The Wife:

It’s a new year on the Upper East Side and there’s a lot going on for Chuck, Blair, Little J, Serena, Dan and their respective parents. Completely absent from this episode are the obscenely boring Nate and outsider Vanessa, as well as Eleanor Waldorf and Cyrus Rose. I’m sure they’re off on an extended honeymoon somewhere, but I missed Cyrus a little bit this week. Now I can’t write an “inconceivable” joke in this post, and that makes me really sad.

When we last left off, Chuck had gone missing and Blair has spent the holiday season trying to find him – finally getting word that Chuck’s suave and apple-cheeked Uncle Jack (Desmond Harrington) has located the sole Bass heir smoking opium with Thai prostitutes in a Bass hotel in Bangkok. It’s good to know that Chuck is the kind of guy that goes to find himself and dull the pain by hanging out in opium dens. How very . . . Byronic of him. Chuck’s return, while quieting Blair’s fears that she’s lost Chuck forever, dishevels Miss Waldorf so much that she no longer cares for high school pursuits, completely blowing off Penelope and her mean girls in their petty judgments of Little J and Nelly Yuki. Worse, though, is that Chuck’s return interrupts Blair’s preparations for her impending meeting with New York’s (and, consequently, the world’s) most exclusive social club that never takes girls of high school age, the Colony Club. Blair tries to save Chuck from expulsion when he flagrantly smokes weed on campus by sitting in as his guardian, until apple-cheeked Uncle Jack sweeps in to save the day, stealing Blair’s caretaker role and making her very suspicious of his intentions. Now, I decided immediately that I love Uncle Jack because he looks great in a grey suit with a lavender tie and I kind of want to bite his cheeks of his face. But he is a Bass, and Blair has every right to be suspicious, especially because Jack seems to be very good at letting Chuck wander off when he’s supposed to be taking care of him.

Chuck disappears again immediately after his disciplinary meeting with Headmistress Queller, and Blair later finds him at Victrola, which he purchased back with his mighty Bass inheritance just the other day. I think the only thing I love more than Opium Zombie Chuck is Opium Zombie Chuck + Burlesque Dancers. She tries to convince Chuck to come home with her, but he refuses, insulting her for admitting she loved him before he disappeared to Thailand. He invites her to the party he intends to throw at Victrola that night, hoping to further devalue her affections by asking her to grace him with a dance. She returns home for her Colony Club meeting visibly upset after briefly stopping to talk to Serena and beg her to help with Chuck. Ever the social climber, Blair manages to compose herself smartly in a beret and a vintage-inspired rhinestone collared LBD for her Colony Club meeting – a combination that I couldn’t decide if it was more reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn or Ava Gardner, but amazing either way. She meets with the prepped out UES matrons who immediately begin to try her patience by insulting Blair’s dearest friends: Serena and Chuck. Rather than give in to these wicked biddies who never grew out of being high school mean girls, Blair defends her friends and storms out to find the person she loves most in the world: Chuck Bass.

With the grey shawl, I think its a little more Ava than Audrey. Its fucking awesome, whatever the inspiration was.

With the grey shawl, I think its a little more Ava than Audrey. It's fucking awesome, whatever the inspiration was.

Meanwhile, Little J has returned to Constance full time, apparently forgetting entirely her multi-episode crazy person bender in which she was virtually expelled and couldn’t figure out how to not have her dresses burned. (Step 1: Take your dresses out of the trashcan before a crazy model lights them on fire. Step 2: Take your dresses out of the trashcan. Step 3: Punch crazy model in the face.) While hanging out at a Pinkberry with Eric, Little J notices how badly Penelope, Iz and Hazel are treating Nelly Yuki, seeing an echo of how she used to be treated. She tries to save Nelly Yuki from Penelope and the girls by stealing Nelly away from the degradation of having to wipe down Penelope’s yogurt-covered shoes, and then trying to show the girls how stupid their “Girls of the Steps” clique is by sitting at their Pinkberry table and inviting the entire sophomore class to hang out at Pinkberry with them, leaving no table at all for Penelope and her lackeys.

So, look, I have an irrational attachment to certain seats as well. I get feeling a little venomous towards those who take your seat. But you quietly fume about that, like George Costanza would. You do not call your parents and insist that someone who sits at your table and invites a bunch of people to “your” yogurt shop is bullying you. Headmistress Queller tells Little J to work out the issue herself, and then finds out that the best way to show Penelope that she means business is to blackmail her with the information Nelly Yuki knows about Penelope (she’s having an affair with someone at her dad’s company), Hazel (likes to get drunk and make out with her cousin) and Iz (whose secret is apparently very fearsome and unmentionable). By the time Jenny confronts them with this information outside Victrola, she has managed to cover up her roots (good for you, honey) and finds out that Nelly Yuki was only playing her to get on the good side of Constance’s new “queen bee,” which everyone just assumed slightly-less-crazy Jenny wanted to be upon her return. But new, not-so-crazy, best-friends-with-Eric doesn’t care about any of that. So Nelly abandons her after all of her good deeds and returns to her abusers.

Serena returns from Argentina, thankfully, without Aaron Rose. She broke up with him three hours into their flight to Buenos Aires, which I say is a goddamned Christmas miracle. Free of Aaron and fully aware of the waning affections between Rufus and Lily, she immediately gets back together with Dan, much to Blair’s disgust. But Serena and Dan’s happiness hinges entirely on the secret that Daddy Rufus is keeping from the kiddies, and Dan, apparently having the heart of an investigative journalist, will stop at nothing to find out why his father was in Boston for two weeks. He and Serena rifles through Rufus’ things and, after Serena sneaks out to see Blair, having been instructed by Rufus that she is not to be with Dan at the house if Rufus is not at home, finds that his father had been calling orphanages in and around Boston. I couldn’t tell if Dan immediately thought this meant that he was adopted or if he knew he had a missing brother or sister out there, but, either way, the hint of an answer drove him to find Opium Zombie Chuck at Victrola and pump him for the secret. (Only after Rufus accidentally lets slip that he thought Dan may have found out from Chuck already.)

Welcome to my den of debauchery.

Welcome to my den of debauchery.

At the club, Chuck willingly tells Dan the information about his secret brother, noting that the good deed of killing the Bart Bass story deserves another good deed (as good a deed as Opium Zombie Chuck can provide). While Dan waits for Serena to tell her about their mutual sibling (kind of incestuous to continue he relationship, according to Chuck), Rufus pays a visit to Lily, informing her that Dan knows and that it’s only a matter of time before Serena and Eric know, too. She tries to apologize to Rufus for giving up their child – an act he says he’s fine with, he’s merely upset that Lily didn’t feel he had a right to know about the child at all. Unlike Lily, Rufus hasn’t had twenty years to process the information. He somehow convinces her to go looking for their son with him, calling Dan just moments before he’s about to tell Lily’s secret to Serena, insisting that Lily give the news to her children when they return, leaving Dan in a really awkward position.

Eric, meanwhile, reaches out to Chuck at the Victrola party, and Chuck refuses to come back to the Bass Der Woodsen apartment, telling Eric that he’s been glad to have him as a little brother, heading instead to participate in his favorite activity of drinking and contemplating suicide on the roof. (As Blair notes, he has a thing for roofs.) Blair and apple-cheeked Uncle Jack arrive just in time to keep Chuck from accidentally-intentionally slipping over the edge like his poor bottle of scotch. Jack almost sends Chuck over the edge himself by calling out his name and startling him so much he nearly loses his footing. (Does Jack stand to get a shit-ton of money if his dear nephew bites the dust? Absofuckinglutely.) Blair heads straight to Chuck’s side and extends her hand, reiterating what she told him when he ran away from her profession of love at the Bart Bass wake: she’ll always be there for him. She isn’t going anywhere. After screaming a Brando-esque cry to the gods that he is, indeed, Chuck Bass, a subdued Chuck takes Blair’s hand and comes down from the ledge. She unwillingly hands Chuck over to Jack’s custody, telling the man flat out that she doesn’t trust him and delivering the mysterious ultimatum that Chuck Bass can not know what happened on New Year’s. I’ll tell you what, gang, I can’t wait to find out.

Im going to eat this mans cheeks.

I'm going to eat this man's cheeks.

Some costuming notes:

  • Other than Blair’s chic black Colony Club ensemble, I also loved her steely blue tweed overcoat from this episode.
  • Iz’s white wool coat with the amazingly intricate black frogs down the front is stunning.
  • Little J needs to get over her lemur eye fetish.
  • There is never enough Sweater Rufus Humphrey. Sweater Rufus is the best Rufus, always and forever.

(Husband Note: I vote for Drunk Suicidal Robert Pattinson Hair Chuck.)

The Husband:

I should really stop underestimating the show, which I seem to keep doing despite my utter respect for pretty much everything in the world of GG. When Nelly Yuki seemed in this episode to revert back to her nice s1 self (pre-Blair fucking with her life in order to mess up her SAT scores), I just chalked it up to the writers feeling that they needed to restart her character, that enough time had passed between the last episode of GG and now, and that Nelly Yuki had so little screen time so far this season that we wouldn’t really notice that she stopped being a bitchy “Girl of the Steps.” In other words, I’m fine in accepting sudden changes for distant supporting characters, because that, in essence, is their job.

But when she reveals her true intentions at the end of the episode regarding all of her “nice” actions, I realized…goddamn it…that I had done it again. I had underestimated the writers. She was still a brainiac-turned-shallow bitch. Aside from the fact that the show insists that Serena killed somebody, which she didn’t, and that Lily’s mother could go from psycho bitch in s1 to the nice woman we met in the Hamptons at the beginning of s2, the writers and showrunners of GG don’t play fast and loose with their characters’ motivations, and that they treat the audience as if they are intelligent and savvy.

And I’m glad that Zap2It’s TV Gal had both her wishes granted – for Serena to ditch Aaron in South America (done!) and for Chuck to stop with the wild histrionics (Opium Zombie Chuck is a complete 180 from Drunk Funeral Chuck). I hope that the lack of Aaron doesn’t lead to less screentime for Cyrus Rose, not because I want to write references to The Princess Bride (as my wife is wont to do), but because I really really like the Cyrus and Eleanor stuff.

And I want to reference A Goofy Movie and The Incredibles. “I’m not happy, Bob. Not. Happy.”

As far as episode titles go, my wife pointed out that “In The Realm Of The Basses” doesn’t work nearly as well as far as cleverness is concerned as, say, “The Dark Night” or “Desperately Seeking Serena” or “Chuck In Real Life,” but I have a bigger problem in the reference itself. The film In The Realm Of The Senses, to which it refers, is a crazy Japanese movie that is pretty much two hours of explicit simulated sex (and one very illuminating egg trick) and then a graphic and bloody murder/castration sequence. What kind of message is Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage promoting to young, impressionable teenage girls?