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The Pilot
After troubled teen Ryan Atwood is sent to jail, public defender Sandy Cohen, to the dismay of his wife Kirsten, invites Ryan to stay in his guesthouse.

Their son Seth takes Ryan sailing, where the two get a chance to know each other.

The Cohens take Ryan to a fashion show fundraiser planned by the beautiful girl next door, Marissa Cooper, and Summer invites Seth and Ryan to a Newport Beach house party. At the party, Ryan protects Seth from Luke, Marissa's boyfriend.

From the trouble he gets into it's clear from get-go that Ryan may not be able to stay at the Cohen house on the series premiere of THE O.C.


August 5, 2003
Troubled youth
Poor Ryan - his brother inaugurates him into the world of car theft in a singularly incompetent manner. His public defender is an interfering do-gooder. His drunken mom throws him out of the house - but not before her boyfriend roughs him up a little. What could possibly go right?

Movin' on up
Actually, Sandy, that meddling lawyer, may not be such a bad thing after all. He's impressed with Ryan's smarts and potential, and invites Ryan to stay with his family for the weekend. Much to Ryan's surprise, Sandy lives in an ocean-front mansion in way-upscale Newport Beach. "I didn't think your kind of lawyers made money," Ryan says. "We don't," Sandy replies. "But my wife does."

Meet the neighbors
Ryan waits outside while Sandy breaks the news to his wife, Kirsten, that a felon-in-training is their new houseguest. Ryan meets gorgeous girl-next-door Marissa, who doesn't buy his bad-boy story. She thinks he's just the cousin from Boston, but is obviously still intrigued - even as she drives off with her rich boyfriend. She invites Ryan to a charity fashion show the next night.

Come sail away
Kirsten reluctantly agrees to let Ryan bunk in the pool house - which, by the way, is swankier than most places any of us will ever see. The next morning, Ryan meets Seth, Kirsten and Sandy's geeky son. They bond over video games (despite Seth's "Grand Theft Auto" foot-in-mouth moment) until Sandy kicks them out into the sunshine. Seth takes Ryan sailing, and confesses his undying love for Marissa's friend Summer. No, he's never spoken to her. These things take time.

Going to the show
Sandy tells the guys when they're leaving for the fashion show. Seth doesn't want to go until Ryan asks if Summer will be there. Suddenly, Seth's interested. Next door, Marissa's buffed and Botoxed mother looks away from her own reflection only long enough to cut down her kid. Very nice. Good thing Marissa's dad is perfect, right? Right?


At the show, every woman in the OC seems intent on getting into Ryan's pants - and every one has a different idea of where he's from. Ryan doesn't enlighten them. He's too busy basking in the perfect world that is Orange County. He is surprised, however, to hear Jimmy, Marissa's dad, freaking out in the bathroom. That might have something to do with the increasingly impatient visits from the SEC. Summer, Seth's dream girl, invites Ryan to an after-party. Ryan brings Seth along as well.

Party on, dudes
Teens plus money minus adults equals wild party. There's sex, drugs, alcohol - enough to make Ryan think he can get in much more trouble here than he ever could back home. He's right. Seth tells him that this is the dark side, but Ryan doesn't seem to believe it. But look closely - golden girl Marissa is drinking much more than anyone else. Marissa's boyfriend Luke is taking off down the beach with a blond bimbo. Will anyone be able to respect themself in the morning?

Betrayal - and redemption
Summer has had her eye on Ryan all night. After enough alcohol, she finally makes her move. Ryan tries to shrug her off, but a drunken Seth walks out to find her draped all over his supposed friend. Seth smacks him and tells him to steal another car and go back to Chino. With that, Ryan becomes a laughingstock, and Summer is no longer interested. Seth staggers off and is set upon by a bunch of popular jerks. Ryan tries to fight them off, but they both get beat pretty badly. "Welcome to the OC, bitch," sneers Luke.

Paradise lost
Back at home, bruised and still-smashed - but endlessly amusing -- Seth expresses his appreciation that Ryan had his back, then falls asleep. He's not the only one passed out - Ryan sees Marissa's friends dump her unconscious body in her driveway, then run away. Nice. He takes her back to the pool house and tucks her in. The next morning, Marissa's gone - but Kirsten is there. She's livid that Seth got into a fight, and blames Ryan. This wouldn't happen to her boy if he wasn't hanging out with thugs. Sandy says he's glad Seth is hanging out with anyone at all, but Kirsten will not be swayed. Ryan must go. Sandy takes Ryan back to his run-down house - only to find that Ryan's mom moved out, leaving no forwarding address. Harsh. With no place else to go, Sandy and Ryan head back to the O.C.

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