Is it just me, or was last night’s episode GREAT?
All in one hour of television, we got a crazy Tyra Banks cameo, the return of the “I’m Chuck Bass” line, references to Heart of Darkness, Jean Renoir’s World War II classic The Grand Illusion, and Dumbo, and a closing song so good that it just made me download Passion Pit’s entire album on iTunes.
See, Gossip Girl? This is what you can be if you really put your mind to it.
In addition to crazypants Tyra, we also got the introduction of a story arc starring Hilary Duff. She’s Olivia, an actress hitting it big just as she attempts to start a “normal life” at NYU. And, what a coincidence, she’s Vanessa’s roommate! Despite the fact that classes have already started and everyone had already moved in weeks ago. Right.
Anyway, Dan meets this Olivia person on the street (she spots him a buck fifty for coffee – as they say, you can take the boy out of Brookyln, but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the boy…) and when she realizes that Dan has no idea who she is (which I don’t buy – any hipster worth his American Apparel hoodie would have a deep and ironic love for the crappy vampire flicks she’s said to have starred in up to that point), she decides to play Hannah Montana and tell him that her name is Kate and she’s just a regular NYU freshman from down the Jersey Turnpike, trying to navigate her new life in the big city. Right.
Well, since Dan just lost his most recent booty call to psychosis, he can’t help but be smitten after a quick walk around the block with this new girl. Yet he doesn’t ask for her number, which is never explained, and he doesn’t know she’s Vanessa’s roommate yet. Serendipitously, not only does he run in to her later, but he does so in a way that means not only does Nate get called up from the DL to interact with the group, but he gets to act SMART! Like he understands the plot and all the big words that people are using! Because of course, Nate doesn’t read or anything, so all he does is watch DVDs and play with his manbangs, and he knows exactly who Fake Hannah Montana is, but doesn’t reveal it to Dan, who promptly asks her on a date.
Meanwhile, in another part of town with nicer interiors, Blair is trying to re-infiltrate Constance Billard since no one at NYU likes her. Which is troublesome, since she left Jenny to be queen of the Upper East Side castle, and Jenny is trying to introduce a teenage girl version of perestroika (Yes! They really said that! I love this episode!) to the halls of her high school. No hierarchy! No Queen Bee! No headbands! Well, as anyone that’s been a teenage girl in the past knows all too well, you can’t just leave a power vacuum lying around those people! One of them is going to fill it! Which is exactly what happened: they called Blair and she installed a puppet regime.
And because Blair is struggling with what a lot of people that were popular in high school struggle with (namely: peaking before you make it to college), she heads right back to the UES to hold her annual sleep-over, despite Chuck’s reminder that she’s got to move past her high school self. But Chuck is far too wily to be thwarted, and he takes matters into his own hands.
You see, that actor chick that Dan wants to bang? Fake Hannah Montana? She has a premiere! It’s her first super-serious movie that’s going to launch her career as a super-serious actress and not just a blond girl that gets bitten by vampires. And because this show has to come up with new ways to get all these different characters into the same place at the same time, everyone is going to go to it for one reason or another.
Chuck invites Little Jenny Humphrey (wearing a gorgeous Pucci minidress) to go with him in order to waken the sleeping dragon that is Gossip Girl and send Blair into a jealous rage that will make her forget about high school minions. Fake Hannah Montana invites her new bestie Vanessa (who she will want to stab in the throat by February, because that’s how college roommates are), who brings along Dan, who still doesn’t know that Miley, err, uh, Kate, the cute girl from the coffee cart, is actually Fake Hannah Montana.
Ok, so, yes, all of that. But how does Serena get there? Well, she got a JOB. Well, sort of a job. Lily magically reappeared, back from wherever she was with CeCe (or, from maternity leave, which is where she really was), just in time to bust Serena for not going to Brown and Rufus for not making her go. And then Serena was all, “Well, I’ll show you and I’ll get a job and do something with my life!” Which is silly, because Serena’s family has billions of dollars, and who really cares of she goes to Brown or gets a job or whatever? Lily has never really seemed to care about what her kids do before this.
So while S is looking for a job, we get some cute cameos (this episode was full of ’em!) by Tory Burch and Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman, but none of them want to hire her on, which is silly, because she’s a publicity magnet and at least nominally, a budding socialite with an eight-figure inheritance coming her way eventually. Plus she’s hot. They could have found SOMETHING for her to do for free. But they turned her down, so she ends up running in to Fake Hannah Montana and her publicist at a restaurant and gives the girl some advice about fleeing the joint without alerting the paparazzi.
So this publicist women seems vaguely impressed (and also, like a total opportunist), so she hires Serena on the spot to be a Diva Wrangler, and this particular diva is Tyra Banks. Well, she’s not called Tyra Banks in the episode, but didn’t you get the impression that that’s how Ty Ty probably acts in real life? I certainly did. But Serena tames her somehow (perhaps with her hypnotic cleavage), and they becomes buddies, but Serena doesn’t have the heart to tell her that her big scene got cut from the movie. And that movie is the same movie that Fake Hannah Montana is in!
Which brings us, finally, to the premiere. Dan has been bummed about Fake Hannah Montana because neither of them really knows if they want to do all of this crazy going-on-dates stuff, and then Dan realizes, suddenly, that he’s at the premiere of her movie. They eventually decide that they do want to bump uglies. Boring. That might have been after the premiere, I don’t even remember. It’s not the good part of the episode.
And neither is the whole Serena/Lily thing. Serena gets fired for not telling her client to pitch a royal fit in public, and Lily gets to be all I-told-you-so because the publicist was only using her for her name and connections. And that sort of begs the question: isn’t that what the entire publicity industry is about? And shouldn’t that make Serena wildly successful at it, even without her squinty brunette boss? And even if she is, who cares, her mom isn’t cutting off the cash any time soon?
The real beauty in all of this is Blair and Chuck. When the Gossip Girl beacon goes out, Blair races out of her sleepover and down to the premiere to lay in to Little Jenny Humphrey over her man-stealing, but Chuck steps in to remind her that she is BLAIR WALDORF! AND HE IS CHUCK BASS! AND IF SHE CAN GET HIM TO TELL HER THAT HE LOVES HER, SHE CAN DO ANYTHING! Including win over the bridge-and-tunnel crowd that populates NYU’s freshman class, which is a seemingly small task by comparison.
And then, in a stroke of genius only ascribable to a true madman like Chuck, he makes sure that a photographer stops her to take her picture on the way out of the premiere, to remind her that she’s a Real, Live Important Person, BECAUSE DUMBO COULD ALWAYS FLY, HE JUST NEEDED A FEATHER TO DO IT! Can you guys give me a moment, please? I need to take a breath.
So Blair and Chuck’s stocks are rising again, and so is Little J’s, because Blair disassembled the puppet regime and Chuck convinced J that she had fought hard for her power and now was no time to give it up. And she didn’t, because she’s a teenage girl, and she might have found it within her to be magnanimous once, but lighting doesn’t strike twice in the same place.
Which sets them all up comfortably for the drama next week: Blair and Chuck are in love, Jenny is at the top of the Constance Billard heap, Dan has a new love interest, and Vanessa got royally shut down by Scott on the phone (so, wait, I guess she’s not that comfortable). And since all is quiet on the Upper East Side front, what else can we do but have Georgina and the Stalker Scott crash Rufus and Lily’s wedding?