The Wife:

For a Vanessa-and-Nate-centric episode, I actually didn’t mind “The Grandfather” that much. What began as Vanessa’s earnest attempt to reunite Nate with the family that abandoned him when The Captain got pinched for big time embezzlement became a slow, sad realization that the uppity Brooklyn artist will probably never, ever be beside future Governor Nathaniel Archibald, no matter how much cousin Laurie thinks she’ll fit right in beside the reigning Vanderbilt grandson. And when Nate ultimately chooses to accept an internship in the Mayor’s office instead of backpacking through Eastern Europe on Peroghi Tour ’09 with V, she sees just how hard it is to turn down family ties. Even though she fears that Nate is letting his grandfather make decisions about his life for him, I’m fairly certain that Nate’s well-thought speech about doing things to realize your potential is proof enough that taking the mayoral internship was the right choice. After all, Vanessa doesn’t go to school and, as far as I recall, isn’t heading anywhere in the fall. I’m sure they could find dozens of other opportunities to do that Peroghi Tour, maybe right before or right after his internship? It’s fun to be free spirited and all, but I think Nate’s choosing to take some steps toward a future he previously didn’t have and even if he decides later not to go into politics, an internship at the Mayor’s office won’t hurt.

I will greatly enjoy this opportunity to get doughnuts and coffee for the mayor and his staff, sir.

I will greatly enjoy this opportunity to get doughnuts and coffee for the mayor and his staff, sir.

Meanwhile, Blair is spiraling out of control, fucking Carter Bayson and rubbing it in Chuck’s face, as well as outwardly seeking to commit social suicide by acting like a total bitch and doing scads of other things Blair Waldorf would never do, like stealing sunglasses from Bendel’s. Serena and Chuck grow worried about her and try to out the corrupting influence of Carter by bribing him with a flight to Dubai and, failing that, blackmailing him with some sordid activities he and Serena were privy to in San Torini. When that doesn’t work, they question Dorota to find out where Blair has gone and catch their friend still clinging to the possibility of a future, degrading herself by begging the Dean of Sarah Lawrence to let her attend in the fall. Feeling her life is ruined, Blair attends a party at Nate’s grandfather’s house and continues to air the dirty laundry of every socialite she encounters. Chuck drags her away and she offers herself to him, “to prove that nothing matters,” but he refuses because this girl is not the girl he loves. She later confides in ex-boyfriend Nate on the balcony, and he reminds her that she can’t fight against who she is. She is Blair Waldorf, and to not be Blair Waldorf is to deny herself. He takes his own advice to heart in choosing that internship over Vanessa’s backpacking trip.

Finally, there’s a throwaway plot in which Lily finds out that Rufus slept with her art dealer and they foolishly ask each other for lists of their former lovers. Lily agonizes over giving Rufus her entire list, and follows her daughter’s advice to make Rufus give his list first so she can gauge if her numbers are in the same ballpark. When she sees that his list only has 13 women on it, she hands him only the first page of hers. He later finds the second half of the list and the two have a fight over eggrolls about honesty and expectations and disappointment. Later, Rufus brings Lily a list of the things that make him happy, and he tells her that the only list he needs is the same one from her.

Although Vanessa and Nate hadn’t technically broken up, she disappears before the end of the party, so Nate decides to escort the ego-sore Blair home. Chuck confesses to Serena that he feels like he’s losing Blair, and she reminds him just to comfort her and make her feel safe because, more than anything, she’s scared about no longer having a plan for her life. So he heads to Chez Waldorf, and feels betrayed and angry when he spies Nate’s official Vanderbilt blazer on the couch as Blair, upstairs, begs her ex-boyfriend to stay the night. And that, my friends, is why this episode was not a bad Nate-episode. If he’s back with Blair causing a rift between her and Chuck, that gives him a purpose, which totally makes up for his lack of personality. This is an excellent chess-like move, and I am so, so excited for the Chuck-Nate rivalry to begin. Whatever happened to bros before hos, Nate?

Also, there were some fibbity-fab-fab pieces of clothing in this episode:

  • Blair’s black and white skin-tight nightie? Super hawwt.
  • Blair’s navy and white asymmetrical striped sheath? Amazing. Even more amazing? That pearl-adorned nautical-inspired necklace she’s wearing at the Vanderbilt party.
  • Vanessa’s Vanderbilt party dress.
  • And, finally, I kind of love Lily’s reading glasses. Like, a lot.

Oh, goody! This Herve Leger is only $1,590 at Bloomingdales! Now Ill just go live in a box for a month because thats my entire teaching salary for a month.

Oh, goody! This Herve Leger is only $1,590 at Bloomingdales! Now I'll just go live in a box for a month because that's my entire teaching salary for a month.

The Husband:

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always enjoyed Blair’s storyline when she is finally struggling against a world that has finally turned on her, because it tends to make her a more sympathetic figure who, as we learn, actually is worthy of our pity. But now we have a different put-upon Blair, one who has nothing to lose and is willing to bring everyone else down with her, this time not out of anger but simply through the fact that she is almost on a self-pity autopilot, and has sunk so far that not even the most rudimentary emotions can be found within her. It’s oddly terrifying, but it’s also monumentally enjoyable. She’s like Doomsday in the Superman canon, designed for only one purpose — absolute destruction.

I also thought it was a strange but interesting choice to have Dan and Serena get to a point where they have fought so much about stupid shit (i.e. Dan sleeping with his teacher) that it’s starting to dawn on them that they are just being ridiculous. So when she slapped him across the face, and then giggled at the sheer concept of said slap, it was a scene I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any film or TV show, which in turn led me to, as usual, proclaim in my head that Josh Schwartz shows are always a little savvier than they appear. It’s a throwaway scene, technically, but in my mind it made up for much of s2’s Dan-versus-Serena boredom.