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.

The Wife:

Everything about Miss Carr generally makes me roll my eyes and scoff, so imagine how happy I was to hear that she was fired . . . and then how suddenly unhappy I was to hear that Headmistress Queller decided to rehire her for fear of a wrongful termination lawsuit. Miss Carr is actually a pretty terrible teacher. She may be bright, as far as empty literary references and intelligent-sounding commentary about the writing process the showrunners can shove into her mouth are concerned, but she’s pretty fucking dumb about professional conduct for a teacher. The school has a pretty fair case to fire her simply for fraternizing with the students without authorization because, by meeting Dan and Serena for coffee and breakfast to discuss their work outside school grounds, she’s setting herself up to be slandered. That’s just not appropriate conduct for a teacher. If she were their moderator for an after school activity, like, say, a newspaper or a literary magazine, neither of which Constance-St. Jude’s seems to have, and she needed to meet with her students off school grounds, permission slips would need to be signed. Why wouldn’t she just meet Dan in the school courtyard or library or have a meeting in her classroom to discuss his work? This isn’t college where you can treat your students like the adults that they are and meet with them outside of school and be their friend as much as their teacher. This is high school. They’re minors. Rules have to be followed. And clearly, Rachel Carr, with her extra-campus meetings and insistence on letting only Dan and Serena call her Rachel, doesn’t understand a damn thing about decorum. Rufus Humphrey seems to be the only person in the GG universe who understands the impropriety of Miss Carr even meeting innocently with students outside of school grounds. I’m pretty sure that a picture proving that she was meeting with students off-campus is enough to at least have her transferred to another school, or a brief suspension from the classroom. Whatever. I guess it doesn’t really matter, because as soon as people find out that she actually has slept with Dan, she’ll be gone. Sadly, I’ll have to put up with her idiocy and Laura Beckinridge’s dead, cold eyes until then.

My hatred of that character aside, Blair’s takedown plot was actually pretty awesome. Miss Carr had already stupidly given Blair so much to work with, that even working on a contraband cell phone couldn’t stop Blair from spreading the rumor that Miss Carr was having an inappropriate relationship with a student. After hearing about the rumor, Miss Carr finds out (from Dan, no less) to put the squeeze on Nelly Yuki, who gives up Blair as the GG tipster.

You've crossed me for the last time, Nelly Yuki.

You've crossed me for the last time, Nelly Yuki.

Blair’s punishment for this crime? Expulsion, which is far worse than her detention with the Preservation Society. (Of the two times I had detention, I vastly preferred helping out with the school’s can drive to sitting in a room doing homework for a half hour. How, exactly, is being given 30 minutes to do your homework quietly or read a book any kind of punishment?) Her expulsion, of course, means her much-contested Yale admission will be immediately revoked. Blair’s father comes to his daughter’s aid and asks her point blank why she would spread a rumor like that, to which Blair replies that she wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t true. (I agree on that vague statement that, indeed, Miss Carr’s relationship with Dan is inappropriate.) He drags his lawyers to a parent’s board meeting with the school to discuss the nature of the Gossip Girl website and its pernicious rumormongering, as well as the nature of Miss Carr’s relationship with her students. And it is here, after Serena’s strange inferiority complex led her to snap a photo of Miss Carr with Dan, that Blair bursts in with evidence of the claim she made, displaying the picture of Dan caressing Miss Carr’s face for the entire school board to see. This action gets Miss Carr fired, and Blair readmitted to Constance. Hooray! Problems solved! Until Blair’s father overhears her admit that she had initially lied, and just got lucky that her lie turned out to be true.

Nothing hurts Blair more than not being the apple of daddy’s eye, and she tries to apologize to him by appealing to his Yalie pride. He responds that Yale doesn’t matter to him at all. “What matters to me is not what college you go to, but what kind of person you grow up to be,” he says, admitting his disappointment with the lying, deceitful side of his perfect little girl.

Meanwhile, Dan goes off to apologize to Miss Carr . . . or something . . . about the way this whole situation went down, and they end up majorly boning to some scary-sounding music, just as Lily and Rufus get the news that, fearing a wrongful termination suit on dodgy evidence, Miss Carr will resume her teaching duties on Monday. Oops! I wager that the newfound sexual component to their relationship will finally get Miss Carr off my fucking TV set. Sweet statutory, I hate that character.

I do think this episode gave us something interesting to think about, though, in the discussion of the GG website during the parent’s board meeting. It is harmless, yes, and well within their rights of freedom of speech for teenagers to gossip on the internet, but free speech is always called into question when someone’s character is defamed. This happens numerous times where celebrities and other public figures of that sort get angry about things said of them in the media, but there is legal precedent in New York Times v. Sullivan that states that a public figure has to prove that the statement was said with actual malice, and that the publisher/author of the statement knew it at the time to be false and printed it solely with the intent to harm. It is usually very hard to prove that in a defamation case. On the GG scale, it’s very easy to prove that a statement is libelous. (Dear GG writers: please learn the difference between libel and slander. Everyone kept calling this slander, but it was published on the internet, thus written, thus making it libel. Slander is spoken. Libel is written. It’s really easy.) Blair even admits that she made the claim without knowing it to be true, and certainly did so with the intent to harm the affected parties. Indeed, the Waldorf family should have feared a libel suit, but Miss Carr has definitely erased any chances of filing that claim now that she’s schtooping Dan Humphrey.

Here's my paper. Appropriately, it's about hot dogs.

Here's my paper. Appropriately, it's about hot dogs.

As for Chuck Bass, he apparently had the best night of his life, but can’t remember it, and spends the entire episode trying to find out what happened the night before, with Nate and Vanessa in tow, for no apparent reason other than that someone felt they should make an appearance in this episode. He finds the house he went to after receiving a mysterious invitation, and gets a realtor to show him around and give him the name of the seller, whom he calls when he recognizes one of the women in the photographs on the piano. The woman, Elle, turns out to be the seller’s nanny, who moonlights as some kind of billionaire prostitute. Elle tracks Chuck down and tells him that she sent the invitation to him in error. She had taken over another girl’s client list and sent the invite before realizing that Bart Bass had passed. So, to keep Chuck from finding out what his father had been involved in, she drugged him and checked him into a hotel, hoping he wouldn’t remember anything he saw. Later, Chuck finds out that Elle has gone missing (goodbye, The L Word‘s Nikki Stevens!) and discovers a whole bunch of old invitations to these secret billionaire sex clubs stored in Bart Bass’ vault. I’m hoping that Bart Bass was actually involved in a secret hunting club where every now and again he would get together with sexy prostitutes and kill them in myriad fantasy ways, like, say, eating their legs while they’re still alive or lying naked in a tub while one is suspended above him so he can bathe in her blood. Just like Hostel, but with more sex.

The Husband:

Aside from some of my wife’s feelings about student-teacher relationships – I had breakfast/coffee with a teacher every once in a while in high school, and don’t see as much of a problem with it as she does – I also have to protest about Carr being a bad teacher. We haven’t seen any of her actual educational style (this is GG, and we have yet to actually see a class in progress yet over the show’s two seasons), but from what we’ve gathered I appreciate a more down-to-earth and relatable teacher such as this. My wife and I had pretty different high school experiences, despite both of our schools being in the same diocese, so I guess I really have to chalk it up to what kind of teachers we liked. I also don’t give a crap that Carr gave up doing Teach For America to come work at Constance-St. Jude’s. Knowing this show, something horrible may have happened to Ms. Carr there, and since this is GG I’m just going to assume the worst. I can only judge a person based on what’s given to me, just as a viewer is only truly supposed to apply the logic given to them by a particular show or movie in critiquing said show or movie. (i.e. Prison Break established itself in the first episode as existing in a universe of crazy coincidences, so stop complaining when things just happen to work out in certain ways to the characters.)

Really, though, the episode was pretty scattershot, especially Chuck Bass’ story, but I happened to love Blair’s plot. I think I just love it when she gets her comeuppance in any way or form, and having her father finally understand who the true conniving Blair really is goes down as a great GG moment.

(“Comeuppance.” That’s a word that I loved to use, but it is forever tainted to me now. When I worked at my college newspaper as A&E Editor and critic, a copy editor made a red mark next to that word and then wrote “huh?” This, along with this person’s confusion re: “compliment” vs. “complement” soured me on copy editors forever. ‘Tis the plight of a scorned writer. Still, try typing out the word. It’s surprisingly fun.)

So what’s Blair’s next bit of revenge going to be? Surely Nelly Yuki’s squealing will not go unpunished. Or is losing daddy’s love enough to alter Blair’s brain so that she realizes that vengeance is a vicious circle?

Good times. Orgies and statutory rape and Shakespeare. My kind of show.

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.

The Wife:

Gossip Girl wasted no time in paying off the tease they gave us last week about some unscrupulous activities that Blair was involved in on New Year’s – that unscrupulous activity was hooking up in some capacity with apple-cheeked Uncle Jack. (I am not the only one who wishes to bite the cheeks right off his face.) After successfully turning Opium Zombie Chuck Bass/Drunken Suicidal Robert Pattinson Hair Chuck Bass back into Sneering Everyday Chuck Bass, Blair takes extra precautions not to let Chuck find out what went down between herself and his uncle, inserting herself into every facet of Chuck’s life. She attends the reading of Bart Bass’ will, along with Nate Archibald, who basically had two scenes in this episode and contributed nothing. (Why couldn’t he have died in a freak gasoline fight accident or something? Why?) The only person who cannot attend said reading is Lily Bass Der Woodsen, who is still off in Boston with Rufus Humphrey, looking for the child she gave up.

At the will reading, Chuck is told that he will receive his full inheritance, to be put into a trust until he turns 18, at which time the money is entirely his to do as he pleases. He is also handed a letter, written by Bart Bass before his death. Chuck, satisfied with the influx of cash, doesn’t give a damn about the letter and doesn’t want to read it, fearing it will only recapitulate the string of terrible disappointments he has been to his father, including wearing “so much purple.” Blair, however, encourages Chuck to read the letter, which goes on to glow about Chuck’s potential as a businessman, further explaining that, upon Bart’s death, Chuck Bass should receive the controlling 51% share in Bass Industries – the only thing apple-cheeked Uncle Jack wanted from his brother at all. Chuck proclaims that he doesn’t want any stake in Bass Industries whatsoever and willingly gives up his share to Jack. (For those who give a shit about the business world of GG, Lily received a 20% share in the company, with the remaining 29% being divvied up amongst members of the board.)

Running a company isnt all free booze and hookers, nephew mine.

Running a company isn't all free booze and hookers, nephew mine.

Feeling that Chuck deserves to become the kind of man she knows he can be, Blair encourages Chuck to accept the majority share in Bass Industries. For all his harsh words to his son prior to his death, that cold dead bastard Bart Bass seemed to really believe in Chuck’s business acumen, and Blair believes in it, too. Newly confident, Chuck returns to Uncle Jack and tells him that he wants to take over Bass Industries, fully accepting the responsibilities of his inheritance. I love Uncle Jack, so much, because the exchange between the two younger Bass men in this scene opened with Jack cracking a joke about his relationship with his nephew:

“Well, you noticed that the Thai waitress I was gonna take home the other night had a penis, so . . .”

But all joking aside, Jack is none-too-pleased when Chuck Bass demands that he take over Bass Industries, fulfilling the role his father wanted for him. Immediately, Jack hatches an evil scheme to ruin his nephew. He calls Blair and tells her that he wants to throw a surprise party for Chuck, which Blair opts to help coordinate, even if Chuck’s new responsibilities as head of a company keep him from missing the romantic dinner in that she got all dressed up for in a really cute black and silver cocktail dress. Of course, those “new responsibilities” are actually Uncle Jack baiting Chuck to once again become Opium Zombie Chuck with the promise of good times, drugs and loose women.

Meanwhile, Dan is still avoiding Serena, while Jenny can’t keep the hell away from Eric. Jenny has been spending all of her free time becoming New York’s Most Annoying Fag Hag by constantly being the third wheel on Eric and Jonathan’s dates. This annoys Eric. It should, because it annoys me. Serena tries to assure Dan that their parents are not getting back together, which she assumes is the thing keeping him from being with her, spouting out something about a text message from her mom and a joke about French president Sarkozy not being a good kisser, which Dan remarks is one more thing to be disappointed with. What the fuck, Gossip Girl? That’s a really weird line. Why the fuck does Dan care about politics in France? Is this going to be a new interest of his? Like how being a writer suddenly became a character trait? The Gossip Girl universe has never been concerned with real people unless they are fashion designers or entertainers, so to go out of one’s way to write a line about a foreign politico is really odd.

Anyway, overhearing one of these conversations makes Penelope think that Dan may be cheating on Serena. She puts out a hit on Gossip Girl about him, asking people to dig up information. So far, the worst thing they find is that Dan brown bags his lunch and eats tuna salad sandwiches. (I’m sorry, does Daddy Rufus not have a panini press at home? Jesus, Brooklyn really is the fucking sticks.) That is, until Nelly Yuki spies on a very revealing conversation with Vanessa, during which she manages to steal Dan’s phone as Dan reveals to Vanessa (in a candy shop!) that his father and Lily had a child together. Relying only on information from the last Gossip Girl blast, the icky scary mini tween mean girls (who, despite their addictions to fashion and gossip, actually do, like children, hang out in a candy shop) show up to blast Dan for cheating on Serena and to remind Vanessa that she’s dating up by dating Nate Archibald. Thanks, characters that really frighten me. I think Vanessa already knew that. Later, Serena goes to visit Vanessa, hoping to find out the secret Dan has been keeping from her, but Vanessa will not betray Dan’s confidence.

The next day, at Chuck’s celebratory brunch, Penelope and the mean girls prepare to release the information bomb they found on Dan’s phone: Serena and Dan share a sibling. They ask Blair for her okay to release the information, but she is too distracted by Chuck’s absence to bother with trite high school crap, giving Penelope the okay regardless of the caliber of information. When Jack arrives without Chuck, Blair suspects that something might be wrong. Jack assures her that Chuck is hard at work in his office upstairs, and asks Blair to take a couple of the Bass Industries board members up to meet him. Like the dutiful wife Chuck scorns her for pretending to be, she leads them right into the horrific scene of Chuck cavorting with two scantily clad women and snorting lines off his father’s stately desk, making a truly bad impression on the members of the board, one so scandalous it would make any board demand the resignation of the affected party.

Jenny, stop trying to be part of my relationship. In no way do Jonathan and I want to have sex with you.

Jenny, stop trying to be part of my relationship. In no way do Jonathan and I want to have sex with you.

Downstairs, Jenny and Eric have it out over her fag haggy clinginess and he calls her irritating and conceited, both of which are, in fact, true statements. But then they and the entire party receive the text blast from Gossip Girl, dropping the bomb about the secret Hump Der Woodsen child on the unwitting Serena, Jenny and Eric. The Hump Der Woodsen children exit the party ASAP to cope with this new information. Jenny realizes that it only makes sense for them to share a sibling as all four of them fight like siblings (you know, with the ones that aren’t actually their siblings), but Serena can’t really deal with this information at all. When Dan confirms the truth of the situation, she gives her best (worst?) Garbo and goes off to be alone for a while.

After the party is over and the coke has worn off, Chuck goes to apple-cheeked Uncle Jack and demands to know why he wasn’t told he would be meeting board members. Jack admits to his evil plan to get Chuck so wasted and lie to him so that Jack, Chuck’s legal guardian, would gain the majority share in the company by pointing out the loophole: a morality clause that determined care of the company would go to Chuck’s legal guardian should he act, in any way, unbecoming of the chairman and CEO of a major real estate company. This was a pretty good evil plan, as far as evil plans that don’t involve death go. I thought the threat of nephew-cide was imminent, but apparently Uncle Jack is more of the type to keep his hands clean, yet filled with hookers. (Not that I’d want Chuck to die. I love Chuck and would never want any harm to come to him. I just thought they were going to go the really high drama route of foiled murder attempts.) Realizing the ass he’s been made of and how poorly he treated Blair when she had been nothing but kind and helpful to him, Chuck comes to Chez Waldorf to apologize, a bouquet of ranunculae in hand. But Blair refuses to accept his apology or his flowers, telling him that she can’t stand the emotional abuse anymore as tears well up in her giant brown eyes. To add insult to injury, she throws the flowers at his feet as the elevator doors close on him. I’m terribly sad that Blair and Chuck appear to be falling apart again, but that only sets us up for an arc where we’ll likely see suave Chuck try to win back the only girl who will ever actually love him.

As all of this drama goes down on the Upper East Side, Rufus and Lily wait around in a hotel in Boston for any word on their son. They were able to find the agency that placed him with adoptive parents, but as it was a closed adoption, there is no way for them to meet their son, unless, the adoption agent tells them – sympathizing, perhaps, for the fact that Rufus didn’t even know he had another child until recently – that they might have a chance at seeing their son if they get in touch with the adoptive parents directly. The adoptive parents call and demand that Rufus and Lily never contact them again, denying them a chance to see their son. Then Rufus and Lily reminisce and she admits that she wants to give up trying because every moment she spends in a hotel with Rufus is another moment that she cannot deny the fact that she’s in love with him. Naturally, Rufus takes this as a cue to have sex with her, and they reminisce some more about what I’m pretty sure is the time he impregnated her, after a concert Lincoln Hawk played in Paris.

They then receive a call from the adoptive father, who asks to meet with them privately, under his wife’s radar. When they meet the man, he tells them that he hadn’t wanted to meet with them because their son, Andrew, died last year in a freak sailing accident. All Lily wants to know is that the brief life her son had with his adoptive parents was a happy one, and the adoptive father assures her that it was. Satisfied with the knowledge that they will never meet their son (although, technically, Lily has met Andrew . . . you know . . . on his birthday . . .), Rufus and Lily return home to the Humphrey loft. Lily bemoans the fact that the dead Hump Der Woodsen son means that she and Rufus were, perhaps, never meant to be a family, only to walk in and find the other Hump Der Woodsen children, hanging out in the kitchen eating PB&J after having made up for all of their recent fights, Eric and Jenny mutually apologizing for being bitchy to one another and Dan and Serena deciding to stay together, citing various literary precedents as well as the movie Clueless, in which Cher hooks up with her ex-stepbrother Josh. Indeed, Clueless is, like, totally cultural capitol.

But not to be outdone by the oddly problematic romance of two people who share a sibling, back in Boston, the adoptive mother joins her husband at the table and asks if Lily and Rufus are gone for good. Her husband assures her that they will never call again, to which she states that she’s glad she doesn’t have to face the threat of losing another child. The missing Hump Der Woodsen is very much alive, it seems, and very likely not named Andrew. I hope that, if he should somehow get wind that his birth parents wanted to meet him and he takes a bus down to New York, The Missing Hump Der Woodsen turns out to be way cooler than 90210‘s Secret Brother Sean. That guy was a dick. And not an actual Secret Brother.

The Husband:

A very expository but not very emotionally involving episode, this week’s GG nonetheless hit hard with all of its dangling story threads, putting a remarkable amount of effort into making even the most ridiculous plot twist seem perfectly natural (i.e. the adoptive parents using a newspaper clipping about the drowning of their one son and making it seem as if it was actually about the missing Hump Der Woodsen). Even Uncle Jack’s story has already rocketed through what would take other shows as least six episodes to handle while at the same time making him a more interesting character in a mere two episodes than Nate Archibald has been in two seasons.

I loved the “hidden” morality clause, loved the hookers-and-opium set-up and was very happy that Rufus and Lily hooked up in a manner not so melodramatic but more in tune with their actual loving relationship. How refreshing.

But was I on bated breath about how any of the characters really felt? Not really, and that’s a weird feeling to have. Even when everyone seems to have given up on caring about Dan, I still really relate to him, but I will admit that he’s becoming less interesting this season in comparison to s1.

The Wife:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to my den of debauchery.

Welcome to my den of debauchery.

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

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

Im going to eat this mans cheeks.

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

Some costuming notes:

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

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

The Husband:

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

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

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

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

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