Last week Gossip Girl set us up for the fight of our lives — that is, the battle between our hometown heroes, the children of Constance Billard and St. Jude's, and the vile threat from overseas with new sources of seemingly infinite evil power. It seemed likely that Georgina Sparks would only be toppled by the combined might of Blair, Nate, Chuck, Serena, and Vanessa. With glee we looked forward to the clever uses of each of their particular skills (or, in Nate's case, bangs) that would come together to defeat her. During this episode we were saddened — but should not have been surprised — to remember that, of course, it would only take Blair. "“Haven’t you heard?" she asked Georgina/us. "I’m the crazy bitch around here.”
The bitch having been ditched cleanly and efficiently (until the next ratings slump, duh), the episode spends the rest of its merry, overexpensive time luxuriating in the murderous melodrama that defines a high-school breakup — and the casual cruelty that comes with a fourth marriage. Onward, then, to our weekly tally of what was real, not real, and every little bit of Vera Wang taffeta in between.
Faker Than Tears That Didn’t Smudge Serena’s Eye Makeup
• The opening card of the show, which is normally a flash of the Gossip Girl Website, has a picture of Dan and Georgina and the caption "That isn't Serena!" Um … THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND TO TAKE THAT PICTURE. Seriously, this is beginning to be scary. What, is Gossip Girl one of the leftover characters from The Sixth Sense? Wait, that would actually explain a lot. Minus 2. (Also, since when does Gossip Girl not call her "S"? We'd subtract for that, too, but we're just glad the site finally recognized that crazy-ass Georgina was back in town. Better late than never!)
• That Serena, after being taunted by Georgina, spent all night walking around in massive high heels, calling her very-probably-totally-cheating boyfriend every five minutes, waits until like seven in the morning to do the elementary step of going over to his house is totally unrealistic. Any hormonally charged teenage girl out of her right mind would have been climbing through Dan’s loft’s window faster than you can say Fatal Attraction. Minus 4. Plus, she looks like a hobgoblin. Even she would know to clean up before a pop-in. Minus 1.
• Why is Nate so obviously wearing makeup and gobs of hair goo while jogging in the park with his dad? Minus 2.
• Serena does that annoying TV thing where she doesn’t bother to clear up the fact that in the last episode, she told Dan she cheated on him with the two guys she left 1Oak with. Oops! Minus 2, because it looks kinda bad when you get caught “forgetting” about lies you told. (We'd subtract more, but they addressed this later in the episode. And Dan's reaction is to say, "It's a lot," which is actually an expression that we use. And we're real people! With the minds of high schoolers!)
• Georgina is thrilled to meet Dan in the park after their night of passion, and she shows it. “So I think we should be together forever,” she says happily, grabbing his hand. Okay, Georgina may be psycho, but she’s smart enough to know that is psycho. Minus 2.
• Bart takes Lily down to Tribeca to talk to her about their relationship. In real-estate metaphors? Minus 3, because not even Jared Kushner would do that to Ivanka Trump. (Though he is welcome to do that with us, especially if he uses terms like "bulldozer" and "giant swinging crane.") Also, Minus 2 for the choice of building: 105 Chambers Street. It's the real-life office building of the New York Sun, and the pretend office building of the newspaper at the end of The Devil Wears Prada. But Bart is an Observer man!
• Why does Eric look so sad at the wedding? The sun is shining, and he has a lovely floral bow tie, and everyone knows he’s a gay now. Is he seriously still pining for Asher? Minus 1.
• Wait a minute. Maybe it’s because Grandma Cece was missing. Seriously, where was she? One fake cancer scare is enough to get you disinvited from your daughter's wedding nowadays? Minus 2.
• Rufus uses the phrase "An historic moment." Minus 2, because prior to this moment, the show's writers have given us no indication that he is that kind of douche bag.
• Rufus isn't mad that Dan skipped his concert? And Dan isn't weirded out that Rufus didn't sleep at home last night? Even pretend perfect families have awkwardness — it's like how pretty girls fart. Minus 2.
• Minus 2 for Nate’s dad deciding that the best possible time skip town is in the middle of a big, public society wedding. Like no one would notice. Minus 1 also, because even now that the Captain's sober he shouldn't be stupid enough to hand over a wad of cash to a greasy slickster in the middle of the day in front of a wedding attended by Eliot Spitzer.
• AND: Nobody nicknamed "The Captain" would go down like a sack of potatoes every time he got bitch-slapped by his gay son. Minus 2.
• At Lily and Bart’s wedding, Vanessa tells Blair to deal with the fact that she’s seated at a “singles' table.” Since when do people put high-school kids at “singles' tables”? Minus 1
• Jenny is nervous about her internship, even though the letter came in the big envelope, which everybody knows is good news. Minus 1, with another Minus 2 for the fact that she's with Allison in Brooklyn while Rufus is on tour. Divorced parents can't do the whole house trading thing, even if it makes sense in theory.
• There are too many things we don't see in this episode. Like the actual wedding? Nate and Vanessa breaking up? Come on, this is why it should have been a two-hour season finale. Not because, um, we are freaking the fuck out that we won't be able to see the show for an entire summer. Minus 3.
Total: 34 unreality points.
Truer Than “Bitches Don’t Just Happen. Bitches Are Made.”
• Ironically, the senseless, overly muddled events and misunderstandings that lead to the over-the-top, utterly melodramatic breakup of Serena and Dan, and the breakup itself is probably the most realistic portrait of teenage life that Gossip Girl has shown us yet, probably because the medium suits the subject so well. Teenage breakups are like television dramas, more than anything else in real life is. They’re dramatic, because the participants actually believe that this is their one shot at true love, and yet their passion renders them totally inarticulate: They say stupid things out of pride, they sob and slam doors and walk away dramatically without just listening, or in Dan’s case thinking, “Hey, this is a pretty unique situation, it’s probably not likely that Serena will ever be in a situation again where she thinks she’s killed someone and is being tormented by a psycho pretending to be somebody else.” But other than that, everything about Serena and Dan’s horrible breakup is dead-on, from the defensive, dickish tone in Dan’s voice when he first answers the door to Serena to their last maudlin canoodle on the dance floor at Lily’s wedding. Plus 2 for Serena's trying to pretend not to know that Dan spent the night visiting the darkest, dankest parts of Skanktown. Plus 8 for the fact that Dan offers an awkward, horrifyingly evocative confession of said visit for the purposes of clearing his own conscience: “I didn’t sleep with her. But I may as well have.” Plus 2 for the fact that that totally means oral. Plus 3 for the fact that even after that Serena thinks they could fix things, and Plus 5 for the actual breakup conversation, in which Dan for the first time in the history of Gossip Girl sounded like a regular teenage boy:
Serena: So that’s it then? ‘Have a good summer, I’ll see you back at school?’
Dan: I guess.
• YESSSSS RUFUS AND LILY YESSSSSSS! Plus 10.
• And Rufus looks just like that greasy hipster one-night stand you had over this weekend! Plus 2.
• Georgina sold her horse for cocaine? What? Where do you even go to make that kind of transaction? Eh, who cares, it's totally awesome. Plus 1. An additional Plus 1 for the look on Georgina's face when she hears Blair's voice behind her, and Plus 2 for the bodyguard in the suit that is not-so-subtly lurking behind Georgi in case she bolts and tries to sell Dan for cocaine. And Plus 1 for ,“At least I lasted longer than Lohan!"
• Plus two for Dan finally making fun of Nate’s “man bangs, and Blair letting slip that Chuck wears his scarf during sex.
• “I guess that Luscious Jackson gig didn't work out,” Rufus says when he gets the call asking Linkin Hawk to come on tour. Plus 1 for name-checking a band best known from the Lollapalooza ’94 tour. God, we’re old.
• Finally! Everyone is caught wearing a terrible outfit. At the wedding all of the girls look horrendous, trussed up in bright, arm-fat revealing sacks. Which, let's be honest, happens all the time. Plus 2. (Except Lily, of course, whose arms look incredibly skinny and whose boobs look incredibly huge. Plus 2.) And an additional Plus 2 for Serena slouching down the aisle looking like an extra from Moulin Rouge, boobs akimbo in a halter dress accessorized with black gloves and a trashy patent-leather belt.
• "You think this will be us in twenty years, onto our fourth husbands?" Blair asks Serena. Plus 3 because, yes, duh.
• Those orchid centerpieces are lovely. Plus 2.
• Dan says, "I am the most understanding person." DAN IS THE LEAST UNDERSTANDING PERSON IN THE WORLD. But it's so true he would think he was the most. Plus 3.
• Chuck calls Vanessa "Punky Brewster." For some reason, we think this is for us. Plus 3.
• Plus 4 for the fact that everyone at the end ends up with a completely different person: Serena with Nate, Dan with Vanessa, Blair and Random Guy, Chuck and LYDIA HEARST (whom we will never be able to think of as "Amelia"). Even though it bums us out for Blair, it also makes sense that it would take Chuck exactly one week before becoming a twat again. These are teenagers after all! Their loyalties shift, and their loins flare, at the merest breeze.
Total: 62 reality points.
So this episode ended up 28 points in the black. But you know what? It just was not that great. It lacked the energy and spit that made a lot of the recent ones so awesome. When Georgina left, the stakes for everyone else seemed a lot lower. Sure, most things were resolved in time for the summer break, but the Fourth of July is coming! We wanted fireworks! Why were Rufus and Lily so happy to be apart? Why did Jenny think it was kind of funny that she was going to work for Eleanor? Why were Nate and Serena so blasé about the fact that they are already eyeing one another? All of this could have been more drama-filled. There need to be some big things in the fall.
Then again, they did successfully avoid the whole incest question. And we did find ourselves shouting out, "I'm Chuck Bass" at the very end of the episode, just before Chuck himself said it to Lydia Hearst. So yeah, we're still in love. Not "Gossip Girl can narrate our wedding" in love, but at least "Vanessa is still pining for Dan" in love. You know.
Oh, P.S.: The “XOXO” was in the painting in the background when Blair and Dan are calling Georgina. Just sayin'.