We open with Blair in the confessional. She is wearing a headpiece with black netting over her eyes and fuck-you heels. "After being broken up with my boyfriend for exactly twenty minutes, I succumbed to inebriation," she explains to the priest behind the screen-thingy. "I performed in a speakeasy and surrendered my virtue to a self-absorbed ass. The only good news is that he's a self-absorbed pig who will act like it never happened, thank God." The priest raises an eyebrow. "Sorry," Blair says. "Truthfully, I'm not even Catholic." Well, we are, and we don't even care that Blair took the Lord's name in vain, because this is an excellent exposition technique! We also love how it blends with the recap montage at the beginning, which happens to be the longest recap montage of any show ever. What, do they think we don't remember what happened last time? Here's a tip, CW, the people who are watching this show didn't happen to stumble upon it for the first time and think, This looks like a poignantly crafted drama I could sink my teeth into, I'll start watching! The people that watch this show are stalkerish and freaky, like us, and they have been talking about what happened last episode ALL WEEK.
It's Blair's birthday, and perhaps because she's a year older, we realize we've grown very fond of her; in fact, we've really start to know and love all the characters. Even Chuck is becoming endearing, and the minority sidekicks, whose names and lines we hear for the first time with actual clarity: "I hope he gives her herpes," says Kati (the Asian One), when she receives the text of Nate hugging a mystery blonde. "Cheaters should always get herpes," says Isabel (the Black One). Yeah! Nate should get herpes. Because even though he did do the right thing by finally dumping Blair, we still think he's kind of a suck hole of a character. Here's who else we we're not feeling: Dan and Jenny's mom. Or, as Rufus calls her, "Alison." But we'll get to that later, when, as always, we use our highly subjective and highly scientific* point system to calculate how much of this show is true to life and what is a designer imposter. Because because why, again? Oh, yeah! Because Gossip Girl is made in New York City, and we're not just going to let some Hollywood muckety-mucks run around taking liberties with it and putting the Manhattan bridge wherever they damn well please. Someone must be held accountable! And so, uh, we're going to do the accounting. Even though, truthfully, we're not so good at math.
As Fake As That Erickson Beamon Necklace Chuck Gave Blair**
• Continuing from above: Blair goes to a Catholic priest for confession? First of all, what teenager would ever do that? You'd cry about it and tell your pets, because they wouldn't say anything judge-y, and that's what Angela Chase would have done. Minus 3. Second, if she did do it, she'd go to St. Patrick's. Minus 1. And finally, we're Catholic (we know, you assumed we were Jewish this whole time. We get that a lot). No priest would ever say, "Try keeping your clothes on." In priest-speak, that would be, "Two rosaries and Hail Marys until you are blue in the face." Minus 2.
• Okay, so Dan and Jenny's mom. Alison. First of all, she does that thing where she pops up like, "Surprise!" behind Jenny, after her name is mentioned. This almost gave us at home a heart attack, not least because Alison looks exactly like an older version of Rayanne from My So-Called Life, and if Rayanne were now old enough to be the mom of teenagers, we would have to pack ourselves straight off to the nursing home. But as it turns out, Susan Misner, the actress that plays Alison, is three whole years older than Rayanne, which means that she's 36. Which means she had Dan at 19. That's what happens when you have precocious sex, kids! Minus 2 for not being a celebrity guest star, as we'd hoped (WTF Josie Bissett???) Minus 5 for casually encouraging teen pregnancy. Minus 6 for being a roadblock to Rufus getting together with Lily, which everyone liked. An additional Minus 2 for having the dumbest dialogue of anyone on the show, no matter how pretty she is. She should really be Nate's mom. And most important, seriously, Minus 10 for giving false hope to children everywhere whose parents are separated. This kind of seriousness doesn't belong in Gossip Girl, it's not campy or fun. Auntie Intel will tell it to you straight, kiddies. They aren't getting back together. Total: Minus 19
• Let's discuss the Vanderbilt ring, shall we? "It's soooo beautiful," Jenny coos to Nate on their walk. We didn't get that good a look at it, but it's hideous, right? Like, it's absurdly large, not like in a sparkly, diamond-y way but like it's a cameo or something. Ugh. Minus 5 for denying us fantastic jewelry when that is basically the whole point.
• When Jenny walked in on her postcoital parents, she would not have said, "As you were." She would have died of awkwardness and horror. What, did the writers of this show never have the universal childhood nightmare of the Sunday Morning Surprise? Minus 3.
• At Blair's party, Serena and Vanessa face off on Guitar Hero. Serena plays "Freebird," by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Vanessa does "Cherry Pie" by Warrant. We know what you're thinking, but our beef is not that 17-year-olds know these songs. We may be old, but we're not daft. We know these golden oldies get played in Urban Outfitters. Our problem is how did they not play Winger's pedophilia anthem, "She's Only 17." Seriously, that should be the theme song for this show. God. Now we're all worked up, we need to take off another point. Minus 2
Total: Minus 35. Ouch!
As Real As Your Woes About the Gossip Girl–Project Runway Scheduling Conflict
• In the confessional, one of the things Blair suggests for penance for herself is "putting that thing with the teeth around my leg, like Silas." Plus 5 for her understanding of Catholicism stemming entirely from the time she read The Da Vinci Code.
• When Eleanor Waldorf finds out that the Archibalds are in trouble, she freaks out. Blair says, "It must be awful for them." Eleanor replies, "I meant for me!" Um, duh. Even we would have that reaction. Plus 4.
• Blair's mom shakes the Times at her "The Captain is in serious trouble," she says. "What's going to happen to my deal with Bendel? I'm calling my lawyer." Okay, again, the Times is Photoshopped kind of awesomely, with a big photo of the Captain and Mrs. Vanderbilt on the cover of the business section, which we appreciate. Plus 2. (Wait, Nate's dad is called the Captain by other adults? Minus 1).
• They do very well with awkward teenager conversations in this episode. Blair and Nate's awkward get-back-together conversation seems very real (the fact that it's over the phone makes it even more real). When Blair asks Chuck if he likes her, he replies, "define like." Which is something that every single human, including President Clinton on national television, has said at one time or another. The best depiction, though, was the series of drunken revelations of insecurity late at night between Serena and Vanessa. If that hasn't happened to you, you aren't a girl. Or a gay. Plus 5, with an added Plus 1 for Dan's obnoxious smugness when he finds his girls bonding
• Whether or not it's realistic, it's totally awesome that the Asian sidekick has sushi chefs come in to cater a party at her brother's apartment. Plus 2. Can we please request that Steve Aoki is the D.J. in the future? Or that he PLAYS her brother? Thanks.
• Vanessa has a scooter. They never stop with the stereotypes with this one. What's next, she has a paint-spattered guitar case? And once went to an after-party in the Tribeca Grand with a dude from Interpol? Plus 2 and Minus 2, because it's accurate but she's a bitch and we hate her.
• Despite our complaints about the music choices in Guitar Hero above, its very appearance finally confirms that they must have talked to at least one teenager during the making of this show. Plus 8.
• All anyone is drinking at the party is a shot. So, so real. Plus 3.
• Why are the sidekicks wearing matching sailor costumes? Stupendous! Plus 6.
Total: Plus 35.
Holy stromboli! It's a tie. And we didn't even plan it. We guess the show deserves credit for the obvious (yet compelling in their sticky realishness) plotlines that Chuck falls for Blair and Nate will inevitably fall for Jenny. Though we didn't like that Rufus and Lily's great love was threatened, we did like that someone finally had an apartment party, and that they gave up on the love story between Jenny and Eric, Serena's little brother. Let's leave that one to real life, shall we?
*frankly, highly suspicious.
**After several irate phone calls from an Erickson Beamon publicist, it should be noted that Blair's necklace was actually real, costs $35,000 and has 11 carats worth of diamonds. Run, don't walk, to the store!