The Final Scene.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. A construction
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. It's not specified.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. This was the very final scene, in the very final episode (#16), in the final season (4th): "The End Isn't Near, It's Here."
In short, the last scene viewers saw before The O.C. ended forever.
In a flash-forward to the future, we see a construction site. Ryan, now a successful architect, walks out of a building his crew is putting up, talking on the phone about how the project is coming along.
Suddenly he stops and looks across the street. He sees a kid who looks a lot like Ryan did, way back in the days before Sandy Cohen rescued him from the bad streets of Chino. In fact, the shot of the kid includes many of the same elements we saw in the pilot episode when Ryan had been thrown out of his house and was desperately trying to phone for help: there are pay phones, a bicycle and a concrete block wall, all echoing the elements in that original scene.
Ryan takes a closer look, and sees that the kid looks miserable - he definitely is dealing with some serious problems.
Ryan hesitates, then calls out: "Hey kid! Do you need some help?"
Sandy Cohen has succeeded in teaching his "Good Samaritan" values to Ryan - who now is willing to reach out to someone else in need.
The boy looks
up at him, somewhat skeptically. And the show ends.
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. At the time the scene was filmed, it was an actual construction site. Now (as of mid-2007), the project is almost finished. It is a 3-story, 57,000 square foot office building.
(I shot the photos below in mid-2007. The first is looking north/northwest at Ryan's building.)
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. It should surprise no one that the final location is to be found in the South Bay area, where so much of The O.C. was filmed... This construction site is only about two miles north of the Redondo Beach Marina.
You'll find it in Manhattan Beach, at 330 S. Sepulveda Blvd (at Longfellow Drive), about midway between the Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach Piers, and about three or four blocks east from the beach.
The new building is bordered by Sepulveda on the west, Kuhn Drive on the east, and Longfellow on the south. To the north is the Manhattan Car Wash. That corner is three blocks north of Artesia Blvd. (Note that Sepulveda Blvd is renamed Pacific Coast Highway south of Artesia.)
A sign out front says it will be the new HQ for Skechers shoes.
They used the south side of the new building (even though I believe the west side will actually be the front). The camera was facing north when it shot Ryan coming out of the building.
The kid on the bike was sitting on a wall in a parking lot right across the street - on the south side of Longfellow. It's the rear parking lot to a RE/Max Realty, another office building (which looks a lot like the newly built one).
(In this photo, below, we are looking south/southeast, across the street, at the general area where the kid was sitting.)
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. Any time you're looking for a location from The O.C., it's best to start looking around the Redondo/Hermosa/Manhattan Beach area. Their studio is in Manhattan Beach, and most of the time, if the scene only requires a generic background, the producers will usually stick close to home. Look at aerial photos of the South Bay, and you can always find a number of new buildings under construction, so there seemed to be no reason for them to travel a long way to find one.
So, it was time to start looking at the Live Local aerial photos of the South Bay to try to find it. Fortunately, most of these aerial photos were shot around the same time that The O.C. was filming, so I knew the chances were good that it would still look like a construction site in the photos.
Also, I had a number of pretty good clues to go on. Freeze-frame that final scene, and you can see what appears to be the red-tiled roof of a Mediterranean home sticking up over a white wall, across the street to the right of the building. And that wall itself had a few notable features, such as a blunted corner, flat-topped posts, and and a grassy slope below it.
Still, I looked
for a long time without finding it. The South Bay is a large area to cover.
But when I compared the aerial photos of the Sepulveda/Longfellow corner
to the screencaps from that final show, all of the elements matched: the
blunted wall, the grassy slope, the red tile roof on the other side. The
photo showed just an empty lot (and some construction equipment) where
the building should be, but when I went there in person to double-check,
the building that had been built there perfectly matched the one Ryan is
seen walking from in the final scene.
On the other hand, I think the producers "cheated" just a little on the shot of the kid across the street.
It didn't surprise me that they had moved in the almost identical pay phones, and an identical bike, to match the original Chino scenes. But it also appears that they probably moved in the gray block wall that the kid was sitting on.
There is a wall there, but it is a solid white wall (not a gray block wall), and it looks higher than the one the kid was sitting on. I assume that they wanted the final scene to bookend perfectly with that first pilot scene in "Chino", so they re-created the look by adding the pay phones, the bike and the wall, which perfectly matched the wall in that original "Chino" shot in Sun Valley. Take a look at the results:
Compare these two photos (below) from the pilot episode...
...with the photo (below,) from the final episode of The O.C.
But, hey!, it worked. Manhattan Beach is a pretty long way from Sun Valley, but they succeeded in making the new scene look familiar enough to grab our subconscious memories... so that we immediately thought of a young Ryan when we saw it.
A fitting ending
to a story about growing up and learning to care.
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