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'The O.C.' nostalgia recap: Two more weeks of winter (formal)

Season 2 | Episode 5 | “The SnO.C.” | Aired Dec 9, 2004

It’s been a good while since a school dance drummed up some drama on The O.C. And like a whiteout-inducing blizzard, the annual SnO.C. dance is a whirling dervish of below-zero emotional temperatures. At least, that’s what Marissa should have put on the invites.

The winter formal is imminent, and the kids of The O.C. are feeling the pressure to scrounge up a date. Seth, of course, needs to take someone because Summer and Zach are pretty much a done deal. Marissa plans on hitting the dance stag since she’s running the whole production, and a high school gym isn’t exactly DJ’s scene. Ryan has his sights set on Lindsay.

Don’t think the teens are the only ones feeling the seething burns of intense stress. The Cohen household is a veritable pressure cooker with Caleb’s trial being fast-tracked. It’s crunch time, and Caleb won’t answer Sandy’s calls for information. Sandy, ever the go-getter, decides to take matters in his own hands and get answers by any means necessary, much to Kirsten’s distress.

Throwing a wrench into Ryan’s plans, Lindsay wants to remain friends so as to not jeopardize their lab partnership. That’s all fine and good, but this is just the latest development in Lindsay’s quest to make questionable choices and have them backfire in her face. Speaking of backfiring, Marissa takes an extended off-campus lunch break to make out with DJ in her room. The cat is out of the bag on her secret relationship once Julie walks in on them.

Zach confides in Ryan about his concerns with Seth and Summer’s unbreakable bond, to which Ryan offers little encouragement. Seth has moved on with Alex, but has he really moved on? Not according to Alex, who shuts down Seth’s advances after their post-concert kiss. To prove her point that kisses mean nothing, she kisses everyone within her reach at the Bait Shop. That’s one hell of a way to RSVP “no” to the SnO.C.


Fresh off the disappointment of being dateless for winter formal, Seth rants about how “crazy” women are, failing to realize that he’s not far off on the crazy scale. Exhibit A: He asks Summer—his ex-girlfriend—for dating advice. What’s crazier than that? Despite herself, Summer can’t help but bite and offer her pearls of wisdom. She tells him to calm down with Alex, to stop being so aggressive. The living Cosmo advice column turns into playful reconnecting, and wouldn’t you know, Zach spies them from afar.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Marissa bond over a giant penguin prop for the dance. Seems reconnecting with exes is in the air at Harbor School, and the Core Four can’t stop themselves from breathing that air like it’s an inhaler they need to survive. It’s true. The first five episodes of season two have worked to wedge Seth and Summer and Ryan and Marissa apart, but the wedging is not exactly taking, is it? Especially not when Marissa asks Ryan to the dance.

Lindsay, the queen of impeccable timing, accepts Ryan’s invite to the SnO.C., not even conceptualizing that she’s too late. Inevitably, Ryan tells her he’s going with Marissa as friends, and she places her bid for Best Actress when she tries to play her disappointment as cool. Maybe she can go to the dance with Zach. He’s down a date after ditching Summer because of, you guessed it, Seth.

Newly armed with spot-on advice from Summer, Seth dials back the intensity with Alex, acting flippant and aloof when she gives him a laundry list of chores at the Bait Shop. Without protest, he gets to work. Alex finds his chill eerie, and she can’t help but raise an eyebrow. She presses, the conversation escalates, and Seth quits. I think he misinterpreted Summer’s advice in practice.

The Cohens

Seth chooses video games in his PJs over the dance, but Sandy and Kirsten take it upon themselves to annoy him so badly, he’d rather third-wheel it with Ryan and Marissa. Summer, too, thinks she’s Ryan and Marissa’s third wheel. Enter Seth. Fate has a funny way of always thrusting these four together, and if their car ride to the dance was any indication, they should stop fighting fate’s strong hand.

Ryan and Marissa dance to “Cool” by Gwen Stefani—the best reminder that we’re in 2004—but Summer won’t dance with Seth. Julie Cooper, professional chaperone, is ecstatic that Marissa is dancing with Ryan rather than DJ. She’d rather her daughter date a formerly troubled kid from chino than the yard guy. (How Julie hadn’t written a sleazy lifestyle guide or starred in an early Housewives series is beyond me.)

Following his ambush of Renee Wheeler, Sandy confronts Caleb about his alleged affair with her and the alimony he pays her. Caleb admits to having a child with Renee, but he won’t admit it to the state to avoid jail time. Presumably, he doesn’t want to hurt Kirsten or Julie, but isn’t he already doing that by going to the slammer? Inside the house, Kirsten pours herself a glass of wine, fanning the flames of her eventual addiction.

Summer surrenders and dances with Seth. He asks why Zach isn’t there, but the answer is pretty obvious: jealousy. Of course, Zach shows up in time to catch them in mid-sway. He announces the bitter truth: “Even when you’re not a couple, you’ll always be a couple.” He can either get out of the way or keep elbowing his way in.

Seth and Alex

DJ comes to the dance to be with Marissa like a knight in kind of shining armor. Jimmy has to physically restrain Julie from publicly embarrassing their daughter, and the moment leads the exes to kiss. Ryan goes to Lindsay’s house, and although she says they’re too different, he tells her he won’t give up. After a pep talk from Alex at the Bait Shop, Zach returns to the dance to punch Seth in the face. Who does he think he is? Ryan?

Alex swoops in to take care of Seth, a habit that Summer can’t quit. But she realizes she needs to quit it if she wants to be with Zach. And she does. Seth officially moves on with Alex, learning the art of self-defense through punches and kisses. Lindsay, tail between her legs, strides into the pool house and plays video games with Ryan. Renee Wheeler pays a visit to Sandy. They talk on the porch, and Sandy admits that he knows everything about the affair. But does he know everything?

Lindsay exits the pools and asks the one question no one saw coming: “Mom? What are you doing here?”

Episode Mixtape

  • “Closer” by Dirty Vegas
  • “Desperate Guys” by The Faint
  • “Run Run Run” by Phoenix
  • “Lay Lady Lay” by Magnet feat. Gemma Haye
  • “Cool” by Gwen Stefani
  • “Let It Die” by Feist
  • “Soft Light” by Frausdots
  • “Turn Off/Turn On” by Mascott
  • “Goodnight & Go” by Imogen Heap

All four seasons of The O.C. are available to stream on CW Seed.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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