Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Scheme a little scheme

Gossip Girl's Serena continues to be willfully naive. Seriously, it's bad enough that she falls for losers like Aaron (eww) and now Gabriel (who at least has better hair care skills), but then she keeps buying into all of their lies. At the start of the episode, Serena realizes that Gabriel's made off with all the investors' money and she consults Blair and Chuck to see what she should do. Nate's tagged along with Blair because he accused her of using Serena's latest predicament to avoid discussing their issues: i.e. whether or not they should move in together. Of course, Nate is utterly useless when it comes to things like this: he's much better at pouting than he is at devising schemes. Dan arrives to announce that Rufus has sunk his college fund into Gabriel's bogus deal, and Serena apologizes. She assures him she can get the money back, because "the feelings are real" even if Gabriel's African wi-fi bullshit wasn't. She and Chuck meet Gabriel for lunch at Gilt (which I think is the real hotel restaurant that has a sandwich named after the show) and he cops to the scam-- which Chuck identifies as, yep, a Ponzi scheme-- but claims that Poppy has the money now and he couldn't return it even if he wanted to. Chuck is still skeptical, but Serena is convinced that Poppy is the more evil one and falls for Gabriel's "I really came to love you speech" and he even says, "You're the only one worth waking up a Spanish priest for" (a reference to their quasi-wedding). Barf. He's so full of it, but Serena even lets him leave, convinced that "he won't be hard to find" if they need him later. Is this why it was so easy for Bernie Maddoff to bilk New Yorkers? Are all of them dumb, trusting sheep? I thought we had more know-how than that. Anyway, Georgina, who's assuring everyone she means no harm (loved the moment when Blair instinctively pulled her purse away), is recruited to entrap Poppy by pretending to be yet another gullible, rich New Yorker for her to dupe. She's reluctant to join in the subterfuge, but Blair convinces her it's a good way for her to atone for past sins. They provide a makeover-- out with the Jesus threads, in with the Upper East vixenwear-- and Georgina makes a date to meet Poppy for lunch at yet another posh eatery: the Russian Tea Room. Meanwhile, dopey Dan has spilled the beans to Lily (whose layers of pregnancy-hiding props and wardrobe were so funny I included a pic above) about the Ponzi scheme. He's understandably concerned about his dad, but his meddling ultimately makes things worse. Lily decides to pay back the investors and handle the whole thing quietly, not wanting to taint Serena's or her reputation with "a scandal," but rather than be upfront with Rufus she opts to have him paid in monthly installments that will create the illusion his investment is actually paying him off. I'm hard pressed to understand her logic here. Did she really think she could keep this a secret? And why doesn't she want to prosecute the ones behind this sordid scheme? The fear-of-scandal doesn't seem like it should outweigh a desire for justice. She orders Serena not to interfere, even as her daughter is horrified by the sight of Lily having tea with Poppy and accepting all her lies about how she, too, was a "victim." Inevitably Serena goes ahead with the entrapment plan, anyway. When Dan gets wind that his dad is being payed in installments-- which clearly aren't from the bogus scheme-- he calls Serena who assures him she'll get the money back, and also snaps that he may as well tell her mom since he's good at it. Of course, dopey Dan does just that and Lily is furious that her kid's still plotting to bring down Poppy. (I can't really relate to this. If I were in the same position, my mom would probably be the one *behind* "Operation Nail the Bitch." I guess the Lockwoods are generally a less blase, forgiving bunch.) She calls her and demands that she call off the plan but naturally Serena ignores her. (We see her on the phone and spotting Poppy approaching. I can't blame her for ignoring Lily on this one. Just the site of that girl makes me want to bitch slap her, too.) Georgina does her best "wide eyed idiot" act, all the while secretly recording Poppy's request for money to get her in on the investment-- cash only, of course. Meanwhile, Chuck and Blair have time for a Momentous Exchange that provides yet another first. After Nate demands that Chuck either man up and declare his feelings for Blair or let her go, he's asked the burning question by Blair. "I need to know if this is real, or just a game," she declares in yet another Emmy worthy performance. (Seriously, I may have the hots for Chuck, but Blair is the best part of this show. She's both hilarious and heartbreakingly emotional. Too bad the TV Academy is way too snobbish to reward a "soap opera" performance as opposed to umpteen procedural actors.) "It's just a game," he says, and Blair, with tears in her eyes, thanks him and walks away. Serena, who's witnessed the whole scene, asks Chuck, "why did you do that?" "Because I love her," Chuck says. "And I can't make her happy." Big moment: he finally admitted he loves her! Of course, his response to Blair's face ensures that he keeps the love triangle going; pretty clever move by the writers. (Also somewhat more plausible than last fall's "the game is what we do best" bullshit.) Outside, Blair tells Nate they shouldn't move in together, and he agrees he was just "trying to force our issues." But they're still on as a couple, at least for now. Meanwhile, Georgina hands over a satchel of cash to Poppy and cops arrive... but they arrest Serena, not Poppy! Turns out Lily's foisted them on her daughter on bogus theft charges (for "stealing" an heirloom bracelet she gave her earlier) to prevent her from sullying the family name with the Ponzi scheme debacle. Really, Lily? This is your brilliant plan? I say Parenting FAIL. Rufus certainly agrees; not only is he disgusted when he finds Lily's list of the people she's paying off (him included), but he's repulsed by her willingness to have her own daughter arrested. "You sound just like your mother right now," he declares. (Side note: what's with these two leaving smoking guns around for each other to find? They really need to stop being so careless with lists, manifestos, etc. Will they ever learn?) Rufus was actually on the verge of proposing to Lily, but he backs off and tells his kids back in Brooklyn to "return this for me." There was a sweet little interlude earlier where he asked for Eric's permission to marry his mom, which was notable mainly for the first glimpse of that kid we've had in what seems like forever. (Still dig his new hair... but someone write this kid a decent storyline! He and Jenny seemingly exist only for the purpose of giving other characters advice-- it's like they're *both* the Token Gay Male!) The episode ends with Serena posing for the cutest mugshots this side of Lindsay Lohan. And next week-- it's a totally awesome "backdoor pilot" for the Lily in the 80s spin-off! Lily flashes back to her own arrest as a teen in LA, and we'll get a sneak peek at the producers' potential new series, with Andrew McCarthy as her dad and No Doubt cameo-ing as punk rockers. Looks like fun, although I still think Lily's kind of a bitch for having her own kid arrested. But what do I know?

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