The Gamble

The O.C. Sundays – Volume 3: S01:E03 – The Gamble


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 opens in juvie with a plethora of non-white people available for speaking roles. Unfortunately, they are all reduced to yelling slurs at newbie and white privileged kid, Ryan. Sandy stops in to see him and quips that they ‘gotta stop meeting like this.’ He lets him know that Kirsten’s company, the Newport Group, has decided to drop all arson charges. Ryan has to stay in jail for 30-60 days however because he can’t be released to a parent or guardian, while Luke strolls out like it ain’t no thing. Sandy leaves him alone and when Ryan heads back to the cells, a Mexican kid in juvie who look a like he’s 30 threatens Ryan by pressing a fork to his neck.

Back in the O.C., Kirsten is planning a brunch for her friends that she hates. They are planning a casino night….for charity. Because everything is done for charity in this show. Seth meanwhile, is angry at everyone because he is grounded and his Mom won’t let the kid that burned her house down live with them. Weird, right? Kristen’s awful friends show up with Julie heading the group of assholes. Sandy says he’s off to find another kid to jeopardize the community, joking that he might bring an Asian or a black kid home now, which obviously worries all the women.

A grounded Seth tries to sneak out of the house to go visit Ryan, but Kristen says no. Kristen admits she’s hired someone to find his mother and dropped the charges. Seth asks Kristen if she wants to come with him, and she’d rather do that than hang out with the whores in her living room, so she agrees (I’m paraphrasing).

Back at Marissa’s house, Summer is being turned into a more developed character by switching her signature bikini top for a lacy bra. She tries on clothes, and Marissa calls Luke who won’t answer. Seth stops by Marissa’s to see if she wants to go to juvie to visit Ryan with him, and Seth sees Summer in her bra and basically dies of happiness.

Marissa blows Seth off saying ‘It’s too complicated’ to visit Ryan (oookay). In juvie, Kirsten and Seth have a pretty awkward visit with Ryan. Ryan’s fork wound is very prevalent and Kirsten is feeling super guilty. The Mexican that has been bothering Ryan starts talking dirty to Kirsten, so naturally Ryan kicks his ass. Kirsten decides she wants that pretty white boy OUT of there ASAP.

Sandy comes home and finds Ryan and Seth playing video games and he jokes to Kirsten that he didn’t know she was an impulse shopper. She says it’s not permanent. Ryan overhears and says he guesses he won’t unpack. Just laying in that guilt. Seth asks what happened that night with Marissa in the model home, and Ryan says he told her to leave. Seth suggests he takes those words back.

Julie gives Marissa some terrible advice, pushing her daughter towards Luke who is clearly a very awful boyfriend to her. She suggests she fix her hair, put on a top, and join her at the club to win Luke back.

Sandy is too busy to hang with the boys, and Kirsten has to set up casino night, so she brings Ryan and Seth with her. Naturally, Luke shows up too, so it’s all about to get super awkward. Marissa is there as well and tries to talk to Luke, but he ain’t having none of that shit. Ryan tries to talk to Marissa who says they are from different worlds, so back the fuck off, I need to fix things with puka shells Luke.

Meanwhile, Julie and her bitch friend are talking shit about Sandy and Kirsten right next to Sandy, and he butts right in, bringing up that Julie is from Riverside which is a huge insult (apparently). Julie goes to complain to her husband, Jimmy, about Sandy.

Jimmy says she IS from Riverside and to leave them alone since they’re the ones who are paying their bills right now. Jimmy confesses that Kirsten gave him $100,000, much to Julie’s dismay.

Sandy gets a call about Dawn, Ryan’s mother, saying that they’ve found her. Ryan asks what Kirsten does and she explains the Newport Group to him, and Ryan expresses his desire to be an architect. Kirsten is already planning her future with Ryan as her son when they get home, but to his confusion, his mother is sitting there waiting. They all sit down for a very weird conversation over dinner and Dawn says she’s staying with her friends, as she broke up with her abusive boyfriend. Kirsten asks that she stay at their house tonight. Ryan is clearly very embarrassed about his Mom, who promises she is sober now. Ryan wants to know what she’s doing here because she abandoned him and just left a note. Ryan doesn’t even want to have his Mom touch him, and asks for her to go slow with him, clearly afraid of getting hurt again. She says she’s not going to lose him again. The next day they take a walk and then try to take off. Kirsten clearly is still anxious about them though, so she offers her to come to casino night with them. One last fun night! Where nothing could possibly go wrong on a soap opera!

Dawn shows up with Ryan and is clearly very impressed with the Newport life. Julie is pissed about Kirsten giving them money. Dawn is gambling a little too much and has started sneaking drinks. Marissa cold shoulders Ryan with a dismissive ‘good luck with everything’ and Ryan tells her to ‘have a nice life.’ Marissa and Luke fight. Julie brings up the money Kirsten gave them to Sandy who CLEARLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IT. Things are going badly for everyone except Seth. When Summer drops some dice, Seth is there to pick them up and he blows on them because she’s superstitious. She wins some shit and now Sid or Stanley or Seth or whoever can’t leave her side all night. Marissa and Luke make up with some prodding from Ryan who swears to Luke that nothing happened between them.

Things finally come to a head when Dawn starts to lose money, so she drinks more and eventually falls in the middle of the room because she’s so drunk. She completely embarrasses Ryan in front of everyone and Seth abandons Summer, so Luke and him can help Dawn off the floor.

“Where’s Ryan?”

“I’m right here, Mom.”

“Ryan honey, I’m so sorry. I ruined it. I ruin everything huh? You hate me.”
“No I don’t. I love you Mom.”

Dawn passes out back at the pool house and Ryan looks on, hating himself for giving into the hope that it might have worked out. In the morning Dawn packs up and is about to abandon Ryan while he sleeps, but Kirsten catches her on her way out. They talk about how it’s her duty as a mother to stay, and Dawn says it would be the nicest thing she’s ever done for him if she leaves him.

Ryan wakes up just as she’s about to take off. They share a sad longing look, and she waves goodbye at him. Ryan is shell shocked and can hardly believe it, so he goes for a hesitant half wave. Kirsten and him stare back and forth wondering what’s next. Will she take him in? Will she put him back in the system?

Seth and Sandy are making breakfast when Kirsten and Ryan walk in. They ask where Dawn is and Kirsten says, “Ryan is going to stay with us now.”

The smile on Ryan’s face is…’s everything. It’s this entire show.

“I’ll unpack later.”


Best Song of the Episode:

“Rain City” by Turin Breaks

Best Quote:

“Ryan’s gonna stay with us now.”

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

One! A Mexican kid in juvie yells super juvie things at Ryan and Kirsten including, “I’ll kill you” & “Is this your honey? Come here, bitch, I wanna get a look at you.”


Weird 2003 thing:

See Below. I mean, it’s hard to believe these things were ever popular to wear, but they were.

Best Fashion Statement:

Julie’s soft pink Juicy Couture sweatsuit.