Why "The Countdown" Is The Perfect 'O.C.' Episode

Sometimes, you think a TV show can’t get any better, and then — boom! — it somehow steps it up. That moment definitely happened for me with The O.C. episode "The Countdown." As much as I loved the series' poignant first Chrismukkah, ever since its fourteenth episode aired, my television watching hasn’t been the same. Taking place on New Year’s Eve 2003, this classic episode follows the saga of Ryan trying to get to a party that Marissa is attending before the clock strikes midnight. It sounds simple, yet “The Countdown” is the best episode of The O.C., and, frankly, one of the most perfect hours of television that I’ve ever seen.

In addition to its excellent music, “The Countdown” is an exemplary episode because it showcases what The O.C. did so well — it placed many different stories together in one episode, not pushing aside the parents for the teens or vice versa. The O.C. always had something for everyone, and that's more clear than ever on this New Year's Eve. It let every relationship have its own gravity, and didn’t push aside the teenage relationships because they weren’t marriages. Here’s why “The Countdown” will always stand out as a series highlight.

1. The “I Love You”/“Thank You” Exchange

This exact moment happened to my very best friend, and damn, do we still make fun of her for it. Marissa told Ryan she loved him, and he said, “Thank you.” So familiarly cringe-worthy, and yet still so wonderful. Takes me right back to a time where saying “I love you” was complicated. Oh, wait. It’s always complicated.

2. This Musical Moment

“Dice” by William Orbit and Finley Quaye. Swelling music. Confetti falling. A race up the stairs. Will Ryan make it in time? Of course he does, and of course the moment is the show’s best kiss. (Yes, even better than when Summer and Seth reenacted the kiss from Spider-Man.)

3. Saying The Word “Mojito” Over & Over

Phonetically sounding out the word “mojito” is almost as fun as drinking several of them while sitting in a lawn chair next to the pool (and infinitely more fun than the morning after).

4. All Of Oliver’s Outfits

Before Chuck Bass was Chuck Bass, Oliver was Chuck Bass. He had all kinds of suits, plenty of scarves, and some truly dainty ties.

5. A Party At The Four Seasons

I don’t party much anymore, but if I did, I would totally want to spend my New Year’s Eve in the penthouse of a Four Seasons. Ringing in a new year of fun in the lap of luxury? Oliver may have become unstable, but he made the right venue choice.

6. The Swingers’ Party

Sandy and Kirsten’s marriage is something to aspire to, but I can see how things can feel stale after a long time in a relationship. Were they ever going to swing? Of course not, and I love the way the episode ends with them together. #RelationshipGoals

7. Hailey’s Rager

Everyone has that one relative or friend that can throw a party at a moment’s notice (if you don’t, that person is you), and for Kirsten, that person is her sister. Despite the broken lamps and threats of extortion, Hailey can really bring a bash together — and quickly. She was in Newport for what, 10 hours before she had a guest list made?

8. Kirsten's Shaggy Haircut

Kirsten's hair changed a lot over the course of The O.C., but I think this short-lived cut was my favorite. She was partial to the a bob, but something about this one is just fun. It's youthful, the color is great, and those bangs are perfect, especially for an unexpectedly crazy New Year's Eve.

9. Anna & Summer Bonding

This was right around the Summer-Anna-Seth triangle, so relations between Summer and Anna were, needless to say, strained. At this party, however, the girls were at least attempting to get along, which was definitely more fun than when they were at odds.

10. Captain Oats As Seduction Tool

After Anna left the Four Seasons party, she headed over to the Cohen's, where she was greeted by Seth and some talk about Captain Oats having too much champagne. Next, they're smooching! If only getting someone to love you was that easy all the time.

11. Hailey Thinking Ann Taylor Is Passé

Truth be told, when I was 15 in 2003, I was like, "Ugh, Ann Taylor! Ralph Lauren?" Now, nearing 30, I totally am on the Ann Taylor train. Well-priced, nicely made separates for working ladies like me? Sign me up.

The only downside to "The Countdown"? Knowing that I'll never have a night as exciting as The O.C.'s New Year's Eve.

Images: Warner Bros. Television (11)