Season four of Fox's "The O.C." got off to a rocky start. Given, a few hitches are expected when your main characters move into a new phase of their lives (e.g., graduating from high school), but the early part of the season was sorely lacking the campy melodrama we know and love. However, if you stopped watching after the first few episodes of Season 4, you should tune back in in January, because it's getting good again. (You can even sign a petition to save "The O.C.") Here's a recap of the season so far.
- Just in case you missed it—maybe you live in Encino or something—Marissa Cooper died at the end of Season 3.
- While Summer escapes to Brown University, Ryan defers college to take a job at a bar, Seth is working at the comic book store, and Taylor travels to France.
- In a particularly ridiculous plot twist, Ryan begins brawling in Fight Club-like matches hosted by his bar. Summer flies home to see if Ryan is ok, and she and the Cohens arrange a comic-book-themed intervention to show how he saved them all.
- Seth and Ryan head down to Mexico to find Volchok and avenge Marissa's death, but Seth tells him to turn himself in. Back in Newport, Sandy negotiates with Volchok and lets Ryan have closure, which involves confronting and punching Volchok.
- Taylor secretly returns to Newport to escape her misguided marriage to some French dude, but her mom kicks her out of the house and she goes to live with the Coopers. In helping her through her divorce, Ryan ends up planting a passionate kiss on Taylor, which later leads to them becoming an item.
- Julie returns to NewMatch to work with Kirsten, and the two soon get funding from an oil tycoon named Bullitt, who brings a lot of hot new male clients to the business. Next thing Julie knows, Bullitt is pursuing her, and the hot male clients have turned NewMatch into a male prostitution ring, a fact that Kirsten still isn't privy to.
- At college, Summer poses as a tree-hugging liberal after meeting a "revolutionary" "hippie" named Che. She's torn between the new Summer and the old summer who loves Seth. Later, Che encourages her to free some bunnies from a lab and ultimately gets her kicked out of school, so Summer returns to Newport and to Seth.
- Ryan finally admits he wants to date Taylor, and so he plans a New Year's trip to Las Vegas that Seth and Summer tag along on. Summer has a pregnancy scare, which turns out to be false, but which still prompts Seth to ask her to marry him. She awkwardly accepts.
- Bullitt hires a mystery man named Frank to put NewMatch's books in order, and Sandy thinks he looks vexingly familiar. At the end of the last episode, we learned that Frank is actually Ryan's real dad.
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To find out what happens next, tune in when "The O.C." returns on Thursday, Jan. 4!