It's been three months since Ryan left to live with the pregnant Theresa in Chino, and Seth subsequently sailed off to Portland to live with Luke and his divorced, gay father. With a week before school will start, Kirsten is furious that Sandy has yet to bring Seth back to Newport. Sandy says that they can't bring him back kicking and screaming, because that will only make him want to run away again. Also in the Cohen household, there's a group of re-modelers led by macho man Archie, creating a new family room and re-designed kitchen, a project that apparently was ...
The boys are back. Every status is quo. Except: Summer won't kiss and make up. Ryan catches Marissa in a clinch, the DA busts Caleb, Hailey bails and the re-modelers are like a wrecking crew. Home sweet chaos.
It's not a date, it's a group hang. So Seth goes with Lindsay, but looks for Summer. Ryan goes with Alex, but would rather be with Lindsay. And Alex...well, stay tuned. That new CEO has a style all her own.
The winter dance is near and a Ryan-Lindsay hook-up is off, on, off, on, off like a light switch. But all will be smoothed over by the time of the big Newport social event. Or not. Plus: Caleb's secret revealed.
Hostilties heat up between Sandy and Kirsten when Sandy decides to help Max Bloom, his mentor in law school, find his daughter, Rebecca, whom was Sandy's first love. Meanwhile, Seth and Zach start up a comic book based on their lives in Newport, while Summer questions why she's been left out. Ryan makes the attempt to unite Lindsay and Caleb after Lindsay tells Ryan she is curious in getting to know her "new" father. While Julie is in Paris, Marissa looks for new ways to rebel and in doing so, her friendship with Alex increases during a trip to Los Angeles to get some...
After hearing about Lindsay and Ryan's failed attempt at dinner with Caleb the night before, Kirsten arranges a dinner that she can supervise. But her presence makes no difference when the hot-tempered Ryan and the egotistical Caleb immediately butt heads and disaster strikes when Caleb collapses from a sudden heart attack. Meanwhile, Sandy keeps Rebecca's presence in Newport a secret from Kirsten after deciding to take her case to court. Marissa and Alex's relationship intensifies, while Seth and Summer spend a lot of time together at Zach's insistence.
On Valentine's Day, Sandy and Kirsten's conflict about Rebecca continues. Ryan tries to make peace with Caleb in order to spend Valentines Day with Lindsay. Meanwhile, Seth, Zach, and Summer head to San Diego in hope to make their comic book idea succeed. But it all falls apart when Seth has a emotional breakdown and he ends up in a lonely state. Marissa and Alex decide take a step forward in their romantic relationship, while Julie returns from her trip to Paris in a vain and futile hope to reconnect with Marissa.
As Sandy continues working on Rebecca's case, Kirsten questions how strong their feelings are for one another. Meanwhile, Seth continues his downward spiral in the aftermath of Zach and Summer's Valentine's night together, while Marissa tries to confront her fear about her relationship with Alex. Also, Caleb offers Lindsay a place in his family, but not without a paternity test.
During a rainy day in Newport, Lindsay decides to take the DNA test and makes a difficult choice regarding her life with Caleb while Ryan helps her through it. Elsewhere, Sandy still wants to help Rebecca with her case and tries to convince her not to run again. But he ends up running with her and ends up stranded for the night in a run-down motel. Kirsten is still upset and confides in Julie about her problems and wishes her marriage would go back to normal and for Rebecca's case to be over with. Meanwhile, Seth thinks he's lost Summer forever until Summer is unable ...
After Lindsay moves away to Chicago with her mother, Ryan is heartbroken and Caleb's confused. Seth, Summer, and Marissa invite Ryan to the local mall to get his mind off things. But things take another turn when they get stranded in the mall after hours. Meanwhile, Caleb tags along to vent his frustration when Sandy tries to make amends with Kirsten by searching for her wedding ring or even a grand gesture that will take her back to when Sandy first proposed. Alex begins to learn that Marissa might not be as into her as she thought. Also, Kirsten and Julie call an ...
Marissa recruits Ryan to help her with Harbor School's Pep Rally Bonfire. Alex accepts that her and Marissa are from two different lives and knows she is fighting a lost cause. Seth is stuck and misses last year's good times while Summer disagrees and tells him it's time to move on. Meanwhile, Julie still doesn't know what she is going do about her blackmailer and seeks some advice from Sandy. Also, Kirsten wants their editor, Carter, to stick with the magazine despite his reservations.
When Ryan's brother, Trey, gets out of jail and gives Ryan a call, the Cohens give him a warm welcome. Though, Ryan knows nothing good can come from it. Zach returns from his trip to Italy and gives some news that he has a new girlfriend which makes Summer curious and Seth is not really sure what to think. Meanwhile, after Julie admits her naked mistake to Kirsten, they both agree to get Caleb in on it for more help, unaware that Caleb as always, has a hidden agenda. Also, the Newport Living magazine is officially launched, but Julie's blackmailer, Lance, makes an ...
Sandy reluctantly agrees with Kirsten to serve as host/auctioneer at yet another OC benefit. Meanwhile, Trey lies to Ryan to prove that he can be self-dependent when he steals one auction exhibit leading Ryan and Seth on a mission to recover it before anyone finds out. Carter reinvigorates Seth and Zach's comic book dream, much to the annoyance of Summer. Also, Marissa moves in with the Cohens, unwilling to stand anymore of living with Julie or Caleb.
On Trey's 21st birthday, Marissa, anxious to help Trey and Ryan forge a relationship, throws a birthday party for Trey at the Cooper-Nichol mansion that turns out to be a rumble when one girl nearly drowns from a drug OD. Meanwhile, Seth is left in hot water by both Summer and Zach. Sandy wants to continue his friendship with Carter, leaving a confused Kirsten. Also, a distraught Julie shares some memories with her blackmailer Lance, and in the process learns a few things and gains a few ideas about the future of her marriage to Caleb.
Sandy, Ryan, and Seth devise a plan to save Trey from going to jail after he took the fall for supplying drugs at his birthday party. Kirsten and Carter, fulfilling more than their editorial duties, take a trip to Featherbrook's winery for a wine tasting party. Meanwhile, Caleb returns home from another long business trip and questions his marriage with Julie.
Sandy, Seth and Ryan travel to Miami, Florida to visit Sandy's mother, the Nana, after she tells Sandy she is getting married to a much younger man. Back in Newport, Kirsten, unable go to Miami with Sandy because of work, is left on her own to deal with her feelings for Carter. Trey misinterprets Marissa's friendship as a sexual advance. Also, Zach invites Summer to a home-cooked dinner at his house.
Seth and Zach declare war when they compete against each other for Summer's affections. Meanwhile, Marissa is still reeling from being nearly raped by Trey, and refuses to confide in Ryan about the incident. Sandy confronts Kirsten when her drinking problem becomes very apparent. Also, Caleb hands divorce papers to Julie.
Seth and Zach squabble over who should take Summer to the prom and who will meet George Lucas for dinner over the publishing of the graphic novel. Meanwhile, Sandy takes drastic actions with a recovering Kirsten. Ryan starts to piece together what happened between Trey and Marissa, while at the same time, Ryan run into his old girlfriend Theresa. Also, Julie decides to murder Caleb to avoid going broke. But her attempts to poison Caleb take a surprise turn.
Kirsten hits rock bottom after Caleb's funeral, prompting Sandy to finally take action by staging an intervention. Meanwhile, Jimmy Cooper returns to Newport and almost immediately renews ties with a mourning Julie, while Hailey Nicole also returns to town for the funeral. Trey's girlfriend/partner-in-crime Jess bullies him into participating in a drug deal that turns into a shootout at the Bait Shop nightclub. Also, Ryan finally learns the truth about what happened between Trey and Marissa, leading to a bloody confrontation.