Because of Passover, the theme of Gossip Girl was, fittingly, redemption. As Cyrus, the drama's spiritual center, prepared a brisket for an evening seder, the characters around him continued to simmer in the oily stew pot that is the Upper East Side, trying, like so many aromatic vegetables, to hang on to their individual essences while absorbing and being absorbed by others. After much mishegas, Blair was forgiven by Nate, and later Cyrus, for acting like a social-climbing psychopath. "She is changing" for the better, confirmed Chuck, who redeemed himself for his first-season sin of trying to rape Jenny on the roof at the Kiss on the Lips party by offering her a heartfelt apology. Meanwhile, Serena was forgiven by her mother, Lily, for running away to Barcelona, causing a scene at Eleanor's seder, and the general sin of being an exotic butterfly who merely wants to be free, but sometimes makes mistakes. "Oh, sweetie," Lily tells her daughter during their heartfelt conversation, which takes place in front of a glass-doored refrigerator packed with colorful produce, "I could never think of you as a bad person. You got into Brown."
Yes, those words happened in sequence. We noticed that and more in our recap, which this time features special commentary from Gawker's Richard Lawson, who watched it with us in Chris's apartment.
More Real Than a "Schmutz Happens" Apron on Passover:
• Chuck tells Serena that he ran into Poppy at Rose Bar. Plus 1, because that's exactly the kind of place a New York socialite with a perfectly tousled Amelie haircut would hang out.
• The wedding rehearsal is at St. James Church, a suitably Upper East Sidey location. Plus 1
• Blair imagines that attending a non-Ivy consists of "reading Beloved six times and experimenting with lesbianism." At this moment, Jessica turned to the group and said, "That was basically what my non-Ivy experience was like." Plus 2.
• Chuck introduces "last night's entertainment" as a synchronized swimmer who "can hold her breath for five minutes." Plus 2. Here Richard observed that you might be thinking this indicated one particular sex act, but in reality it probably got him off because she was really effective at playing dead.
• Eleanor tells Blair: "Waldorf women are not socialites!" Plus 5, because of course she would say this. No one wants to be branded a socialite nowadays. Not that she couldn't be if she wanted to be — you think Eleanor Waldorf Designs brings in enough money for an on-the-Park mansion and Blair's ever-changing bed linens? No. But at least she tries.
• Tripp's fiancée says to Blair, after rejecting her from the Whitney committee: "When it comes to these things, it takes a while to start to matter." Plus only 5, because while this is a blindingly awesome thing to say, if someone had said this to the real Blair (the one who supposedly ruled the city and was offered entrance to that club with all the argyle as the youngest member ever), she would have ENDED her for it.
• The ad for Chasing Dorota reveals that Dorota is a countess! Did LuAnn's husband secretly marry her? Plus 10.
• Aw, of course Cyrus is planning on making a brisket that will "knock [Eleanor's] sock's off." Every Jewish stepdad thinks they and they alone can make brisket delicious enough to seduce a Gentile. Plus 2.
• The subtlety of having Rufus carry Lily's Prada and Bendel bags in an episode when he won't accept her offer to pay for Dan's schooling was not lost on us. Plus 2.
• Ew, who is Jenny's new mealymouthed, poor man's Aaron Rose? He even has a similarly annoying name, "Wes." And why doesn't his plot develop? Oh, wait! We get it! She's been reading Twilight. That explains everything, from the absurd lack of hooking up to her ridiculous eye makeup. Plus 3.
• Eleanor Waldorf: "I don't even know how to say half the words in this prayer book named after Joe Lieberman's wife." Awesome. Plus 3, because clearly that had been confusing the Gehenna out of her.
• Blair: "I'm one of the Chosen Ones. I was wandering the Bassian desert, and I've reached the Vanderbilt Promised Land." Plus 2, sort of.
• Plus 8 for the unspecific way Dan gets jealous after Serena confesses she got accidentally married to a dude after naked swimming with him in Spain, and the inarticulate way he explains said jealousy: "Serena, we were together for a year and we didn't make it to junior prom," he says. "You're with this guy a month and you get married, so yeah, it's a little bit insulting." [Pause] "I have to get back to work. You're married to landed gentry, and I'm a cater waiter." Wait, what's insulting again? That they didn't get married in high school? Or that he has to serve food to their entire family? Anyway, please, Dan would never go to prom. Plus 3.
• How awesome was it, outside the limo before he dumped her, when Nate has to add it up out loud what Blair did to him in order to keep track? Plus 2.
• Lily: "It was right out of the Old Serena playbook. You could have thrown in a few boys from the lacrosse team and it would have been the Constance mother-daughter luncheon all over again." Wait, is there video on a memory stick somewhere of that? Plus 3.
• Alan Levy, the big-time art collector at Cyrus's seder, "has a Monet in his bathroom." Plus 2.
• Serena got into Brown, where she is planning on studying Naked Cartwheeling and General Shit. Fine. We'll buy it. Plus 1.
• When a crinkly faced, pink-nosed Blair reels onto the street where Serena is making out with Gabriel, it's totally realistic that Serena would disengage in order to immediately tend to her, because that's just what you do. Hos before bros. Plus 2.
• Plus 5 for the incredibly meaningful way Chuck puts his water glass down after apologizing to Jenny for his behavior like two seasons ago, because that's exactly the kind of melodramatic gesture you make when you're wasted, and he's already had like five Scotches.
Faker Than an Even Remotely Legal International Wedding That Took Place With No Planning on a Random Drunken Night
• The title card for this episode read: "Blate on a Date." Minus 3, because as Richard pointed out, if you were Gossip Girl and you were going to combine "Blair and Nate," you'd obviously go for "Nair."
• It's really nearly impossible to deal with the faces that the cast makes when they are "pretending to be in an English historical setting." It's like when Susan Sarandon taught Joey on Friends that real acting consists of pretending to smell a fart when you want to look like you're "thinking." Minus 3.
• Blair wouldn't be trying so hard to get on the junior committee for the Whitney gala. Anyone can get on that; you just have to sleep with Moby or Chloë Sevigny. Minus 2.
• Blair: "Can you make sure they don't seat me behind Caroline Kennedy? She may be American royalty, but she's a giraffe." Not true. But Blair is super petite, so only minus 1.
• Nate got into Columbia "on his own merit." No. The only way this strikes us as remotely possible is if his essay was about his father, the embezzler who ran away to the Dominican Republic on a fake passport, leaving his only son living in the basement of their abandoned mansion, and it was written by Vanessa. Minus 5, because Vanessa would never do that.
• Blair is hesitant when Nate's grandfather approaches her about Yale: "I think that's a decision he has to make on his own." Minus 5, because the woman who took down Georgina Sparks would have clearly had better control of this whole situation than that.
• Incidentally, didn't Nate's family always want him to go to Dartmouth? We thought we were conflating it with the plot of She's All That, the underappreciated 1999 film starring Freddie Prinze Jr., but we looked back at the archives and it's true: In season one, Nate's father insisted he go to Dartmouth, while Nate longed to go to the University of Southern California. Minus 1.
• "My mom and Cyrus are hosting Passover at my house. I thought first-borns were supposed to be spared." Minus 1, because, really, we could handle a couple of gag lines, but she wouldn't have bothered to learn that much sarcastic Judaica.
• That delicately collared topcoat Dan is wearing to go cater waitering is far too expensive for him to afford. Minus only 1, because it's pretty, and for a while it covered up that vest that he pretended he was wearing for the first time but really he wears in EVERY episode.
• Obviously, Serena would think she was married if someone put a popsicle ring on her finger and had sex with her on a bed with white sheets. But Cyrus would clearly know better: Getting married abroad is difficult. You have to sign all kinds of papers, and file stuff back in the U.S. … it's a mess. Minus 10 for this as a plot device, and if they plan to drag it into the next episode we hope they have a good explanation.
• Gabriel has extremely long canine teeth. In television and movies, characters with this feature are always villains. So, minus 2, for giving away the twist with his very face.
• Was Serena supposed to have frizzy plane hair for the whole episode? Minus 1, because surely Eleanor would have made her iron that mess down before Passover supper.
• Why would Jenny choose to entertain her new hipster boyfriend at the van der Woodsens' apartment instead of the Humphreys' Brooklyn loft? The New Jenny has been very clear about identifying herself as a Humphrey — it seems unlikely she would trade that in for a pile of onion rings and mini-burgers made by a private chef. Plus, as any teenager in her position would have figured, the travel time between Brooklyn and the Upper East Side would have guaranteed Rufus would be out of the house for at least an hour and a half longer, thereby extending the time allotted for dry-humping on the futon. Duh. Minus 8.
• "Baruch Atah ay Dios mio!" Gossip Girl remarks. "This Passover is going to get its own Spanish Inquisition!" In addition to being annoyingly meaningless, we think maybe this verged on incredibly offensive. Minus 2.
• We're not really okay with the killer from Damages being in that T-Mobile commercial. Minus 1, because every time we see him, we're afraid he's going to murder those kids.
• Chuck's hairy chest is so nasty! Someone who has so much frontal-body friction would clearly wax, if only for the ingrown hair issue. Minus 2.
• Jenny, to Chuck: "The only human contact that you don't pay for is the people in this house." Touché, young lady. But we see right through this. You think he's a vampire, don't you? Hence all the mournful looks and quivering lips?
• At the rehearsal dinner for Cousin Tripp, Nate substitutes the toast he's supposed to give to the groom with a five-minute-long harangue about his grandfather, whom Tripp has informed him is the one who turned his father in to the SEC. He wraps up with a "Watch your back, old man," to his cousin. Okay. We have a few problems with this scene. First of all, minus 3: for Tripp giving Nate this information now, on the eve of his own wedding, when presumably he's a) busy thinking about other shit and b) knows it's going to turn Nate into a molten-cheeked weapon of mass destruction. Minus 2 for Nate being angrier at his grandfather than his father, the actual crook. Minus 6 for the fact that after giving this speech, Nate stayed at the rehearsal dinner. And minus 10 for Maureen, Tripp's fiancée not bursting into tears, chucking a flower arrangement at Nate, and screaming "You ruined my wedding!"
A close call, but this episode fell on the unrealistic side owing to Nate's usage of the words, "Then why did he ruin MY FAMILY" in his best-man's toast, and to the absurdity of the annulment plot. Which, we suspect, will continue in next week's episode. See you then, Upper East Siders!