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.

The Husband:

I wrote that the premiere this NBC action/adventure remake/reimagining was “cheesy, poorly planned, strangely acted and built almost entirely around showing off KITT’s many features,” and that didn’t really change as the season progressed. The quality lessened almost immediately, to the point where the show kind of stopped being a guilty pleasure and started becoming pointless background noise, something to have on Hulu in the corner of your computer screen while you did virtually anything else at the same time.

Michael Knight and his best friend in the whole wide world!

Michael Knight and his best friend in the whole wide world!

Only a few episodes in, the show became somewhat painful to watch, not so much that it was bad or boring, but that it had lost a great deal of its potential in merely a handful of episodes. The worst was when Michael Knight 2.0 and KITT visited Mexico for no real reason other than to get the admittedly hot Deanna Russo into a bikini. The problem wasn’t that the show was base-level, sexist and brainless. Really, that’s its charm and also that of the original. It was simply the question that probably went through everybody’s mind:

How do you screw this idea up?

Come on. It’s a ridiculous hour-long actioner about the relationship between a headstrong man and his virtually invincible, transforming car that can pretty much do anything required by the plot. Give us at least two great car chases an episode, say some techie mumbo jumbo that doesn’t make any logical sense (both shows clearly lacked a technical adviser), have Michael punch a bitch out every now and then, and make some HAL-related jokes in re: KITT’s Val Kilmer-on-downers voice and his inability to grasp human behavior.

I could write this fucking thing in my sleep. In fact, I think I should try that someday. I need to put up or shut up, no?

After the ratings began sinking, Show creator Gary Scott Thompson (an NYU MFA graduate and playwright who also created Las Vegas and the Fast and the Furious franchise) took a good look at the series and then made some major changes. And they were good changes. What bogged down the first several episodes was all the slogging through government tasks and tactics, having Michael track down bombs and take down terrorists Jack Bauer-style in ways incomparable to better shows like 24 and The Unit, all while being yelled at by Bruce Davidson and Yancey Arias. Everything revolved in and around this little station, and way too much time was wasted on serious bullshit instead of the silly that gave the original Hasselhoff vehicle its charm.

So after a short hiatus, KR came back with a not-bad two-parter that not only killed off Davidson and (later) Arias, but also gave Sydney Tamiia Poitier (it’s good to have a unisex name to give to your daughter) career-ending injuries. The cast now down to four (Michael, Sarah and the two tech nerds), the show could finally become what it was always meant to be – a story about a roaming vigilante and his nutbag awesome car going from town-to-town solving people’s problems. That’s it. No government conspiracy hooey, just dumb, quick action.

And so the show improved immensely, so much that I was enjoying myself again. So what if Michael ended up taking down a fight club underneath a rural bar, or helped solve the mystery of a downed plane and a little boy’s knowledge of where a large stash of Bolivian cocaine had been placed (answer: buried quite hastily underneath a very convenient pile of dirt amidst a grassy field), or helped his favorite bar defend itself from millionaires who wanted the valuable minerals in the earth right underneath? It was fun, it was zippy, and it worked.

And it finally regained its sense of humor. Simply behold the final battle between KITT and the villainous KARR, voiced for no real reason by Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen. If this doesn’t make you giggle, we can’t be friends. (TURBO BOOST!)

Awesome, right? And compare that to these original series bits about the very same thing, just with much less of a budget.

This one benefits gloriously from its German dub and bizarre editing choices.

Seems like a good time to spend an hour, no? Well, despite it getting better episode-by-episode – shit, I was even starting to like the incredibly wooden Justin Bruening – it was still forced into another hiatus, and if the show gets renewed, the first five eps will be made out of leftover scripts from this season, which never had anything remotely resembling a season/series finale.

Should NBC renew this show? No. Now that douchebag NBC and douchebag Leno are taking away five full hours of primetime away from other shows, this is not something I would put at the top of the list to save. Not even close. Too bad Lipstick Jungle was officially canceled last week, otherwise I’d put that on the top of the hypothetical list and really get started on a save-the-show campaign. But now that the cast has already dispersed to such other projects as the Witches Of Eastwick series as well as the Gossip Girl spin-off.

But would I like this on another network, like USA or Sci-Fi? (Excuse me, SyFy, the network dedicated to syphilis narratives.) Absolutely. I don’t know how much Ford pays the show to sponsor their brand – and let’s be honest, the show is basically one giant commercial, with honking clown horns and streamers ablaze whenever KITT is in any of its many forms, which inexplicably includes a four-wheel drive truck – but it must cover at least half the goddamn budget. If not, NBC fucked up on that contract.

But if this is the end, I bid you adieu, Knight Rider. You just got cool a little too late. But hey, the Bionic Woman remake didn’t even make it that far. It was a dud for its entire run. And it didn’t have Val Kilmer literally phoning in his role. That was worth many a good laugh.