The Wife:

It’s hard for me to take any plot that culminates in attending the opera seriously after watching Repo! The Genetic Opera this weekend, a cult film I tried really hard to like but couldn’t thanks to a completely unskilled, overwrought score and a clunky and artless libretto. (The different between Repo! and other cult movies is that at least things like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment have good music and well-rendered lyrics. They might make little to no sense, but the musical aspects of them are accomplished.) The opera made marginally more sense as a place for this episode’s drama to culminate, but I still wonder exactly what business some of the characters had being there in the first place. Like, the revelation that some of these characters were even interested in opera came the fuck out of nowhere. Vanessa likes Wagner’s Ring Cycle? Who knew? Who would even know because liking Wagner is so avant garde?! And Eric knows everything there is to know about Mozart’s Magic Flute? Talking wildly about crescendos and high Fs and movements within arias with the wild passion of my friend who’s really into Brahms? Did they lump Eric with a sudden love of the opera simply because he’s Gossip Girl‘s lone gay? I can’t imagine any other reason why they would imbue him with such a weird character trait. I get that it’s important for Lily and Serena and Blair to go to the opera. They’re society people. They don’t give a shit about the music. They just go because it’s a social event. (And certain operas still have lengthy scene changes that allow for socializing between acts, as was originally intended back in the days before electricity when it was necessary to light all the gas lamps in the theatre in order to perform said scene change.) But it’s just so odd for me to have some of these characters suddenly be interested in something they’ve never previously had any interest in, all for the sake of an attempt to create a hyperbolic, operatic plot line filled with deceit, betrayal and, in proper opera fashion, sexual assault.

By the way, the entire Gossip Girl “opera” is about getting into Yale and gaining control of Bass Industries. I liked the Bass Industries plotline. I did not so much like the Yale plotline.

It’s Yale acceptance day and Blair’s father and his lover have flown in from France to feed her a Yale-themed breakfast on the day that they just know she’ll get her letter. They even spring for a Yale sweater for Dorota and give Blair a purse bulldog named Handsome Dan to tote around to show off her Yale pride. (My sister-in-law pointed out that a bulldog is not really a purse-sized dog. Blair pointed out that she will not call the dog Dan, settling instead for Handsome, which I thought was pretty funny.) This is all a bad idea, of course, to count one’s acceptance chickens before they’re hatched and it turns out that Blair doesn’t even get in to Yale at all, despite constantly having her minions refresh the page as if to make the news of waitlisting go away. Dan Humphrey, of course, is the one student from St. Jude’s to get in. (Nate, it seems, has gotten his money back and now no longer cares about going to college at all. Chuck, on the other hand, has bigger fish to fry in the form of apple-cheeked Uncle Jack. He is so over Skull & Bones at this point.) The only Constance student to get in? It Girl Serena Van Der Woodsen, who decides to lie to Blair about her acceptance, claiming to also be waitlisted, making Blair think that it was Nelly Yuki who got in instead. Serena does this a lot, this whole lying for no apparent reason thing, and she should probably stop. It would be better for everybody. Especially because in trying to protect Blair’s feelings, she also has to lie to Dan, causing them to have yet another petty relationship drama about not going to school together in the fall.

Blair talks to Headmistress Queller, who tells her that because she has the next spot on the waitlist, she will definitely get in as long as she keeps up her perfect transcript should the person accepted turn their offer down. Furious, Blair starts plotting against Nelly Yuki. (“Witch hunts are my Valium, Serena.”) Things only get worse when the new English teacher, Miss Carr, who is fresh-faced but no-nonsense about teaching, awards Blair with a B. For Blair, this is devastating. She can’t keep her top of the waitlist spot with a B in English. First of all, who the hell is this Miss Carr who spends two years doing Teach for America and then transfers to a nice, shiny private school on the Upper East Side? Clearly, she doesn’t have the integrity to teach where education actually matters, so I will not trust this character’s advice on anything for the duration of her tenure on the show. (Especially hackneyed advice such as “You should go to the right school for you.”) Second of all, Blair is being 90210 dumb about this whole transcript thing. One B during your second semester will not ruin your GPA. Especially when the snow’s still on the ground. There are plenty of other chances to keep getting As, therefore completely eradicating that B. Instead of thinking like an actual human being, Blair freaks out and demands an audience with Miss Carr, instructing her that Constance has a free pass policy for second semester seniors, where all grades are bumped up to what they should be simply so that Constance can preserve its reputation of sending its graduates to the “best” universities. When Miss Carr tells Blair that this is not a policy she feels comfortable adhering to, Blair cries out for war. Not wanting to cause any more drama, Serena tells Blair that she turned her offer of acceptance down. Dan gets all upset about this, and even Blair thinks that it’s pretty dumb of Serena to turn down Yale just to make Blair feel better/save Miss Carr from ultimate humiliation.

Miss Carr, I think youve misunderstood. I *am* B. I do not *get* Bs.

Miss Carr, I think you've misunderstood. I *am* B. I do not *get* Bs.

However, Blair’s ultimate humiliation plan still goes through, thanks to Iz and Penelope stirring up mischief. And what’s this ultimate humiliation plan? Why, invite Miss Carr to dinner and the opera as a sign of good faith! But tell her that the curtain rises at 8 p.m. instead of 7 and send her to a restaurant that’s closed! Ooooooooh, burn! I would be a bit put out that I’d wasted a few hours of an evening that I’d otherwise hadn’t had any plans for to stand in the cold and then not be let in to the Met, but other than the inconvenience of the thing, this was probably the lamest diabolical scheme ever conceived in the GG universe. I mean, really? Really, Blair? Really? That’s like 90210 lame. I thought you were above that. Of course, there is a complication to the plan. Just before curtain, Blair gets a call from Headmistress Queller saying that Miss Carr had spoken to her about Blair’s B and both women were willing to overlook this grade in order for Blair to keep her top-of-the-waitlist spot. When Blair receives this news, she heads to stop Miss Carr from continuing her evening of inconvenience. She accepts Blair’s apology and admission of craziness, but then turns around and calls HMQ, who calls Blair into her office on a Saturday to lands Blair with detention for Mission Opera Inconvenience, which puts her back on Yale’s waitlist. This, of course, means war. Or, as Gossip Girl herself cleverly put it: “Gon’ B startin’ somethin’.”

While I look forward to seeing Blair on the warpath in the coming episodes, I do have a question: in what fucking world does it matter to a college if you get detention after you’ve been accepted? It should matter if you get a D. It shouldn’t matter if you get detention. Plenty of straight-A students get detention. And that doesn’t keep them out of Harvard, Yale or Stanford, before or after a decision has been rendered. In fact, I’m pretty sure detentions don’t show up on your transcripts, but I could be wrong about that. My sister-in-law thinks that this might be a special rule because Constance and St. Jude’s have a unique relationship with Yalies, which is the best reason I can find for why detention should matter at all in this case.

As for Chuck Bass, he seeks Lily’s help to get back his rightful control of Bass Industries. Lily offers to help him, taking a break from all the crazy hot sex she’s having with Rufus, by leveraging her sizable stake in the company against the lesser shares held by other board members. For her help, though, she asks that Chuck move back in, adding yet another person who can be uncomfortable with the Hump Der Woodsen Humpfest. Getting Chuck’s company back proves to be a little harder than she had initially hoped, as Jack stumbles into a board meeting, late, with coke still on his nostrils. She warns him to be more concerned about the morality clause as she offers him a hankie. He then calls her the equivalent of a whore and storms off. Despite Jack’s obviously reprehensible behavior, Lily still warns Chuck to stay away from the kind of reputation-ruining pranks that Jack pulled on him. Chuck’s pranks are actually more impressive, I think, some of which include getting Jack caught with transgendered hookers, having him placed on Megan’s List as a sex offender, loading his gym bag with cocaine and actually attempting purchasing anthrax with Jack’s credit card.

Chuck, if you want my help, youre going to have to stop purchasing anthrax. That just looks bad for Bass Industries as a whole.

Chuck, if you want my help, you're going to have to stop purchasing anthrax. That just looks bad for Bass Industries as a whole.

Lily takes Rufus to the opera that night to make their society debut, which angers Chuck, as his father was not a month dead. (Suddenly, Chuck Bass is seeming a lot like Hamlet . . .) Rufus, of course, knows nothing about opera, which kind of makes me question his rockstar status. It’s certainly not a requirement to be classically trained as a rock musician, but, frankly, I think we all know that the greats at least have an appreciation for classical music. (Trent Reznor, for example, is classically trained and you can tell when you listen to his arrangements.) I find it hard to believe that someone who loves music as much as Rufus Humphrey doesn’t even know the Magic Flute, which, as Lily points out, is mostly for children. Lily meets with one of Bart’s lawyers at the opera, and she realizes that a solution for Chuck may be easier than either of them had thought. She leaves Rufus to talk opera for a few minutes and informs Chuck that before Bart’s untimely death, Bart had planned to legally adopt Serena and Eric and Lily had planned to legally adopt Chuck, thus making them one big happy Bass Der Woodsen family. If Lily and Chuck sign the papers, she will become his legal guardian, making Bass Industries fall under her care, and any decisions about Chuck’s future with the company also her decision pending board approval. They sign the papers immediately and Lily becomes Chuck’s guardian, which infuriates apple-cheeked Uncle Jack, who was also at the opera, for no apparent reason. (Which is the same reason Chuck was there, I guess.) When Lily leaves her seats to go to the powder room, Jack follows her and locks the door behind her. He confronts her about her actions and decides that since she has taken the company from him, he will take something from her. As he starts to assault her, Chuck realizes that Lily is missing and that the door to the ladies room is locked. He and Rufus come back and break down the door, saving Lily from being raped by coked-up Uncle Jack. That rape was definitely one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever seen on Gossip Girl, but fitting for an episode revolving around the opera. In gratitude for saving her, a sign that Chuck Bass really is turning over a new leaf . . . he did try to rape two different girls in the very first episode, remember? . . Lily plans to turn control of Bass Industries over to Chuck on his 18th birthday, so long as he remains a part of her family. I’m pleased by this development, especially because I now get to call that entire family the Bass Der Hump Der Woodsens.

Also in this episode, Nate and Vanessa had a totally stupid rich boy-poor girl plot that would have been straight out of an opera had it actually amounted to anything at all. He buys her opera tickets in a gesture of kindness, noting her Wagner CDs, but secretly, she has purchased them as well, wanting to be a part of the high-class world Nate resides in. In an attempt to let Vanessa feel good about buying the tickets herself, Nate just puts his tickets in his pocket and never speaks of it . . . until Dan ruins the gig by acting all surprised that they’re sitting in the balcony for the performance. Gallantly, Nate sits in the balcony with Vanessa next to a woman with a cough, until they can’t take it anymore and move to Nate’s box to make out. Why did this plot even exist? There was no confrontation, no payoff, no anything. Worst. Opera. Ever. Almost as boring and pointless as the Nate and Vanessa plot was Dan and Serena’s half-assed confrontation about what it means for their relationship to not be going to school together in the fall, as Dan for some reason takes it as a personal affront that Serena turned down Yale. You know what, Dan? You didn’t even want to go to Yale until this year, and neither did Serena. So, why don’t you both wait and see what other schools you get into and then make a decision? If you don’t go to the same school, it’s not a big deal. If you guys really love each other and want to be together you’ll make it work. Fuck. Just fucking handle it.

I’m really not okay with so many people in the GG universe being so dumb. I count on this how to not be as dumb as 90210, but this episode kind of was. Save for the Chuck Bass plot. That shit was pretty awesome and actually like an opera.

The Husband:

Man, are my wife and I on different wavelengths this week? I really dug this episode. I seem to do that a great deal with episodes on a variety of shows that pretty much just shove every character into one location and see how tense it can get. I honestly don’t care much about why they are at said place as much as I care about what kinds of secrets and betrayals the writers can cook up. That’s why I dug s1’s nearly incoherently silly but awesome episode “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” where everyone converged on the Masquerade Ball, with or without invitation, and wreaked havoc in oh so many ways (e.g. Nate kissing Jenny, thinking it’s Blair, etc. etc. etc.). That’s why I dig episodes that step outside of a show’s comfort zone and give us emotional clusterfucks (such as beach house/log cabin episodes of such shows as Frasier, What About Brian and Brothers & Sisters). It makes up its own rules, like it or not.

Sure, Serena is lying for no reason and making dumb impulsive decisions, but when has Serena been any different? She and Dan clearly have issues when they are apart from one another, so I can understand their hesitancy to go to different schools, even if, yes, they can technically handle it if they just fucking grew up. But see, that’s why I like Serena and Dan. They make ridiculous decisions and have ridiculous fights, but they do it together. What do the Strokes say? “Alone we stand, together we fall apart”? Exactly.

But yes, Dan, what happened to Dartmouth? Are we just ignoring that? Probably, because I even forgot about it, mistaking his interest in being the usher for the Dartmouth representative in s1 as actually being about Yale. I accept this ignoring of items past, simply because I’m selfish and am giving the writers the benefit of the doubt.

This is basically my roundabout way of saying that perhaps I lower my bullshit meter in episodes such as these, where the location itself has enough character and attitude to make up for some logic deficiencies. Is this a problem? As a television critic, perhaps. But as an avid GG viewer looking for my next fix, I feel it comes with the territory. Because even if I was very surprised to see Lily take such an interest in Chuck’s future between the last few episodes and this one, I loved their joint usurpation of the one apple-cheeked Uncle Jack Bass and didn’t mind that it seemed somewhat out-of-character for her. But don’t call her a bitch, Uncle Jack, or you’re gonna get figuratively ass-raped by her.

Clearly, I’ve lost my mind this morning. Too much coffee. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

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