This one almost broke me, folks. All season, I’ve been working under the assumption that Gossip Girl will conclude in spectacularly bad fashion, but “The Revengers” presented some of the worst minutes aired on television this year. Hell, this episode was absolutely the worst thing I’ve seen on TV in 2012, but of course I only saw a few minutes of Work It!. I strongly considered just typing LOL in 72-point font and calling it a day, but alas, I am a (semi) professional. Let’s run it back so I can go wash out this out of my brain.
Just in case there was any confusion about Dan’s feelings for Serena: They were fake, but are now real. He meant everything he said in “Inside Out,” but still loves her nonetheless. Dan sure knows how to charm a lady (and/or brain-dead humanoid), doesn’t he? The sad thing about Dan’s eleventh-hour crusade to win Serena back is that this show is so miserable, the Dan/Serena storyline is really the only thing that makes even a lick of real sense. Is it stupid? Absolutely. Does it make Dan, Serena, the writing staff, and the audience look like fools? You bet. But does it follow this show’s warped concept of True, Epic Love? Of course it does. Gossip Girl is what it is at this point, so I can at least admit that, following what are basically fantasy world rules, Dan’s re-re-re-re-discovered feelings for Dead Eyes are believable.
I love when this show points out, either purposefully or accidentally (and probably accidentally), that a character’s present-day choice is dumb because they’ve made that choice 183 times before and it didn’t work out. Never does this rule apply more than in the case of Serena’s random decision to move to Los Angeles because she can never really reinvent herself in the public eye of the Upper East Side. I was literally pounding my head against my desk when she first announced this move because Serena has run away from the UES more times than I’ve run in my life, period. And I don’t live a completely sedentary lifestyle. Dan, at his most romantic, thankfully pointed this out to Serena (well, not the part about me, but you get it), and even went as far to list the countless locations she’s sprinted off to every time he said he didn’t love her anymore.
Here’s an idea, Serena: Grow up. Here’s another one: Get professional help. And one more: For once in your life, recognize that you can’t just run away from your “problems” all the time and that maybe it’s not the location that has caused them, it’s your terrible choices, egocentrism, and general existence that has. At least Dan admits that he’s a bit of a scumbag who just wants to live excessively lucky life with the person he love-hates. But Serena is always on a pedestal, blaming everyone else for her problems. Go to L.A., or don’t. Just shut up already.
I’m not going to even pretend that Bart is an “admirable” or “good” person; he’s not. But here, his villainy went to new levels, so much so that he managed to threaten most every character on the show into some kind of hiding. It was silly.
Even still, Bart deserves his comeuppance, I guess. That's the story Gossip Girl is telling. However, as I’ve said before, I have trouble getting behind the show’s crooked moral universe when it wants me to root for the likes of Blair, Ivy, Sage, Serena, and Georgina to take down Bart, mostly so that Blair and Chuck can drop their pretenses and have sex. Not only has GG done a horrible job this season of convincing me that Blair and Chuck should be together (or that he even wants to be with her at all), but that group is chock-full of annoying, deplorable misfits. Georgina is probably the “worst” of them, and she’s the only one I like because the show’s actually kept her character consistent all these years.
See, that’s my problem with Gossip Girl above all else. The show can ultimately pair up whomever it wants, even if the result is hackneyed, and it can ultimately tell me that I should root for sociopaths, criminals, and trust-fund brats. I understand that's just how Gossip Girl's world works. What bothers me is that the show has dissembled most of the character growth, good or bad, that has happened over the past few seasons. In the last two seasons, Blair wasn’t this immature, mindlessly lovesick, or frankly, as hateful a person as she’s become in the final season. Dan wasn’t quite as delusional. And the show had started to embrace the reality that Chuck and Serena were pretty dysfunctional, borderline terrible people.
But now, Blair and Dan are shells of their former selves, while Serena and Chuck are basically the same, but the show has re-contextualized their actions in an attempt to make them seem sympathetic, and in Chuck’s case, heroic. The stories are bad enough on their own, but who Gossip Girl asks us to care about undercuts a lot of what came before this final season, and that calibration really pushes these episodes into all-time garbage territory.
Thus, it was no surprise that at this episode’s end, Chuck, the “hero” of this story (remember, Nate told us so), let his father fall off a skyscraper. I thought this whole story has been about Chuck defeating his father and becoming a man? I guess pulling a Batman and “not killing, but also not helping” is one way to defeat someone. Nevertheless, the entire season has built to Chuck outsmarting or outthinking his father, only to strip him of growth that so he could watch, like a child, while his father tumbled to his death. He didn’t even do anything. AND THIS IS THE PERSON WE’RE SUPPOSED TO SIDE WITH. Commit to your own warped universe, show.
For whatever reason, perhaps because "The Revengers" was the penultimate episode of the series and or perhaps because the production team realized that they had some leftover money that they just forgot to give Barry Watson, but this episode mixed up the show’s aesthetic a little, and that was nice. Director Patrick Norris, clearly in on the joke that is Gossip Girl’s existence, decided to shoot a number of the scenes like this was actually a superhero movie. The camera moved a lot more than it typically does, there were some diverse angles, and even in on-location scenes, the episode wasn’t over-reliant on super-tight closeups like it usually is. Gossip Girl's visual palette has grown so stale over the years that it was nice to be reminded that the lighting and locations actually can add up to a nice image or two.
Of course, the show managed to undercut the strength of the visuals with some truly ridiculous music. It seemed like anytime that Bart was on screen, a license-free version of “The Imperial March” came blaring into the mix. The final scene with Bart falling off the building was especially poor in this regard. I get it, show, this is “serious.”
Or should I say the “Correction Department?” But seriously, how is Nate just brushing the dirt off his shoulders and moving on after being arrested for legitimate accounting fraud? Just because Bart has (whoops, had) police connections and wanted to see Nate squirm? Doesn’t Nate’s crime impact more than just a guy who secretly signed a loan? There I go, thinking about this again.
GOOD NEWS, THOUGH: Nate’s going to find Gossip Girl after all. He’s an American hero.
Until next week, folks. You’re going to need alcohol. All of it.