Gossip Girl's Final Season Premiere: The van der Woodsen Identity
Welcome to the final season of Gossip Girl It-Girls and Lonely Boys. Although I enjoy the show quite a bit, I’m also under no illusions with regard to its existence in the grand scheme of television. I think it's best that we have fun with these reviews, so each week I’ll be discussing the five* biggest points of the episode, almost like those Monday-morning stories you see about the NFL. Nothing like bringing teen soaps and sports together!
* I reserve the right to increase or decrease this number, depending on the episode. But five seems like a good place to start.
So let’s get right into the last season premiere in Gossip Girl history, “Gone Maybe Gone,” which was pretty good.
1. One for all, all for one
I’m all for the main characters having their own things going on but too often, they’re in disparate places for extended periods of time, only stopping to deliver exposition to each other at the beginnings of episodes (see: at least half of Chuck and Nate’s conversations from, like, ever). And really, Gossip Girl thrives when most everyone is together, either in the same space (parties, obviously) or as part of the same story.
That strength was on display in “Gone Maybe Gone” with everyone—Chuck, Blair, Nate, a disgruntled Dan and Georgina—searching for the missing-all-summer Serena. Even though it took a good while for everyone to actually get together, the dueling convoys of Chuck, Blair, and Nate and Dan and Georgina nicely provided differing opinions on what could have happened to S. Plus, the show always does road-trip stories really, really well.
Georgina has grated on me at various points in the GG’s run, but she is always much more enjoyable when paired with Dan’s exasperated straight-man (/tool) act. And once everyone actually arrived at Serena’s location and attempted to break up her “wedding,” the different plans allowed for multiple characters to quickly catch up with one another without the episode seeming too expositionary. Dan being slapped by Blair and Serena within a two-minute period was lovely.
2. I see you, Josh Schwartz... and your little jokes, too
“Gone Maybe Gone” is executive producer/co-creator Josh Schwartz’s first official script credit since the Season 3 finale of Chuck in 2010 and boy, is it nice to have him back. When I compiled my wishlist for this last season, I called for a return of the show’s stronger humor, and it seems that Schwartz had similar thoughts in mind when crafting this premiere with Stephanie Savage. “Gone Maybe Gone” certainly wasn’t a laugh-riot or anything, but it featured a handful of really great comedic moments, many of which were fairly self-reflexive and meta (a strength of Schwartz’s): the aforementioned Humphrey double slap, Chuck’s update that the Ostroff Center (named for former CW president Dawn Ostroff) has now been renamed the Pedowitz Center (named for current CW president Mark Pedowitz), and Blair’s insistence that Serena couldn’t survive in the wilderness because she isn’t “country strong” (an obvious nod to Leighton Meester’s film career).
Gossip Girl needs comedy. Hopefully this continues all season.
3. Sabrina the college-age fraud
After overdosing on the train, Serena did what she does: charmed her way into the life of a successful man (Barry Watson, playing a typically just-fine everyman). Only this time, she ditched the van der Woodsen glamour and pretended to be Sabrina, the Vassar student from Wisconsin. At first, I was ready to shrug and eye-roll my way through another silly “Serena lies to a love interest” story but the episode actually did something smart: It provided legitimate logic for Serena’s decisions.
Her speech to the group about ditching her identity because they kicked her out (Blair), didn’t want to see her again (Dan), and generally didn’t have time for her anyway (Chuck, Nate) made a shockingly high amount of sense. And the “break-up” with Blair felt so real that I can’t wait to be really angry when they’re frenemies again in three episodes.
She’s still a lying fraud, though.
4. The Chair-Dair drama isn’t over, y’all
I have to hand it to Schwartz, Savage and the rest of the Gossip Girl team. Last season, showrunner Josh Safran spent an entire year toying with the idea of Blair and Chuck (part XXXIV) or Blair and Dan or Blair and Louis before ultimately and predictably deciding on the first pairing (again). But even though Safran is oversteering Smash into the watery abyss where it belongs, Gossip Girl has wasted no time coming up with a ridiculous reason to keep epic (fail) lovers Blair and Chuck apart and suggesting that her thing with Dan might not yet be DONE-done.
Again, I sort of like the logic the show put forth for why Chuck can’t give into Blair yet, because it’s true: He can’t be an immature boy forever. However, the fact that he can’t manage his crusade against his father and his feelings for Blair at the same time and the fact that she can’t see how much Dan cares for her (you know, because he only tells her all the time) is baffling. How long before Chuck hooks up with another woman (probably the one from Dubai helping him take down Bart)? Three episodes?
It takes a certain kind of moxie to wipe away the substantial resolution you built to in your previous season finale without really undoing anything. It’s silly but awesome.
5. (Bad) Girls run the world
Despite all their posturing, the show still wants us to view Blair and Serena as inherently good, admirable characters. And outside of Chuck (sometimes), the men are sometimes wet blankets as well. So it’s always good when Gossip Girl allows someone to come in and stir the pot. The diminishing return that is Georgina has started to swing back the other way, but Ivy’s scheming against Lily in this episode was entertaining. Seducing Rufus wasn’t quite OMG- or WTF-worthy, but it accomplished multiple things: 1.) It gave Rufus something (well, someone) tangible to do, 2.) It kicked off Ivy’s anti-Lily campaign with a bang (literally), and 3.) It ruined Dan’s 2012. That’s what we like to call a win-win-win.
What'd you think of the episode? What's on *your* list of the most important moments from "Gone Maybe Gone"?
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