Serena and Blair are at each other's throats in a way they haven't been since the first season. Why? We don't actually remember, but that's fine, whatever it was is a red herring. The hatred these two feel for one another is so passionate, it nearly resembles love, as evidenced by the way Serena spontaneously pushes Blair face-first into a cake and the powerful shot at the end wherein Blair comes out of the hotel for no other reason than to make Meaningful Eye Contact with Serena before turning on her heel and storming away in a gesture that's meant to signify how far they’ve grown apart. Their other friends are growing and changing, too: Nate has become cold and politically calculating — but not so cold and calculating that he pushes Vanessa into the Hudson River when she threatens to thwart his cousin's campaign for Congress. Chuck, oddly, has developed into a compassionate, bridge-building adult, and Dan Humphrey has come to enjoy dating a rich, famous person — although other than that, he's still pretty much an awkward dork.
As Real As College Students Wearing "I Voted!" Stickers:
• Serena: "Ryan [Phillippe] totally lost his mojo after Reese got with Jake." When you're right, you're right. Plus 1.
• Chuck, on his rooms in the Empire Hotel: "Blair's favorite part? Real-time surveillance playback. It's naughty." Plus only 1, because it's not as though he needed to explain to Nate.
• Dan: "As much as I enjoy talking to my ex-girlfriend about her fake boyfriend who is also my girlfriend's ex " Plus only 1, because it should have been, "As much as I enjoy talking to my ex-girlfriend who is now my sister about her fake boyfriend who is also my girlfriend's ex."
• Blair: "He's bombed! He's drunker than Paula Abdul during Hollywood Week." Plus only 1, because it was pills, please, and Blair would have known that.
• Serena: "Since your boyfriend is working the party, who are you going with? One of your knockoffs?" Plus only 1, because it's a little too clever for her, but at least it's a language she speaks.
• They did time this episode well with Election Day. Plus 1. And votes do change on stupid shit like a saved life, at least here in New York — but it's usually the opposite that actually happens. Like having a secret family, or slashing your girlfriend in the face with a broken water glass. Plus 1.
• Blair laments: "Washington Square Park, Bobst Library, Bar None, I even tried spinning the cube in St. Marks Place, but not a friend in sight! I just felt it wouldn't be this hard at Yale." Plus 2 for the accurate name-dropping (though the cube is really more in Astor Place) and plus an additional 1 for the image in our heads of Blair, stilettos and all, trying to spin that damn thing.
• Patrick wears skimpy boxer briefs and drinks Jack Daniel's from the $7.89 flask. Plus 2, one for the reality of the JD, and another for the view that came with the undies.
• Speaking of which, how funny was it that when Dan slept over in Olivia's room, she was fully clothed and he was naked? Plus 1.
• Chuck says the real reason that Blair is acting like a bitch is because she misses Serena. Plus 2 because this is partly true, especially in that it reflects Chuck's limited knowledge of the minds of bitchy women. In reality, the real reason Blair is acting like a bitch is that she feels like Serena is an unstable mess, and, as Blair matures, is overall not good enough to be her friend anymore. Therefore in looking for a reason to dump her, she's seizing on scraps, like "Oh, your boyfriend pissed in a potted plant."
• The absolutely disgusting, Mountain Dew–colored Hudson River. Anyone who jumped in that would be heroic. Plus 2.
• Vanessa would totally have scruples about the video. Plus 1. Did you notice that as she went back to old, not-conniving Vanessa, her hair shrank back to normal proportions?
• Blair: "Hey, did you see that gorgeous blonde in Proenza Schouler talking to those politicians? That's my best friend Brandeis." Plus 1, because of course someone named Blair Waldorf wouldn't recognize how ridiculous that sounds.
• Jenny has a Japanese Beckoning Cat, of course. Plus 1.
• The NY1 anchor is totally played by real NY1 anchor Annika Pergament. Plus only 3, because that a NY1 personality is appearing on this show when a certain pair of New York Magazine personalities haven't yet had the opportunity is a grave injustice.
• After Dan had his crisis of conscience about forgetting his and Olivia's one-month anniversary, he rushes out the door with a flimsy excuse, leaving her with his parents and his diseased sibling. Plus 1 .
• When Olivia answers the door to her dorm to greet Serena, she's wearing a T-shirt, because it's the morning. Serena, on the other hand, is wearing sequins, tie-dye, and full makeup. Plus 1.
• Serena spends all night saying she's not a prostitute, then decides to knock back a few martinis in a hotel bar with a married man who says he "would love to have someone to sit with, not talking about politics, not talking about anything." Plus 2.
• After Blair wipes the frosting from the cake off her face, she is not wearing a full face of makeup underneath. This is the first time we've seen a woman's face on this show since at least season one, and frankly, we're relieved to find out they still have, you know, separate eyebrow hairs. Plus 3, because also, just after she gets a face full of frosting, Blair momentarily licks her lips. As far as we can recall, it's the first time she's eaten anything in at least three episodes. Of course B would be able to survive on a diet of only Champagne, cake icing, and nail-polish fumes.
• Chuck: "Look, you think anyone goes to the Mercer for the maid service? They go because they want to see Russell Crowe throw a hissy." Plus 1, because God do we remember how fun THAT was.
• Serena issues a helpful reminder to Chuck: "You of all people know what a prostitute does." Plus 1, because at least someone remembers when he was a useless, drug-abusing layabout who attempted to date-rape his now sister.
• At the end of the episode, Serena sends Patrick's limo to the nonexistent address 710 East 76th Street (instead of Bar Boulud, which would have been equally mystifying). But then we realized: She's driving him into the river so that she can save him and everyone will like her again! Plus 1.
As Fake As a Smarmy, Handsome Young Politician Saying, "I've Said It Before and I'll Say It Again. I'd Rather Lose Than Win With a Dirty Campaign."
• After all the buildup, Olivia's actual Jimmy Fallon appearance was so totally not that bad. It wasn't even bad at all. By the way everyone was carrying on about "Bathroom Boy," we assumed that Dan was into scheisse or at least golden showers. Minus 10, because, also, Jimmy Fallon is actually a lot funnier than that .
• The editors of "Page Six" are Abariss Culjak, Mike Russo, Paul Pouthier, and Shannon Boyd, instead of Richard Johnson, Neel Shah, and Emily Smith. Culjak is a props master, and Poiuthier a second boom operator on the show. Come on, Mike and Shannon, get yourselves on IMDb! (No points deducted, because they earned it.)
• Why would Patrick want to be photographed with politicians? Nobody cares about politicians, especially not publicists. Minus 3.
• The PR office is too obviously a set, with giant curtains over the windows and Jonathan Adler pottery. In real life, sadly, it'd be much shittier, and they'd be desperate for the open air. Minus 2.
• PR Rule No. 1, according to KC, is "My PR network is my only value," but we all know it's, "SEND AS MANY ALL-CAPS E-MAILS TO STRANGERS AS POSSIBLE." Minus 3.
• We're kind of surprised the writers are still pressing Blair's Queen Bee thing in so campy a way. Her whole "I'm not friends with staff" and "you can go now," routine might work at a sorority school down south, but not at NYU.
• We're sorry, but there is simply no reason on earth that Nate and Trip would be walking by North Cove. Not even to get margaritas. Minus 3.
• Since when did Gramps Vanderbilt get that ridiculous accent? Minus 3, because we can't even tell what it's supposed to be, and not in the good, Kennedy way, either. ₐ Come on, Blair would have been able to get the Valentino 360 bag before a hooker would. And peep-toe booties, even Alexandre Birman ones, are so last season. Minus 3.
• Okay, this drowning scene. First of all, the guy is literally right next to the pier, so the likelihood that no one would be around, or that someone would scream, "Someone's drowning over here, call 911!" instead of just running onto the pier and leaning over to fish the guy out are extremely slim, as are the chances that the only person in that fairly crowded area that would jump in to save him would be Trip, who is approximately a mile away from the scene in the first place.
• Olivia, a famous movie star with things she needs to be healthy for, like strangely frequent Jimmy Fallon appearances, wouldn't go to hang out with a sick teen for hours on end. Minus 2. And Jenny's supposedly sick with a "virus." Please. No one is describing any ailment they currently have as a "virus." Everything everyone has is swine flu. Minus only 1, because they at least finally managed to get the eye makeup off of her.
• Patrick found a script in the trash for a Leaving Las Vegas remake: "But Miley Cyrus is already signed on to remake the Elisabeth Shue role," he gloats. "They must have seen her on that pole at the TCAs." Minus only 1, because Miley would never make such a film after the Annie Leibovitz Incident — but we're just happy we're not too old to have gotten the Teen Choice Awards reference.
• You would never meet a NY1 producer at Cafeteria. Minus 3.
• Why is Jimmy Fallon on the CW, and not CBS's David Letterman or Craig Ferguson? No points deducted, just wondering.
• Serena: "Let me guess, you want to go upstairs and see if two blondes make a right?" Great line, but S would never think of that. Minus 2.
• Evidence of shark-jumping ahead: Promos for "OM3"; Leighton Meester's music video, which is beneath her and horrible on many levels, including but not limited to the unflattering lighting in the back of the limo, the weird cutout leather outfit she's wearing, and the fact that the entire thing appears to be a ripoff of something we are horrified and ashamed to admit our familiarity with, which is this Hilary Duff video. (We saw it at the gym, okay? You can't help what you see there, everyone knows that.)
Real points: 33
Fake points: 35
This episode was fake on a certain level that isn't measurable by our world-based system — mostly because friendships on this show never end for good, and there's no equilibrium between overreaction and underreaction to perceived offenses. Also, because Serena didn't really do anything wrong to make everyone hate her. In fact, pretty much everyone else was behaving worse than she was.
As always, put your points in the comments!