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The O.C./The Chrismukk-huh?
The Chrismukk-huh? is the seventh episode of the fourth season of The O.C., and the eighty-third episode overall. When Ryan and Taylor fall off the roof, their subconscious places them in an "alternate universe" which they must fix before they can wake up in the real world.
Special Guest Star: Chris Pratt (Winchester)
On the eve of Chrismukkah, Ryan finds a long rerouted letter from Marissa which forces him to heavily rethink his relationship with Taylor. When she comes over to give him a George Foreman grill and invite herself over to the Cohens' dinner, he rejects her soundly and goes back to work hanging lights and plastic reindeer on the roof. Taylor follows him, but the ladder she's standing on falls away from the roof while she and Ryan fight over the gift. Ryan attempts to catch her, but falls as well. He survives the fall, but Taylor pushes him away and runs off. But, something is clearly amiss. When Ryan goes into the pool house, he finds that his room has suddenly been transformed into an exercise room and that Kirsten doesn't know who he is.
Ryan convinces Kirsten that he's a friend of Seth's and she throws him out of the house. He heads to the comic book store in the mall, where he finds Julie doing a photo op for the media about her program for the homeless (she gives him a voucher for a mission, assuming he's a street urchin). In the comic book store, he finds Seth being hassled by Luke's obnoxious little brothers but Seth doesn't know him either. He also sees Summer trying on a wedding dress and Sandy, the recently elected mayor of Newport, in a press conference. Sandy, of course, has no idea who he is either.
In the "real world," Ryan and Taylor are shown in coma-like states in a hospital with Kirsten looking over them. Taylor manages to find Ryan in the "parallel world" and explain what's going on. She tells him that because they're in a parallel universe, they have to fix some kind of problem before they'll be able to return to their normal world, like in Quantum Leap. While they go off to solve the problems of Bizarro Seth and Summer, Sandy and Seth in the real world attempt to stimulate them by bringing Chrismukkuh to the hospital room.
Taylor starts to stalk Parallel Summer and finds that her fiancé, "Chester," is cheating on her in a very indiscreet fashion. Meanwhile, Ryan attempts to find Seth at his home but only finds Kirsten and her husband Jimmy Cooper. He goes off in search of Seth (who is said to be stalking Summer) while Taylor finds Sandy and Julie in a similar unusual relationship. Worse yet, she finds that Che is sleeping with Julie. She also discovers that in this reality, Marissa isn't dead. Taylor delivers this news to Ryan in the diner, to which he responds by considering not returning to the real world if Marissa is alive in the fake one.
Ryan races to the airport in order to meet up with Marissa, who is supposedly coming home from Berkeley shortly after his conversation with Taylor. When he reaches out to a girl wearing a Berkeley sweatshirt around her waste, he finds that it's actually Kaitlin, who is the youngest Freshman at Berkeley. She tells him that Marissa overdosed in an alleyway in Tijuana three years ago. Ryan realizes that Marissa's death isn't his fault and that if anything he gave her three extra years. He accepts his rightful duty to set the universe right and accompanies Taylor to the party, where they attempt to straighten things out with Kirsten and Seth first. When Ryan goes off in search of Seth, Taylor discovers that in this world, she does exist but has switched genders.
After successfully convincing Seth that Ryan is from a parallel universe and Kirsten that Sandy is miserable without her, Taylor and Ryan reconvene to remove the obstacles of "Chester" and Julie. The two manage to lock Julie and Che in the master bathroom while they work on getting the wayward couples back together through deceit and manipulation. They succeed to bring the four together and Taylor succeeds in calling her mom a bitch, which sends her back into the real world. But, before she goes back, the alternate dinner guests discover her ruse and Ryan is left alone trying to bring them all back together. He explains that in their normal personas, they saved his life several times over and that the only way they'll truly be happy is by being themselves and not attempting to distance themselves from that.
But, it turns out that Ryan and Taylor's supposition that their mission was to bring Sandy and Kirsten and Seth and Summer back together. In reality, Ryan's mission was to get on with his life and accept Marissa's death. He's sent back to the real world when he reads the letter on the beach and says goodbye to Marissa once and for all.
- Paranoid Android by Sia Furler: The song that plays when Ryan is in the airport talking to Kaitlin, thinking that she would be Marissa, is a cover of the song of "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead, off their album OK Computer. The covered version is by Sia Furler, an Australian pop singer who formerly sang in the band Zero 7. This version of the song first appeared on Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads, a tribute album released in 2006. Incidentally, Alex Greenwald, singer for Phantom Planet, also appeared on this album.
- Into Dust by Ashtar Command: From the scene where Ryan reads the letter from Marissa on the beach to the end of the episode, the song "Into Dust" plays. The song was originally performed by dream pop duo Mazzy Star and appears on the band's album, So Tonight That I Might See. It was also the song playing when Ryan finds Marissa in the alleyway in Tijuana in the earlier episode of the OC. The song was covered by Ashtar Command, an unsigned band featuring a former member of Billy Corgan's touring band. The song was released on the series' 6th soundtrack.
- Marissa: Marissa is at the center of the drama involving the alternative families. The reason why their lives atrophied was because they couldn't move on when she overdosed three years prior to the events of this episode. This leads Ryan to finally let go and say goodbye to her. It also opens the likelihood of him accepting Taylor as his new love interest.
- 1x07 - The Escape: The event that killed Marissa in the alternate universe happened in the first season. When the kids went to Tijuana, Marissa discovered that her boyfriend at the time, Luke, was cheating on her and overdosed on a combination of tequila and painkillers. The only reason why she survived, of course, is because Ryan found her and brought her to a hospital.
- Parallel Theme Song: To further drive home the idea of most of the episode taking place in a "parallel" version of the O.C., the opening theme is a cover of "California" by Mates of State, rather than the usual version by Phantom Planet. The song appears on the 6th O.C. Mix.
Behind the Scenes
Allusions and References
- It's a Wonderful Life: Although not directly referenced, the plot of this episode borrows heavily from the Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life. In the film, Stewart's character contemplates suicide, thinking that the town he lives in would be better off without him. However, an angel named Clarence shows Stewart what life would be like if he had never existed, which turns out to be far worse than he had imagined.
- Jack Bauer: Jack Bauer is the main character from FOX's real-time crime drama, 24. Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is an agent for the Los Angeles branch of the Counter-Terrorism Unit. He is often depicted doing whatever is necessary to complete his objective, including shoot heroin to infiltrate a drug ring and kill a superior by order of a terrorist with a deadly biological weapon.
- Caitlin: Wow, very "Jack Bauer" of you.
- Ryan: Has anyone ever said no to you?
Taylor: Once. And I pushed him off the roof.
(Ryan gives Taylor a concerned look.)