Benjaminmckenzie_oc_240As pleased as I am that American Idol is going to give The O.C. finale what’s sure to be its biggest audience of the season, this is a show that FOX probably owed a two-hour finale. As it was, the creative team had to deliver a lot of information — past, present and future — in a very short period of time (did the episode really need to end three or four minutes early to promo a David E. Kelley drama that’ll last half a season?) and the result was rushed, albeit undeniably emotional.

How much got packed into the episode? From beginning to end, there were at least two weddings (only one that went through, I guess), at least two human births, potentially countless bunny births, college enrollments and graduations, separations and reconciliations, plus trailers for at least two movies that seemed specifically edited to sucker in disconsolate O.C. fans. There was hugging and tears and more hugging and more tears and the show came full circle — the pilot began with the Cohens giving Ryan a home and the finale featured Ryan helping the Cohens get a home — and then came full-circle again. It was exhausting, but satisfying.

Mischabarton_oc_240_002_1As for the actual end, an ending that Josh Schwartz told me they’ve had in mind for some time, I was of two minds. Ryan’s departure from Casa Cohen, cut between pilot footage of his arrival, was perfect. If I didn’t have to find out whether Meredith Grey lives or dies, I would finish this recap and throw the pilot into my DVD player. But how wonderful would it have been if the last shot had been Ryan pulling out of the driveway and, in his memories, seeing Marissa in a short from the pilot that ends in a sun-flare.

That flare could have been the end. I didn’t need the piecemeal flash-forwards, because they just left me with questions and left me wanting more. Summer and Seth having a Jewish wedding? Mazel Tov! But where was Dr. Roberts walking Summer down the aisle? Where was the Nana? Should we assume that since Sandy and Kirsten named their daughter after her, she passed away without anybody mentioning? Too many questions. But then, it ended really the only way it could end. Future Ryan, now an architect — moving beyond his days as a construction worker — spies Past Ryan and says "Hey kid… Need any help?" The child becomes the man and all that. Sure. That’s how it ends.

I didn’t cry. I only do that in underdog sports movies or films where dogs die. But I got choked up.

A few highlights from the finale: 

  • As recently as a month ago, the fate of The Valley was still up in the air, most recently seeming on the verge of death. Instead: "It just got picked up for five more seasons. You know, these teen dramas, they just run forever."
  • I hope that the nice gay couple living in the Cohen’s old Berkeley home took them for all they were worth in the sale. It’s not enough that destiny forced them to give up they house, but they were gracious, convenient and stereotypical enough to be a midwife and a wedding planner? That has to be worth at least 25 percent above market value.
  • Presumably Sandy goes off to teach at Boalt Hall (Berkeley’s law school). I hope that means that the Sandy Cohen Fellowship will live on.
  • Adambrody_theoc_240_1Rachel Bilson had great scenes with Melinda Clarke (with the Marissa locket) and Adam Brody and then Brody in turn had a great hugging farewell with Ben McKenzie. Clarke’s already lined up a pilot with LL Cool J, but it will be interesting to see what the other cast members decide to do. Or are able to do.
  • As much credit has been given to Autumn Reeser’s enhanced profile as the cause for the show’s new energy this season, maybe Gary Grubbs hasn’t been given enough credit. I’m not saying he should get his own pilot next season, but you’d think he could find a regular TV gig somewhere.
  • Ditto with Willa Holland, actually. She came into this show with almost no acting experience, but I suspect she has a good future.

    I could go on. I’ll let y’all.

    Thoughts on the finale?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg