The characters on Gossip Girl are steeped in problems of a decidedly 2009 nature, problems most New York residents will sympathize with. The real-estate bubble, the recession, the actions of a "certain imbecile former president," as Dan puts it, are taking a toll on their wallets and their psyches. But these outside forces have not changed their essential nature. Like a variety of magnets stuck in the same force field, these creatures are forced to perform a constance dance of attraction and are repulsed by one another to varying degrees. Ferromagnetic ex-lovers Blair and Chuck, for instance, find themselves suctioned together at every opportunity, and though both also feel the pull of Nate Archibald, their connection with each other is decidedly stronger. Georgina Sparks is sucked away from Jesus to lock horns with her archenemy, Blair. Meanwhile, Vanessa opts to stay off the force field, — that is, in Brooklyn — this episode, so repulsed is she by her encounters with Chuck Bass. Dan does, too, which is a good thing for the writers, as if Young Mr. Humphrey were to set foot in Manhattan, he would no doubt be propelled toward Serena, thereby disrupting the plot for everyone else and making it another sucky episode wherein the real-life couple spends the whole hour mooning at one another. And it wasn't a sucky episode!
There were some great one-liners, and the return of Georgina Sparks, and some spectacular clothes. And now, onto our weekly reality index.
More Real Than a Socialite Thinking the Subway Is Full of Mole Men (Because Honestly, It Is):
• Okay, let's go over Blair's awesome, back-to-form lines in this episode:
—"NYU? What was I thinking? You know what I think about ironic facial hair."
— "Rats go underground. Not Waldorfs."
— "We caught this redneck red-handed!"
— "Gabriel is still popping Poppy and you're okay with that?"
— "He fell in love with you while you were roofied. How romantic!"
— "I can't believe I have to see my sworn enemy with Nancy Pelosi hair."
— "[Nate] may as well be going to school in Guam next year." Anyway, total: Plus 7.
• Nate, talking about his downtown expertise, says he's "been coming down here for years" because of the awesome pot dealer he knows. Fair enough — we've been tired of the plot points that don’t acknowledge he's a stoner. Plus 3
• How awesome is it that they flash Smith Street (running toward Manhattan) every time they want to show "BROOKLYN"? No positive points, we just want to be on the same page.
• Serena: "Everything with Gabriel is perfect." Yes, my dear. He can't commit to meetings, dinners, or anything involving free time, but yeah, it's all perfect. This would be insanely unrealistic if it was anybody but Serena. Unfortunately, it wasn't, so plus 4.
• Fighting over Blair has inflamed Nate and Chuck's passions — for each other. Plus 1.
• Meanwhile, Blair is so titillated by the prospect of controversy that she jumps to the worst conclusion. (Which is, of course, right, but it could have just as easily been wrong). Plus 3.
• Serena: "I don't hate you. But I hate lying. And you lied to me. And you lied to Poppy. And despite everything, she's still my friend and I care about her." Oh, God. Of course, Serena is precisely naïve and entitled enough to believe that running away with your friend's boyfriend is okay as long as you are truly in love, and also to have the temerity to claim friendship with and love for said friend after committing such an act. Women like this totally exist, so plus 8. But if someone pulled this kind of crap on The Hills, they'd get slapped ten ways till Tuesday.
• Dan and Jenny call Lily the "V-D-dubs." So would any kid in that horrible, nightmarish, billion-dollar scenario. Plus 5.
• Sorry, but is it just us, or does Gabriel have the luxurious eyelashes of a Glo Friend? Seriously, if he had more decadent facial features, he'd be Keira Knightley. It's realistic (plus 3), but if you were an actual human, you'd run away from him as though he glowed in the dark.
• Chuck: "Blair, I see you are wearing your beret. Who are you spying on tonight?" If only one day we could say that line. Plus 2.
• Did anybody else notice how Blair was so delicious in that red belted dress with the spots and shoulder ruffles? Plus 1. And how she was totally back into headbands?? Plus 2.
• Vanessa is deep in the throes of SRS (Sudden Revulsion Syndrome) after sleeping with Chuck a few episodes ago. We'd forgotten all about it, but she's clearly been tormented, and her horror is visceral, real, and needs to be addressed. At last she stutters to Dan that she needs to tell him something because it would be "good to talk about." Then she realizes, no, it's too horrifying to say aloud without the aid of alcohol. Which she does, taking an extra step by turning it into an "I Never" game, and chugging the beer (obscure, Brazilian, Vanessa-like) immediately after each dire revelation, as much to cover her face as to dull the pain. We can so relate. Plus 7.
• Blair: "Serena says he just disappears: Poof! I'm going to find out where he's poofing to." This is less important to Intel Editor Jessica, but Intel Editor Chris realizes all too well the importance of finding out to whom someone is "poofing." Plus 3.
•: Nate: "Will you move in with me?"
Blair: "Yes!" WHAT?? Blair's going to joyfully move into a one-bedroom apartment in Murray Hill? Plus 5, because when girls get carried away by romance, they often squeal yes to things that will later turn out to be regrettable.
• Chuck: "Murray Hill? Even your mother is too hip for this zip code." Plus 1, because it's true.
• Blair: "[Gabriel] told Chuck he met you at Butter, but I know for a fact that Butter was closed that night because I used their bartender for the Nelly Yuki SAT sabotage party!" Amazing. Plus 3.
• We are going to try to control our natural instinct to wet our Argyle tights for this, but plus 10 for Blair and Chuck sleeping in the limo and holding hands. And then simultaneously checking their hair at the moment they wake up.
• Chuck swigs a mini-bottle of Bombay Sapphire in the limo to wake up. Plus 2.
• When Rufus, looking even more sweaty and proletariat than usual, asks Gabriel if he can invest in his poor African Teenagers Fund, Gabriel gently tries to steer him back toward mutual funds or "something better for someone in your situation." Plus 5. Maybe he could interest him in index funds?
• Allow us to be total fangirls for a moment, but when Georgina said: "I went to church, found Jesus, and I told him all my sins," we literally screamed: YEAH RIGHT! God Bless Michelle Trachtenberg. Plus 3.
• Apropos of nothing, Blair's yellow coat is gorge! Plus 1.
Faker Than the Idea That Murray Hill Is “Halfway” Between NYU and Columbia:
• We will never, ever, ever get over Chuck and Nate playing basketball on Chrystie Street, just south of Houston. There is not one explanation for why they would play there and not in some private club. Minus 3, because honestly. It must have been awkward for them to even film there.
• Even though Nate is dumb enough to say this line: "I think next year is going to be harder than I thought. Me in Morningside Heights, and her all the way down in the Village, it's basically going to be like we're in a long-distance relationship," doesn't mean that every single other character on the show isn't smart enough to punch him in the balls for doing so. Minus 2.
• Lily: "I asked the caterer for a '99 Brunello; it's not a PTA meeting!" Aw, that's sweet. But even we've been to co-op board meetings uptown, and sorry, it's not for your favorite vintage. Minus 2.
• Lily, Rufus and the rest of the adults are completely charmed by Gabriel. Don't they think it's at all weird that this adult businessman is dating someone in high school? Minus 2.
• Lily signs on to Gabriel's crackpot investment opportunity after a three-minute presentation, and Serena effuses that "everyone" in the co-op will sign on hence, since an endorsement from Lily van der Woodsen is "golden." Minus 5. Surely someone at the co-op that rejected Bernie Madoff five times knows the meaning of due diligence.
• Also, why does Poppy have to jump into Gabriel's arms and wrap her legs around him every time she sees him? No one does that. Not even Lily and Rooster in Annie did that, and that was a musical. Minus 2.
• Serena: "I've done the two-girlfriend thing; I can't do it again." Minus 3 because, aw, bless. Yes you have. Yes you can. And yes you will.
• Not to steal the thunder of Murray Hill (okay, to do so exactly): You can see the UN from the window of Nate's new apartment. It's not Murray Hill, it's midtown — or at the least, Turtle Bay. Which, let's face it, is awkward. Minus 4, because what the eff was wrong with the UES townhouse that he owned that his mother never, ever visited?
• Serena to Gabriel: "Without you, how else will all of the African teenagers send in updates to Gossip Girl?" Minus only 2, because we should all die a little for that.
• Serena: "Our board rejected Bernie Madoff five years in a row." Minus 4, because come on — the van der Woodsens just moved there. And they wouldn't have allowed them in if it was a truly classy building. Especially not with Serena wearing an undershirt.
• Blair: "Oh Nate, what are you doing here? I thought there was a Mets game. I saw Dorota wearing her hat." We would give positive points for this, but to be fair, Nate would be a Yankees fan. The Mets are for poor, normal New Yorkers like us, who have no natural instinct for always winning. Minus 4.
• "Serena didn't steal me. She swept me away." Minus 2, because we're quite confident no straight man in the world would ever say something like that, out loud, in public.
• Sorry, but wasn't Georgina in Idaho??? Minus 10, because we thought only a flyover state could truly hold her.
• Of course Serena would have admitted immediately to Gabriel that Chuck and Blair didn't like him. But she wouldn't have the guile to think of the redhead ruse. Minus 3.
• Minus 3 for Chrissie, the Dove-sponsored "Real Life Gossip Girl," saying that when she went to school on the Upper East Side, her family was like the "poor family," which we strongly suspect is untrue.
• For what it's worth, Chuck wouldn't wear a double-breasted tweed topcoat. Especially not on an outdoorsy country trip. Single-breasted, of course! Minus 3.
Total: 60. Despite Poppy Liftin's increasingly absurd haircut and not nearly enough Georgina Sparks, this episode came out on the realistic side. Until next time, Upper East Siders.