By now, you folks know that I have a complicated relationship with Gossip Girl. Even after my angry screed against the show last week, I went into “Save the Last Chance” hopeful. Hopeful that the show's writing staff could pull it together in these final few episodes, or hopeful that the whole thing would truly implode for good—I can’t decide which. Somehow, this unbelievably dumb show found a way to lean toward both of those options this week. “Save the Last Chance” was full of some of the season’s worst action, but also included a final moment that could—and I repeat, could, because who knows if it’s for real or if this writing staff is competent enough to pull it off—salvage a character, a season, and dammit, an entire show. Let’s run it back.
I’ve mostly ignored the Bass and Bass Powersuit Strong Grimace-athon 2012 in my reviews because A.) it has unspooled in a frustratingly slow manner just so it could be parsed out across an entire season, and B.) it's entirely dumb. Bart Bass hasn’t been an interesting character for ages and the show’s attempts to reinforce how EVIL he is by revealing he illegally sold some oil make little sense for a series that has featured characters doing much, much worse.
The good news is that the story came to a head in this episode and the even better news is that it was actually pretty compelling. Instead of emphasizing Chuck’s crusade to prove his masculinity, "Save the Last Chance" messied up the story by pulling a bunch of other characters into its previously dull web. Gossip Girl tried to do this last week, but wouldn’t you know it, rich white people rushing to outbid one another at an auction doesn’t necessarily lead to thrilling television. This week, though, Bart and Chuck’s duel for the ages roped in Nate, Dan, and Rufus while further crystallizing Ivy’s plan to embarrass Lily to death by revealing that she has been working with—and working it for—William.
Gossip Girl has always loved doing stories where its characters run around town, following bad advice and text updates, in hopes of accomplishing some nebulous goal... so I guess it’s fitting that we got another one of those here in the homestretch. Ivy offered to trade the microfilm to whichever Bass man could humiliate Lily the most, forcing Bart to be the jag he is and allowing Chuck to be half-assed and goodnatured so the show could paint him as a hero (more on that in a second). Halfway through, Dan and Rufus got involved and ended up saving the microfilm and Chuck’s chances to save it, only for Lily to burn it in the end (cue Vader “Nooooooo”).
Ultimately, as dumb and plodding as it was, this story created some almost decent aftershocks for a bunch of characters. Chuck is, of course, now no longer able to be with Blair (please, I dare someone to explain to me with a straight face how this makes sense). Rufus is back in Lily’s good graces, setting up their inevitable reunion. Bart is who we thought he was and will still get his. Nate is a sad, lonely drunk who should probably reconsider every life choice he has made since Britney Spears shaved her head. And Ivy is now, somewhat randomly, powerless—because she can’t send tasteful nudes of Bart to Gossip girl. On this show, I consider those developments victories.
Welp, my longstanding dream for Blair and Serena to go full scorched-earth with one another—and, more importantly, to mean it—looks like it isn’t going to come to pass. If "Save the Last Chance" was about anything other than microfilm, it was about B and S’s big reunion. Of course, said reunion looked a lot like every other one these two women have ever had, so despite their legitimately lengthy feud, the reconciliation had no impact. We get it, gals, you can get carried away with your schemes, your hurt feelings, and your desire to ruin each other’s lives with recorded sexual sabotage.
Like so many other things on this show, this latest fight between Blair and Serena didn’t mean anything and the characters didn’t learn or grow because of it. And even if it is kind of nice to have them as friends again, if only to avoid more weightless threats and accusations, we know it won’t last. There are still three episodes left in Gossip Girl’s run, which means the two lead characters have at least 19 more This Friendship is So Over conversations left in them. Can’t wait.
I know that a lot of you were really worried about where Blair’s totally justified and worthwhile fashion career would end up, so I’m happy to report that her teen line is a success. It turns out that when you still act and talk like a 15-year-old brat, you can sell clothes to the demographic as well. And I know that Gossip Girl is trying to make that horrible reality the “point” of B’s success, but wow is that terrible characterization.
After all she's been through, Blair probably does deserve some kind of happiness, so if it comes from her burgeoning-to-drowning-back-to-burgeoning professional trajectory, then so be it. Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice this episode still hammered home Blair’s direct connection to high school and teenage girls. The show probably wanted us to LOL at the changes in high school diva clique decorum and fist-pump at Sage getting her comeuppance, but it sure seems like Blair doesn’t need to be “scoring wins” over girls who are a half-decade her junior in a final season that should, theoretically, be about her final push toward maturity, grace, class, etc. But maybe this is the end of all that nonsense. Well, until the series finale is all about Blair and Sage battling over who gets to be chair of the 2013 prom committee at Constance.
The most frustrating part of "Save the Last Chance" was, of course, the continued existence of Dan and Serena’s lovebird reunion. Even though the two of them didn’t spend much time together, their conversation at the beginning of the episode about making amends with everyone they've wronged (so, Earth) framed much of the action. First and foremost was Dan’s apology tour, where the Gossip Girl writers decided that the best way to completely confirm that they haven’t watched their own show for three years and don’t actually assume anyone else has either (and, hey, they’re basically correct) was to make Dan look like the World’s Worst Person by having him do some really terrible things. Oh wait, no, that’s not it. The episode just figured it’d be better—and easier—to put Dan (total tool, but mostly justified in his non-sleeping with dead eyes actions), Chuck (physical and mental abuser of women), and Nate (sad-sack, apparently the only thing resembling a conscience this show has) all in a room and have Nate just explicitly say, “Well hey, who would have thought Lonely Boy would be the Most Terrible of All, while Chuck, my beautiful and honorable Chuck, would be the World’s Champion.”*
* This is not exactly what Nate said. But it is terrifyingly close.
At this point, I’m fine with Gossip Girl ruining all of its barely redeemable characters and pretending that all the things the horrible ones have done didn’t actually happen—but never did I think the show would stoop lower than Blair uttering the line, “This was worse than when Chuck legit-raped that barely teenage girl that one time.” Talk about telling instead of showing to the loudest, most obvious degree; it was truly one of the worst moments in CW history, and this is a network that aired more than one episode of Mario Lopez bullying people about bullying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show try so hard to make a decision that is so clearly wrong—based only on the story we’ve seen for five-plus years—work.
But just when it seemed like Gossip Girl was ready to torture me with three more episodes centered on the original configuration of the Core Four and allow Dan’s previously newfound willingness to call his peers out on their crap to fall completely by the wayside, Georgina called Dan about his AWOL status. And in what might be the most promising three seconds of this show’s lifespan, Dan breathlessly whispered that he is writing the Serena chapter after all, and presumably, their reconciliation is all for research.
For the first time ever, the show earned its OMG associations. Burn it all down, Humphrey. If this has all been part of Dan’s long con against Serena and perhaps the whole lot of his fellow characters, and if he ultimately decides to go through with writing the chapter, this all might be worth something. The revelation legitimately surprised me, and now I’m hopeful in a good way again. Of course, there’s no evidence that Gossip Girl can pull something like this off, so feel free to laugh at me (more) when Dan eventually deletes the Serena chapter and decides to love her forever. Ugh.