Season 1 of “The O.C.” perfected the fun use of unlikely pairings, delivering entertaining scenes and storylines by putting together two characters who are typically at odds or who you simply wouldn’t expect to share screentime. Season 2 builds on that in delightful ways, large and small. Even though Seth (Adam Brody) and Marissa (Mischa Barton) were neighbors for years, for example, they weren’t friends until Ryan (Ben McKenzie) came along. We almost never see Seth and Marissa alone together, so I enjoyed seeing Seth pop by Marissa’s house in Season 2’s third episode to pour out his sorrows.
I love these moments in which two characters who aren’t normally paired with each other have a meaningful connection, whether by chance or design, silly or serious. It’s fun, and can give insight into both parties — especially if the people are usually adversaries. Julie (Melinda Clarke) makes a particularly strong half of these odd couples. She appeared on my Season 1 list of unlikely pairings I’m obsessed with, and she makes two appearances below for Season 2!
Jimmy and Julie
Julie and Jimmy's (Tate Donovan) marriage was rocky when we met them early in Season 1, and it fell apart soon after. I admit I was disappointed! Despite their fighting, they had true chemistry that Julie struggled to find in her next relationship. After their divorce, she married Kirsten’s (Kelly Rowan) father, Caleb (Alan Dale), while Jimmy started dating Kirsten’s little sister, Hailey (Amanda Righetti). Can’t these people give poor Kirsten a break?
With these new relationships, the Coopers seemed kaput. But surprise, surprise! In the third episode of Season 2, the usually quarrelsome Jimmy and Julie find themselves bonding over their shared history. By episode six, their rekindled friendship advances to the bedroom, even though Julie is still married to Caleb. This romantic reignition is temporary, however, and Jimmy later leaves Orange County (and “The O.C.”) for Hawaii. (That goodbye with daughter Marissa was crushing!).
I thought that meant we had seen the last of Jimmy, but he reappears in the season finale. Caleb has died, and it looks like Jimmy and Julie end the season officially back together, something I never would have expected based on Season 1. I’m eager to see where this relationship goes when my rewatch continues with Season 3!
Sandy and Caleb
Sandy (Peter Gallagher) is a firm believer in social justice and equality, while his father-in-law, Caleb, is all about power, money, and optics. In Season 1, it’s established that the only thing these men have in common is a shared love of Kirsten, Sandy’s wife and Caleb’s daughter.
But early in Season 2, we see them work together in a way that shows a mature interest in each other’s welfare. Caleb has found himself in hot water for paying off a city councilman with funds from the Newport Group. Sandy likely wouldn’t have had an ounce of compassion if they weren’t related by marriage, but he becomes Caleb’s confidante — albeit temporarily.
This reserved affection surfaces in episode six when we see Sandy pat Caleb on the arm and wish him happy holidays. Such a gesture is rare between the two men and a welcome ceasefire for a duo usually found sniping at each other.
Seth and Zach
As I rewatched Season 2, I generally found Zach (Michael Cassidy) to be a bit milquetoast on his own and thought his relationship with Summer (Rachel Bilson) was a big ol’ dial tone. He comes a bit more alive, however, when he interacts with the most unlikely of comrades: one Seth Cohen. Their friendship begins normally when they connect over comic books in the season’s second episode, but then it’s thrown way off course a few minutes later when Seth sees Summer (Rachel Bilson) kiss Zach and realizes they’re a couple. That new Zach-Seth bromance? It’s seemingly doomed.
Over the course of the season, however, Zach and Seth’s relationship holds more chemistry than Zach and Summer’s. Even though they’re in love with the same woman, which theoretically means they should be mortal enemies, the guys can’t help but forge a connection over their shared interests. They even create a comic book together! Summer and Zach didn’t really stand a chance, anyway, so I was glad to see Zach living his best life when bonding with his competition.
Sandy and Julie
We all suspected Julie has a scandalous past, and voila! Her past comes creeping back in the latter half of Season 2, in the form of her ex-boyfriend Lance (Johnny Messner). It turns out that he and JuJu starred in a naughty video decades before (a “naked mistake,” she later cops to Kirsten), and Lance wants the now-rich Julie to fork over half a million dollars to keep the video to himself.
What does Julie do? She turns to an unlikely source for help: Sandy. Sure, he’s the attorney in the family, but he and Julie rarely see eye to eye. Sandy attempts to help her, but when he doesn’t have much luck, Julie moans, “I am so screwed.” I guffawed when Sandy replied, “I know. I saw the footage.” Despite his snark, the pair — whom we rarely see in scenes with just the two of them — had a nice, familial connection that I appreciated. More in Season 3, please!