At last, we feel, the fall season is under way. In last night's epic episode, the diversions of the summer — Catherine and Marcus, and the getting-kind-of-tiresome relationship between Nate and Vanessa — were neatly dispersed of, and a series of events, small in and of themselves but large in aggregate, occurred, events that changed key characters fundamentally and in doing so rocked the very foundations of the show.
Not to mention our entire sense of reality and the order of things and the universe and what have you.
We started out the episode believing, like Serena, that she and Dan loved each other, that maybe someday they would get back together, that they would at least be "friends." But then reality came flying at us, and like a Nairtini to the eyeballs, it burned and burned and burned, and when it was gone, we realized we would never see anyone on Gossip Girl the same way again.
Dan betrayed us in this episode (or the writers betrayed Dan, but if we must recognize the fourth wall here, it's all big D's fault). He was too judgmental, too harsh, insensitive. To be sure, these were all behaviors he has exhibited in the past, but this time it was far worse. He got irrationally mad at things that weren't Serena's fault; he outrageously flirted in front of her. Most galling of all, he was even impervious to her sad face. We thought Dan Humphrey was ultimately a good person. Now we're not so sure.
In reaction, Serena, whom we have long considered a snooze and a half, blossomed. Like Jennifer Lopez in Enough, she decides she has had it with Bad Dan, and transforms herself: Except instead of a butch haircut and karate, Serena turns to dirty martinis, Chanel scarves, and total social dominance. Hell hath no fury like a high-school girl scorned, we're about to find out, and we kind of can't wait for more. That, plus not one but two references to the seminal teen witch movie The Craft might just put this episode into the realm of classic.
But was it realistic?
Compare your thoughts against our scientifically calibrated reality index, now with an exciting new twist!
As Real As School Starting the Same Week As Fashion Week
• Okay, we'll award points for it: Plus 2 for Lily finally coming home. And an additional Plus 1 for the fact that her version of "caring" for her children is overordering room service on their first day back to school.
• When Lily drops in on Rufus, he's on his way to go see Repo Man. Plus 9. This is totally realistic — guys like Rufus love that movie. Jessica probably has an ex-boyfriend watching it literally now. Yes, now. When he should be at work. And Plus 3 more for Lily offering to go see it with him. This not only gets across the writer's point, later articulated, that Lily is lonely, but shows us that she truly loves him, as we know for a fact that’s the only reason a woman would have for wanting to see that movie. Brava, Schwartz et al?
• "Having to see him," Serena admits to her mother in a moment of nervousness about seeing Dan at school, "it's going to be hard." She seems so sweet and unsure, huh? Our immediate reaction was: "Aw, that's sweet. This will change." Plus 4 because we were so right, but not because writers were foreshadowing, because that's what would happen in real life.
• The system of "Victims and Projects" might be a little exaggerated and hastily conceived (why didn't we see the seniors doing anything like that last year? Why didn't we see seniors last year?), but the spirit is right on the money: Everyone always runs the gauntlet of judgment that first day back at school. Plus 3, with an additional Plus 1 for the excellent use of high-quality office supplies, which ever so subtly remind some of us of Slam Book Fever.
• "Are those Tory Burch's last-season flats?" Blair asks. "I got them on sale?" a poor young aspiring girl says. Plus 3 because Blair's facial expression does not change even a tic, but it somehow gets TEN TIMES MORE EVIL. Leighton Meester is a genius. And an additional Plus 2 because even heterosexual men know those Reva ballet flats are last season. Not that we're siding with Blair, or anything.
• "God, she totally isn't even pretty," our friend said, of Amanda, the "fiction writer" Dan becomes interested in. "Then again," she said, "[the girl who started dating friend's ex immediately after they broke up] wasn't pretty, either." Plus 3, because it's always the quiet ones.
• Serena thinks it’s a good idea to try to be friends with Dan right away. "Friends eat lunch together," she says hopefully. Awkward. Also, completely realistic. Plus 5.
• For that matter, it's so realistic that Dan would have moved on immediately. Dudes. Plus 1.
• Blair says, "The Met steps are totally under construction." They TOTALLY ARE! So real. Plus 5.
• "Lunch?" Blair asks. "As in the meal before dating?" Plus 3.
• HOORAY!! They totally acted on the not-quite-incest story between Marcus and Catharine, although way earlier than we even predicted! Plus only 3, because wasn't that kind of a waste of a few episodes' worth of mumsy-Marcus foreplay?
• Dan and Amanda bond over Letters to a Young Poet. This is perfect, because Dan would in actuality be much more into William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski, but he would know that the Rilke could get him laid. Plus 1.
• "Sound the trumpet, strumpets!" says Gossip Girl. Brills. Plus 1. So Shakespearean.
• Ha, Amanda is is kind of Hannah Montana–esque. Plus 1 for Jenny, who is completely master of her domain this season.
• Nate says "I don't know—" and Blair interrupts him by saying, "Wait, hold that non-thought." It's like she has a different (slash better) writer from everyone else! Plus 2.
• "My life is an empty house or a crowded restaurant, and I don't know which one makes me feel more alone," mourns Lily, clearly having borrowed Blair's writer for a moment. Plus 2.
• Plus 3 for the scene in which a revolted and horrified Amanda is pulling the hairs off her head after Penelope throws the Nairtini at her. Not because it was realistic (we're pretty sure Nair doesn't work that fast) but because it was a total homage to seminal mean-girl movie The Craft.
• Dan acting like a dickwad for the umpteenth time finally pushes Serena to the edge and she snaps out of being mopey and back into being herself, which is in her case a total conniving bitch. Plus 5, because we have totally had that same, "Wait a minute, I'm acting like this because of you? But you're a jerk!" kind of aha moment and Plus 3 for the part at the end wherein Serena and her minions walk in slow motion glaring at him just exactly — yes! — like the three witches from The Craft.
As Fake As a Bunch of High-School Kids Drinking Cosmos at STK
• "I heard your, uh, friend sneaking out this morning," Dan says to Rufus. Umm, even the hint of your parents having sex makes you want to kill yourself. Remember that scene from Serial Mom? No teen, not even one so bohemian as Dan, is capable of making a joke that references, on any level, the existence of his parents' genitals. Minus 2.
• Our commenters raised this issue this week, and we can no longer ignore it: Didn't they just befriend Nelly Yuki to bring her down? Why is she still hanging around? Is it seriously because the other Asian girl left the show? Minus 2.
• One girl's dad is the doctor for the Knicks, but she's rejected by Blair's posse because they summer "in the Adirondacks"? They would think twice if they knew her dad was totally Blair Underwood. Minus 2.
• Wait, did Nate just randomly (and awkwardly) catch up with Vanessa on a random Brooklyn street corner? What, is Brooklyn Chelsea now? Minus 1.
• In the middle of the school day, Dan goes to have lunch at Vanessa's café. Which, last we checked, was in Williamsburg. That’s kind of a hike for a 45-minute lunch period. Minus 1.
• Nate says to Vanessa. "Did I do something? Or what happened?" WHAT HAPPENED? Nate, even you would recall the whole "I'm being paid by an older lady for sex in exchange for keeping my father out of jail and my mother in African mums." Minus 2.
• "I guess it's better to be ignored than tortured," Jenny says. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Oh, Lil J. Obviously, that's not true. Just ask Julia Allison. Minus 2.
• We get that Blair is wearing a tiara during her "Queen B" social interviews. But what is with the cape and the pilgrim collar? We thought Jenny talked Eleanor Waldorf out of that look! Minus only 2, because we get that it's meant to reference Queen Elizabeth's sable collars, but still.
• Ughhh … again with that purple palette for Chuck. Minus 1.
• "Google revenge, you'll get BlairWaldorf.com," says Dan. Snarf, snarf, snarf, you can't win us back that easily, you sexy dweeb. Minus 1.
• Dan says to Vanessa, "Look, V, I gotta go." He talks like them now!?
Minus 2, because he's too self-centered to pick up on the mannerisms of other people unless they are British.
• This new "Amanda" girl is too aggressive. It's like she's up to something. Minus 2, because this should have been less obvious. And also, Dan, who goes on a date with someone the first day they've met? Minus 1.
• Why are they constantly at STK? Doesn't Dan not have any money? And isn't that, um, a restaurant? People are supposed to eat there. Minus 4.
• Serena would never force Dan to go on that weird Canadian date with Dan and Amanda, Minus 2, she would never be able to drink an entire martini in one gulp (did you not notice that moment of continuity genius?), Minus 2, and she would never get drunk hot. Serena would get drunk ugly. Minus 2.
• The Duchess lives in the
Apthorp Ansonia? That's … weird. Minus 3.
• Minus 2 for the Duchess going all the way to Brooklyn to hand Vanessa a check and then suddenly vanishing like the vampire guy in True Blood. Minus 3 more for the fact that Vanessa then proceeded to travel all the way to the Upper Apparently West Side to return said check, and that she was then able to stand unnoticed taking pictures of the Duchess and Marcus making out. And Minus 4 for the ridiculous Harlequin-novel-esque way the the Duchess and Marcus pushed and pulled and unbuttoned each other's shirts. Did you see the part where he flipped her around all frantically? What is this guy? A practitioner of the Fabio Method of acting?
At this point we normally tally the points, but because you guys have been so awesome at spotting things and adding them in the comments, we're going to hold off and try something new. At the end of the day, we'll sift through the items you've added, pick the ones we like best and then do a finally tally that incorporates your comments. (But only the ones we like best, because we're still in charge, duh.)
And to get you started: Chuck. What was his motivation? Discuss.