Must... resist... urge to declare "The O.C." as fixed.
Yes, the hospital arc continues to be a dead zone. Yes, Marissa continues to sink to new levels of stupidity. (It's one thing if she's with Volchok because she feels she doesn't deserve anyone better, but actually believing that she could make an Eliza Doolitte out of "Kevin"?) Yes, Samaire Armstrong read every line of dialogue as if her jaw had been whacked out of alignment. (Seriously, what happened? Anna used to be one of my favorite characters, and now I cringe every time she opens her mouth.) And yes, when you gussy them up, Ben McKenzie and Navi Rawat look like they should be the faculty chaperones.
So many things wrong, and yet the lead-up to the prom (hell, even some of the Marissa/Volchok scenes) and the prom itself were so funny they felt like they could have been part of season one. Big Korea, drunken Summer, the awkwardness between Ryan and Theresa, Taylor getting heckled, etc., etc., etc.... lots of gold. (About the only missed opportunity was the Lisa Tucker cameo; while I'm sure Fox forced it on them, they could have had a lot more fun with that than just Taylor asking about Simon's t-shirts.) Plus, Seth finally, finally, finally told Summer the truth about Brown, and while the last few weeks of lying annoyed the hell out of me, the payoff was good. (Now, if in the next episode Summer doesn't remember because she was blitzed, I'm gonna be pissed.)
Plus, much as I'm tired of Ryan's life always veering into Broodsville, he's just not as interesting when he's not losing his shit and pummeling somebody every couple of weeks. One of the better recurring stories/themes this season has been the idea that Ryan's not just trouble-prone, but a rageaholic. He wasn't throwing down on Volchok to defend Marissa's honor; he was doing it because he couldn't stop himself.
Last week, I said I wished the show would just be crappy all the time so I could dump it without remorse. But this episode edged so close to vintage "O.C." at times that I feel like, if the writers could just throw Marissa and Volchok off a cliff and forget about Sandy's career, there might really be a show here next season.