With its debut in 2003, THE O.C. quickly became the most popular night-time soap since BEVERLY HILLS, 90210. Captivating audiences with its fresh dialogue, clever wit, steamy storylines, and the mesmerizing power of Peter Gallagher's eyebrows, the series became a trendsetting force in terms of popular fashion and music tastes among young viewers. When the third season begins, characters are left to deal with the aftermath of the previous year's events. While Kirsten makes friends in rehab and thinks over when she'll be ready to return home, Sandy shields her from all the drama going on back in the O.C. Still having to explain her role in Trey's shooting, Marissa finds herself in the middle of police accusations and harsh judgment from the Harbor High parent council. Meanwhile, Ryan is encountering the same treatment. As Seth, Summer, and Sandy try to get Ryan and Marissa back into Harbor, several things get in the way, and it looks like Marissa may be leaving her Chanel purses behind for the tough world of public school.
In this season, each character must carry his or her fair share of baggage, including formerly saint-like Sandy, who while negotiating some sticky business deals, gets in over his head, and risks what he thought was a rock-solid marriage. As the season progresses, there are college decisions to make, with the gang having to decide whether to stick together or split up. Loyalties are tested, bonds broken, new connections made, and in the final episode of the season, a central character's life is lost.