Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The girls can't help it

After another (mercifully shorter) hiatus, Gossip Girl came back with the sort of whimsical, fun little episode that made us like this show in the first place. Not spectacular, but certainly promising as we move into May Sweeps and the final episodes of the season. (Side note: is it just me, or does this season feel like it's been on for two years? Not that I'm complaining, but Labor Day feels like a loooong time ago!) For one thing, Wallace Shawn came back! I thought maybe they'd been holding back on Cyrus because they wrote his icky son Aaron off the face of the earth, but I guess they figure it's been long enough that no one will question his own son not being at the Passover Seder the characters all attend in this episode. (Or we won't ask questions as long as we never have to think about Aaron again-- sorry, all, for bringing back painful memories.) The hour opens with one of those Blair fantasies that used to be sort of cute but are mostly just tiresome. (We get that she likes Audrey Hepburn, but that really only leaves two iconic movies to play with-- maybe Blair needs to start idolizing Joan Crawford or something.) She's still smarting from the Yale fiasco, and then a possible answer arrives in the form of Nate's grandfather, who offers to get her in the wedding party for Nate's cousin Trip if she'll convince Nate to go to Yale instead of Columbia. Nate wants to go to Columbia because the producers want to keep the kids in New York-- er, because he got in under his own steam (whereas Yale was a gimme thanks to the family name). Blair can't resist trying to influence him for her own high society gain, but then Nate stuns the engagement party by declaring a biting "toast" to his grandfather, who Trip told him had ratted his disgraced dad out to the Feds. So much for that plan. What's more, when Grandpa explains to Nate that he gave the Captain the chance to turn himself in but had no choice but to turn him in for the good of him and his family, Nate thanks him for his honesty and then his grandfather says, "In the spirit of honesty, there's something you should know..." and reveals his deal with Blair! I'm sorry, but isn't that a little hypocritical? How is it not bad that Grandpa bribed Nate's girlfriend in the first place!? Blair can certainly be a scheming bitch, but I honestly sympathized with her here. Thankfully a talk with Chuck, of all people, convinces Nate to forgive Blair and by ep's end the two are hugging and kissing all over again. Her earlier claim that she no longer cared about college and just wanted to go socialite wasn't too convincing, but did produce this priceless zinger (after Cyrus offered to get Blair an NYU interview): "I have no desire go to a non-Ivy league school, read Beloved eight times and then experiment with lesbianism!" Meanwhile, Serena was dealing with the consequences of her impromptu trip to Spain with high society pal Poppy in the last episode. Lily is royally pissed and declares "the old Serena is back, and I don't like seeing her." But Serena hasn't even revealed her biggest gaffe: she apparently married hunky Gabriel in a drunken haze overseas, and essentially came running back to escape! She seeks Cyrus's legal advice, since Blair is tied up in wedding preparations on the night of the big family Seder and thus conveniently out of the way. He urges her to tell her mom; after all, "she's your *mother.*" This exchange is overheard by Dan, who's taken on a catering job to supplement his college fund and has wound up at chez Waldorf. He moves easily into morally superior mode: "How does one not *know* if one is married?" (I don't know, Humphrey: how does *anyone* not know if one is married? Such is life.) Eventually Lily and Rufus arrive for dinner, followed by Gabriel, who's tracked Serena down, and the evening descends into a farce. Dan has to pretend to be Serena's on-again boyfriend and date for the Seder for Gabriel, Rufus, and Lily, while also fulfilling his role as "cater waiter" (which btw is my new favorite profession) for Eleanor, prompting all sorts of silliness. Meanwhile poor Cyrus is trying to actually, you know, have a religious dinner, while Eleanor just wants to know when they eat. "She never mentioned you," Gabriel says, to which Dan replies, "I must have come up once or twice..." Meanwhile, Eleanor's mandate that Dan "make himself more presentable" strikes Rufus as rude, but Dan declares, "I'm just gonna go with it." And Lily can't believe Serena and Dan are back on yet again. Eventually, of course, the whole thing comes crashing down and Dan cops to his role in the affair, at least. When Serena realizes Gabriel's gone, she follows him, and he tells her they weren't married in Spain, after all, but he really likes her. They kiss, and just then a distraught Blair shows up (before Nate makes nice with her at episode's end). The two share some cathartic girl talk, reminding us that their tempestuous friendship is often at the core of the show. (I knew teenage girls who were friends in high school and alternately adored and despised each other-- that love/hate dynamic seems to be par for the course sometimes.) Serena leaves Gabriel a sweet voice mail, while Blair has a touching moment with Cyrus-- taking him up on the NYU offer-- right before Nate comes to see her. She says "I'm so sorry" and runs into his arms. Serena's just found out she got into Brown, but her burgeoning love seems less auspicious; cut to Gabriel and Poppy having a vague but clearly scheming conversation. Last but certainly not least, this episode featured some interesting bits for Chuck and Jenny; the latter appears to be taking baby steps towards having a life of her own. She's got a cute, soft-spoken new love interest named Elliot (even if they do lame things like play Monopoly at home) and she stands up to Chuck in a rare ballsy moment. After he realizes his paramour of the night is someone he's already slept with, he kicks her out and randomly insults Jenny. ("Big shock; the girl from Brooklyn is a renter," he quips.) Jenny tells him off, saying that just because he's bored doesn't mean he should try to crap on other people's lives; besides, hers and Lily's families constitute "the only people in your life you don't have to pay to be there" and reminds him that in light of his attempt to force himself on her last year, she could probably get him thrown out of the apartment if she wanted to. Chuck later comes back to her and acknowledges her point, while also apologizing for last year's incident (which actually happened way back in the series premiere). He vows that if the Humphreys do end up moving in, he'll move out. It was a very interesting and unexpected scene, with two characters whose paths have rarely crossed-- at least directly-- since that fateful premiere. I suppose it's also worth mentioning that Rufus randomly announced he's selling the gallery, both to raise college money and because he's not enjoying art anymore. Dan asks what he'll do now, and he says he's not sure, but my money's on a revived music career. Meanwhile, this may have been the most blatant Kelly-Rutherford-is-hugely-pregnant episode yet, with all manner of conspicuously flowing dresses and coats on display. I can't wait till she pops that baby out so the producers can finally stop playing Hide the Bump. My favorite moment of all, though, wasn't in the episode itself, but at the end of the promo for next week: a breathless Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) hugs Chuck and blares, "Have you been saved???" Only time will tell if the bitch has gone fundy (or if it's all just an act), but the clip made me laugh out loud and I am dying for next week already.

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