Gossip Girl’s Mask Is Becoming Her Face

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Photo: Courtesy of the CW
Episode Title
How to Succeed at Bassness
Season
3
Episode
7

It's Halloween, but the masks our characters are wearing aren't just festive strips of silicone donned for a night of carousing. The Kabuki makeup Jenny Humphrey has plastered on to obscure her ordinary Brooklyn features has been seeping into her skin, Jonathan observes, and whatever is in it has been poisoning her personality. Actress Olivia, a master of disguise, wears a mask of innocence when questioned by her new boyfriend, Dan, about a realistic-seeming orgasm she had onscreen in front of millions with her ex, but underneath, the real story is different. And as usual, Blair maintained a confident, bitchy veneer until the mask cracked, exposing the vulnerability beneath.

And now, on to this week's reality index!

Realer Than a Bunch of 18-Year-Olds Having a Twenties-Themed Party
• When Serena showed up at Dan's Brooklyn apartment in a low-cut red satin halter top and miniskirt, we assumed it was because she was dressed for the opening of Chuck's club. Nope! That's just Serena's everyday office look. Plus 1.
• When Gossip Girl first started, the character of Nate Archibald was relegated to smoldering and looking confused — just a pot-smoking pretty boy who hadn't banged his long-term girlfriend by junior year. But down the line, the writers saw in Nate a second facial expression (possibly elicited by professional trainers?) and they gave his character a cocky streak to go with this new impish, one-side-of-his-upper-lip-moving-up face he had been making. In this episode, the expression got its close-up as Nate went full underminer: He taunted Dan, making him insecure about how he was going to measure up to his movie-star girlfriend's steamiest sex scenes. ("It's completely understandable why you're freaking out.") He needled Chuck about his domestic problems ("I'm surprised Blair isn't here; are you guys in another fight?") and put Serena in her place about her lowlife commoner job ("At least I'm on the list and not working the door."). We can't wait till next episode, when he eyes Lily's midsection as she lifts her forkful of Bolognese into her mouth and tells Jenny that the dudes from Nelson called and they want their hair back. Plus 10.
• Also, Nate totally has been reading Endless Nights blogs. Plus 1.
• Blair calls "Mark," to tell him she wants him to do the opening of Chuck's club. Plus 1, because while its about time a Ronson was mentioned, even obliquely, on this show, and Blair would never have called Samantha.
• Blair also says she left a message for "the mixologist at Milk & Honey," which strikes us as sort of wrong, as Businessman Chuck is clearly seeking a masculine big-ice-cube, Death & Co. vibe. Still, plus 1, because it does illustrate the subtle differences in their visions.
• Blair: "I was thinking eighties, but shoulder pads can be overwhelming on my delicate frame." Plus 1.
• It makes sense that Dan would have held off on seeing Olivia's crappy vampire movie until it became awkward. He's an intellectual snob (remember, this is a guy who watched I Am Curious Yellow to find out how sex worked) and he likes her — he was probably worried that knowing that she was a bad actress would have given him Sudden Revulsion Syndrome and ruined his ability to date her (as it can do: Intel Jessica was once deeply in love with a dude until he wrote her a note in which he spelled "waiting" "weighting"). Plus 4, because of course the sexy sex scene made up for the crappiness of the movie.
• Dan's cheekbones, biceps, and general hotness have always undermined his lonely, awkward personality the writers want to pretend he has, but his babbling response to Olivia's asking him if he'd seen the picture of her fishing for free condoms in the cookie jar is priceless, anyway. "I love that picture of you. It's so flattering. And who could resist free gifts in shiny wrappers?" Plus 2.
• Jonathan's face when he gets whacked with the eggs was so painfully, realistically sad, it told us more about his character than we've seen in the months that he's been on the show. Plus 2, because you know he was late because he'd been putting special attention into getting his outfit perfect. We hope this incident inspires a new plotline for J&E, like they come up with a plan to strike back, and loosen themselves up in the process. Because as of right now, these two are about as fun to watch as a pair of 70-something gay uncles who spend all their time gardening and attending dog shows.
• Chuck is intense about making the Empire Hotel work because he has something to prove. "People think I'm playing a game and they want me to lose," he tells Blair. This is true. No one ever really wants the billionaire heirs who purchase multi-million-dollar properties so that they can open up hangout spots for themselves and their friends to win. Plus 2.
• Dorota (with a faraway look in her eyes, like she knows): " It's hard to love a powerful man." Plus 1.
• Blair says calling the police to shut down the club saved news of the opening from being relegated to the "City" section. The "City" section doesn’t exist anymore (it was replaced by the "Metropolitan" section earlier this year), but plus 1, because it's entirely realistic for Blair to not know that.
• Ahku is "thank you" in Lithuanian! Plus 2, because we learned a new thing.
• Rufus does his Halloween candy shopping at Dylan's Candy Bar. Plus 2, because we love how he's subtly developing uptown tastes. You're a long way from C-Town now, Rufus Humphrey.
• The writers named foundering Endless Nights star Patrick Roberts, which is a nice play on Twilight's Robert Pattinson. It would have been more fun if they'd actually gotten Pattinson to guest star, but after that Mark Hamill joke, they never will. Plus only 1, because there's no way Serena or even K.C. would really know who Mark Hamill is.
• Serena sounds perfectly, awesomely rich-girl put out and bored when she tells K.C., "If you want Olivia and Dan to break up, that's something you have to do yourself." Right? We mean, look at the girl, her mouth is full of marbles, she hasn't been able to find a hairbrush for days, and she's got her hands full with her own dastardly schemes. You expect her to take on your problems, too? Plus 3.
• Everything about Rufus's Ramones costume is amazing, especially the fact that he said Jenny would be "a great Joey," and "I was going to be Iggy, but I didn't want to scare the children." Plus 5, especially since he continued to wear that ridiculous wig throughout the episode.
• Arnst/Ernst, the old-timey, soulful bartender from Chuck's flirtation with the Brooklyn Inn is back! Plus 2, because that's exactly what people need right now, in Chuck's speakeasy vision: "an escape" to a place where an old-timey soulful black man serves them grain alcohol at a steep markup.
• Oh, and of course he's planning on serving moonshine, which is totally going to be the elderflower cordial of recession-recovering New York. Plus 2.
• Everything about the purported awesomeness of Chuck's party was absurd, but "Perez Hilton drew tears on his own photo because he wasn't there" was a good Blair line. Plus 2.
• As was this one: "Don't you want to work for a club that makes Soho House look like one of those dirty public schools with a number for its name? Plus 5.
• We full-on snorted when we heard that Chuck's club was going to be called "Gimlet." It's way too self-consciously retro and awkwardly ugly, we thought. What's he going to do next, open an accompanying butcher shop called "Giblet" next door? And, like, all the butchers will wear ties and have handlebar mustaches? Then we were like, Oh. Actually, someone in New York would totally do that. Plus 10.
• Chuck says the club will have a door policy like "the Gates." Which is nice, because the club scene was in fact filmed at the Gates. Plus 1.

Total: 60

Faker Than a Five-Minute-Long Party Thrown by an 18-Year-Old Being Called "the Hottest Party of the Year"
• Chuck calls Serena at home, and she answers on a land line. Minus 1.
• We have a few questions about Serena's job. First of all, why does she still have it? Couldn't Tyra/Ursula have found her a position working for someone who was slightly less of a bitch? If all she's doing is delivering James Franco's underwear, why does she have an office? And why is she taking it all so seriously? Rather: Why does she expect everyone else to take it so seriously? For instance, did she really expect that Blair and Chuck were going to put her job security over the success of the club into which Chuck sank his liquidity/reputation? No. Minus 5, because in reality, she would have been happy enough delivering James Franco's underwear.
• Jenny is wearing a serious Outfit at Chuck's party, and we don't quite get it. Is she doing the twenties theme by trying to look like Charlie Chaplin? Or is she doing Alex from Clockwork Orange? Or was she more channeling Lita Ford doing the Walk of Shame after spending the night at Joey McIntyre's house stealing the outfit he wore in the "Step by Step" video? Minus 2, because it was too hard to concentrate on the dialogue with all of the References.
• Also, what is the deal with Eric's visor? Minus 1.
• This whole plot point about how as the queen Jenny "has" to observe certain traditions and act like a bitch at school is tiresome. Can't she just say, "Look, bitches, I'm the Queen, and I don't really care if my stepbrother and his Queen boyfriend sit above me on the steps, say one word about it and I'll stick an exploding tube of Vagisil in your book bag when you least expect it"? Minus 6.
• Lily and Rufus's handing out Halloween candy wouldn't have conflicted with them going to Chuck's party, since little kids trick or treat at like 4. Minus 2.
• The little girl who was dressed as Lady Gaga looked awesome, but we really think they should have gone with this version of her look. Minus 2, because what is this show if the Parents Television Council doesn't protest them?
• Lily: "I draw the line at door-to-door." Rufus: "I was just thinking of one door." EW. Minus 2.

Total: 20

We came away squarely on the side of reality this episode, mostly because not a lot happened: Chuck and Blair were a lot more forgiving of themselves than in previous episodes; with Vanessa away, Rufus behaved perfectly Rufusly; and Serena's cleavage and Jenny's outfits distracted us from whatever they were doing. (And what was Jenny doing in the end, anyway, with all of that clothes and sewing-machine-tossing? Was she getting back to her roots? Or throwing out the remnants of her old life in order to better embrace the darkness? We guess we'll find out next week!