We all knew it couldn’t last for long.
When we left our Upper East Siders on Monday prior, truth was the word of the day. Secrets had been revealed, acceptance and forgiveness had been doled out in appropriate amounts, and everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief. But these people love drama more than middle school girls do, and the quickest route to drama is through deception.
In short, everyone started lying again, and lying beget the necessity for our newly minted college students to sell each other out. Even Vanessa tried her hand at it, which she really shouldn’t, because she’s not dastardly. And Nate failed too, because he is an imbecile. But it was Blair’s failure that might cost her the most of all.
My expectations were low when the whole shindig started with Nate and Serena hatching a plan. I don’t trust that those two have the combined intellectual power to make sure that they remember their potty training, let alone to pull off a brilliant caper. Blair and Chuck, they’re not. Good thing that the caper wasn’t particularly brilliant.
In fact, the entire thing was suitably convoluted. Carter, cad extraordinaire, has been whisked off to a Texas oil rig by the Buckley family goons to perform what is basically an epic version of washing the dishes when you can’t afford the check for dinner. They’re going to force him into indentured servitude until he pays back half a million dollars in gambling debts that they had made disappear following his engagement to Bree’s sister, and somehow the best way to solve this problem is to play poker.
Yep, poker. Bree’s brother plays clandestine, illegal poker in some kind of industrial facility (why not in a swanky hotel suite? He’s rich. Take a page from Chuck Bass’s playbook, dude) and the buy in is $25,000, and Nate thinks it’s a brilliant idea to set Serena up to play and then raise the stakes high enough to win back Carter’s freedom. Nate tells Serena that it’ll all be okay since Bree got tipsy one night and told him all of her brother’s “tells,” which makes no sense, why would they talk about that? Nate also told Serena that she had to play because Bree’s brother hated him and would never let him play, and then proceeded to sit right behind her the entire time and help her. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
When Serena is predictably terrible at poker (since she is pretty and breast-y and long-legged but, ultimately, an idiot) and loses all of the money that they were playing with, Nate offers up a little bit of political blackmail in order to raise the stakes. See, his cousin Tripp is now running for Congress, and the Buckleys are scheming to make sure he doesn’t get elected. Nate has a photo on his phone of his cousin taking what looks like a bong hit at his bachelor party, and Nate offers to bet it against Carter’s freedom. Which is silly, since Carter isn’t in jail, if he’s really being imprisoned then he should just call the police.
Serena had no idea that Nate was going to do any of this, and she’s super nervous and then, naturally, loses the picture and Carter’s freedom. Because she doesn’t know how to play poker, and Nate doesn’t actually know any of the guy’s tells after all. You see, it was all a nefarious scheme. Set Serena up to lose the picture in the name of winning back her boyfriend, the Buckleys release the picture to the media, and then the Vanderbilts release the REAL version of the photo (which only shows Tripp holding a beer) to make the Buckleys look like lying, deceitful political opportunists that doctored a photo in order to steal an election. Ta-da.
Is it just me, or is that whole process probably too complicated for Nate to understand in writing, let alone carry out in reality? And he isn’t successful at it because Serena overhears him spill the beans on the phone, and she tips off the Buckleys and allows them to save political face in exchange for Carter’s freedom. But he doesn’t want her gosh-darn charity, he wants to work off his douchebaggery on an oil rig, so he’s mad at her. Well, he’s not really mad at her. He’s projecting his own self-loathing ON to her, and there’s a distinction there.
So Nate’s mad at Serena, Serena’s mad at Nate, and Carter is mad at Serena (and presumably also Nate, but who knows/cares?). Moving on to the real plot.
It’s Freshman Parents’ Weekend Banquet Dinner Highland Fling Whatever at NYU which means, you guessed it, another reason to get a big portion of the cast together and for hijinks to ensue. I call shenanigans on the entire concept of getting all of the freshman class and their parents together at one time in the first place, and also on the idea that it’s an event that anyone that goes to NYU would actually clear an evening to attend.
And not only did they do just that, but Blair and Vanessa fought bitterly over who would be making the toast to kick off the evening. An evening which, in reality, only the kids that were already filling out grad school applications and hoping to impress faculty would deign to attend. And for some reason, NYU has decided to worship at the altar of Vanessa (which would never really happen – quasi-charitable, self-righteous, neo-hippie douchebags are a dime a dozen at a school like that) and offer her the opportunity to give the toast. Blair volunteers herself for the job, but no one at NYU likes Blair, including the faculty and staff, so they don’t take her up on it.
But then Fake Hannah Montana throws a wrench into the works. She’s back from Japan and slobbering all over Dan again, and he insists that she come to the Freshman Barn Dance and Yodeling Contest or whatever and meet his parents. Since she’s famous and all, she was offered the toast-making honors before Vanessa was contacted, and now that she’s attending the dinner she reconsiders and accepts the gig, unwittingly ousting Vanessa.
What happened after that is almost too convoluted to retell, but I’ll give it a shot: Blair makes another grab for the toast, she gets denied, she tells Vanessa that Olivia has yanked it out from under her. Vanessa tells Olivia that Dan doesn’t really want her to meet his parents and she shouldn’t go to the dinner, Vanessa tells Dan that Olivia doesn’t want to meet his parents and he should have alone time with her instead. Blair cons Chuck into kissing the Freshman Toasting Liason or whatever, who is a dude, in order to secure her spot as the toast-maker. So, Blair wins. For now.
But, hark, what is this! Vanessa commandeers a microphone before the shindig starts and is able to broadcast Blair saying a bunch of nasty, Blair-ish things about NYU people to everyone at the banquet, but that doesn’t mean Vanessa wins. She still loses. First, because she’s Vanessa, and second, because her pretentious a-hole of a mom hears her talking smack about how she wishes Rufus and Lily were her parents, and third, because Dan and Olivia both figure out her scheme and get mad at her for almost ruining their relationship. One can only hope that Vanessa will be so distraught by all of these happenings that she’ll flee the city forever, never to return.
But she’s not the only one reeling from the experience. Chuck was at the dinner, surprise surprise, and heard what Blair said about duping him into being part of her scheme under the guise of a sex game. And he’s mad, understandably, because homosexual makeouts in public are probably not his main form of casual entertainment, and if he’s going to do it, then he better have all the facts!
So by the end of the episode, everyone hates Blair, everyone hates Vanessa, and the former rivals find themselves sitting sadly together at a table in that coffee shop that everyone just happens to go to, staring at their croissants and feeling sorry for themselves. Fret not, little ladies – everything will change next week. It always does.