I would call last night’s episode of Gossip Girl a comedy of errors, but there was nothing funny about the mistakes that had been made, some of them willfully, to result in an innocent man’s imprisonment and his desperate sister’s misguided revenge fantasy, perpetrated on the wrong rich blonde. Is it just me, or has this show gotten a tad dark over the past month? Where are Blair’s color-coded minions? Serena’s spangly, inappropriately short outfits? Where was Dorota? I’d ask where Jenny and Vanessa were, but I’m afraid that if I say their names too many times, they might appear in my mirror like Bloody Mary with a bad weave.
Last night’s installment was the de facto end to the first half of the season and it tied up some loose ends, answered a few questions and endeavored to correct some of the unfairness that had plagued both Serena and poor, jail-bound Ben. We also got a new villain, one that few people probably saw coming, myself included.
The episode started in rehab, with Serena improbably wearing pants and a crewneck sweater to show us all just how contemplative and quiet therapy has already made her. Blair and Dan had set out bright and early that morning so that Blair would have plenty of time to explain Juliet’s scheme to Dan before their visit to rehab since we all know that he’s about as dense as they come when it’s time for plotting; I’m surprised that she didn’t have to draw him a picture to explain it. They eventually made it to the rehab center to pump Serena for information, but she had just started a 72-hour humanity detox or something and wasn’t allowed visitors. Just therapy. Lots of therapy.
Blair and Dan eventually realized that they could contact Gossip Girl and somehow and figure out how to find Juliet through her, and while all of that was going down, the writers were still trying to convince us that we care about Nate’s parental divorce timeline. And they failed, because I still don’t care. Some stuff was said about Nate’s dad using his mom to ensure that he’s released straight away and not into a halfway house, but honestly, I stopped listening. Nate’s parents have been missing entirely for at least two seasons, and none of us really cared about them even before they got written out, so if at all possible, I care about them even less now than I did back then. In fact, I’m not even sure that I care about their son. Nate could completely disappear and I probably wouldn’t notice for at least three our four episodes.
Once Blair and Dan had Juliet’s address in hand, we were able to abandon the Archibald family plot altogether and head with them to Cornwall, CT, Juliet’s hometown and where they would eventually find her and…pull her hair? Call her a stupid head? They hadn’t really thought that far through their plan. We know because of Serena’s therapy dream sequence that Cornwall is also where Serena went to boarding school during her tumultuous junior year, and that’s where the Juliet-Serena puzzle pieces started to come together.
When Blair and Dan arrived in their ridiculous hipster car that Dan insisted on taking (totally not believable – Blair wouldn’t have gone to Connecticut in anything but a black Towncar), they found not a middle-class home but a giant mansion with a bunch of Ferraris out front, some drunk college kids who looked suspiciously like they were at a frat party that I once attended in college, and Damian Dalgar or whatever his name was, drug dealer, Jenny almost-deflowerer and international man of mystery. As it turns out, that wasn’t Juliet’s address – it was his, and he was the person who sold her all the drugs she used on Serena. The stuff she put on her mask was ether, which Damian explained as a “turn-of-the-century roofie,” even though I don’t think ether really works like that.
What Damian did know, though, was where Dan and Blair could find Juliet – she’s a townie! The only problem, of course, was that Juliet happened to be cruising by, spotted the group setting out to find her, and literally put the car in reverse and skidded away backward. Dan, Blair and Damien went to Juliet’s house and found only her mom, who confirmed what we all had been suspecting: Juliet’s brother is in prison because he slept (or maybe not!) with Serena when she was an underage boarding school student. Damien helped us fill in the blanks about how Serena suddenly went from being a boozing party girl to a serious, studious young woman back when she met Mr. Donovan and how he saw Serena throw herself at the teacher who had set her on the right path at a hotel one night, but Serena’s therapy flashback let us know that he didn’t actually take the bait and sleep with her. So…why was he in jail?
In the time that our threesome was figuring all of this out, Juliet had driven her Mercury (do they still make those?) back into the city to find Serena and “end” things once and for all, whatever that means, and she called Ben to tell her that she was doing so just in time for Nate to waltz into jail through some random side entrance, hear Ben’s warning that his sister was on the rampage and call Dan so that he could warn Serena of some sort of lurking “danger.” Why he called Dan instead of calling Serena, Lily or the rehab center, I have no idea, which is why I probably wouldn’t even miss Nate if someone pushed him out a window.
Even if Nate had actually called the correct people, it was too late – Juliet was waiting in Serena’s room when she returned from her conveniently expository therapy session. Luckily for our sad blonde protagonist, Juliet didn’t have a gun or a knife or even a pair of fuzzy handcuffs with which to settle her score. She just had some swear words and a revelation about Serena’s past, but as it turns out, that was enough. Serena apparently hadn’t been privy to the fact that Mr. Donovan got sent up the river for “sleeping” with her – Lily had kept it quiet and Juliet’s brother had copped a plea. No trial, no testimony, no nothing, just a forged signature and an innocent man in jail. All that time, Juliet had been out to ruin the wrong Van Der Woodsen.
Instead of waiting to have the conversation with her mother in private like a normal person (Juliet’s brother is in jail, it’s not like he’s about to be executed or something, what’s the rush?), Serena and Juliet joined forces to bust out of rehab and interrupt a very convenient party that Lily had been holding to tell everyone present that she was in rehab because she has a terrible mother. Lily did the only thing that a socialite with an out-of-control daughter can do and smiled and excused her daughter to all of her guests, and once the whole gang showed up, they isolated Serena in a separate room and threatened to turn Juliet in to the police.
Once Serena explained the story to everyone, though, Blair and Dan but down their pitchforks and torches and tried to regroup and figure out where they should point their rage next. Luckily for them, Lily then walked into the room and her version of events started to unravel. She had strong-armed the plea deal so that no one would hear about Serena’s, uh, “incident,” and she didn’t even bother to tell Serena that she had known anything about it. Lily found out about the professor from some girls gossiping on the boarding school’s campus when she went up to try and pressure the school’s dean into cleaning up Serena’s record so that she could get into a decent school in the city.
When the dean wouldn’t clean up the record out of the goodness of his or her heart, Lily used the rumor she had heard to blackmail the school into altering Serena’s record and ensuring that her future would be bright. It apparently didn’t even enter Lily’s mind that Serena might not have managed to sleep with him, or that a single man on Earth might be able to turn down her advances, but that’s how it happened. Lily had sent an innocent man to jail in order to keep her family name out of the papers, and she didn’t even look particularly sorry that she had done it. Oh, and also, Rufus chimed in to tell Chuck that Lily was going to sell Bass Industries instead of relinquishing control to him. Just in case you needed more reasons to hate her.
It hadn’t occurred to me so far that Lily might be the real villain in this series, but as it turns out, she is. Her concerns, first and foremost, are always for her own public image and social status. Serena wasn’t having a tough time, she was merely at Ostroff because Canyon Ranch was booked. Serena didn’t just publicly declare a very real hatred for her in front of dozens of guests, she was just pissed that Lily wouldn’t let her use the family jet. These weren’t just half-truths, they were outright lies, just like the one she had told Chuck about returning control of the family business to him. One by one, every turned to abandon Lily, including Rufus, although I think we all know he’ll never leave her entirely. She has hidden his balls inside of one of her Hermes bags, and he doesn’t know where they are.
At least we went into the season’s hiatus on a high note – the entire gang, minus Vanessa and Jenny who are apparently gone for quite a while (thank you baby Jesus), got together to eat turkey and bond and generally get along with each other. I’m not sure why they were eating turkey since I was under the impression that Thanksgiving was last week, but perhaps they were merely making up for all of last week’s upheaval by sharing a meal with the only people who that can still stand. Note: no parents were present! Afterward, Blair and Dan even made nice for a few minutes, which I sincerely hope doesn’t foretell an awkward hookup while Serena is freeing innocent sex offenders and Blair is trying to regain control of the family business. Don’t do that to us, Gossip Girl writers. It really wouldn’t be fair.