This week on Gossip Girl
, Dan and Serena go through all the stages of post-breakup until they end at the last stage: acceptance that makeup sex is imminent. Meanwhile, Blair decides for the thousandth time that she will become a powerful woman ... by pandering to teenagers.
Nate and Chuck learn how to use IMDB but are still outsmarted by Ivy, who doesn't even seem smart enough not to shove keys into electrical sockets, if her hair is any indication. And Rufus and Lily have a face-off to see who is the bigger gold-digging housewife which, as you would imagine, Rufus wins.
On the Upper East Side, things don't so much move forward as they move circularly. In the first season of this show, Nate fretted that they would all end up exactly like their parents. If anything, the show has borne out this truism more than anything else.
Like Lily, Serena uses men as life rafts to avoid figuring out what she
herself really wants. Given the size of their statement jewelry, Lily
and Serena would be just about the worst people to bring on a life raft,
as it would immediately sink. Though we can only hope in the future, she comes
up with ice cold zingers as incredible as Lily's.
bouncing right back into the welcoming arms of Serena because, hey, there
she is! Someday, Dan will wander around the apartment Serena pays for,
talking about that one hit wonder book he wrote and trying to make
breakfast foods a thing.
Nate is cooking the books just like his
father, and like his father he will eventually be found out because he
is Nate. I'm pretty sure Nate's books say
something like, "Making money, nothing to see here!" with a bunch of
dollar signs drawn in the margins in crayon.
And Chuck? Who
ever knows what Chuck's doing? It involves oil, and horses, and
paintings, and running up steps dramatically and walking weirder than
he did that one time he was actually using a cane.
At least Blair is embracing the usefulness of her dark side while realizing it has to be tampered with that thing the kids are calling common sense and decency. Unfortunately for us all, like in times of old, Blair thinks the best way to succeed in life is to magically restore the clock back to when she mattered: high school.
Will teenage girls be lining up in order to put on prep school uniforms? As a person who actually wore uniforms in high school, I can vouch that this is an absolutely horrible idea. But I'll go along with it as long as Blair never imports Vanessa back from the off-screen hovel where she's no doubt making dream-catchers out of her extensions.
We can't escape our destiny, Gossip Girl seems to be saying, which is to turn into a similar brand of jerk as our parents. This might seem pessimistic, but most of us don't come from lineages of unhinged awesome like Blair and Serena. As Lily and Eleanor terrifyingly prove this week, there are worse fates than turning out just like your mother if she's a Waldorf or Van der Woodsen.
You Had Me at Vespa
Dan is staying with Serena at the Van Der Woodsen house of berries, and Serena is giving him that look she always gets when she's been single for more than five consecutive minutes. He says it's been a long time since they've been under the same roof and gives her kind of a flirtatious look, which she is evidently feeling. Only on Gossip Girl is reminding a girl of that time you were in a pseudo-incest relationship considered flirting. "Yeah, remember when we found out we shared that sibling? That was so hot."
Apparently, Dan spent all the money from his New York Times bestselling fanfiction from last season on Miracle-Gro for his hair and deep V T-shirts, because he is still homeless. But since the Vanity Fair money came in, he can finally get a real place.
Lily breezes by to call his father a judgmental douche and Dan agrees. "You can't offend me with the truth," Dan explains. Please pay attention to that line, because it is absolutely hysterical in hindsight to the rest of the episode.
Serena explains that since she is a lonely spinster now, she has plenty of time to help him pick out apartments. He talks about wanting to move to the Lower East Side, but Serena laughs because everyone knows Dan has gotten a taste of the high life and he needs at least a doorman and a premium breakfast spread to be happy now.
Outside, Serena sees that Dan has, in fact, actually purchased a Vespa and, if you know and love Serena as much as I do, this is the exact moment you realize she's going to sleep with him. Vespas are like Serena's kryptonite. She is powerless in the face of their European pretentiousness.
Soon the two are zooming away from paparazzi asking about their sex tape. They go to the bar they went on their first date, where Serena reveals that she was actually always an excellent pool player. I would watch a spin-off that was just Serena hustling people at pool. They are all nostalgic about that magical time when they were first dating, when Dan found her worthy to love and Serena had just killed a man and needed Dan to remind her she was a good person. Those were the days!
Back at the VDW crib, Serena catches Nate touching all the paintings in the house like a crazy person and just accepts this because it's Nate. I love everything about Serena and Nate's relationship. Like, there is no "Why are you in my house? Why are you feeling up my paintings?" It's just "Sup, bro!"
As soon as Serena gets those Van der Woodsen crazy eyes when talking about the nice time she had with Dan, Nate feels the need to drop some straight wisdom on her. Man, Nate really has been watching a lot of reality dating shows, hasn't he? He's wise now, like a beautiful, stoned Oprah. And just like Oprah would never steer Gayle wrong, Nate will not allow Serena to fall back into the trap that is Dan Humphrey's tangled web of hair. "Dan did done me wrong, Serena! Remember how he's horrible?" Nate asks.
This seems to snap Serena to her senses, and whatever Vespa love musk completely dissipates as she remembers how horrible he's been to her for a least a year now. As she's naming off all the jerky things Dan has done to her and everyone she cares about lately, Dan shows up in the penthouse with chocolate-covered strawberries. Now remember, you can't offend Dan with the truth and all the things Serena says are things Dan actually did in reality. So, of course ... Dan is offended.
He tries to storm out, and he and Serena have the mother of all fights. Nate disappears to go spread his sassy wisdom to Chuck and figure out how to Bing on a Windows 8 phone.
Dan throws in her face the endless parade of men she's dated on their off periods. Serena mentions how he ruined her best friend's wedding and then dated her best friend and then wrote scathing editorials about everyone when they didn't conform to his arbitrary moral code.
They jump into the elevator and get even meaner. Dan says something snotty and then clarifies he's being sarcastic, to which Serena agrees that she is too. Dan thinks that's doubtful. "Come on, Serena, you sweet moron. You don't understand sarcasm," Dan basically says. Dan is such a prince. This is the exact moment the elevator gets stuck.
So basically, this episode is about reliving Dan and Serena's best moments, from first date to first ... second breakup. Trying to cram half a season worth of character development and relationship progression into one episode makes this, as you can imagine, somewhat choppy in the execution. This is a storyline that should have been started much earlier in the season or at the very least gradually backed into. As it is, this episode takes Serena and Dan from zero to 10. To say this is rushed would be an understatement.
Still, the performances from both Badgley and Lively, and the natural chemistry between the two, actually goes a long way towards making this about-face in their relationship make a certain kind of sense. I'm not sure I buy that Serena and Dan can forget the past so fast, but I do believe the two have a connection that is hard to sever, no matter how terrible the behavior exhibited by either.
As the two make up, the elevator door opens and Serena invites him in. Anyone else think Vanya was downstairs watching on a closed-circuit television eating popcorn, because this is how he makes life more interesting? I have a secret theory this is why he lets everyone and anyone into the penthouse. Just for the drama!
Serena and Dan talk about fresh slates and then she invites him to stay, which means it's sexy times. But does this mean Serena and Dan are back together or will they be at each other's throats again next week? After all, the Sabrina ... I mean, Serena chapter hasn't dropped yet.
Raiders of the Lost B(Art)
Meanwhile, over in the Brooklyn loft of inappropriate love and gold-digging, Rufus and Ivy are doing something with a gallery opening that is boring. Rufus is just super jazzed that he managed to hook up with another sugar mama. Ivy is obviously hiding something, if the size of her hair is any indication of all the secrets she's keeping.
Ivy makes Rufus believe that Lily is holding a charity art auction on the same day as his gallery opening for nefarious sabotage purposes. So Rufus and Ivy go and try to buy all Lily's paintings. When that doesn't work, they donate enough to co-sponsor the art show. Lily's face is one of ice cold WASP rage, which is terrifying and beautiful to behold.
This indignity causes Lily to spit out some of the hands-down greatest and meanest one-liners I have ever heard on this or any other show. I'm seriously amazed. Lily could teach a master class on beautifully damaging put-downs. "You can pretend to be Lola, you can pretend to be Serena, but you can't pretend to be me," Lily tells Ivy. No one could be you, Lily, for you are an evil shining star and we love you.
So Lily decides to one-up Ivy by selling off her Richard Phillips painting that has hung above the stairs in the penthouse for seasons now. Not the Rainbow Lady! Anything but that! Take Ivy instead! Take Sage! I like that painting more than half of the characters! At the very least, it's probably had more consistent character development.
Over in Chuck's Empire of Horses, Oil, and Other Nonsensical Plot Elements, Chuck has conscripted Nate into his search for evidence against his father. Times are tough when the ace up your sleeve is Nate, is all I'm saying. They go on IMDB and figure out Bart took a page out of the movie Traffic to hide his Sudan documents in the back of a painting.
So Chuck races in a hilariously awkward run up the steps to bid on the painting, but too late because Rufus snatches it up with Ivy's money. That will show Lily who's not a useless househusband! "And you remain a kept man," Lily says coldly to Rufus. With that final burn, Lily has pretty much incurred all the damage points to whatever was once left of Rufus' pride. But Rufus just smiles at her; the joke's on her because he hasn't had any pride for years now!
Bart, having passed "Faking Your Own Death" in Criminal 101, sadly missed the day when the class titled "Hiding Documents That Could Send You to Jail in Places That Aren't Immensely Stupid" was held. So now Ivy has Bart's Sudan files, Chuck is short $2 million and Rufus definitely is being played. Also, Nate has no idea what is going on, but has a new Windows phone, so I guess that's pretty cool. Maybe he'll use it to Bing "cooking the books" and feel pretty stupid he threw all those books into a pot to boil.
Return to the Met Steps
With the art theme to the episode, it should come as no surprise that Blair eventually ends up sitting on the Met steps, her former high school throne. Except now, she only has Nelly Yuki for company. I wish Blair would open her eyes and realize that not only is Nelly Yuki more consistently well-dressed than even Blair herself this season, she's also the only person incredible enough to be referred to by full name at all times. You could do worse than having Nelly Yuki as your friend.
Eleanor has returned to deal with the taste level concerns she has over Blair's reign as head of Waldorf designs. Has no one realized that maybe Blair's demo isn't actually teenagers but old socialites, since she often dresses like a 80-year-old out for afternoon tea? In a very obvious way, this is all horrible Sage's fault and she isn't even in the episode.
Eleanor tries to get Blair to be nice to Nelly Yuki for, like, five seconds, but Blair is incapable because she used to rely on Serena for all the basic people skills parts of her day-to-day life. Eleanor tries to tell Blair that all her cunning and devious ways will never get her ahead in the business world. Because if there's anything I've learned from both this show and life in general, it's that people running companies never resort to devious behavior to get ahead. Deviousness in business! What madness will you speak next?
"My Grace Kelly can defeat my Grace Jones," Blair says in one of the best non-Lily lines of the episode. But of course it can't, because this is Blair Waldorf we're talking about.
She resigns from Waldorf and Eleanor looks very sad. But a pep talk about how terrifying she was from Nelly Yuki re-energizes Blair. She tells her mother that she doesn't have to put her dark side completely away, because it's her dark side that gets business done and instills fear in the hearts of 16-year-old girls. Bitch is the new black!
As per usual, scenes with Blair and Eleanor are incredible and always emotionally resonate. These two always bring it to the table and make sure all of their performances are layered with the rocky history of this mother-daughter duo. Margaret Colin is imposing, not just because she is approximately 10 feet tall, but because she looms so large in Blair's estimation.
It's great to see Blair finally embrace both sides of her nature and merge them into one unstoppable business woman. Like Serena, Blair has always had a hard time accepting both the good and bad sides to her personality. Usually, she would embrace one just to shuttle the other out of the way. If Blair finally manages to merge both her classic Grace Kelly and scheming Grace Jones into one pint-size package, her character arc this season will have been fairly impressive. I guess only time will tell how long this new resolution lasts.
Interview: Gossip Girl director Norman Buckley discusses direction "Where the Vile Things Are," relationships, standout episodes and a bittersweet goodbye
Next week: Chuck and Blair take the merry-go-round that is their endless courtship for another whirl, Serena dresses like a sparkly amazon gladiator to do battle in the thunder dome and Bart breaks into the MoMA to retrieve the rest of his illegal files.
What did you think? Were you happy to see Dan and Serena reunite? What did you think of Blair's character development? And who is Ivy scheming with? Sound off in the comments.
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