Gossip Girl: Old Tomatoes, New Beginnings

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Gossip Girl S05E24: "The Return of the Ring"

The season finale of Gossip Girl found all the characters regressing to their high school selves even more unabashedly than usual. High school boyfriends, high school girlfriends, high school scheming, high school dreaming. You know how, one day, you’re a big grown-up gal, too cool for life, gallivanting about town with your high society friends, and then the next day you go back home to visit your parents and fall right into those pre-teen rhythms? The “I don’t like your tone, Miss,” “I don’t have a tone!” “You’re yelling!” “I’M NOT YELLING, MOM, THIS IS MY NORMAL VOICE!” rhythms? That’s what happened last night. Everyone’s parents were back—seriously, our cup runneth over with all these parents on the scene—and everyone was once again a 26-year-old playing a 17-year-old, just like high school days. (Technically, they were 26-year-olds playing 22-year-olds acting like 17-year-olds, but still.)

The episode opened with Serena and Blair dealing with the fall-out of Blair’s very public diary reveal. This, like all terrible things, was 100 percent Serena’s fault, as she had, while crashing, rent-free, in her very generous friend’s gorgeous penthouse apartment, stealthily stolen the diary of said friend and scanned several pages of it onto the clunky HP laptop from which she ran a gossip empire (into the ground). But don’t get judge-y, y’all. Serena will prove she’s not a terrible person:

“I was never going to publish [the pages]. I just wanted to know that I could.”

Yes, she actually said those words to Blair. As though that would possibly exonerate her. As though that clarification could possibly be well-received. What she meant was, “I was never going to publish them until you made me mad enough to publish them.”

I didn’t buy the gun because I was going to murder you in your sleep, Blair. I just wanted to know that I could.

The most important thing about this scene was that it set the tone, aesthetics-wise, for the rest of the episode. Everyone looked beyond bad.

Seriously, guys, what has been the deal with everyone’s hair and makeup this season? Dan’s been wearing wig on top of wig on top of wig made of skinned cocker spaniels he’s been stealing from Brooklyn dog-walkeries (“Police Puzzled as Piles of Precious Pooches Pilfered from Prospect Park,” blared the 1930s newspaper headlines). Blake Lively looks prettier as a kidnapped junkie in her upcoming movie than she does as a vain Upper East Sider with nothing but time on her hands. Blair’s hair has just been sadness personified all season. Are there any theories as to how it all went so wrong? Has Blair’s hair been this bad all along, but we were too distracted by her clownish oversized headbands to notice?

Anyway, Serena promised to make things right for Blair, and did sort of try, by emailing Gossip Girl and offering up “anything” if she would stop printing the diary. (I wasn’t really going to give you anything. I just wanted to know that I could.) Gossip Girl ignored this feeble attempt at placation and just kept rolling out damning page after damning page. I would have handled things more slowly, stretching this out into a weekly feature to boost readership rather than unloading the goods all at once, but what do I know from gossip sites?

To aid in damage control, Blair assembled her high school henchmen, Kati, Penelope, and Random White Girl They Substituted for Isabel Like No One Would Notice.

Following the release of a particularly juicy page (one on the topic of Chuck vs. Dan), Blair retooled her plan and instead set her sights on a good old-fashioned van der Blitzen, commanding Penelope to “find every secret Serena has. I need the best one to destroy her.”

Unfortunately, great as Blair’s line was, the secret Penelope came up with was the completely lame: SERENA NEVER READ F. SCOTT FITZGERALD’S THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED! No duh Serena never read that book. That revelation wasn’t so much a secret as something we all would have assumed but never would have bothered to bring up in conversation because no DUH Serena never read that book.

Amazingly, Blair was able to parlay this reveal into some decent Serena sabotage—when the director S had hoped to work for over the summer found out she’d never read the book on which his film was based, she was kicked off the project—but it definitely didn’t approach Season 1 “Serena killed someone!” gossip levels.

Naturally, Serena took great offense that something had transpired in the world that was not exactly in line with her wishes, and vowed to double-dog-destroy Blair, by channeling her inner high school harlot.

Step 1 was exactly what it what it was five seasons ago: Repurpose Blair’s minions for her own dirty work:

This episode’s Giant Party at Which All Characters Major and Minor Inexplicably Find Themselves was “The Shepherds’ Divorce Party.” Die-hards may remember the Shepherd name from Season 1 when we learned, through flashbacks, that Nate and Serena had had really dramatic, grope-y, adolescent-style sex in an empty barroom at the Shepherd wedding, while Nate was dating Blair. (Remember when Nate and Blair used to date? Back before Nate’s stupidity and incompetence became a running joke? Back before the character of Blair was completely rewritten at the start of every episode so that no two Blairs were ever alike in motivations or temperament?)

Earlier in the day, Dan had given Blair an ultimatum: She had until the Shepherds’ Divorce-aganza to let him know if she loved him. Meanwhile, across town, Chuck had given Blair an almost identical ultimatum. Old tomatoes were being chucked all over Manhattan. It was a real Gossip Girl finale!

Because Serena is a one-trick cheap trick, she decided to get back at Blair the only way she knew how: turning tricks. With the help of Penelope, Serena conspired to keep Blair away from the Shepherds’ Divorsoirée so that she would have time to seduce Dan, eventually persuading him to have really dramatic, grope-y, adolescent style sex in an empty barroom.

Dan totally fell for Serena’s poor acting (“I guess Blair is with Chuck!” “I guess Blair is accepting a proposal of marriage from Chuck!” “I guess Blair and Chuck are expecting their third child now and here I am sitting half-naked on an empty bar!”) and cheated on Blair with her best friend, making the cycle of Season 1-ity complete.

But, oh, the torrid affair would not stay secret for long if Serena had any say in the matter. She had secretly taped the sexcapade on her iPhone (Damn, girl, U a freak!), which Dan noticed right away (Damn, girl, U bad at subtle machinations!). He also saw some texts that revealed Serena had plotted to keep Blair from the party, and seduced him on purpose. Feeling cheaper than this dog-hair-wig looked, Dan tossed out a classic “I don’t know who you are anymore,” and rolled out. As we learned later in the episode, “I don’t know who you are anymore” is actually a magic incantation used to turn sad girls into coke whores.

Meanwhile, it turned out that Blair really had chosen Chuck over Dan, FINALLY. THANK GOD. She went to tell him so at a press conference his father was holding regarding the future of Bass Industries.

Unfortunately, Chuck had been so surprised and happy his dad wasn’t dead, he forgot that Bart is actually the meanest, coldest, worst person ever. A thousand times meaner than Jack Bass. A million times meaner than Chuck. Not quite as mean as Grandma Cece but that old bat was fun so snaps to her and let’s proceed.

Bart’s big announcement was that he alone would be manning the company from that day forward, a statement that totally blindsided Chuck, who thought he and his dad were besties now, and me, who recalled a moment four years ago when a certain Bart Bass left a billion dollar company in the incapable hands of his layabout high school-aged son, following a faked death.

“I built this empire!” Chuck later yelled at his father, while standing on the roof of the Empire—a nice touch. Then Bart revealed he had given Chuck a test to determine whether his insides were composed of dry tumbleweeds, like his own, or of marshmallows and jingle bells and strawberry jam, like a Communist’s. Chuck had, he said, failed this test by accepting the engagement ring Bart handed him so that he could go after Blair, like Bart told him to. I guess Chuck was meant to, I don’t know, snatch the ring from the box and say “To hell with love! Let’s melt it down to make a 24k bullet!” or something. Because he didn’t, Bart knew the boy had gone soft.

Following that dickish reveal, Blair ran up to the roof to confess her feelings to a very pregnant Chuck.

He responded, “Guess what, B? I’M OVER YOU,” but, thankfully, she was cool with that, and expressed her intentions to chase him now, just as he had chased her over the past twenty thousand episodes.

Also, delicious irony: Earlier in the night, Eleanor Waldorf revealed she planned to hand over the reins of her giant fashion empire to her daughter, who, like all characters on the show (with the notable exception of Chuck) is completely unemployable. An incomprehensibly misguided business decision. A fantastic plot development.

With timing so poor you’d think she was Serena, Blair blurted out her good news to Chuck about ten seconds after his father revealed he was kicking him out of Bass Industries, prompting this excellent response:

“I don’t want to be ‘Mr. Blair Waldorf.’ I’m Chuck Bass.”

Catchphrases! We’ve missed them.

The episode ended with the star-crossed lovers reconvening in Europe, where Blair surprised Chuck at a French casino (surely they weren’t meant to be in Monte Carlo, right? Blair must be barred from entering Monaco at this point) as he was attempting to win enough money to mount some sort of vague takedown of his father.

Blair’s giant stack of chips did not bode well for the future of Waldorf Designs, but the kids looked great.

They also got the final shot of the finale, scored to the quiet, hopeful moment of “We Are Young” by fun. featuring Janelle Monáe, so hopefully things will work out for them next year.

FYI: The Nate and Lola plotline was as developed as their intellects, so we can address it here in one sentence: Nate wanted Lola to live with him but she didn’t have any money but then she had a lot of money (c/o her Baldwin) but then she gave all her money away to the increasingly red-headed Poison Ivy—

—for purposes of revenge, so she didn’t have any again; Nate was bummed.

RufuSuicide Watch: This episode confirmed that Bart and Lily were still legally married, meaning that one of Lillian Rhodes-van der Woodsen-Bass-Humphrey’s marriages would have to be annulled. But which to choose? "I can’t deny […] a part of me would like to move back in here. Repair the damage to our relationship, a great deal of which I am responsible for,” said Bart Bass, THE MAN WHO FAKED HIS DEATH FOR 3 YEARS, to Lily in her living room. Rather than pointing out that she was kind of absolved of any guilt the moment we learned Bart’s death was more of a J/K than an RIP, Lily interpreted this statement as a grand romantic declaration.

Meanwhile, bumbly ol’ Rufus went behind her back and demanded Bart sign some annulment papers.

After Lily learned what Rufus had done, she was like “BULLSHIT. I’M OUT,” and decided it was their marriage, not hers to Bart, that was over.

And, there in his future-ex-wife’s massive living room, Rufus’s cowl neck foreshadowed the noose he would place over his head later that very evening.

It will take a miracle to see him survive to the next season. (Then again, as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, SuperBart showed us, those happen every day on Gossip Girl.)

The final major development of the episode was that Diana Payne passed along security camera footage taken from the Haunted Sex Castle, purporting to show The One, The Only, The O.G. GG, Gossip Girl her(?)self swiping Serena’s laptop.

Except, it didn’t really look like a girl, right?

Gossip Girl is totally Eric van der Woodsen.

See you next season!


QUESTIONS:

1. The big one, obviously: How long before Chuck and Blair are officially back together? If they’re not already a unit by Season 6, Episode 1, I predict we’ll have to wait until the series finale to see things fall into place for them. (The show has been renewed for a mercifully truncated order of 11 episodes, and everyone’s predicting that the sixth go-around will be Gossip Girl’s last.)

2. Did everyone catch Lily drinking gin from a teacup in her first scene? This Lily- is-an-alcoholic plotline has been picked up and dropped without explanation about a dozen times over the course of the show’s run. Maybe we can get her into rehab for Season 6?

3. Are we really going to have to deal with yet more Poison Ivy next year? Throwing money at the problem won’t solve anything, Lola. You’ve got to call in an exterminator.

4. Dan’s now writing the book he “should” have written about the Upper East Side, with Georgina’s help. Will anyone care? Perhaps he should have written the book he “should” have written the first time he wrote a book.

5. Serena’s last shot showed her being mopily felt up on a train pulling away from New York (a nice mirror to her Season 1 introduction). Any bets on where she’ll end up? In which city’s gutter, I mean.

6. Anyone think they’ll reveal Gossip Girl’s identity as a final, end-of-series hurrah? There’s no one they could name who would make any sort of sense, since Gossip Girl is beyond omniscient at this point. If it’s not Eric van der Woodsen, I don’t want to know.

7. What was your favorite line of the episode? Chuck’s catchphrase was great, but I lost it when Serena said to the former Mrs. Shepherd “You look just as beautiful black as you did white.”