Once, a very beautiful model told us about the time her eyes had been injured by a flash. She had to wear an eye mask and stay in her apartment for days, in utter darkness, like she was blind. It was hard, she told us, to feel her way around. She was always bumping her long gazellelike shins into everything, and didn’t know where anything was, and was probably peeing all over herself whenever she went to the bathroom — we don’t really know. For almost two years now, we’ve been watching the characters on Gossip Girl bumble around in that same darkness. It was only in last night’s episode that they finally were able to lift their masks and catch a glimpse, with their beautiful but crusted eyes, of the world and their place in it.
Dan, after a brief interlude of loneliness, realized he was put on this earth to squire around bitches. Jenny Humphrey, after attempting to relinquish the throne at Constance Billard, realized that she was destined to rule the school. Serena, after losing herself briefly in a publicity career, realized her true talents lay with just being, like, friends with people. And Blair, in a hysterical reaction to being the biggest dork at NYU, was fast becoming the upper-class version of the Wooderson character in Dazed and Confused at Constance Billard, before being reminded that she was Blair Waldorf, and Chuck Bass loved her.
More Real Than a Meltdown in the Bathroom at the Ziegfeld:
• For the first time this season, we found ourselves actually listening to what Gossip Girl herself was saying, and were happy to see that she had a role to play. We were happy when, as Jenny debated whether to wear that ridiculous chunky headband, GG let slip a double entendre. "Will she pick up where the old queen left off?" she asked. "Or strike out on her own?" Plus 3.
• Of course Dan would willfully not know who the star of Eternal Nights was, even if she was a sexy starlet. Plus 2, with another plus 4 for just the name Eternal Nights, and its "King Arthur but with vampires" premise.
• We love the "Everybody Loves a Player" T-shirt on the RPG all-star at the coffee shop. Plus 3, because it's just so right.
• Plus 2 for Blair's line, "I just need to know that, in this misbegotten corner of Manhattan, wealth, ambition, and moral laxity are still alive and well." But we’re not sure that "By the way, sandals are not shoes" is going to happen.
• Carmen, Celeste, and Jane are a little tougher-looking than their fragile, bitchy predecessors (who we miss, by the way), which is appropriate if they're going to be Jenny's minions. Also, they're clearly half-wits. ("OMGBSE"???) And Jane, particularly, looks like trouble. Plus 4 all around.
• Rufus does a great Lily impression. Plus 2, because he has to have something to practice when he's not knitting.
• Serena says she's "put a lot of thought" into her not going to Brown. Ha! She has exactly put no thought into not going to Brown. Plus 2.
• Lily calls her mother Cece? Plus 2. In fact, plus 20 for all of Lily's lines. We forgot that she was actually (occasionally) the voice of reason on this show, and Kelly Rutherford is just so good at delivering these lines. "I'm just not ready. I don't know who I am," Serena whines, opening her eyes as wide as possible, in case who she is might be hiding really close to her face.
"But that's why people go to college. To figure it out," Lily replied, just after we screamed that same thing at our screen. Also, "I love you, Serena, but you've never worked a day in your life." And, "Because a year of parties and premieres is a worthy alternative to an Ivy League education." And, "This woman saw an opportunity to exploit your celebrity and your connections. Why else would she hire an 18-year-old with no skills and no college degree?" And, "Serena, enough is enough, this need to find out who you are. Do you think anyone really knows who they are? We don't, we just live." Ah, that felt good.
• Vanessa: "I see you've taken down my Goddard poster." Plus 3 for that, and for the way she geeked out a little bit about living with a famous person, even though she knew it was totally uncool. We especially like the part where she said to Olivia not to tell anyone, but that she was "a closet fan" of Endless Nights, which is actually totally rude but exactly the sort of thing you would say if you were trying to be normal with a famous person. (Meanwhile: Wait, John C. Reilly is doing vampire movies now? Oh no.)
• Tory Burch and Georgina Chapman are decent actors. Plus 2. The same cannot be said for Tyra Banks, who was basically terrifying. But that's kind of real in its own way. Plus 4. So was her sea-witch hair in her first scene, which perfectly befitted the name "Ursula."
• Hundred Acres is at least in the right part of town for this plot point. Plus 1.
• Plus 1 for the look that the publicist gives Serena when she's like "Have you ever thought about publicity?" Speaking of vampires.
• Blair already had BW-monogrammed headbands ready? Plus 1.
• Nate is really developing as a character. Like when, upon seeing Olivia, he tells Dan, "Dude, that is a sign you should ask her out,” it was like the smartest thing he's ever done on this show. And we thought we also saw some new facial expressions. Plus 1.
• Of course Dan moves way too fast, and asks Olivia out two nights in a row. Plus 2.
• And of course he offers to take her to Lebanese food. Mamoun's! Plus 1.
• And of course he goes ahead and complains about this ex-girlfriend of his who was a problem because she was always “in the spotlight,” as opposed to the ex-girlfriend who was maybe demonically possessed or the ex-girlfriend who was his teacher. Plus 1, because Dan has always seemed to have had a sixth sense for the exact wrong thing to say.
• Dorota: "Meess Blair, this not right. Mr. Chuck and I both of the opinion " Combined with watering down the martinis, our gal's really growing a spine! Plus 3.
• That is indeed the Ziegfeld, where a movie like that would have premiered. And we loved how Serena said to Lily, "I thought if you saw me working, you would feel better about Brown," while wearing an outfit that made it look like she was working, if you catch our drift. Plus 3. (We're saying she looked like a hooker, just to be clear.)
• Chuck: "And you'd do this to me. I'm Chuck Bass. And I told you I love you. You're saying I'm easier to win over than a bunch of pseudo-intellectual, homesick malcontents So the next time you forget you're Blair Waldorf, remember I'm Chuck Bass, and I love you." Plus 6.
• HA! Girls in fedoras are now forever ruined for Dan. What is he going to do?? Plus 2.
More Fake Than the Annoyingly Vintage Mets Shirt Olivia Clearly Spent Hours Picking Out for Her First Day at NYU:
• Let's talk a little about Olivia Burke's debut on the show. First, she enrolls like three weeks after everyone else? Why? NYU probably wouldn't go for that, and even if it did, didn't she want a normal freshman experience? Minus 4. Then, she runs into Dan like one second after he was talking about her, which never actually happens with celebrities in New York. It's only when you don't expect to see them that you do (or when you're at Minetta Tavern). Minus only 1, because at least they would be in the same neighborhood. But wait, why are Nate and Dan walking around in the West Village together if Nate has a class at Columbia at 10 a.m.? They go to college, not the international trading floor — no way would Nate roll out of bed any more than fifteen minutes before that class, much less go all the way downtown to the Village and back. Minus 8. And then, no way would Olivia Burke buy coffee from a street cart. Even if she's slumming it, we've seen what happens when vampire stars try to walk around and be normal in the city. It ain't pretty. Minus 4. Also, no way would a starlet buy something for the person in front of them in line, even if she was nice, and even if they were classmates. Intel Chris once ran out of change at Durfee's at Yale, and he was buying something so small it was too inexpensive to charge to his bursar card. And the only other person in line was Claire Danes, and she just sat there and watched him awkwardly search his pockets fruitlessly for at least two minutes. Not that he's still bitter about that, or anything. Minus 4. And while we bought the idea that Dan wouldn’t know who Olivia Burke was at first, we can’t imagine that he would have stayed not knowing until he ran into her at the movie premiere. At least one of the people who stared at her on the street would have said her name, and what movie posters don’t have the starlet’s face on them? Minus 2. And minus another 2 because even if after the movie was over, he had sat there in the theater alone, wondering where he had gone wrong in life so that his lot was to meet and utterly charm a movie star, Olivia would not have wandered in to talk to him. She would have been whisked away by handlers. Minus 2. And finally, even if she had walked in to talk to him, he would not have listened to her sad-eyed little speech about how even though she seemed “refreshingly normal” her life was probably too crazy for him and then given her an effing head nod indicating, yeah, he didn’t want any of that. What red-blooded heterosexual college-age American male would decline the chance to have sex with a movie star? Minus 10.
• We are so eager for Blair to inevitably fall in with those geeks. But there are some problems with this "Masters of the Universe" club. First of all, wouldn't they hang out at a different coffee shop than the cool kids? Or, like, in the student center? Because if everyone at NYU goes to that one damn coffee shop, we for sure would have seen Haley Joel Osment by now. Minus 2.
• And also, not even NYU would have something that dorky and old-fashioned. An AD&D Second-Edition Club, maybe. Minus 3.
• And wouldn't Blair have looked up the club description before arriving? Minus 1.
• And also, that shirtdress? She's unpopular, not Amish. Minus 2.
• Just as Blair says "At least I know Constance hasn't changed," the camera cuts to an entirely different building than where they filmed Constance last year, which was entirely different from where they filmed it before that. Minus only 2, because it was funny, and we're pretty sure it was just for us.
• Jonathan is at fencing camp in Torino? No way he'd get an extra month off of school before junior year. There are PSATs coming up! Minus only 1, because it's at least an appropriately gay sport.
• "First of all, wash your eyes," Jenny says. WASH YOUR OWN DAMN EYES, RACCOON FACE. Minus 1, because the girl is still not back to normal. Just because you don't look like Gene Simmons anymore doesn't mean you're not wearing too much eyeshadow. Also, minus 1 for "Tell everyone I need to talk to them now. Now!" Who is "everyone"? And why have they all been communicating secretly without consulting Jenny?
• Lily would have been more pissed that Rufus didn't call her when her only daughter decided not to go to college. Minus 2. She also would have been more pissed about that Nehru-collar shirt.
• Olivia's publicist wouldn't have set up her room, her assistant would have. Where is that sketchy sister/cousin/mom, anyway? Is she going to turn up? Minus 1.
• No, Serena would not have gone to the Met Ball during high school, and she would not have come to Tory Burch "highly recommended" by Anna Wintour, who hates booby skanks who do classless things like end up in celebrity weeklies for drunken, topless partying. Minus 2.
• Serena is talking to Blair as she walks into One Hundred Acres. “What do you mean, you have to quell a revolution?” she says “Blair, I have to go.” What does she mean she has to go? She just walked into a restaurant. No one’s even trying to take her order. She asked a question. Why doesn’t she stick around to get the answer? Minus 1.
• On to the less realistic parts of Ursula's role. First of all, the night before the movie she would have made her assistant hang out with her, if anyone, not some random publicity assistant/walker, who wouldn't have met her until like ten minutes before she hit the red carpet. Minus 4. And no way would Serena have been let out of her sight to hang out with her parents after that, nor would Ursula be wandering unattended around the Ziegfeld where someone from In Touch could just, like, talk to her. Minus 4. Also, she would have a hair-and-makeup team supplied by the studio, not some airhead publicity assistant whose signature look is "bedhead."
• We're not ready for Chuck and Jenny to be so friendly/flirty. Yes, they're sort of related now, and yes, Chuck has changed. But a girl doesn't forget about an attempted date rape, even if it took place three seasons ago when she lived in a different borough. Minus 2.
• We just have to say, addressing Hilary Duff as though she is a real character and can hear us through the TV: "You don't go to NYU to be a 'normal student,' Olivia. You go to NYU to be an Olsen twin." Minus 3.
• Paparazzi are never that cute. Even the ones you pay. Except for Neil Rasmus. Minus 2.
• Why is Serena constantly fussily packing? And never folding anything? And why does it seem like she only ever packs scarves? Minus 1.
• Vanessa: "I dated a guy who kept part of himself hidden. He never gave anyone a chance to accept him. And in the end, everyone lost." Minus 4 because THEY DATED FOR LIKE A WEEK.
• Chuck: "Dumbo could always fly. He just needed a magic feather." The feather wasn't magic. That was the whole damn point. Minus 2.
• Why would Scott have answered the call from Georgina if he was just going to see her in one second? God, doesn't he know he's going to need V for his future nefarious psycho subplots? Minus 2.
The presence of celebrities playing themselves took the edge of the presence of celebrities playing different celebrities in this episode, plus, the reemergence of Lily and the reintroduction of a Jenny Humphrey plot point had a stabilizing effect. Next week, however, we expect everything will be destabilized, as Georgina Sparks returns. Stay tuned!