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Episode 2 "The Gamble"
 
RYAN GIVES DAWN A SECOND CHANCE ON 'THE O.C.' AUGUST 19 ON FOX

Sandy must once again represent an incarcerated Ryan after his arrest for the model home fire. After he is released, Ryan and Sandy continue to search for his mother, Dawn, and Ryan is faced with the prospect of his mother re-entering his life.

With few choices before him, he agrees to give Dawn a second chance and accepts her promises to change when she appears at the Cohen house. In an attempt to solidify this tenuous bond, Kirsten invites Dawn to accompany Ryan and the Cohens to Casino Night.

Once there, Dawn is unable to resist the temptation of alcohol and gambling and fails Ryan once again; Dawn and Kirsten both agree that Ryan will be better off in the Cohen household.

Meanwhile, Sandy discovers that Kirsten has lent Jimmy $100,000 to help with his debts, while Julie simultaneously learns from Jimmy that Kirsten is now supporting their lavish lifestyle, culminating in a confrontation between Sandy and Julie at Casino Night in "The Gamble" episode.

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The Gamble
August 19, 2003
Jailhouse rock

Ryan's in jail, but Sandy says there's good news - Kirsten's company dropped the arson charges, and Sandy should be able to get Ryan out in, oh, a mere 30 days! Ryan watches Luke stroll out - he's got no priors and he's got parents who will take responsibility for him. Ryan, however, is stuck. The other inmates are salivating over this piece of fresh meat, and one in particular seems to want to carve him up.

Ladies who lunch
Back at Casa Cohen, Kirsten is preparing for a Society Ladies gathering, Seth is sulking (and grounded), and Sandy is trying to make things right - he's looking for Ryan's mother, Dawn. Seth asks again why Ryan can't stay with them, and tells his mom "if anything happens to him in there, it's all on you." Kirsten and Sandy are saved by the bell - the Society Ladies have arrived.

Jail bait
Kirsten is bored - and a little disgusted - by the mind-numbing chatter of the Ladies as they discuss the latest charity party, so she sneaks outside. Seth decides to make a break for it - he's going to visit Ryan in juvie. Kirsten catches him, but decides prison is better than the Ladies. Seth asks Marissa if she wants to join them, but she blows him off - Luke isn't talking to her, and she wants everything to go back to normal. As Kirsten and Seth are visiting, Ryan's nemesis starts sliming on Kirsten. Ryan defends her honor, and gets brutally beaten. Kirsten takes him home for his own protection - but not for keeps. They have to find his mother.

Ladies redux
The Cohens have a dilemma - Sandy's got to go to court and Kirsten has to set up for the Vegas Night party, but they're afraid Ryan will run if they leave him alone. Looks like Ryan will be meeting the Ladies. Next door, Mommie Dearest is giving Marissa a pep talk, all about Luke. She tells Marissa to come along - to the Vegas Night set-up! And guess who else shows up to help (and make amends) - Luke! Ruh-roh! The ladies - Julie in particular - are indignant that Kirsten brought Ryan along (but fawn over Luke). Actually, Julie seems bitchy about Kirsten no matter what. Julie and another Lady go to a coffee shop to kvetch, where Sandy overhears them. He says he doesn't know why Julie is so set against Ryan -- after all, she's from Riverside, which isn't that different from Chino. Julie is mortified. She's saved when Sandy gets the call that they've found Dawn..

Dial M for Mother
Julie storms home to Jimmy, indignant about Sandy and Kirsten. Jimmy tells her about Kirsten's $100,000 loan. Now Julie is indignant and humiliated. Back at Casa Cohen, Kirsten and the boys meet Dawn. She tells Ryan she's turned her life around - got a new job, dumped her abusive boyfriend, stopped drinking, Ryan is skeptical. Why did she abandon him? Because he was always the smart one, the one she really loved. When he got arrested, she knew she'd failed - she couldn't handle it. Ryan grudgingly agrees to give her a chance.

Vegas, baby!
Kirsten invites Ryan and Dawn to accompany them to Vegas Night. At the party, Dawn starts of well, gambling (and cleaning up) but refusing alcohol. Ryan tries to talk to Marissa, but Luke is all glowery in the corner until Ryan tells him Marissa chose Luke (which is a lie). Seth gets distracted by Summer, who adopts him as a good luck charm. Julie bitchily tells Sandy about the $100,000. While everyone is distracted, Dawn starts drinking hard. Sandy confronts Kirsten, much to Julie's glee. Jimmy tries to make things right, but they're interrupted when a drunken Dawn smashes into a waiter and makes a scene. All of the O.C. stares, aghast - rich people don't get wasted, you know. Luke helps the Cohens and Ryan drag Dawn out, for Marissa's benefit. Maybe he's not a total schmuck.

Aftermath
The next morning, Dawn tries to take off while Ryan is sleeping, but Kirsten catches her. Dawn tells Kirsten she'll never be a good - hell, even acceptable - mother, like Kirsten is. Ryan wakes up in time to see his mom leave. Kirsten agrees to take Ryan in. Seth is thrilled, and Sandy is impressed. Ryan looks like he can't believe his luck - I guess nothing eases the sting of parental abandonment like a really nice crib in The O.C.

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