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The O.C. Episode Guide

The Ties That Bind Us - 1.27
aired 5/5/04

Ryan, Theresa and Seth

By Jessica

We open to Ryan and Seth hanging out at the harbour, with Seth playing the name game, and making lame jokes. Ryan makes a joke, to Seth’s surprise, and then Seth reveals that he’s gone soft with Ryan around, since there’s been no need for the “Seth Cohen retaliatory zinger.” Theresa walks out of a women’s clinic, but nothing is said.

Over at the Cohen kitchen Kirsten is on the phone with the wedding planner, and as she lists what they shouldn’t do, Sandy notes to himself that he should do those things. Kirsten expresses how upset she is about Caleb’s black eye, and asks if Sandy and Caleb will make up before the wedding. Sandy refuses, but Kirsten persuades him to atleast pretend (through a little making out). Then the boys and Theresa enter, and Seth claims everything is fine (when Sandy asks why they aren’t at school and they say they were at the doctor’s office), and then Theresa says she’s pregnant, to which Seth adds “except that.”

At the school Ryan and Marissa are walking, and he says Theresa can’t find out the paternity until the baby is born. Marissa asks if there is a chance it could be his, and Ryan says they were broken up. Marissa says they were broken up for “like a week” (really – that was it – it was like five or six episodes between their official break up and make up, and a week is really short to have Ryan suspended, Oliver try to kill himself, Valentine’s Day, Ryan sleeping with Theresa, Anna leaving, the Eddie mess part one, LA, and the whole engagement party for Eddie and Theresa). Ryan is sorry, and wishes he could take it back, and then tells Marissa if she wants to … he’ll understand (he means break up with him – so sad). She doubts there’s a choice, and asks if he’s the father won’t he and Theresa (get together I’m guessing). He says no, if he’s the father he’ll help, but he wants things to work between him and Marissa (aww). They walk off, and we go over to Seth and Summer getting coffee. Summer is freaking out, and Seth makes a dumb joke (that he gets Summer’s best friends, Marissa and Princess Sparkle confused, as they both have shiny hair) to which Summer is upset. Seth says he isn’t emotionally equipped to handle stuff like this. Summer is worried because Marissa has to live with “Lucifer and Julie Cooper” (Seth gets those confused sometimes too), and also about ‘Ryan and Marissa’ the perfect couple (I agree). Seth makes another dumb joke, and Summer threatens to spill her coffee on him. Seth doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and wishes he could help. Summer tells him they’re not having sex, and Seth says “excellent, there’s enough pain and suffering around us already”.

Theresa’s working in the very busy bakery/café, and Kirsten comes in and asks if she wants to talk. Theresa is busy with work. Kirsten realizes how hard Theresa’s working, and barely making any money (she made 85 cents in tip, which she joked she’d put towards the baby’s education). 

In Caleb’s office he’s going through papers, when Sandy comes in and asks for peace, because Kirsten wants him to. Caleb won’t accept the offer of peace, and reveals that the Newport Group is in a lot of money trouble, but Kirsten doesn’t know because her department is the only profitable one. Ok I’ll just note this now – the reason some parts of the recap are more detailed than others is because I find them more interesting and entertaining (like I prefer Ryan/Marissa and anything with Seth’s jokes to Theresa, Caleb etc).

Marissa is packing her stuff at Jimmy’s, and Jimmy offers to return the check to Caleb. Marissa says no, because at least this way she can still see him (otherwise he’ll move to Phoenix). They talk about how complicated their lives are, and Marissa comments that it feels like they’re “constantly being punished for something” and that her mom just keeps going. Jimmy says that having to wake up every morning and be Julie Cooper is punishment enough. He asks if she wants to go for a walk, but she says she has too much to do.

At the Cohen’s Ryan, Sandy and Kirsten are talking about Theresa, which makes Kirsten obviously uncomfortable. Sandy says that they are there to help Ryan, and Seth comes in saying that they raised him, “proof pudding” and then asks Kirsten if they have any “tapioca on tap” then going off on how fun it is to say “pudding”. Theresa comes in (without knocking or ringing the bell or anything – oh wait she’s still staying with them) and asks to talk to Ryan. She tells him (in a few more words than I’m using) that she’s not going to have the baby. Ok I’m not for abortion, but I really don’t want Theresa to have the baby, so this is good. It’s because they’re not ready for it, and she can’t imagine telling her mother. Ok whatever Theresa, just get OUT OF THE OC. She leaves telling Ryan he’s off the hook.

The next morning Seth asks Ryan if he wants to go with him to renew his boat fees. Seth talks about how they’re best friends, even brothers, and brothers sail together. He then makes up some brothers who sailed together, including Hanson. Ryan isn’t very excited, and Seth says he dodged a bullet, then tries to go back on it but just digs himself deeper saying it’s cool, no not cool, then gives up and says he thought Ryan would be relieved. Ryan is, but it’s complicated. Seth is shocked it’s too complicated for “banter about boats and Hanson.” Kirsten goes in to the pool house to see Theresa, who says she has a meeting at Planned Parenthood in the afternoon. She isn’t going to ask Ryan, and can’t tell her religious mother. Kirsten offers to go with her. Ok I don’t want Kirsten to be friendly with her, I want Theresa to just leave. She can even have the baby WITH EDDIE who had BETTER BE IT’S FATHER.

At school (two days in a row – most days since the episodes with Oliver) Marissa and Ryan are talking over lunch. She asks how he feels, but he’s not sure. She wants things to go back to normal, not that things are ever normal. She suggest they spend the summer being normal, and Ryan asks if they’re going to hold Seth to that, which she says would be impossible. She says she’s talking about them, and they kiss.

Caleb takes Julie to her new (huge) house / palace he had built for her.

At the dock Seth talks to his boat, and when Ryan comments on it Seth says “I talk to a plastic horse too, but that never worries anyone.” They then  remember the plan to sail to Tahiti, and Ryan asks what happened to it. Seth says that he should up, and Newport became alright. Aww – I’m so glad they had a scene like this in the finale, in which Seth tells Ryan what a difference he made by coming. They then plan to take the boat to Catalina with their “ladies”.

Kirsten and Theresa are having lunch. Theresa can’t believe she’s actually doing this, and Kirsten says she doesn’t have to. Theresa says not having the baby makes the most sense, and Kirsten says she doesn’t have to make the decision that makes the most sense. Theresa says not for her and talks about how perfect Kirsten’s life is. Kirsten says nothing’s perfect, and sometimes things happen, and Theresa says never to someone like her. Kirsten looks uneasy, and Theresa tries to apologize and Kirsten says she doesn’t regret the decision she made, but wishes she had someone there for her when she was trying to choose, and whatever Theresa decides they’re there for her. This means Kirsten had an abortion at some point – this will be interesting.

Later in the pool house Ryan visits Theresa, who tells him that she is going to have the baby, and basically forces herself into his arms for a hug.

The next morning Sandy and Kirsten are talking, and he’s angry that she talked him into having the baby. Sandy says they’re two kids with nothing, and asks if she knows what Ryan’s going through. “Not as well as I know what she’s going through” Kirsten replies, which confuses Sandy. Then she says all she did was listen, and quickly changes the topic. Ryan comes in and says he’s going to check on Theresa. When he gets to the pool house he finds her packing (yes - she’s leaving!) She’s going home, after telling her mom everything. Ryan doesn’t want her to leave, and says they can figure it out together, to which Theresa says “come with me.” (NO!) Ryan looks down, and Theresa gets up and leaves. Ok what is this constant guilt trip on Ryan? Can’t she just be happy he got a new life, and a second chance? Noo instead she wants him to leave it all and go back to Chino with her – just like she’s always wanted (her angry comments about him leaving). Honestly if we hadn’t seen Theresa with the pregnancy test last episode I would think she’s faking to get him back.

We then go to the new castle, where Jimmy and Hailey are helping Marissa bring her stuff over. Julie meets them, and tells Jimmy he should be there, since Caleb will be back soon and it’s Jimmy fault he has a black eye. Jimmy says it’ll match the black lump of coal where his heart should be. Julie asks  why he can’t be happy for her, as she is. Hailey says “Julie, you can’t be happy, and that makes me happy.” Julie tells Jimmy that it’s clear he’s only with Hailey because he can’t have Kirsten, and that in psychology that’s called transference. Jimmy retorts that he thinks in psychology her marrying Caleb is called “shameless golddigging” (whoa three smart/funny comments from Jimmy in one episode – he’s on a roll) to which Julie replies “that’s what he has his youngest daughter for”. Hailey threatens her “do not make me” Julie asks “make you what – go back to life as a stripper or a coke-whore?” Jimmy asks if she’s forgotten about the 80’s, and Julie says “atleast I’m not a criminal” to which Jimmy replies “yeah you’re just marrying one.” (Hahaha another great line from Jimmy!) But Marissa can’t take it, and yells at them to stop (she just walked back in from the car, missing part of their little argument). She yells at Julie that she’s getting what she wanted, Marissa is moving in with her. Julie thinks that’s what Marissa wanted too, to which Marissa scoffs, and Jimmy and Hailey look at Julie as if she’s a moron (which she is). Marissa then makes some excuse and storms out. I for one am glad about her little tantrum – she’s been through so much lately (her mom and Caleb, Ryan and Theresa etc) and was acting a bit too calm.

At the dock Seth is on his boat while Summer watches. She comments how strange it is that his boat is named Summer (Summer Breeze to be exact), you know with her name being Summer and all. Seth pretends to find it funny, and then Summer tells him it’s the only Summer he’ll be riding for a while. Seth says he gets it – no sex. Some harbour guy comes up, and they talk about how some guy is gonna buy the boat for $6000 the next day, and Seth requests cash. Summer asks why he needs $6000 cash – is he fleeing the country. Seth says it’s for Ryan, and Summer asks for what – vintage wife beaters (I love the wife beater jokes lol). Then Seth tells her it’s actually for Theresa, and explains that she is going to have the baby. He says the boat is the only thing he has worth anything, and that it’s the only way he knows to help. Summer is touched.


Back at the Cohen’s they’re getting ready for a little party (didn’t Kirsten promise never to have one again – has she honestly not learned how badly they always end?) Caleb and Kirsten are drinking together, when Jimmy enters. Caleb is upset, but Kirsten says he’s family. Jimmy congratulates Caleb, saying Julie’s a “hell of a woman” then walks away snickering. Summer is hugging Julie, who then hugs Seth (eww she’ll be his step-grandmother soon). Marissa enters, and Julie tries to get on her good side, but Marissa won’t have it. Julie wanders off wounded, and Marissa asks where Ryan is. Seth and Summer look at eachother, and then quickly start making up an excuse that he’s doing his hair, which takes him forever. It’s really funny, because they both just say random words (hair, bangs, claw, forever, four hours) and then Seth makes a claw motion with his hand. Sandy tells Caleb he talked to the DA, and that “it’s over”. Caleb asks what he should do, and Sandy asks if Julie knows about his financial situation. Caleb asks “what are you saying Sandy – that Julie’s only marrying me for my money?” to which Sandy snickers and says “no of course not.” He suggests they postpone the wedding, but Caleb refuses. Then Sandy points out that it’s ironic that “Julie leaves Jimmy, marries you, now he’s worth millions and [Caleb’s] going to be broke.” That is so true, and it goes with the whole “ties that bind” theme, which is basically supposed to be that things end up where they started – more on that later. Marissa finds Ryan in the pool house hiding, and asks where Theresa is. He said she went back to Chino to have the baby. Marissa asks if she and Eddie made up, and when Ryan shakes his head says “so she’s having the baby alone.” At the dinner table Caleb makes a toast, in which he talks about how the next day the Nichol, Cooper, and Cohen families will be joined as one family. As soon as they click glasses Ryan gets up and goes inside (the table is out by the pool). That was mean to not include Ryan in the little families thing. Marissa follows him, and he says he needed air. Then Seth and Summer come in, and Ryan asks if they want to get out of there. The four go to the beach, and Seth points out that it was that very stretch of beach that they first got their asses kicked by the water polo team. Marissa asks when that was, and they explain it was after Holly’s party when Ryan first arrived. Summer says “you guys were at that party?” which is a hint back to the old Summer, and adds a little humour to what becomes and not funny scene. Seth laughs and hugs her. Marissa asks if Ryan is feeling better, and he says that he’s been thinking, and he thinks he needs to go back, cause he can’t let Theresa do this by herself. Everyone is shocked and silent, which surprised me because Marissa just looked like she was going to cry, and didn’t make any selfish remark like “what about me?” She really has grown up. Seth also looks like he wants to cry, and Ryan announces “I’m leaving.” NOOOOO Ryan can’t leave. This sucks.


The next morning at the harbour Seth discovers the guy isn’t going to buy the boat. He goes over to some little restaurant and meets Summer and Marissa there. He tells them his plan to keep Ryan by getting jobs and paying for an apartment for Ryan (umm how would that help? If he could stay in Newport he would) Marissa points out that Theresa wants to be in Chino, and Ryan needs to be with her. Seth asks if they should just do nothing, and Marissa says if there was something she could do, she would. Seth then says he thinks she’s done enough, and elaborates that he doesn’t think “Ryan would be back with Theresa if it wasn’t for [Marissa] and Oliver in the first place.” Summer scolds him, but Seth continues that “all [Marissa] ever did was drag that kid into your messed up life.” Marissa retorts “and all you ever did was use him to meet girls and get out of fights.” I think Seth was partly justified in yelling at Marissa – it really is her fault, but still that was harsh.


In the pool house Ryan is packing. Sandy comes in, and they have a talk. Sandy says that as his guardian, he could stop Ryan. Ryan says that Sandy taught him that he should do whatever it takes to protect his family. Sandy says they could both stay there, but Ryan says he couldn’t ask that of them. Then Ryan says that they (Sandy and Kirsten) have done more than enough – more than he could have asked of anyone. He goes on “when you took me in I had nothing – no family, no hope. I don’t want this kid to grow up like I did.” Sandy says that just because he’s leaving, doesn’t mean he’s letting him go. Then he tells Ryan to get dressed so they can witness the “most unholy of unions.” This was another necessary scene for the finale – Ryan acknowledging and thanking Sandy for everything, and the difference in his life. And yes, it made me tear up a bit.


We then watch the shortest wedding in the history of television. It feature Julie walking down the aisle, extremely happy. During that time we see Sandy shooting looks at Kirsten who looks very upset (which is understandable – Julie’s going to be her stepmother, and she’s losing Ryan).  Ryan looks over at Marissa, and when she looks at him he looks down. Julie makes it up to Caleb, and the wedding is over. Just a note – the groomsmen were Sandy, Seth, and Ryan. The bridesmaids were Kirsten, Hailey, Marissa and Kaitlyn (yes she was in the wedding, contrary to popular belief). Cut to the two of them dancing to Jem’s cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” They happily dance, and then we see Kirsten and Sandy get up on the stage thing to dance as well as Jimmy and Hailey. Ryan is sitting alone at a table brooding. Marissa comes up, and he stands up and asks if she wants to dance (he hates dancing, so this means he loves Marissa – yes I know it’s hopeful, but I just want them together). They start dancing and Marissa is holding back tears. She says “I just want you to know, I understand why you have to do this” to which Ryan says thanks (hey remember last time he said thank you to something she said – that didn’t go over so well lol). Then she adds “but I wish you didn’t have to” starting to cry a bit and he says “me too.” She pulls closer and whispers “I love you” but Ryan is silent. She then puts her head on his shoulder (this is funny since they’re the same height, and she might be wearing heels to, so to do this she has to hunch her back) and cries a bit. Ryan looks emotionless, which I still don’t understand. We pan out on all the dancers, then go over to Seth sitting alone on the grass overlooking the water. Summer comes up and says “they sent me out to find you – found you” and makes a little joke. Seth is too upset to joke (omg). Summer tries to comfort him that he can still see Ryan, but Seth says “I can’t believe he’s leaving – he’s the first real friend I’ve ever had. The only real friend I’ve ever had.” Summer says he has her, but Seth says it’s not the same. He goes on “before he got here, I was the biggest loser. This place was hell for me. I can’t help him, and I can’t imagine what it’ll be like here without him.” Summer says they’ll get through it, but Seth sends her away wanting to be alone. Ok I did cry during this scene – another one I was really glad was in the show. Seth really does love Ryan (as a brother) and it’s so sad he has to lose him.  As Summer walks off, Seth tells her “for the record, the boat was named after [her].”

Ryan finishes packing in the pool house (why is his stuff in there if he was sleeping in Seth’s room until the night before the last night?) He’s wearing almost exactly the same outfit he wore when he first arrived (wife beater, grey sweatshirt, black jacket). He grabs his bags and takes one last look at the pool house. He goes into the kitchen, where Kirsten gives him some food for the road, and reassures him that she didn’t make it. She asks “if I did learn to cook, could we convince you to stay?” There’s a pause, and then Ryan says thank you (for everything) and the rest of the conversation is kind of broken up (they understand what the other one is saying). Kirsten hugs him, and Ryan smiles a little (it’s like his first real maternal hug ever). Sandy comes over and breaks up the teary mood by saying “and Kirsten’s not even a hugger.” Ryan goes to say goodbye to Seth. Seth is on his bed, sulking. He asks if Ryan’s really leaving, and Ryan says yes. Ryan gives him a gift (map of Tahiti) and tries some small talk, but Seth just keeps sulking. Poor thing – he’s losing his best friend. Ryan gives up, and says “see you then” to which Seth replies “see you” totally unfeelingly. Ok he’s being a brat, but still I feel so bad for him. Ryan was the best thing that ever happened to him, and he got one year of happiness (mostly happiness) and now he’s losing it. More tears from me. Then we see Ryan is Theresa’s car and they drive off. It’s really similar to the scene at the end of the first episode, where Ryan sees Marissa waiting at the end of her driveway as he drives by, and then turns back to look at her as a car pulls up for her (this time it’s a limo taking her to the palace). All he gives her is a measly wave – he can’t say bye or anything. Now the song “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley plays and there’s a kind of montage of little clips. We see Theresa’s car drive away, and then see Seth in his room drop two envelopes (one says “Mom and Dad” the other says “Summer”) on his bedside table and pick up a bag and leave. Marissa enters her new room, then goes out to the huge balcony. Seth unties Summer Breeze and gets on, picking up his compass and sailing off. Kirsten takes the sheets off Ryan’s pool house bed. Ryan and Theresa drive along with Ryan staring out the window. Seth sails along. Kirsten sits down and starts to cry, Sandy comes in and she tries to stop. Marissa takes out a bottle of alcohol, takes a swig, then puts the cap on and looks out over her new yard. Kirsten sobs on Sandy’s shoulder, we see Ryan staring out the window, and the season ends on a shot of Seth’s boat sailing into the sunset.

Jessica's Final thoughts:

Wow that was a great season finale. Now by great I mean really well done – I hate how things ended. I really don’t want Ryan to leave Marissa, or Seth and Summer to break up. My guess is that Theresa loses the baby, because whether it’s Ryan’s or not he won’t let her raise it alone, or with abusive Eddie. But Ryan has to come back, as he’s kind of the point of the show, and coming back with a baby and Theresa would really kill his character (imagine this – “no Marissa I can’t go out tonite, I have to babysit again.”) I feel really bad for Seth, but worse for Kirsten and Sandy – they just lost their two boys. Marissa’s drinking is probably going to get worse and she’ll be a wreck when Ryan returns. Now the reason it was great – the cliffhangers really left me wondering and thinking. Also the whole “ties that bind” thing. So much is back where it started – Marissa is drinking, Ryan is in Chino (in the same clothes), Seth is alone, Julie is married to someone who’s financial situation is bad. The bad part of that is that now everything has kind of been undone, so next season might become a bit of a “redo” if written badly. But when is the OC ever written badly? I can’t wait for season two!

Photos from Screencap Paradise

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Updated 9/11/10 


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