The Wife:

So far, I can easily divide this season of Gossip Girl into things I care about and things I do not care about. I am interested in all things going on at NYU, including Blair’s adjustment to not being Queen, Georgina’s meddling, Dan’s sudden popularity and the Vanessa/Scott thing that, inevitably, ties into Rufus. I do not care about Nate’s extremely isolating romance with Bree Buckley, specifically because it is so isolating. I like Joanna Garcia and I like Bree and the idea behind this plot, but Nate needs to reconnect to the rest of the group of this plot will remain just as lost as its been so far this season.

I especially do not give a shit about Serena Van Der Woodsen and her daddy issues. Her life is a series of bad decisions which could easily be fixed by simply acting like a person. Rather than going to Brown like she told Rufus and Lily she should, she hides out with her friends in Manhattan because, suddenly, she’s decided she’s not going to college. Why? Because she doesn’t know who she is or what she’s supposed to do with her life and she can’t see how leaving everything she knows is going to help her answer either of those questions. And that, my friends, is how you know Serena is too fucking dumb to go to Brown in the first place. I mean, what? I’m pretty sure that NO college freshmen has any idea who they are or what they’re life should be, and that’s precisely why we go to college for four years, away from everything we know, so we can FIGURE THAT SHIT OUT.

So because Chuck talked to Rufus about her skipping out on Brown, she decides to ruin all of his business deals? And pit Chuck against Carter? Serena, you are infantile and an idiot. You do not come between someone and their money. You can mess with their social life all you want, but you don’t ruin someone’s business. Even fucking Tyra Banks knows that shit, yo. Just be a person, Serena. Be a fucking person.

Why are we so bad at being people?

Why are we so bad at being people?

While Serena is having a difficult time operating like a human being, Blair is having a hard time fitting in at NYU, where no one gives a shit if you’re a socialite and would really rather have pizza and beer and watch pretentious films that make you feel superior than, say, getting dressed to the nines and eating sushi and sake at a soiree. Dan takes pity on her and helps integrate her into Georgina’s way-more-appropriate rooftop kegger, only to find out that he’s been Blair’s inside man for embarrassment when she calls all of Georgina’s Jesus Camp friends to the party and tries to tell everyone it’s a conversion party. I mean, that’s pretty genius, and I’m surprised that Dan was able to turn everyone so quickly from Blair’s side simply by saying, “So, who wants to stay here and drink cheap beer with me?”

I feel badly for Blair. It’s hard to fit in when you’re so different from everyone else, but it is about time she got off her Queen Bee high horse. That shit may fly in high school, but college just doesn’t care. It’s good to see her humbled, cozying up to Chuck Bass, but that, of course, doesn’t last long when she receives an invitation to Le Table Elitaire, a totally made up secret society of college socialites, asking her to bring them a photo up for auction at Sotheby’s to secure her entrance into the group. Unfortunately, Chuck needs the same photograph to smooth over a business deal. What follows is an adorable bidding war between Chuck and Blair, which is actually a battle of who loves more than whom in their relationship. Serena, acting like a person, for once, realizes that the invite was written by Georgina, just as Chuck realizes that Georgina was turning his gears as well, via an office assistant she happens to know. Humbled once again, Blair gives the photograph over to Chuck for his business deal, which ultimately doesn’t go through when he decides, instead, to sell his shares in Bass Industries and buy a hotel on his own.

Meanwhile, Vanessa has finally started to get suspicious about Scott’s lies and finds out, after we all realize that she’d make a terrible detective, that he isn’t even enrolled in NYU. She does manage to get an easy confession out of him, where he tells her that he is Rufus and Lily’s son and he’s been trying to get close to the family to meet them. Vanessa convinces him to tell everyone at the auction, but when Scott’s adoptive mother shows up, he simply can’t tell Rufus the truth, lest he break his mother’s heart. Instead, he tells them that he is Dead Andrew’s brother, maintaining the lie that Andrew was Rufus and Lily’s son, and he wanted to meet his brother’s parents. It’s all very sweet, and was probably one of the most loving things anyone in the GG universe has ever done, but Vanessa is not happy with Scott because now she is burdened with his terrible secret. And, suddenly, I don’t think I care about Vanessa anymore.

Stray thoughts:

  • “The only queens at NYU are the ones with tickets to Liza at Carnegie.” — Chuck
  • I love Blair’s saffron wrap top.
  • Did it bother anyone else that Scott’s lies could have easily been confirmed by, oh, I dunno, looking on NYU’s website and checking course times? As well as confirming professor recommendations through In a world where everyone gets gossip via text blasts, why can’t these characters use the internet?
  • OH.MY.GOD. It just dawned on me that no one has received any conniving text blasts from Gossip Girl. Where did the central conceit of this show go?
  • Oh, and there’s some old wounds between the Bayson family and the Buckleys . . . maybe this will solve Nate’s storyline isolation problem as Bree plans her revenge on Carter?

The Wife:

With 90210, Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries on the air (the latter of which I plan to write about by pairing the first two episodes), the CW seems to have finally settled into its groove of airing addictive, soapy teen-centric television that’s imminently watchable. This week’s season premiere of Gossip Girl wasn’t as OMFG as certain episodes in season one or two, but it was a well structured, well told 42 minutes of television.

And it has the bonus of not sucking like last year’s Hamptons-set season openers. The showrunners figured out that GG simply doesn’t work without NYC, so I’m very thankful that the majority of this episode occurred within the limits of the city that never sleeps. I mean, after all, the Humphreys aren’t even living over the bridge in Brooklyn anymore. They’ve spent the whole summer shacked up at the Bass der Woodsen home, tending to matters while Lily is away caring for her ailing mother, CeCe. (In other words, Kelly Rutherford is on maternity leave, so they’re killing CeCe for no other reason than that. I just hope she miraculously survives so that Jenny can have that stupid Cotillion Cece bought her a dress for.)

Serena, on the other hand, has allegedly been spending the summer Eat, Pray, Love-ing it at an Ashram, but we know from Eric and Jenny’s fussing over gossip magazines that Serena is up to something else entirely — she’s actually spent the summer trying to find her father. Of course, rather than normal methods of tracking someone down using various PIs (she only hired one) and other professional people finders like, say, bounty hunters, Serena is trying to force her father to notice her by partying it up across the European continent and having her photo snapped doing as many ridiculous socialite things as possible. Searching for daddy is a good quest, but I have to question Serena’s methodology here. She’s been tabloid fodder for years and that hasn’t drawn the attention of Mr. Van der Woodsen. Why would it change now? All I can hope is that this plotline somehow gets her kicked out of Brown so she can rejoin the others in the city. As I know from a classmate who “left” that school, the door to Brown doesn’t swing both ways, if you catch my drift.

We're all sorry about Privileged, JoAnna. Enjoy your consolation guest spot on Gossip Girl!

We're all sorry about Privileged, JoAnna. Enjoy your consolation guest spot on Gossip Girl!

Meanwhile, Nate Archibald continued his attempts to piss off his family by turning down his political internship and touring Europe for the summer. He met up with Vanessa for those Prague peroghi, but otherwise spent the entirety of his trip fucking around with JoAnna Garcia’s Bree Buckley. It takes these two wealthy morons the entire summer to figure out that they’ve actually been sleeping with the enemy as they are the scions of two rival political families. (Shockingly, the Archibalds are Democrats. Does that seem right to anyone?) How do you spend an entire summer with someone and not learn their last name? Surely, he could have looked on the plane ticket she was using as a bookmark. Baffling.

Chuck and Blair have settled into a happy routine of keeping their romance alive by playing games with each other. They both pick a target for Chuck to seduce, and then Blair arrives just in time to humiliate the target of Chuck’s affection. These two are just a step away from attending swingers clubs together or practicing some BDSM. Actually, I’d love to see them engage in the latter. I just imagined Chuck Bass in a leather mask and ball gag, and it was really funny.

If anything is going to make "fetch" happen, it's this.

If anything is going to make "fetch" happen, it's this.

And then there’s Vanessa, who’s been paling around with Secret Brother Scott, the missing Hump der Woodsen, complaining about missing her nouveau riche friend Dan, chilling at a totally different coffee shop, wearing a lot of boho Anna Sui (hello, Target tie-in!) and, evidently, not combing her hair much. (Seriously, V, how dare you show up at a polo match with your tresses only a twist or two away from being dreads. Not cute.) She’s mad at Dan for his change in circumstance, which Dan insists is stupid, and it is, only Vanessa doesn’t see it that way because she’s embodying someone from a Jane Austen novel. This, however, is all a good opportunity for Secret Brother Scott to get closer to the Hump der Woodsens, attaching himself to Vanessa as her plus one for the aforementioned polo match and going so far as to shake his father’s hand.

The final element to this story is Carter Bayson, whom Serena apparently slept with during her European vacation, but for some reason doesn’t want to admit. So she tells her friends that Carter has been stalking her, which gets Blair to slap him with a restraining order at the polo match, only for Serena to lead Carter on a chase through the woods on a stolen stallion so they can fuck like dryads. Serena makes bad decisions. She’s very bad at being a human being. Just be a person, Serena! Tell people things! It will make your life a lot easier!

Stray thoughts:

  • Okay, GG wardrobe department, you can’t feature three different rompers in one episode. JoAnna Garcia’s yellow one was passable. I’ll even give you a pass for Jenny’s polkadot one. But Serena’s brown, skin-tight romper? No. That thing is hideous. I get that this is a trend, the romper/onesie, but it needs to happen sparingly. And tastefully.
  • I will be happy if I never see another maxi dress ever again, as well. NOT EVERYONE CAN WEAR A MAXI DRESS IN THE SAME SCENE!
  • So, thank you thank you thank you for Blair’s incredible 30s-inspired polo outfit. That mint green dress with the square back and flutter sleeves is one of the most inspired pieces of clothing I’ve seen on television since Pushing Daisies went six feet under. The pink straw cloche was also a great touch.
  • “Now take your American Girl hair and your poreless skin and get out!” — Blair
  • “Well, that’s not fair. Everyone goes topless on Valentino’s yacht.” — Jenny
  • “I’m not Chuck Bass without you.” — easily the sweetest thing Chuck has ever said. I melt.
  • Favorite scene? Chuck and Blair doing a little restaurant-based foreplay roleplaying. So cute.

The Wife:

This finale had its moments, but over all, I think it was rather silly and disappointing. Let me summarize the episode’s main crisis: Gossip Girl sends out a mean text during the Constance-St. Jude’s graduation ceremony calling Dan an insider, Serena irrelevant, Blair a weakling and Chuck a coward. For some reason, this hurts everyone’s feelings and Serena decides its time to declare war on Gossip Girl and find out who he/she really is. I enjoyed the mini Scooby gang scene in which the four plus Jenny try to surmise who GG might be while at their post-grad brunch at Chez Bass Der Woodsen, but their attempt at detective work in this moment was the only highlight of this plot. Serena gets a flash of brilliance and sends a tip to GG, as GG must be in the room with them. Jonathan’s phone lights up, but it turns out he’s only been hacking into GG’s server for months, overseeing the kinds of gossip she chooses to post and what she chooses to hang on to. (Like any good reporter, GG saves her juiciest information for the moment in which it will have the most impact.)

Love Blairs dress. Hate Serenas.

Love Blair's dress. Hate Serena's.

GG, knowing what Serena has been up to, sends out a blast filled with very juicy information about how Blair slept with Apple-cheeked Uncle Jack on New Year’s (a revelation that was totally anticlimactic; I had hoped they had done something far more scandalous than that), Vanessa slept with Chuck and a whole bunch of other crap that basically neatly sewed up all of the secrets the main cast had been keeping from each other. This makes everyone pretty angry, and disappoints little J, who had hoped to earn her place as Queen next year (and thus destroy the monarchy from the inside) by spilling that bit of gossip about Blair and Jack Bass. I realize the nature of the show is peppered with these gossip blasts from an anonymous, omniscient narrator-god type of figure, but to have so many secrets be released at once in a melee of shallowness seemed less like something Gossip Girl would do and more like something the writers needed to do to move the story into closure, as well as set up new dynamics for next season. It was a little deus ex machina (or deus ex text message?) for me, and that wasn’t the only instance of something tied up a little too neatly.

Post-party badness, Serena tries to trap Gossip Girl into meeting her, but is surprised to see everyone she knows show up instead of the mystery blogger. Once the entire assemblage arrives, they all receive a text from Gossip Girl basically saying that each and every one of them is Gossip Girl, because she’s nothing without the tipsters who send her posts. And to announce that she plans to follow them to college, but there they will all get to start with a clean slate, since she’s already blasted out all of their worst secrets. I’m not going to complain about not meeting Gossip Girl in the flesh, mostly because I don’t want to, as it would kind of ruin a major creative point of the show. But really, Gossip Girl? Did you honestly think that pointing out to these people that they are all Gossip Girl was somehow going to change them and make them earn that dear ol’ clean slate? Because it’s not. She’s not saving them at all from the labels she put on them at graduation. Dan is an insider. Serena is irrelevant. But Blair and Chuck, though . . . she might have changed them a little bit.

The Blair and Chuck bit of this episode really worked for me, actually – as did the resolution between Rufus and Lily. Serena tells Blair that Chuck had confessed his love for her, so Blair, on the advice of her mother, suggests that she take charge of her feelings and get Chuck to admit directly to her how he feels. And so she heads to Nate’s post-grad party, where the secret-spilling GG blast will take place, dressed to kill and slowly removes articles of clothing, asking Chuck if he likes them until she’s stripped down to her amazingly sexy shapewear and asking him the ultimate question, “And what do you think of me?” But even though Blair is bringing shapewear back (and really, it needs to be brought back; a good foundation garment does wonders), Chuck can’t admit he loves her and breaks her little heart when he finds out she slept with Apple-cheeked Uncle Jack. After a good cry, Blair resolves to give up on Chuck and stop chasing a guy who will never love her back, even though she remains slightly tortured by constant updates on his European whereabouts from Gossip Girl. That is, until she runs into him outside her apartment building one day, his arms full of gifts because he toured Europe to buy Blair her favorite things as an admission of love and an apology. Here, by the way, are my exact notes during this scene: “Awwwww! No, B! Accept him! Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase???? Yay! He said it! Yay!” I think from that you can safely infer that Blair was about to turn him down, but then he finally admitted he loved her, with those chocolates from France and her favorite stockings from Germany. And I was made happy. Chuck + Blair 4evah.

Rufus and Lily, meanwhile, after some awkwardness about sitting together at graduation, suddenly realize they’re old because they have 18-year-old children about to go off to college. So Lily drops by the Brooklyn loft with some weed she found in Chuck’s room (at least I think it was weed . . .) and a six-pack. She and Rufus hang out and reminisce about the good ol’ days and, eventually, he realizes he still loves her, despite that whole thing with the investment scheme and mutual funds and whatever, and makes her a ring out of one of his old Lincoln Hawk flyers and proposes. It is, perhaps, a little more low-key, even, than a vintage ring, but perfect.

As for Jenny, without her winning piece of gossip stolen from the GG server, she assumes her chance to be Queen and end the monarchy from the inside is ruined, meaning that Penelope’s chosen replacement, a new girl who looks like a tiny Rashida Jones, will terrorize the school. But after being cast-off by Chuck, Blair tells Jenny that she wants her to be Queen and, just as Baby Rashida Jones is about to be crowned with a sparkly rock and roll headband, Blair shows up to coronate Jenny. Because she can. Why Jenny had to look like a hot tranny mess throughout this entire episode, I’ll never know. But she’s Queen now, and she officially rules no more headbands (except her sparkly one) – a rule I heartily disagree with.

This hot tranny mess is your queen now.

This hot tranny mess is your queen now.

Nate apologizes to Vanessa, and she announces that she’ll be at NYU next year, too, making Serena the only person who won’t be in the city come this fall. (It seems that, without his Yale money, Dan will also be going to NYU, although that fact was never mentioned until this episode.) By the episode’s end, Nate announces that he’s quitting his internship at the Mayor’s office because the deputy mayor hit on him (perhaps because he told Gramps Vanderbildt about his affair with the Countess?). He invites himself along on Vanessa’s backpacking trip, as a friend, and a random dude says he’s going with her instead. But seeing right through that guise, Nate is persistent and wears Vanessa down, so they’ll spend the summer nomming peroghi together after all. But the interesting thing in this scene wasn’t any of that, it was the random dude: Secret Hump Der Woodsen Love Child Not-Dead Andrew (a.k.a. Scott), who has transferred to NYU and is lying to his parents about being in Portland, all so he can find out more about his birth parents, or so I glean from the creepy news clippings he carries around with him. I had waited for some kind of resolution with the Hump Der Woodsen Love Child, and I’m glad to have some. That’ll be a good storyline to play out for next year, as we’re unsure if Scott’s motives are purely to get to know his parents, or to wheedle some money out of them/leech off his half-brother Dan’s New Yorker fame.

I’m also glad that Georgina will be back next year, but really displeased with her integration into this episode. While the coda about her enrolling in NYU and asking specifically to be Blair’s roommate was fantastic (except that I doubt Blair will deign to live in a dormitory by any stretch of the imagination), the most deus ex machina part of this episode was Georgina’s call to Dan to simply say that his Yale money is back in the bank. Ex-Jesus Freak ex machina, apparently. I’m sure they’d like to reveal next season how Georgina got everyone’s money back, but at this point, it just seemed a little too neat. Gossip Girl often burns through storylines very quickly, creating drama and resolution that exists within no more than a three-episode arc, but they usually tie things up better than the entire “Who is Gossip Girl?” plot of this episode and Georgina’s sudden ending of Dan’s money crisis. It made the episode seem, to me at least, a little haphazard. I’ve definitely seen better work on this show, and too many good finales this season to count this one among them.

Other notes:

  • Serena is a fucking tool. How does that bitch think she can get away with not wearing her cap during graduation and, instead, twisting her tassel up in her fucking hair? If the show just stranded Serena at Brown next year, I’d be perfectly happy with that because she’s such a vapid dickbag.
  • Nate’s party had some good music. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs rock.
  • Can Nate and Vanessa end up in Hostel III and die during their backpacking trip in Europe?
  • Also, Serena’s been using Carter Bayson to hunt for her dad? Because he’s in Tahiti? Why?
  • I am kind of in love with Blair’s Diane Von Furstenberg Sofia Loren dress that she wore under her graduation gown. French Connection had something with a pattern similar to the pattern on the bust two seasons ago and I always thought about buying it, but never did. Unfortunately, I’m a grad student now and can’t spend money on fabulous things anymore.

The Husband:

I definitely liked the finale far more than my wife, and while it couldn’t reach the high standard set by the s1 finale, what with the wedding and lost love and Chuck’s ultimate dismissal of Blair, I think it worked quite well. Everything it shot through too quickly was stuff I really didn’t give a shit about. Instead, it did a great job saying that, despite the fact that high school is done, it’s never really done, and that even after graduating, your problems are still going to follow you. And since everybody except for Serena is going to be in NYC (and she won’t be too far away in Rhode Island anywhoozle), those problems won’t have to travel too far. And this way, their stories can still connect with what Little J and Eric at up to at Constance-St. Jude’s, as that drama isn’t going anywhere. It’s actually a neat little restart button, and I’m okay with that.

And while I was starting to get super-sick of Blair and Chuck’s will-they-or-won’t-they, I found that not only was Blair’s strip-seduction to be the sexiest thing on this show so far, but their final embrace was remarkably emotional for me. I still think Blair has a long way to go to really get me to embrace her as an actual human being of a character after some of the shenanigans this season, but maybe NYU will humble her a bit. Because she clearly doesn’t want to go there, despite the fact that it’s a prestigious private school I’ve wanted to attend for a decade now.

Now let’s hope that the show doesn’t lose its verve now that college is starting. But since the show was never defined by its high school (don’t forget, we have never seen any of them in class), I doubt it will be defined by college. These people’s lives are too big for that to happen.

The Wife:

I think I’ve found the one episode of Gossip Girl I really don’t like. And believe me, I desperately wanted to like the “backdoor pilot” of the Untitled Gossip Girl Spin-Off About Young Lily Rhodes, but I didn’t. I liked what they tried to do with it, but the execution just fell utterly short. For instance, it made sense that, as Lily leaves her daughter in jail to think about her actions, she reflects on her own relationship with her mother and the night she spent in jail as a teenager. Premise = solid. In fact, the cast = totally solid, too. I like Brittany Snow. I like Andrew McCarthy. I like Cynthia Watros. I like Ryan Hansen. I love Krysten Ritter. But there was something about the writing of these characters that just didn’t work. Part of the point is that Lily as a teenager was very different than the Lily we know now, the one who ultimately fulfilled her mother’s wishes for her by marrying up, marrying someone grand (or several someones, as the case may be), but it was hard to see a connecting point between teenage Lily and adult Lily, other than that their both blonde and like men who wear leather jackets more than men in Don Johnson suits.

So as Serena sits in jail (by choice, in fact, to prove to her mother that she can make adult decisions such as serving her time, which means she’ll miss prom), Lily reminisces on her past. About how she got kicked out of boarding school (Santa Barbara’s Thacher School, which is real and thus I must give unlimited props to the attention to detail there) because she wanted to live with her dad, a music producer. But Daddy Andrew McCarthy doesn’t have time for his daughter, other than to tell the good folks at the Thacher School that she was acting out because her parents divorce was adversely affecting her, effectively getting her back in after a brief suspension. (Sidenote: I miss Lipstick Jungle.) Her mother is callous and inattentive, and her sister had the wherewithal to remove herself from that life altogether years ago, which Lily feels was a worse form of abandonment. So Lily, sensing her life kind of sucks, disobeys her parents and goes to find her sister in L.A.

No Doubt, I have a date with you July 21. Be ready. I will be.

No Doubt, I have a date with you July 21. Be ready. I will be.

Lily finds one of Carol’s coworkers and he agrees to let her borrow her sister’s clothing from her locker (she changes at work a lot because she’s constantly going on auditions) and escorts her to a Snowed Out show where Carol and her boyfriend/not boyfriend Shep would be in attendance. First of all, Krysten Ritter was amazing. Adorable. Funny. Perfect casting choice for the artsy, free-spirited older sister. But an even better choice was casting Veronica Mars‘ Ryan Hansen as Carol’s sort-of boyfriend. Hansen is amazing at playing self-absorbed jerkmeats, and here he was a self-absorbed jerkmeat with a bad Billy Idol pompadour. Genius. Carol wants to help Lily and be a good big sister and everything, but she can’t at the moment because she and her friends are on their way to crash a music video director’s party so they can get back the tape he took from them, which they paid him a good $500 to shoot. That music video director, by the way, is a Van Der Woodsen, channeling James Spader as Stef in Pretty in Pink. And he really likes to do coke. And he fucked Lily’s sister, which I think, if that turns out to be the Van Der Woodsen that Lily eventually marries, IS SUPER FUCKING AWKWARD. Owen and Shep pick a fight with Van Der Woodsen and his cronies, which Lily gets into to defend her sister. Van Der Woodsen calls the cops, and Carol has to bail her little sister out of jail when their mother won’t, opening up the possibilities for a string of Rhodes sisters adventures in LaLaLand.

Other than Ryan Hansen being a dick and dancing around to “The Safety Dance,” not very exciting. And even less exciting was the modern-day prom storyline. Someone might be sabotaging Blair? Well, no, not really, because it’s just Chuck making her prom dream scrapbook come true by forcing her choices to lead her to the dress she’s always dreamed about (which is fab), the date she wanted to have (Nate), the mode of transport and the glittery princess Prom Queen tiara that Nelly Yuki almost stole from her had Chuck not taken the stuffed ballots. He even gives her the key to his suite at the Plaza, because that’s how she wanted her perfect prom night to end. But instead, she ends it by breaking up with Nate. (Hooray! Because we all know she should be with Chuck, the man who made her 12-year-old prom dream come true!) Serena even makes it out of jail in time to attend the dance because her former lover/almost step brother bails her out. I mean, why? Why even bother with the prom in this episode? It was so insignificant, and wholly, completely understated. While I liked the thru-line of the big band at the prom playing “Stand and Deliver,” I have a very difficult time believing that a prom for Constance and St. Jude’s would have looked like that prom looked. We know their winter formal looks a lot more stunning than this did. This was so cheeseball in its attempt to be elegant, adult and understated that I just didn’t know what to do with it. I hate to say it, but I think the 90210 prom is going to be a lot more believable.

If Blair designed that dress when she was 12, shes a better designed than Little J ever was.

If Blair designed that dress when she was 12, she's a better designed than Little J ever was.

There’s nothing technically wrong with the L.A. Lily storyline. And nothing wrong with the grainy film wipes they applied to her memory (which works for me because she’s a photographer). It just fell really flat. And even though there was a lovely resolution in which Serena, sitting with Blair outside prom, acknowledges that she knows her mother had her arrested out of love and concern while Lily apologizes for her entire tenuous relationship with her own mother, there were no real risks in telling either story, nothing to lose or gain, which means . . . no drama. And that means boring. I’d like to see the spin-off succeed, though, because I’m very curious about the timeline of Lily’s life, which was something my sister-in-law brought up last night. The music they chose last night put us pretty solidly in 1986, and we’re assuming that Lily was 16 or 17 then. And Serena was born in 1991 if she just turned 18 this year, so Lily was bearing Van Der Woodsen children by the time she was 20/21. Now, that’s perfectly plausible and all . . . but does that really give her enough time in L.A. to cultivate a career as a rock photographer and follow Lincoln Hawk and Nine Inch Nails around? I had assumed her wild years lasted much longer than this, at least until her mid-20s. If anything, I need to spin-off to help me flesh that out.

The Husband:

I do feel a definite disconnect between the present Lily and the 1980s Lily, and I definitely have a hard time believing that whatever Cynthia Watros was doing would ever lead to some of the horrific displays of behavior and evil that modern-day Celia is capable of (I point you toward the Debutante Ball episode from s1), but I also think I liked the backdoor pilot far more than my wife did. It shows a good deal of promise, and while they might be getting their years a little iffy as far as much is concerned, I think it could be a pretty wildly fun program. They just need to bridge the years a little bit better, because otherwise it’s barely even a spin-off so much as an entirely new show. (Like how Mork & Mindy is technically a spin-off of Happy Days. Say what?)

Or maybe it’s just because I really like 80s Los Angeles movies, like Less Than Zero and, as the title would suggest is an influence, Valley Girl. The city still feels dangerous and open in these narratives, not like the plastic, cultureless meh I lived in for five years.

And yes, I love Krysten Ritter too, but I’ve loved her for a few years now. And she is definitely one of the main reasons I thought Confessions of a Shopaholic was such a blindingly underrated film. (Yeah yeah, I am in fact male – don’t let my endorsement of that movie fool you.)

But other than Blair and Nate breaking up, nothing really vital happened to anybody in modern day GG land. Save that for next week.

The Wife:

I’m a fan of this episode, one of GG‘s better ones in terms of plot clusterfucks, but I still have one burning question about this whole Serena-Gabriel faux marriage thing: why? Apparently, that faux marriage has nothing at all to do with the Ponzi scheme Gabriel and Poppy were running, as he could have seduced her and earned her trust without fake marrying her. So why do that at all? That was a completely inane and unnecessary plot point, and this whole plot thread would have been better off without it.

So about that scheme! Realizing that Gabriel has run off with lots of people’s money, Serena tries to do the good thing and get everyone’s money back without them ever having known it was a scam. She lures Gabriel into meeting her by telling him she’s pregnant, but Dan overhears her post-call discussion with Chuck, Nate and Blair and immediately wants to tell his dad (in Happy Rufus mode because he thinks he’ll have a sudden windfall that will allow him to propose to Lily and send both his chilluns to the colleges of their choice), but Serena begs him to give her a chance to make things right. When Gabriel and Serena meet, she gives him a chance to give back all the money and walk away scot free, but he says he can’t, at which point Chuck and his goons step in to threaten him with being turned over to the authorities if he doesn’t come clean. Gabriel names Poppy as the mastermind in their plan, and so the gang has to form a new plan to entrap Poppy and get her arrested.

Good to know Gabriels the kind of guy who would show up to discuss an unplanned pregnancy, even if he steals all your money.

Good to know Gabriel's the kind of guy who would show up to discuss an unplanned pregnancy, even if he steals all your money.

But Dan can’t keep quiet and tells Lily about Gabriel’s investment scheme. Fearing for her reputation and her daughter’s, she instructs Dan never to bring it up again and that she will take care of it. With her financial advisor, she devises a plan to pay back everyone’s investments out of her own pocketbook, telling them all that the investment fell though – no harm, no foul. Except, of course, for Rufus. She doesn’t want to hurt his pride of denying him his expected windfall, so she sets up a mutual fund for him that will pay monthly dividends of $5,000. Then, only a short time after bestowing great grandma Rhodes’ diamond tennis bracelet on the Serena she’s starting to see as a responsible adult woman, Lily confronts her daughter and tells her to call off whatever scheme she has going to get back at Poppy or Gabriel. Lily plans to let Poppy quietly escape with everyone’s money so that no scandal arises regarding how Serena Van Der Woodsen helped her boyfriend scam her family and friends.

Blair, however, has already gone through the trouble of convincing newly-Christian Georgina to play the innocent pawn in order to entrap Poppy and get her talking about the investment on tape. It takes some wheedling from Blair to get good ol’ Georgie to realize that she’d by lying in God’s service if she helped get a bad person arrested. Georgina plays the role brilliantly, pretending to be the daughter of a Canadian oil baron trying to make her name as a socialite in the big city. Her new found Jesus freakiness plays well into the role of the wide-eyed innocent, but when pressured for a down payment in the wireless Internet service to Africa investment, Georgina has to give up her camp’s bible money (so that’s how she got out of the Catskills so easily . . .), only to see Poppy run off the investment when the waiting policemen arrest Serena outside of the Russian Tea Room instead of Poppy. You see, Serena’s mother had her arrested in order to stop her from getting Poppy in trouble and ruining all the good face Lily had been making – so she accused her daughter of stealing the heirloom bracelet! Le scandal! But Blair thinks Georgina had something to do with Serena’s arrest, and declares that she will never forgive her for this! Never!

Note to Georgina: do not give away your camps bible money to an uppity socialite scam artist.

Note to Georgina: do not give away your camp's bible money to an uppity socialite scam artist.

Meanwhile, Rufus has been busy trying to set up the perfect proposal for Lily, preparing all of her favorite foods and adorning her house with lilies (because her favorite flower . . . is her name . . .). But while Jenny stalls so he can get the table set up, he discovers the investment papers chillin’ in an open kitchen drawer and confronts Lily about why his payments are different than everyone else’s. When she says she was trying to do right by him, helping him get his kids to college, etc, he calls her patronizing and says that he doesn’t need her help. The police call to tell her about Serena’s arrest, and when Rufus questions why she isn’t running to her daughter’s aid, she tells him that she called it in to prevent Serena from causing a giant horrible scandal and ruining the Van Der Woodsen name. To which Rufus replies, “You’re starting to sound just like your mother.” Burn! No woman wants to hear that! Ever! Sufficient to say, proposal called off. And Lily sits around her apartment drinking wine, letting Serena get booked, while Rufus returns home and tells his children to return the ring they bought.

And, by way of tying up some lose ends, while waiting for Poppy’s un-arrest, Blair asks Chuck if he loves her and he chooses to let her go, but she still decides not to move in with Nate. Not because she doesn’t love him, but because it’s not right for them. Chuck does, of course, still love Blair, but he knows he can’t make her happy, and thus ends his bitter battle with Nate, at least for the time being. And as for Georgina, she decides to take Poppy’s punishment into her own hands, returning to the wild side with a call to Blair: “You can tell Jesus the bitch is back.”

This is the kind of Gossip Girl I’ve come to know and love – the kind with scandals and entrapment and the follies of the wealthy, not so much the getting-into-college-or-not drama. I hope every subsequent season ends with a Georgina arc, by the way. It should just be a thing.

The Husband:

Yes, this did have old school GG drama, “the kind with scandals and entrapment and the follies of the wealthy,” but I still think that it’s been missing some of the silliness that really got me hooked in the first place, as well as some of the teenage emotion that connected me to Dan last season. Now, we’re just kind of being told that people are in love with each other without actually feeling it for ourselves, while last year I truly believed that Lonely Boy pined after S over the years, and that his battle with Lily to prove himself as worthy of her family and her daughter held a great storybook quality.

But this is still a very proper plot to end the show’s second season, and while I agree that the fake marriage thing ultimately led nowhere, it’s fun watching Gabriel and Poppy bounce off of these characters, one-upping each other every moment they could get. I also appreciate the way the lives of the teenagers is making major waves in the “adult world” of the Humphreys and the Van Der Woodsens, even if I think the show works better when it’s teenagers vs. adults.

But, then again, The O.C. worked so well, when it did work, when the parents’ stories were completely reliant upon the stories of the youths, telling us that not only is it hard to distant yourself from your children’s problems no matter how hard you try, but it’s equally clear that the adults, in a lot of ways, never grew up in the first place. The final scene between Rufus and Lilly is a pretty perfect example of this, as they both make rash, unfortunate decisions.

You know what, adults of Gossip Girl? Just let Chuck handle it. He seems to have everything covered. As Joel McHale would say, he’s the most intense high school senior ever.

The Wife:

And so Poppy and Gabriel’s Serena-ruining scheme deepens. Serena is not pleased that her new beau works so much, as she’s grown up a socialite so she actually has no idea what work is. Blair suggests that they spy on him to see what he’s up to, but Serena doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Naturally, Blair does it anyway and catches him in Poppy’s embrace. When Serena confronts him with this information, he tells her that he’s only pretending to be with Poppy because she invested a grip of money in his company and he’ll lose all of his other investors if he loses her. For some reason, Serena is okay with this. Naturally, Blair isn’t, so she calls Chuck to help her hunt down and expose Gabriel once and for all. Blair and Chuck work on getting Poppy and Gabriel to the co-op party Serena’s mom is hosting and, when the love-triangle meets, Poppy forces Gabriel to choose between his investors and the girl he loves. He chooses Serena, and she instantly is so thrilled that he has done so that she helps him hustle her mother and her mother’s friends for investments in his internet company that wants to bring wireless access to Africa. Seriously, he’s this close to sounding like a Nigerian prince who needs them to wire money to his account so he can access his father’s trust fund and then he’ll repay their investment threefold, but, for some reason, this whole “bringing wireless Internet to Africa” thing sounds like a great idea to the rich and bored and Lily decides to invest. Rufus, too, after finding out that the gallery may not sell for what he thought it would (nor would his back up plan of selling the Lincoln Hawk catalog reach quite the sum he could have gotten last year when he was touring) decides to pony up for Gabriel’s investment, despite the smarmy tobacco heir’s protestations that Rufus should instead put his money in mutual funds and the like. (You see, Gabriel only wants to steal money from people who won’t be hurt by it, like the very, very idle rich, rather than the upper upper middle class represented by Rufus Humphrey. He’s a con man with a conscience.) But Rufus is insistent, and so Gabriel agrees to let him invest.

Meanwhile, Serena starts to turn to Blair’s suspicions when Gabriel tells her that they met at Butter, which was closed on the night he claimed because Blair had purchased their bartender for the Ruin Nelly Yuki’s Future scheme, and even more so when he claims he doesn’t remember Georgina’s flaming red hair. This whole time, Nate has been trying to secure Blair’s affections by purchasing them a swank apartment in Murray Hill so they could live together between Columbia and NYU, and, feeling that the time she spends with Chuck is a threat to their relationship, tries to bar Chuck from even speaking to Blair. But Blair cannot resist the need to help Serena by taking a limo ride with Bass up to the Jesus Camp Georgina Sparks has been hiding out in somewhere in Connecticut, and so she ditches Nate when he needs/wants/strangely tries to possess her most. But as Chuck heads into Jesus Camp alone, Blair realizes that he didn’t need her to come along at all, and he was just playing her in his war against Nate, and so she steals his limo and heads back to her boyfriend and her apartment, saddened by Nate’s admission that he only asked her to move in because of Chuck. Chuck gets the confirmation he needs that Gabriel is lying from Georgina and brings her back to the city to testify. That might not matter, at all, though, because by the time Serena shows up to confront Gabriel about his lies, he has already taken Rufus’s money and fled his hotel room, with Poppy popping in at just the right time to make herself look more innocent by also wondering where Gabriel has run off to with her half a million dollars.

I love that the Jesus Camp shirts read OMJC, as in, Oh My Jesus Christ.

I love that the Jesus Camp shirts read OMJC, as in, Oh My Jesus Christ.

I honestly don’t give a shit about Serena and her feelings and inability to read or understand people, but I feel so badly for Rufus to be caught up in this situation. Dude is just trying to send both his kids to college and maybe, just maybe, buy an antique ring for the love of his life. I really love that Dan and Jenny went ahead and bought Rufus the ring he wanted to give to Lily, because that’s probably one of the kindest, most selfless things anyone has ever done for anyone else on this show. The Humphrey clan really doesn’t need to lose everything in an investment scheme, so here’s hoping Gabriel’s conscience gets the best of him and he returns Rufus’ money or Rufus finds out in time to void that big ol’ check. I really don’t need Rufus to hang himself with that chunky orange cable knit scarf he was sporting. That would be très sad.

The Husband:

Really, Blair? You can’t deal with the 10.3 miles between New York University and Columbia? That you have such a pathetic concept of what one would be willing to do for the person they love that he would choose, instead, to buy an apartment halfway between the two universities? I lived 90 miles away from my wife when we were both in college and only engaged at the time, and that seemed to work out pretty well. But 10.3 miles? Nooooooooooo…too much time in traffic! And the subway is soooo grooooooooooooss…

Blargh. I’m fine with the rich mentality on this show, but that’s just ridiculous.

The Wife:

You know, for someone whose mother has been married four times, you would think Serena would know the ins and outs of the marriage process, but in this episode, I learned that she’s really stupid. Too stupid to get into Yale on her own merits and certainly too stupid to get into Brown. As funny as this comedy of errors Seder was, it was never really dramatic because the tension upon which it was built was actually non-existent. And I knew it, and I can only hope that other viewers knew it, too. Just because you get drunk in a foreign country and wake up a priest and ask to be married doesn’t mean you’re married. You have to get a license for that, and the signed license makes it real and legal, not whatever some dude says in a church or synagogue or whatever. And because Serena is too dumb to figure out simple process analysis (having been at, like, at least one of her mom’s marriages), she ruins Cyrus and Eleanor’s first Seder though a series of lies and entanglements.

1. Thinking she’s married, she calls Cyrus for legal advice on a quickie annulment.

2. Dan, taking a catering job to help pay for college without his dad’s knowledge, overhears, as he is playing cater waiter at this very Seder.

3. When Lily and Rufus show up for Seder, Serena pretends she came because Blair invited her, which Eleanor thinks is really weird because Blair made it absolutely clear she’d be off doing her own Blair shit. (Which was an actual plot, and thus will be discussed later.)

4. Gabriel shows up unannounced at the Seder, and Serena pretends that Dan is her boyfriend and the reason she left Spain unexpectedly. She has really got to stop using Dan as a relationship crutch. It’s just confusing and, actually, kind of mean to Dan. Serena and Dan spend the rest of the dinner pretending their together, leading Eleanor to think that Dan is officially the worst cater waiter in the world, and also making Rufus and Lily question their children’s involvement. My favorite bit about this ridiculous detail was that Gossip Girl announced Gabriel’s arrival with a rallying cry of “Baruch ha ta ai dios mio!” If my husband ever decides to become more Jewish than he is and I ever have to host a Seder, I’m totally starting it by saying that. Best. Thing. Ever.

Dan! Look cool! I might be married to this guy, but am probably not.

Dan! Look cool! I might be married to this guy, but am probably not.

5. After much confusion at what was either the best or worst Seder ever, Serena tells everyone that she was pretending to be Dan’s girlfriend so that Rufus wouldn’t find out he was playing cater waiter.

6. Lily calls Serena on her shit for ruining the Seder: “You could have thrown in a couple of boys from the lacrosse team and it would have been the Constance mother-daughter luncheon all over again.” And then tells Serena she got into Brown. Surrrre she did.

7. Rufus makes an art sale during Seder dinner and then announces that he’s going to sell the gallery, thus Dan doesn’t have to be a cater waiter anymore. You know, unless Dan wants to work and earn his own money and have honest life experiences that he can write about. Because those totally aren’t useful, like, at all.

8. After dinner, Gabriel tells Serena they’re not married. Which was totally moot at this point because there was no way they could have been. Thus, nothing actually happened except Serena totally ruining Passover. (Although, gentile Eleanor helped, too, by continually seating guests in the empty chair left for Elijah, which is, for the record, inconceivable! Haha! Yes! Wallace Shawn is back and I can make Princess Bride jokes!)

In Blair Land, she’s continuing to have major anxieties and actual real problems by losing her spot at Yale. I love that these anxieties express themselves as dreams about Eliza Doolittle, because they’re supremely entertaining to me. She is instead spending all of her time fawning over Nate, who asks her to meet him at Cousin Tripp’s rehearsal dinner because he has a surprise for her. She believes that the surprise will be her admission to the Jr. Committee at the Whitney, as her new non-collegiate avenue of choice is to become a professional socialite, doing charity work and other such things that make the rich and bored feel good about themselves. But when she arrives, Nate’s surprise is his admission to Columbia, which is only made worse when Tripp’s bride-to-be tells Blair that she was rejected from the Whitney committee. Grandpa Vanderbildt sidles up to Blair and convinces her to get Nate’s ear by offering her a position on the Whitney committee, as well as a bridesmaid’s position in Tripp’s wedding if she can get him to stay Yale-bound.

That Gramps Vanderbildt is smoove!

That Gramps Vanderbildt is smoove!

But Blair ultimately fails at this endeavor, as Nate stands up to toast at Tripp’s rehearsal dinner to announce that Gramps Vanderbildt was the man who had the Captain investigated. Gramps Vanderbildt tells Nate after his outburst that he only turned the Captain in after personally confronting him and giving him a chance to change, in the interest of preserving Nate’s family. But the Captain refused, thus sealing his fate. Nate, however, is tired of lying, and he wonders aloud why Gramps never mentioned this before. Seeing how tired Nate is of lies, Gramps tells his prodigal grandson about what’s been going on with Blair. Nate then turns on her and refuses to hear any explanation she may have. This right here is probably Nate’s best line ever, so revel in it:

“You sold me out for a picture in the style section.”

Post confrontation, Blair finds her way back to Serena for some much-needed girl bonding time, while Nate makes his way back to his best friend Chuck, who was having a strange feud with Jenny during this episode as well as repeat sex with a Russian ballerina (and as Chuck Bass does not repeat sexual partners, this was a very disappointing revelation for him). Chuck tells Nate that he’s a fool to want Blair to be anything other than she is, and so he shows up at Chez Waldorf. Blair heads downstairs to apologize to Cyrus for missing the Seder and to accept his offer to help her get into NYU. How much do I love Wallace Shawn? This much:

Blair: Can you forgive me?
Cyrus: That’s why God invented Yom Kippur.

Word. From around the corner, Nate muses that it looks like he and Blair will both be in NYC next year, and the two share apologies for being dicks toward each other. Hugs and kisses all around. As usual, I’d much rather have Blair with Chuck, but that time will come. I know it will. And when it does, it will be glorious.

Also, Gabriel is still with Poppy and they may be playing some mean dirty trick on Serena. And I don’t care.

Other funny:

  • I may have hated the genesis (Husband Note: or “exodus,” nyuk nyuk nyuk…) for that comedy of errors at the Seder table, but I was pretty amused by it. I just really hate Serena and her problems that aren’t actually problems ever at all. (Remember when she killed that guy, but actually didn’t kill him at all? Yeah, like that.)
  • “Last night’s entertainment. She’s a synchronized swimmer. She can hold her breath for 5 minutes.” – Chuck
  • “No, I’m furious. First, you trash the apartment. Then you run away to Spain.” – Lily, who should be thankful that her daughter runs away to places with such culture! And not to some trashy model’s apartment like where Jenny ran away to!
  • “You’re the wife of the landed gentry and I’m a cater waiter at a Seder.” – Dan, who should become a children’s book author if all else fails, because although he clearly didn’t think about the obviously legality issue of Serena’s marriage, either, he sure can rhyme good! I am poetry!

The Husband:

To be fair, the show doesn’t expect us to know anything about how marriage is done in Spain, or if it’s done differently in different regions of the country. A tiny bit of research would show that, yes, you need to do a whole lot more than say “Si” to a priest, and it’s along the same lines as the marriage process in any Western first world country.

Hell, maybe she did, in fact, sign something, but was too drunk to remember. I can find no info in regards to marriage under-the-influence rules in Spain, but if my recent viewing of the film Donkey Punch is any indication, laws are kind of screwy in that thar España.

But since the show is pretending that we know nothing about Spanish marriage laws, it’s not a mean trick Gabriel and Poppy are playing on Serena – they are, as I proclaimed way before the final scene, trying to embezzle a fuckload of money out of Serena and her ridiculously rich divorcée/widow of a mother, which would indicate that Serena and Gabriel are, in fact, married. And as the season is coming to a close, and the creators were talking about doing a Anne Hathaway-inspired story about a boyfriend embezzling money for the end of the season, which would in turn bring back Michelle Trachtenberg’s Georgina to take care of the mess (after, you know, trying to ruin 17 Again), then I think we’re going to have to stay in the GG fantasy world of unlawful-but-lawful marriages. (Wife’s Note: By the way, embezzlement is definitely a mean trick in my book.)

Fuckin’ Armie Hammer.

The last few episodes have been a blast to watch as far as entertainment quotient is concerned, but I’m starting to drift away from these characters emotionally. Why? I think that, right now, the stakes aren’t high enough, and right now we’re mostly watching rich people having minor problems that could be easily fixed. The show works best, in my opinion, when it really backs its characters up against the wall until they do something either extremely cunning or terribly…terrible. Even Chuck is just kind of dicking around being all mopey and lovestruck. (And goddamn it, Jenny, don’t end your episode’s story by making googly-eyes at the man who tried to rape you when you were 14. I’m not sure if I’m interested in you and Blair competing for the same man.)

And yeah. What were Jenny and her lab partner doing at the Hump Der Woodsen home?

The Wife:

Of all the things that happened in tonight’s episode, the most shocking for me is the following: Gossip Girl is going away until nearly the end of April? What? Why? Granted, it frees up my Monday TV schedule a little bit, but this show just came back. CW, I do not understand your programming decisions. First you cancel Veronica Mars, now this? (Why no, I am not at all bitter about the lack of VMars in my life. Not at all.)

Like every good episode of Gossip Girl (or, I should say, like every Gossip Girl-y episode of Gossip Girl), the plot culminates in a party. Jenny’s super sweet 16 to be exact. After running into Poppy Lipton, who has suddenly transformed into a 45-year-old artist since last we saw her if that haircut is to be believed, Serena realizes she needs to get back into the social scene and uses Jenny’s birthday as a way to do it. But Jenny isn’t a monster anymore and doesn’t want to have a birthday party that will be featured on Page Six or any MTV docuseries that might be called My Super Sweet 16. All Jenny wants is to hang out with her extended family, play boardgames and eat her dad’s chili. But make no mistake: she will wear a fabulous dress while doing all of that. So Lily and Serena cancel the party, only for Serena to put the party back on when she finds out that Penelope is having a party the same day. An unseen war-of-the-parties rages, with every posh face from Constance putting in their requisite appearance at Jenny’s birthday party. Jenny is less than thrilled, especially because no one at the party seems to know it’s thrown in her honor for her birthday, as it appears more like the Serena-and-Poppy show. Jenny resorts to doing the only thing she knows how to do and posts the party on Gossip Girl, ruining Serena’s tasteful society affair with passed hors d’oeuvres by filling it full of drunken teenage party crashers, two of whom have sex in Serena’s bed. The party then gets broken up by the cops, which, by Isla Vista standards, is how you know it’s a good party!

I am rolling my eyes at all of you right now.

I am rolling my eyes at all of you right now.

Also ruining the party? The strange tension between the warring Chuck/Vanessa and Blair/Nate factions as each half of the fractured couples set out to make the other jealous. Although Blair is dismayed that Nate only wants to be friends with her, she still parades her possession of him around like a prize, which angers her ex-lover Chuck and confuses the hell out of Vanessa, who technically wasn’t broken up with Nate until halfway through this episode. And how does Blair know that Nate doesn’t love her in the same way he used to, despite all of her attempts to convince herself that he is now her destiny?:

“He kissed me. On the forehead. Like Chevalier kissed Gigi. Like he was a man and I was a little girl.”

I’ve got to say that Blair really creeped me out in this episode, mooning over someone who wasn’t at all right for her just because she desperately needs to feel whole in her downward, awkward spiral. I don’t like a Blair so pathetic that she delivers all of her lines as though she’s Leslie Caron (who is a great dancer, but, let’s face it, not much of an actress). Though Blair compares herself to Gigi in this episode and does deliver her lines like a young girl, I’d go a step further and compare her to another Leslie Caron character, Lili in Bob Merrill’s Carnival (or, as you might know it, the movie Lili). Lili is a young girl orphaned and brought to the circus, where she evidently doesn’t know puppets aren’t real. As she grows closer to the puppets, she doesn’t even begin to realize that the cruel Mr. Paul the Puppeteer is the man behind them who makes her feel so loved. You see, Mr. Paul is mean to her when he isn’t a puppet. He’s a mean man in general, but he secretly loves Lili, which is creepy because I’m pretty sure she’s 13 and slightly retarded. Look, kids, I’ve been in that show and I know that script and it just doesn’t make sense if Lili isn’t slightly mentally deficient. I mean, in Gigi, Caron’s character is largely just naïve about becoming a whore and needs to be groomed in womanly ways by her Aunt Alicia (Agnes Moorehead’s role, which I’ve played). There was a blankness of expression and thought in these line readings that totally reminded me of the way Lili is written. It’s different than Gigi’s naïveté, which is what I think Leighton Meester was trying to convey; it really came across as mildly delusional. More Lili than Gigi. It was a good character choice, but it caught me very, very off-guard. I want my old Blair back. And maybe I’ll get her back once she learns that Vanessa totally bedded down with Chuck Bass.

Less integral to the party-plots is the plight of the Humphrey family. Dan is all ready to head off to Yale and, what’s more, he’s received a fan letter in regards to a story he’s had published. Daddy Rufus encourages Dan to write back to his fan and give him some writerly guidance, but he’s secretly concerned with the financial aid information Dan has just received from Yale: with colleges so impacted during these tough economic times, less financial aid is available and so young Humphrey gets none. In discussing this with Lily, she suggests that, barring acceptance of actual Bass Der Woodsen funds to fund Dan’s collegiate journey, Rufus should sell his sweetles Brooklyn loft and move in with her. Unbeknownst to his children, he takes the initial steps to do this and a confrontation in regards to the matter arises in the aftermath of Jenny’s party, where Dan reveals he took a call from the realtor.

I absolutely believe that Rufus selling the loft would be in his children’s best interest as far as providing college funds for Yale-bound Dan and Parsons-bound Jenny, but there are definitely less dramatic ways to get financial aid. First of all, FAFSA deadline is June 1st so there’s plenty of time to fill that out. Dan could also apply for work-study. Dan could also apply for one of the hundreds of thousands of privately-funded scholarships available in the New York City area and nationwide. Speaking of which, wouldn’t creating a scholarship in the name of her deceased husband and encouraging Dan to apply for it be a great way for Lily to help her boyfriend’s son AND get a giant tax write-off? It could be the Bart and Lily Bass Foundation Scholarship for Young Artists or something, and they could give funds to artists who work in different mediums (playwrights, poets, novelists, sculptors, painters, photographers, dance, acting, etc.). What the fuck is Lily doing these days, anyway? I’m sure she could take some time to do some fundraising so that artistically minded kids can go to college. Just a thought, Gossip Girl writers. I mean, if the recession is hitting Gossip Girl so hard that Dan Humphrey can’t get an ounce of financial aid from Yale, shouldn’t its wealthier denizens do something to alleviate that problem?

Oh, and that fan letter? That’s from Dan’s half-brother, the missing Bass Der Woodsen. “Andrew” is “dead,” but Scott is definitely alive. On encouragement from Rufus, Dan gives his fan a call, and the minute Scott’s parents see his cell phone light up with a Brooklyn number, they go into panic mode, asking one of the best questions I’ve heard on TV in a long time:

“How do you delete an incoming call?”

This scene was hilarious, perhaps unintentionally, especially with the actress playing Scott’s mom screeching out a shocked, “HE KNOWS!” when she sees the Brooklyn number. As though that was the only Brooklyn number that would have called Scott. Not like it could have been a wrong number or anything or a telemarketer. Nope. A number from Brooklyn automatically means it’s the son of the person you stole a son from. Tres dramatic!

And, in a final note, Armie Hammer showed up this week to accompany Serena and Poppy on their impromptu trip to Spain, which is how Serena deals with getting blamed for Jenny’s party becoming such a clusterfuck. Apparently, he’s been on the show before as one of the businessmen that Georgina and Serena swindled at a bar last season, but I’m willing to bet we’ve never actually seen his face. I think Mr. Hammer really sucks on Reaper, but in his few lines on Gossip Girl I feel like he’s better cast here. The intrinsic smarminess works a bit better. And he’s got gigolo hair, which is way better than his Wall Street hair on Reaper. We’ll see how he does on the Spanish adventure when Gossip Girl decides to return in April.

Some other random things:

  • I’m kind of in love with Blair’s purple cloche.
  • I am also kind of in love with her periwinkle sweater and pink tweed skirt.

  • Kelly Rutherford has the shiniest, prettiest maternity tops I’ve ever seen on TV. Her best pregnancy cover-up in this episode? A strategically placed knee.

  • Eric also got a bad haircut, but nothing is as bad as giving Poppy Eve Ensler’s hair, which doesn’t even look good on Eve Ensler.

  • I’m sorry, Gossip Girl universe, but NO ONE takes clothes off the mannequins. If someone from corporate walked by, that store would be screwed.

  • Poppy’s party shirt just contributed to her reincarnation as a middle-aged woman. Beige? With bobbles? Ugh. Hideous.
    Truly, this is the worst article of clothing Ive ever seen on this show.

    Truly, this is the worst article of clothing I've ever seen on this show.

  • The Humphrey family crockpot looks like a trashcan. As a result, I was really concerned as to why Dan would bring board games AND trash to his sister’s Sweet 16.

  • Pretty sure Vanessa’s purple party dress is the cheapest-looking thing I’ve ever seen on this show. Did they rustle that shit up at Forever 21?

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.

The Wife:

I’ve missed Gossip Girl. Dearly. This episode, though it was really quite silly overall, did remind me not-so-subtly precisely why it’s one of the smarter shows on television. Scribe Jessica Queller definitely layered the comparisons between Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence and the world of the Upper East Side quite thickly, and didn’t let us forget for a second that these modern-day socialites were living the same lives as the characters in the book . . . or that movie with Daniel Day-Lewis . . . or, for that matter, the characters they themselves are playing in the senior class play version of Wharton’s novel. GG is filled up modern versions of Wharton’s melodramas, and I appreciate how the show navigates that territory, and does so much more skillfully than, say, The Duchess, which I’ve been told is allegedly an allegory for modern-day socialites, but is hardly allegorical at all. There is nothing about that particular film that truly connects to the modern world, not even in the costuming. (I’m sorry, Michael O’Connell, but I do not think you deserve that Oscar.) But Gossip Girl continually harks back to an earlier time. Even with Blackberries and Burbury and Cartier, I am always, always reminded of the world of Pope or Austen or, yes, Wharton. Queller just spelled that connection out with this episode, and for every silly thing that occurred during this hour of television, I hope that, at the very least, it inspires hundreds of teenage girls to pick up a copy of Wharton’s novel.

I do not understand why only the senior class puts on a play – and why there are no actual drama kids at Constance, forcing people who don’t give a damn to tread the boards for school credit – but put on a play they do! And it has fabulous modern-yet-antiquated costumes, like Serena’s feathered Marchesa gown and Blair’s amazing, amazing, amazing black backless number for her role as the ruined Countess Olyenska, as well as some pretty stellar sets, thoughtful lighting design and, naturally, a Broadway wunderkind director that Serena, with her strange insistence on dating artists that she’s too dumb to understand, develops a huge crush on. And just to make sure absolutely everyone has something to do, Vanessa has decided to make a documentary about the play.

Ah, but then there’s Chuck, who got a doctor to diagnose him with stage fright so he could get out of the play, leaving him to chase around Nikki Stevens from The L Word throughout the whole episode, only to find out that she’s been playing him the whole time. Oh, you thought she was dead? So did Chuck, but he was wrong. Carter Bayson got involved somehow and gave Elle money to get out of the country, leaving Chuck in the dust and losing his trail to finding the Eyes Wide Shut-y gentlemen’s club that his father was once a part of. That’s his entire plot, and that was really odd for two reasons: 1.) It’s really odd to come back to that plot after several weeks off and 2). It’s also really odd to insert that plot into an episode that otherwise would have used the school play entirely as a locus of action. I mean, you can’t have Gossip Girl without Chuck Bass, of course, but exploring the EWS thread in this episode was really jarring and actually the one sloppy part of an otherwise tightly written episode.

She may not be going to Yale anymore, but at least she looks fabulous.

She may not be going to Yale anymore, but at least she looks fabulous.

As dress rehearsal for the play begins, Nelly Yuki finds out that she received early acceptance to Yale, which sends Blair into a tizzy as, like Highlander, there can be only one Constance student at Yale in the fall and she already solved her problem with acceptance before the break. She tracks down the headmistress and demands to know why Nelly got an “early” from Yale, and HMQ explains that Yale rescinded Blair’s admission thanks to a tip from an anonymous caller regarding faculty “hazing.” An unsubstantiated claim from a random tipster will, it seems, keep you out of college. Losing Yale helps Blair finally understand the plight of the Countess, and she goes on an accusational tirade, upbraiding Nelly Yuki for calling in the tip, which Nelly vehemently denies. Everyone then receives a GG blast about Lord Marcus and his secret affair with his mummy, much to Blair’s dismay. She then takes her venom toward Vanessa, claiming that V was the only person who hates her enough to divulge that secret, but Vanessa denies the blame as well, because, really, she’s just not that petty when it comes down to it, even though she has been tempted to do so in the past.

Serena, with that crush on her director and all, gets Vanessa’s help in acquiring a private rehearsal session after realizing how much Vanessa and Julian have in common. She suggests that Vanessa play her Cyrano and tell her what to say so she sounds smart enough to impress Julian. Nate, however, is already jealous enough of Julian after hearing his girlfriend talk on and on about Bergman films and so on at dinner that he is pretty sure she’s planning to leave him for Julian when he walks in on her end of the Cyrano call. So, being lame like Nate is, he runs away, rather than confronting Vanessa, like a person of interest might do. The rest of the Cyrano date was actually pretty clever, though. Vanessa, although she sometimes sounds like she’s literally just quoting the backs of film theory books, actually seems to know her shit, and I errrrrpreciate when people know things about things. The tactic seems to work really well for Serena, until she receives a confidence-crushing GG text blast explaining that she only got into Yale because she’s got an important name, not because she earned it.

I mean, really, when youre able to wear a Marchesa in a school play, people probably do only like you for your money.

I mean, really, when you're able to wear a Marchesa in a school play, people probably do only like you for your money.

As for Dan, he’s still got the hots for Miss Carr and is trying to pursue his relationship with her on the DL by using costume wench Jenny as his courier. Rachel sends him a note with a key to her apartment for some post-dress rehearsal lovin’, but then Daddy Rufus shows up and finds the note and ruins everything by storming over to Rachel’s house and giving her the key. Here’s Gossip Girl’s color commentary on that scenario; I found it highly enjoyable because there’s a whole lot going on in these two brief sentences:

“Poor Miss Iowa, caught playing Mrs. Robinson. Looks like teacher just got schooled.”

Later that night, Daddy Rufus gives Dan a talking to about seeing Rachel, and Dan insists he’s 18 and can do whatever the fuck he wants. (When did Dan turn 18? And even if it isn’t statutory rape anymore, it is still an inappropriate relationship with a student for which Rachel should be fired!) So what’s his next move? To meet Rachel in the costume closet and kiss her wrist a la The Age of Innocence and then fuck her. This is definitely something Gossip Girl got right about fooling around in a high school theatre: the costume closet is definitely one of the best places to do so. It was at my high school, anyway.

Serena accuses Blair of sending the malicious text, but Blair insists she didn’t do it and turns her suspicions to Dan, who, by the way, is her co-star in the play. They have it out onstage, muttering between their lines to one another as they’re supposed to be falling in love. This is why you don’t require people to do a play, because they do shit like that. The stage is a really bad place to air your dirty laundry, kids. You do that in the wings. But apparently, no one got that memo because this trend starts to spread like wildfire throughout the student actor population after Julian chides Nate for not understanding his character (whose reputation was ruined because his family went bankrupt). Nate forgets a line, gets flustered and starts screaming about how is totally does understand his character, more, in fact, than Julian ever will because he’s lived it. Everyone else starts to follow suit, turning on each other and yelling about various things, officially ruining the play in front of critic Christopher Isherwood. Surprisingly, Isherwood loved the juxtaposition of the formalist first act with the deconstructed second act in which the actors and their teenage angst melded with the characters. I appreciate his reading, I really do, but let’s get this straight: Nate ruined the play. That’s actually what happened.

Julian outs himself to Serena, surprised that she was unaware he was “teh ghey,” and Nate and Vanessa get into a strange fight about liking different things, in which she compares him to a little kid who claims he doesn’t like tomatoes without ever having tried them. Weirdest. Metaphor. Ever. Later, they make up and she brings over snacks to watch sports and finds him, teary-eyed, watching The Age of Innocence. Aww, compromise and understanding! Dan, meanwhile, realizes that the only person who could have sent those GG blasts was Rachel. He calls her out on this, but she is unrepentant, so Dan heads out to tell Blair the truth, as well as bestow upon her the information that he and Rachel just fucked in the costume closet. He also informs Serena about Rachel’s misdeeds and admits to his father that seeing Rachel was a mistake, which is a good realization to come to considering she decides to skip town and head back to Iowa. That’s all for the best, really, because NOBODY LIKED HER.

And after all of this, Chuck, losing Elle, decides he’s ready to come back to the girl who loves him, only she’s busy drowning her sorrows at a bar with Carter Bayson. I look forward to the Chuck vs. Carter contest for Blair’s heart.