Luke is there because he showed up hearing that Jimmy got punched. Luke asks if he can take her home and they can talk. She gives Ryan back his jacket and says she needs to be alone right now. She dramatically runs off in her white dress. Way to make a decision Marissa.

Best Song of the Episode:

“Why Can’t I” by Liz Phair

Best Quote:

“We’ve all talked about it and we want to be your legal guardians.”

Number of Non-White People with Actual Lines in This Episode:

One again! A respectable smart black person working for the government. He talks and has three lines. Big deal.

Weird 2003 thing:

Julie mentions that she could fit in Marissa’s size zero cotillion dress after a few months of Zone. Zone is a fad diet that is still around today but was huge in 2003 for rich people.

Best Fashion Statement:

Marissa’s red halter top.



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