In honor of Valentine’s Day, this week's Gossip Girl spotlighted two examples of the kind of men yer mama warned you about: the co-dependent, no-job layabout and the delusional, conniving stalker.
In the role of the former is Rufus Humphrey, better known as the inspiration for Destiny’s Child’s '99 hit single "Bills, Bills, Bills."
We open with Rufus sitting at home (his wife’s home) on the couch (his wife’s couch) giving his lady bad credit, buying her gifts with her own ends.
“I'm picking out some Cartier jewelry to give to Lily tonight,” he says, straight-faced, to the son whose respect he, surely, at one point must have held.
Rufus is quickly becoming the dead-eyed Betty Draper of the Upper East Side, and the transformation is equal parts delicious and uncomfortable to watch. Remember 19 seasons ago, when he had a job (kind of) and had to work(ish) all the time to come up with tuition to put his kids through private school? Now he spends his days rusting away in Lily’s spacious Manhattan trophy case, gasping things like “Oh, wow, that’s beautiful!” about diamond necklaces, then fumblefumblefumbling with the jewels because his hands have gone numb. “Do you ever have that? When your hands... go numb?” But no, Rufus, no, we’ve never had that. Why don’t you lie down?
I’m actually really worried about him. I can’t tell whether these changes in his personality are meant to come across so sinisterly, or whether Matthew Settle is not even phoning, but texting it in. Either way, Lily Van der Woodsen needs to set her man up with a corrupt psychiatrist (who will reveal Rufus’s innermost thoughts to Lily for a buck)—like, yesterday.
Later on in the middle of the afternoon, Rufus is home alone (of course he is) when Charlie/Ivy shows up out of the blue. At the start of the scene your heart kind of breaks for Rufus because you see his eyes light up and you know that the sight of a visitor, any visitor, even a delivery man—even an awful, terrible, flat-faced Charlie—makes his day. It gives him something to say to Lily over dinner.
“How was my day? Oh, it was good. Busy, busy, as always, organizing things.” Then he can add, with studied casualness,“Oh, I almost forgot! You know who stopped by? A visitor!”
Unfortunately and hilariously, Charlie stamps all over his hopes of girl talk right away.
“Is Lily here?” she asks. “I wanted to explain to her in person why I left so abruptly.”
Well, explains Rufus, Lily’s actually on her way back from D.C. But... but HE is here! Rufus is here and he has thoughts and a voice and he would like to know, too, “Why did you leave so abrupt—”
“OH, Y’KNOW, IT’S PERSONAL,” Charlie interrupts, in capital letters, just like that. Boom, Rufus. Shut down.
As soon as Rufus's big hazel eyes start to fill with tears, though, Charlie does throw him one bone.
“I can’t believe Blair went through with her marriage to Louis,” she murmurs, opening up the door for Rufus to barrel through with a quick and dirty gossip session about how one of his son’s friends whom he doesn’t know that well is probably still in love with another of his son’s friends, whom he arguably knows even less well. Blair and Chuck, Blair and Chuck, let’s all the adults in the room get together and talk about Blair and Chuck!
His spiel complete, Rufus pulls out that old housewife trick—the “Oh, gosh, I wish I could chat but I’ve got a ton to do today and was actually just on my way out!”—and flits from the apartment. But, even there, you know that all he did was go downstairs (no elevator, Rufus, take the stairs, the maintenance stairs on the other side of the building, anything to eat up more time!) and sit in the garage with his head in his hands, wondering why he cheated himself out of even a couple minutes more of human contact.
What does he do to take his mind off things?
As usual, be steady headin’ to the mall, goin’ on shopping sprees, perpetrating to his friends that he be ballin’.
On the opposite end of the dude spectrum, we’ve got a creeper who’s coming on way, way, WAY too strong: Mr. Nathaniel Archibald.
This was the episode where Nate morphed from beautiful cater-waiter/secret heiress Lola/Charlotte’s charming, curious admirer to her frightening, obsessive stalker. The worst part of this whole plotline is that Nate doesn’t realize what a strange, sad parody he’s become. In his mind, he’s still the dashing high school soccer player winning everyone over with his bangs and his smile. You can hear it in his voice when he tells Lola he bribed her boss at the catering company to procure her phone number.
"Don’t I just do the damndest things?" his every smirk implies. "You love it!"
But here’s the thing, guys: She doesn't love it. She doesn't love it so much, in fact, that, when Nate conspires to have Lola’s employer cater a last-minute Valentine’s Day party at the Spectator office just so she’ll show up, he learns that she has put a note in her employee file requesting not to work any more of his company’s events.
By the way—the “hook” of this party? “Come As You Were,” a high school-themed Valentine’s Day rager. Didn’t these kids all just leave high school, like, two years ago? They are as they were! This whole premise is absurd!
Better idea for a Valentine’s Day party: Call the night “Puppy Love” and have everyone bring a dog they own/know/stole. Who wouldn’t want to go to that?
Anyway. Because he's never experienced rejection before, Nate reacts to the news of Lola’s SIQBURN with a rashness that seems insane to anyone who grew up on Earth. He decides to cancel the party. Luckily, his good friend Chuck Bass, already feeling like his high school-self, is eager to help with any potential rape. Nate is then told to hold the party at the Empire instead; that way, Lola won’t know Nate’s the one throwing it.
And, are we supposed to root for these guys? Are we supposed to want Nate to land Lola? Haha, take that, you no-nonsense girl trying to keep her head down and work her way through college! A bunch of wealthy twenty-somethings you don’t know will manipulate your life however they see fit! Bread and circuses, they demand! Bread and circuses for all!
Also, Nate made his own Jell-O shots for the party.
So, of course, Lola was tricked into catering the event after all, and of course Nate strolled up looking like the most popular boy in the 11th grade (seriously, he hangs out with seniors all the time and it’s, like, not even a big deal to him) and rubbed her face in it.
Unbelievably (and, of course, unintentionally), Nate did end up doing Lola one major solid: He told her that creaky-voiced Ivy has been impersonating her all over Manhattan for the better part of a year. Lola kept her cool remarkably well during the big reveal, and didn’t just blurt out “WHAT SHE’S LYING I’M CHARLOTTE RHODES,” which is definitely what I would have done. This girl knows how to play her cards. Here’s hoping she finally puts this interminable Will The Real Charlotte Rhodes Please Stand Up plotline to bed.
Elsewhere in the episode, Blair tried (really, earnestly tried, I think) to play Cupid and bring Dan and Serena back together. Too bad she did a horrible job and ended up kissing Dan in front of Serena (and GossipGeorgina) instead.
In response, Chuck revenge-slept with Dan’s surprisingly busty book agent, Alessandra. Bad move, Chuck. She feels clingy.
Other things we learned:
– The secret identity of Gossip Girl! Or, anyway, Dan learned this. He won’t do anything with the knowledge, though, because she has too much dirt on him.
– Charlie/Ivy hasn’t been around because she’s living with the very ill Grandma Cece in some sort of care facility.
– Serena’s pajamas feature a sequined vest, i.e. are insane:
– Chuck Bass has truly terrible taste in art:
1. To whom is Dan going to reveal the identity of Gossip Girl first? He’s totally going to cave and tell someone—that’s Rufus Humphrey’s boy!
2. How is Blair’s stylish British handmaiden going to dispose of her to get at her secret love, Prince Louis? Will she settle for a public scandal or buckle down and straight-up attempt a murder?
3. Does anyone remember Jenny and Eric? Did they actually ever exist, or were they the products of a group dream we all experienced?