The Husband:

In this week’s episode, Gossip Girl takes a page out of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ canon and goes all Les Liaisons Dangereuses on us as Blair and Chuck decide to band up together to seduce and destroy poor little Vanessa. Why? Because Vanessa still has the upper hand on Blair – thanks to the pictures she has of that whole royal partial-incest deal with Blair’s ex Marcus – and is using it to lightly blackmail Blair into supporting a charity that would save a bar known as the Brooklyn Inn from being taken over. Vanessa, nobody blackmails Blair and gets away with it.

Blair recruits Chuck to pretend to buy up the bar, seduce Vanessa and then humiliate her, but almost immediately he decides to back out, so like the Marquise de Merteuil before her (or, if you’d prefer, Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions), Blair ups Chuck’s prize to include her very own body.

Come on, itll be just like that movie with Ryan Phillipe! Itll be fun!

Come on, it'll be just like that movie with Ryan Phillippe! It'll be fun!

Ah…but what Blair didn’t count on what Chuck starting to have feelings for Vanessa – basically his polar opposite both socially and personality-wise – and as soon as he proposes to buy up the bar, we start to see little pieces of Chuck’s shield chip away, revealing somebody almost resembling a human being. This is never more apparent then when Bart, who rejects Chuck’s investment in the bar outright, begins to tear his son apart insult-by-insult (“Letting people down is your forte,” for instance), and we soon see that Chuck, this suave and irresistible monster, now has absolutely nobody to confide in. Chuck wants love just like everybody else.

Blair, jealous of that gleam in Chuck’s eye whenever he talks to Vanessa, decides to delete all of Vanessa’s evidence of the royal incest and tell Chuck the following:

“Bet’s off…I’m calling it on account of boredom.”

She is satisfied with the small amount of public humiliation she brings Vanessa’s way, and later makes good on her wager with Chuck and offers up her body to him. But Chuck isn’t biting, and he turns the tables on her, reversing the test earlier this season that Blair had for Chuck – to simply be able to say “I love you.” Now that Blair can’t say it to him, he rejects her outright, saying that he’s been chasing her for too long, and now it’s her turn to chase him. Burrrrrrn…

But now that Chuck really does care about saving the bar, Vanessa and the bar owner want nothing to do with him, and as he walks away from the bar with his tail between his legs, Vanessa watches from the shadows, hurt but unwilling to put up with any more of his shit.

In Humphrey Land, Dan is proud to finally call himself One Of The Boys (even being able to say “Sweet, brah” over the phone), as he is now friendlier with Nate and is also an alternate for the St. Jude’s men’s soccer team. Hoping to prove to his sister that he’s not only just friends with girls – yes, you are, Dan – he meets up with Nate at the park for some soccer practice, but not before stopping by Nate’s house and discovering that the Archibald residence has been seized and that Nate is squatting. Hoping to keep this quiet, he invites Nate over to Chez Humphrey for some good old-fashioned family time – Nate’s mother is avoiding all responsibility in the Hamptons – and some good Rufus-made supper. But the truth comes out, and Nate, acting with an entirely new kind of energy, huffs out in a storm, declaring that he doesn’t want to be anybody’s charity case. Bit of Chuck Bass in you there, huh, Nate? In the end, he relents and realizes that Dan is a better friend than Chuck (and definitely Blair) will ever be.

Up in Van Der Woodsen Land, Bart and Lily decide to put down some ground rules re: their respective children, as right around the corner is their housewarming party and, as Bart describes oh-so-coldly, “our debut as a family.” Chuck and Serena immediately rage against the rules, but it’s Serena who takes a stand against Bart, misbehaving and complaining directly to his face. (The rule she really hates is one that I can’t entirely relate to: not being able to go out on weeknights.) After reminiscing about all her mother’s past husbands, Serena decides to take a stand at the housewarming party and humiliate both Lily and Bart in front of an InStyle reporter, bringing all of their family problems right into the open. (She’s also pissed that Bart would so thoroughly convince Eric – welcome back, Eric! – not to bring his new boyfriend to the party as it would put too much pressure on the poor suicidal gay child.)

Mr. and Mrs. Bass der Woodsen host their family debut. No gay boyfriends allowed.

Mr. and Mrs. Bass der Woodsen host their family debut. No gay boyfriends allowed.

Lily later forgives Serena for the public embarrassment (just like when Bree forgave Lynette so quickly on this week’s Desperate Housewives for a similar humiliation, I wonder what it would take to truly piss off these women) because she feels it’s basically her own damn fault for being such a distant mother for so many years (as Eric pointed out, the Van Der Woodsen ringtone for Lily was “Since You’ve Been Gone”) and since Bart had already halted the InStyle story from happening. While I think that Lily should take her daughter to task a little more for something so mortifying, I appreciate what I’ve always appreciated about her – that deep down there is still some good, still the sympathetic wild child Rufus fell in love with decades earlier, and she is able to let it peek through every now and then. (Unlike Bart Bass, who is a truly despicable character.)

Another great week for GG, although when I heard about the Blair/Chuck/Vanessa storyline I was hoping for something a little more…juicy and naughty. Still, the characters are back to feeling like themselves again, and I’m really liking how the show is getting smarter and smarter in its storytelling. I did rue the lack of a Jenny storyline, but that seems to be covered next week, which from the ads appears to chronicle a battle between Little J (looking all edgy and Sienna Miller) and Eleanor Waldorf over nothing less than fashion itself.

The Wife:

Since my husband provided such a thorough recap of this week’s Dangerous Liaisons-infused GG, I’ll point simply to a few moments I truly enjoyed. In the Dangerous Liaisons plot, there were some moments where I realized that Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick have exactly the same vocal tenor as actors Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe, who play the equivalent characters in the DL adaptation, Cruel Intentions. I’d like to think that someone somewhere in a CW writing room noticed that, too, and thought that this plot choice would be perfect for Meester and Westwick.

I also liked CW’s little meta-dig at the major networks who don’t count the ratings of Gossip Girl’s largely online audience when Eric and Serena lament a time when they weren’t allowed to watch TV on school nights: “Who watches TV on TV anymore, anyway?” GG is a cult show, certainly, but if the Big 4 could only see the kind of hits the CW’s programming gets online, they’d certainly be scared about how well the network does there. Perhaps this comment is also a bit of repentance for the low ratings GG pulled when, in a post-strike ratings stunt last year, CW pulled the last new episodes of the GG season from online. No one tuned in to catch them on air, because GG viewers are a savvy, tech-loving bunch who’d rather catch episodes online when they want to, not when the networks tell them they should be watching.

My favorite Blairism of the night, uttered while scolding one of her underlings about her attire:

Underling:  I’m sorry. I, I didn’t realize –
Blair: That tights are not pants?!

No, no they’re not pants. Tights are not pants. Thank you, Blair, for being the protector of quality, taste and style. I’d like to see Blair host that show with Tim Gunn, just once.

Finally, my absolute favorite thing about this episode was the mini music video advertising the greatness that is Chuck Bass, set to Britney Spears’ “Womanizer.” Why, oh, why, isn’t this the official video for that song???? In case you passed it up when you were speeding through commercials, here it is:

Hate to love him? Love to hate him? I don’t know what these people are talking about. For me, Chuck Bass is pure love.

40% orange trousers, 60% awesome.

Chuck Bass: 40% orange trousers, 60% awesome.