Unlike the Vanderbilts, Daily Intel will leave behind no oil portraits of ancestors or presidential seals. Our recaps of Gossip Girl are our only legacy. We’ve devoted many evenings of our lives to studying the facets of its characters, and through it all, we’ve seen many of them struggle to choose whether to act like their better or worse selves: Chuck, the wayward billionaire’s son, is a brash bitter pervert with a tender soul. Serena vacillates between purposeful and accidental sluttiness. Her mother, Lily, is like a human coconut, with two hard shells that, once cracked, reveal a sweet, milky center. And then there’s Blair. This episode, it was her turn to have an identity crisis. Early on, she declared the Old Blair dead: It was time for the rise of the New Blair. But then a funny thing happened: The New Blair was pretty much exactly the same as the Old Blair. She lounged around in lingerie, freaked out about not getting into Yale. She drank too much, and acted like a bitch. One might take this as evidence that the character of Blair is less multifaceted than her Upper East Side comrades. But we think it’s just the opposite: Her character is like the Hope Diamond. Unbreakable, and precious.
Realer Than a Wasp Family Playing “Touch” Football in the Snow:
• Nate’s cousin is called Tripp, and he was wearing a yellow sweater with elbow pads. Plus 5. (And though we will award no additional points, Chris was titillated that he had already seen Tripp’s spectacular torso shirtless in an Off Broadway musical.)
• Watch how Chuck takes a sort of sweet moment and makes it progressively more disgusting. After Serena tells him to be sensitive because Blair didn’t get into Yale, he replies thoughtfully: “Yale, the only thing she wanted more than me. That would be painful.” “Chuck, she’s embarrassed, so we’ve gotta give her time to lick her wounds,” replies Serena. “Maybe I could lick them for her,” Chuck wonders. Ew. That doesn’t even make sex sense. Still, Plus 2.
• Lily has a MacBook Air. Plus 3.
• Lily’s ruffled, knitted cashmere scarf is not useful for any wintry purpose. (Except for distracting us from her enormous belly.) Plus 4.
• We knew from before that Lily has slept with Trent Reznor, but now we find out that she also did it with Slash! Plus 10, for the writers finally putting her groupie years closer to the eighties where they belong. She also, apparently, slept with a slew of people that each have, like, one IMDb credit, which should make the L.A.-based spinoff series way entertaining (though busy!). Her list read as follows:
1. James Bono
2. Darius Menard
3. Hollis Meminger
4. Steve Krieger
5. Pierre Elliot
6. Randy Manion
7. Ben Noble
8. Justin Pittman
9. Chris Nelson
10. Lindsay Hall
11. Jeffrey Rehlaender
12. Lawrence Orvieto
13. Duncan Bryant
14. Jeff Christiano
15. Alan Cohen
16. Trent Reznor
18. Claus Christensen
19. Klaus Richter
20. Bart Bass
21. Chris Tonkin
22. John Henry
23. Chris DeAngelis (which we sure hope is this guy)
24. Drew Adams
25. Justin Fesel
26. Kevin Stack
27. Alex Gradet
28. Stephen Rooney
29. Joe Van Ness
30. Stephen Georges
31. Tom Brancato
32. Ed Stokes
33. John Patterson
34. John Herbert
Now, there were about five names we’ve missed because they were blurry, but look: This is not a huge number, by any stretch of the imagination. Uh, is it?
• Blair realized she was headed for a “quarter-life crisis at 18.” So true. And so like a hysterical overachieving high-schooler to realize that during the college applications process. Plus 2. At least you’re still skinny, Blair! But even that will go soon enough. Trust us.
•Such a perfectly plowed football field! Plus 3.
•Tripp’s fiancé tells Vanessa, “Welcome to the next 30 years.” Which she would, because she’s got Stockholm syndrome and is secretly howling for help. Vanessa, of course, can’t hear her. Plus 2.
• Blair would never shoplift. But those glasses fit her outfit so well, we can totally see why nobody stopped her on the way out. Plus 2. Where is that store, again? (Plus, we love that her “rebellion” didn’t involve anything truly transgressive, like chopping off her hair, say, or wearing pants. Plus 1.)
• Vanessa’s dresses are looking better! She’s learning. Clever to cover up the sleeveless dress with a cardigan in that company, too. Plus 3. (Though, again, if Blair had really wanted to make a scene at the party, she would have taken her cardigan off. Surely she could manage that.)
• Dorota yells at Chuck in Polish after he tries to bribe her, the only time she appears to have lost control. We read on Gossip Girl Insider that what she said was “‘Are you crazy, you brat? I work for Miss Blair, not for you, what do you think you can buy me?’ Plus 4.
• Lily wears dresses with Swarovski crystals while loafing around her house? Okay, we’ll buy it. Plus 1, because the shiny things on her shoulders succeeded in distracting us from her enormous pregnancy.
• At first we wondered why Blair is lounging around in (un-frilly!) underwear drinking whiskey. But then we saw she was with Carter. Which was sort of okay, but still didn’t feel right. (Does no one put ice into brown liquor on this show? It’s not Chardonnay; you’re allowed to mix it up.) Then, when Carter kissed her, Blair didn’t take her eyes off Chuck. And then it felt right. Plus 3.
• “Looks like Roman Polanski is in town,” Chuck says, when the little girl answers the door. Plus 1. Seriously, it’s like there’s a pair of dead bodies hidden behind some too-tiny curtains.
• Serena’s boobage is in full effect at the Vanderbilt mansion. Plus 1.
• Dan: “Do you think the Humphreys have a crest that Jenny could sew onto one of my cardigans?” There are several fine levels to that awkward, self-aware statement. Plus 3.
• Nate observes that Blair likes watching movies she’s already seen because she likes “knowing how everything turns out.” Kind of insightful. Especially for Nate. Plus 2. But warning: We’ll only believe a few of these things.
• Was there a Van Gogh next to Chuck and Blair as they dry-humped against the wall? Plus 4.
• Blair’s overdrawn crimson lipstick is very McQueen 2009. Plus 2. Love. Bring on the metal body mask. Seriously, she would rock that look.
• When Vanessa talks about how she hasn’t quite broken up with Nate, Jenny offers some halfhearted advice. “Yeah, space is key,” she says, poorly acting out her poor acting. Plus 2.
• Of course Dorota would cover for Nate and Blair, because she knows all too well Chuck is a bad influence and could bring out “bad Blair” again. Plus 4. Dorota’s finally dropping her restraints and playing a role in these insane lives going on around her. Go girl! Self-actualize! We bet she’s taking a class at Landmark in her spare time. Let’s just hope she stops short of Kabbalah. Though, then again, she’d be friends with Madonna! Sorry, what were we talking about?
Faker Than an Actual Adult, Not on Ecstasy, Making a List of Past Hookups for a Current Relationship:
• Of course Vanessa wants to go to Eastern Europe for the summer after senior year. Because that’s where kids wanted to go when they graduated from high school in the nineties, which is when all of the writers graduated from high school. Minus 1. Also, we don’t understand this from the beginning. Vanessa wouldn’t be able to afford it, nor would she allow Nate to pay for her. Even if it worked for a short period of time, it wouldn’t have lasted all summer, thereby precluding an internship at City Hall. Minus 5.
• Why does everyone clap when Nate and his grandfather embrace? Minus 2; real-life Wasps would pretend not to notice. Maybe they would titter and rattle the ice in their lowball glasses. Maybe.
• And why would Nate take Dan to his family reunion? And would they really let him wear so much flannel? Minus 2.
• No matter how wealthy they are, preppy people don’t ruin beautiful cashmere sweaters by playing football in the mud. They wear their uncle’s hideous Dartmouth varsity sweaters from like 1968. Minus 4, because it was just painful to watch all that lovely wool go to waste. Elbow patches or no.
• Okay. We know Nate’s grandfather is exceptionally powerful and flies on a helicopter and stuff. But could he really have lined up an internship for Nate in less than 24 hours? Wouldn’t he have at least waited until, like, Monday? Minus 1. Plus, what? Interning for City Hall in high school is not “an amazing opportunity.” It’s an opportunity to fetch Mayor Bloomberg Swedish Fish from the vending machine. For an entire summer. Minus 3. No offense to Bloomberg, but the snacks would give anybody wind.
• Chris’s fussy lawyer roommate e-mails: “There is no such thing as Law Review at Yale. It is called the Yale Law Journal. And you wouldn’t be going right from Law Review at Yale to clerking on SCOTUS. You would spend a year at minimum clerking for a v. prestigious Court of Appeals judge first.” Minus 2. Chris’s fussy lawyer roommate then apologized for sending said e-mail.
• Wait, Chuck had Carter expelled from the secret gentleman’s club? How? We desperately want that nonsensical and annoying plotline to get brushed aside, but that sort of felt like a rip-off. Minus 2, because it would be like if on Seinfeld one day George was like, “Oh, yeah, Susan died. Anyway.”
• An admissions director for Sarah Lawrence would not live on Fifth Avenue across from the park. Minus 2.
• “Do you want me to overnight you a red tie from Bluefly?” Minus 1, for Jenny’s only complete sentence being product placement.
• Serena bought Carter a plane ticket to Dubai. Minus 2. This is lame, even as a gesture, because even if Carter were to agree to leave town he would obviously want to make his own travel arrangements. Oh, and how did Serena get the actual ticket as opposed to the one you print out from the computer? Did she go all the way to the airport to buy it? Minus 4. And the ticket said “Zone 1,” which means Serena paid for either a first-or business-class ticket. Those tickets cost the equivalent of the down payment on a small house. Even Serena and her boobs wouldn’t have that largess. Minus 3.
• “Good cop, Bass cop.” Weak. Minus 2. Oddly enough, this would have worked if Blair had said it.
• What on earth could have happened on Santorini that was so damning to Carter and Serena? Did they not kill someone else? Minus 3.
• Grandfather Vanderbilt says: “I used to worry that you got [your mother’s] looks and [your father’s] brains, but I was wrong.” No, you were right. Though, either way, it doesn’t seem like much of a compliment. Minus 1.
• According to a quick Google search, there appears to be a Johannes Vanderbilt that existed in the 1800s. But doesn’t that mean Anderson Cooper should be at that reunion party?? Minus 2, because crowing over Nate’s high-school internship would be a little embarrassing in the presence of the Silver Fox. (Also, was it us, or was the painting of Johannes Vanderbilt done in Cray-Pas?)
• All of the dudes Rufus would have known Lily boned — including Bart Bass, and Trent Reznor, and himself — just happened to be all on the same page that she gave him. But she probably would have made the list chronologically, which would have likely placed Trent and Slash (who were way back) on a different page from Bart (who was like a month ago). And why is there no van der Woodsen on the list? WHO IS SERENA AND ERIC’S FATHER? Minus 2. (Also, wait, where is Eric? If he fell down a K-Hole for a three-episode arc, we are going to be pissed.)
• Rufus, the rock star, only has thirteen people on his list. Minus 3, even with the weak explanation at the end. Did he leave off all the dudes or something?
• Jenny wouldn’t have a Mac. She’d have a Dell. Dude. Minus 3.
• “Take me now.” Blair says to Chuck. NO. No one has said that since, like, Moonlighting was on. If this is an ironic nod, we’ll add points. If not, which is what we suspect, minus 1.
• Have you ever noticed how people on this show are always walking away dramatically from each other and then awkwardly staying in the same room? Like when Nate storms away after telling Vanessa, “My Grandfather BELIEVES in me,” leaving her standing stupidly at his own family party. Or when Blair leaves Chuck, after faux-seducing him, with a florid “good-bye, Chuck!” and then just, like, goes into the other room. Minus 2, because honestly, are there no bathrooms where people can go to sob in this world?
• “Oh please,” Jessica’s husband says after Blair and Nate’s talk on the porch. “They’re getting back together now?” Minus 1.
• Lily might order cheap Chinese. But she wouldn’t go so far as the Tsing Tao. Minus 3. Especially not when she is SO OBVIOUSLY PREGNANT.
• Nor would Lily have a pitcher from Crate and Barrel. Minus 5. (What? We have lots of friends with tasteful wedding registries!)
Wow, so we’re even! And not even on purpose! We suppose it’s fitting for an episode that was a little sleepy, but also which was a return to basics: no crazy conspiracies, ridiculous enemies, or absurd (well, too many absurd) plot twists. Let’s think of this as a cleanse.