The Husband:

It happens every year. Just like the film industry, ideas seem to come in packs of two or three. In 2004, Lost fever infected the networks, and three deep mystery science-fiction shows were unveiled for the 2005-2006 season. Two made it a full season before being unceremoniously canceled (Invasion and Surface) while one didn’t even make it to midseason (Threshold). The quality of these shows are unimportant, because they were created to either capitalize on a trend or a repair a hole missing from the schedule. This works in the film world, too. In 1998, we had both Armageddon and Deep Impact. In the same year, we had both A Bug’s Life and Antz. In 2005 we had both Capote and Infamous (one was pushed back to 2006, can you guess which?). And this is not a new concept in Hollywood. I can trace back to most years started with the studio system and can point out virtually identical films coming out within the same few months. But with television this year, two things happened:

1. CBS tried once again to give us their version of what they think draws people into Grey’s Anatomy, but on their own network. That show is called Three Rivers.

2. After a staggering 15-year run, ER finally came to a close last season, and NBC frantically tried to recreate its medical drama glory. But this time, they decided split the show in two to hedge their bets but take up too much room on a schedule already reeling from one man named Jay Leno.

If you don’t feel like listening to my half-assed television history lesson for the remainder of this article, let me just break it down for you. So far, NBC’s Mercy has aired three episodes, NBC’s Trauma has aired two, and CBS’s Three Rivers has aired one. And how do they rank in terms of quality? The exact order I just put them in, with Mercy almost head-and-shoulders above Trauma and Three Rivers, with only a single episode, drudging the bottom of the lake.

The title is probably ironic.

The title is probably ironic.

So about that splitting ER into two parts. It’s really not at all complicated. Mercy is the character drama, and Trauma is the action show. Put together, these elements apparently made some of the best ER episodes of all time, but on their own, it can be a struggle. So far, however, Mercy is a remarkably competent (big praise, I know) slice-of-life story about the unsung heroes of hospitals — the nurses. This year they have come back in a big way, and while I haven’t seen an episode of similarly themed Nurse Jackie and Hawthorne (two other nurse dramas, unseen because I don’t have Showtime and I avoid networks like TNT and USA like the plague), I can tell you that it’s a refreshing change of pace. Surgeons get all the glory, but nurses are the backbone of any hospital. Taylor Schilling leads the show as former army nurse Veronica Callahan, and she is in the top five best new characters on television this season. Tough and hard-edged but sympathetic, she seems like a real woman doing an unappreciated job, and her quiet energy is such a welcome respite from the outwardly emotional hysterics that populate Seattle Grace and Oceanside Wellness. She is a true find, and her personal life storylines (her troubled marriage, her drunk family, her affair with Men In Trees‘s James Tupper) help the very reality-skewing Jersey City-set show and are handled by the writers with what at least appears to be a great deal of honesty.

I haven’t been able to get a handle of many of the remaining characters, but Guillermo Diaz (he of Weeds and Half Baked) does well playing against type, and while the casting of Michelle Trachtenberg as rookie nurse Chloe Payne brings the wrong kind of tone to the character, casting a lesser known and more sullen actress would have made the character completely unimportant. My favorite element, oddly enough, seems to be the reversal of roles, as James LeGros’s doctor character, Dan Harris, is mostly seen on the outskirts of storylines, much how most nurses are treated on nearly every other hospital drama. (You know how Nurse Olivia was just let go from Seattle Grace at Grey’s Anatomy? It took me a good thirty minutes to remember that she was the one who gave George syphilis after getting it from Karev way back in the early seasons.) And, almost more than anything, I appreciate the fleeting comparisons the show finds between Jersey City and the warzone of Iraq. Both are lost places in their own way, and it’s haunting without being obvious. This is definitely staying on my Season Pass list, and I hope that its unfortunate placement Wednesday at 10 (it belongs later, but thanks to The Jay Leno Show, half of NBC’s schedule seems misplaced.)

HOLY SHIT THIS IS EXPENSIVE! AND ON FIRE!

HOLY SHIT THIS IS EXPENSIVE! AND ON FIRE!

Trauma, so far, is just a big, slick, expensive version of Emergency!, a spin-off of a spin-off (Dragnet to Adam-12 to…) which ran for several seasons back in the 1970s (six seasons plus a handful of TV movies). From the several episodes I’ve seen of that show (starring a young Kevin Tighe, a.k.a. Locke’s father on Lost), I really can’t see much of a difference between the two programs other than its location and its budget. I complained that I couldn’t get too much of a handle on Mercy‘s characters, but at least I can give you a general impression of their internal monologue. Not so on Trauma, which is as surface-level as one could get outside of a CW primetime soap. New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis is, so far, the only character with any personality (unfortunately, it’s a shitty one) and the rest get lost in the shuffle.

What Trauma has going for it, though, is a whole lot of money behind it, something that could cause it to be canceled very soon. Paired up with the fledgling Heroes, Trauma continues to represent how NBC is hemorrhaging money and viewers, and by not putting the show at a proper 10 p.m. spot, it’s getting crushed by the two CBS Chuck Lorre sitcoms. But oh man, does it ever get saved by its big action sequences. Nothing has been spared in the high-octane situations that structure the show, from the mostly unnecessary season opener that blew up part of a building to what can’t be cheap San Francisco location shooting. But with an HD DVR and a 52″ HD LCD Eco-Series Bravia television, I’ve never missed my old stomping grounds of the San Francisco Bay Area more. I’m staying to watch this show just from how much is shot there, how [mostly] accurate the set-ups are, and even its inclusion of mayor Gavin Newsome’s actress wife in the supporting cast. My wife can tell you more about the show’s focus on North Beach, where she worked for two years.

My issue, though, is seemingly contradictory. The action is what makes the show work, but it’s a chore sitting through a single episode. It’s fun to yell out “Trauma!” whenever something terrible happens, but in the second episode, we had four separate cases of trauma including the Embarcadero Street Fair getting pummeled by a car piloted by a man having a stroke. This is enough for three episodes on Grey’s Anatomy, but it’s almost a sidenote here. It’s too much action in a show that desperately needs it to survive. But goddamn, does it look expensive. And that expense kind of negates the verité style it’s going for, so I don’t know what to think anymore.

I would rather see Alex O'Laughlin do anything else.

I would rather see Alex O'Laughlin do anything else.

Three Rivers has only aired one episode, and this is after it was heavily recast (which happened to Alex O’Loughlin’s last show Moonlight as well) as it was decided to air the second episode first. No matter, because the show helped drop CBS to one of its lowest-rated Sunday nights ever, being paired up with Cold Case. (All the family viewers and young professionals pretty much abandon the channel after The Amazing Race is over.) It’s not long for this world, and for good reason. It thinks that we want to be preached to right off the gate, and so this drama about an organ transplant facility in Pittsburgh just doesn’t work. It’s unfair to judge it based on one episode (and one that isn’t the damned pilot), but when a show starts off talking down to us, it’s not a good feeling. ABC’s Grey’s started off as a much frothier show (I would even call it a dramedy) and only later fell into its soapy rhythms, but Three Rivers doesn’t seem to have time for that. A major problem: I understand its decision to include the story about where the organs are coming from in order to humanize the situation, but it’s mostly unnecessary and I hope they abandon it, because it makes the characters back at the facility complete ciphers, just going through the procedural motions. Even O’Loughlin, as famed surgeon Andy Yablonski, isn’t enough to draw me back for much longer, and I once again fear that Alfre Woodard is one of the most misused actresses of her generation. It’s not the worst new drama of the season, nor is it the most obnoxious (so far, that seems to be the tonally misshapen The Forgotten), but if it doesn’t pick up soon, it will be canceled before I even give up on it. (Remember CBS’s hospital drama 3 Lbs.? No? It was on less than five years ago. Still don’t remember it? Exactly. But I watched all three episodes.)

So give Mercy a chance, and I don’t think you’ll regret it. Its cases, while mostly unoriginal, are handled delicately, and the characters feel like actual people. The other two shows? If you’re not into high-definition cinematography of San Francisco or learning about the intricacies of putting new hearts into pregnant women, they probably won’t work for you, either.

The Wife:
I worry about Mercy‘s necessity. Fundamentally, I like the show. And I really didn’t think I would. When NBC was promoting Mercy, they almost entirely glossed over the fact that this show is a narrative about an Iraq war veteran struggling to reintegrate into civilian life, instead using its promo time to make it look like some slick, glossy glorification of nursing (which indeed deserves such glory) and the bonds of female friendship. Case in point: even if Veronica’s background as a soldier was included, what I remember from those promos is the shots of the girls at the bar together, drinking and smiling.

The hurt backpack.

The hurt backpack.

I do think Mercy, as a show about a female Iraq war veteran, an Army nurse not unlike my mother (who once made her non-military living as an OR nurse), is utterly necessary. It is important for us to experience narratives of soldiers returning from conflicts overseas and to understand what it’s like for them to try to carry on with all the horror they’ve experienced. And it’s especially critical that this is a narrative about a female soldier. For all the women who fight for this country, too many artistic renderings of soldiers focus on the men and their experiences. I even applaud the decision to focus this story around the life of an Army medic, a crucial military position I think many forget about. My mother never (thankfully) saw conflict. But when I hear Veronica talk about setting up field hospitals, I can’t help but think of my mother. She knows how to do that, and has done so many times in her life. I’ve seen what those hospitals look like, as we always went to the family day at the end of the Army Reserve’s two-week summer training exercises where her medical unit practiced setting up those hospitals. So this character is perhaps doubly unique to me. I know the women that she is drawn from, my mother and her friends, and that alone makes her utterly real to me.
But although I think Veronica is a starkly unique character and its important for us to have a narrative of a female Iraq war veteran, I do think that gets lost in the way NBC advertised Mercy and its inevitable pigeonhole as just another medical show. I don’t care so much about the cases Veronica deals with, but I care deeply about her inability to share her wartime experiences with her no-longer-estranged husband. Seeing her hold his head in her hands so that he cannot face her when she talks about losing her friend in the field was truly effective, and I hope those of you who watch Mercy continue to tune in for those stunning portraits of a soldier coming home to a world she no longer knows how to navigate.

As for Trauma, the best parts of the show are screaming “Trauma!” when something traumatic happens, and realizing that I probably walked through the set dozens of times when I worked in North Beach. In fact, there was a scene filmed on Green St. between Grant and Broadway in the second episode that I know I’d walked through during tear-down one day when my coworker and I were heading up to North Beach Pizza for lunch. (I was extra impressed that they got a shot of the new location of North Beach Pizza, which only opened in April or May . . . directly across the street from its former location.) This scene happened to feature a homeless drug addict trying to scam the EMTs into giving him morphine, and I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if the show stumbled upon some of North Beach’s actual colorful homeless people. I will keep watching simply to see restaurants I used to frequent and, hopefully, a glimpse of Knifey Knife (a homeless woman who once threatened my friend at the bakery across from my old office with a pumpkin carving knife) and Charlotte (a kindly homeless woman who enjoyed wigs and often sat outside my office, complimenting me on my shoes). Hell, if one of my couriers, Junior, made it into B-roll on Anthony Bourdain’s San Francisco episode of No Reservations, he might even turn up in a long shot, riding his bike down Columbus.

There is really nothing good about Three Rivers.

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 ratemyprofessors.com? 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:

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.