It looks as though last week’s manic, jumbled episode was all part of the plan. Gossip Girl‘s writers knew just how far they could push me before they gave me a good episode, and they got me right up to the brink of a hair-tearing, face-punching rage before unleashing last night’s hour of vintage Upper East Side fun. It was like the last two seasons had never even happened, and the writers stepped in to remind me why I loved this show, just when I needed it.
And it wasn’t that last night’s episode wasn’t complicated; it was, because this show is always complicated. But the writers handled it with far more grace and finesse than we’ve seen recently. Just in time to go to hiatus, of course – last night’s was the last new episode we’ll see until April 18th. That’s me who you hear softly weeping in the corner, and I’m as surprised by my sadness as anyone.
The first indication that we had that last night’s episode was going to be a good one was how much Dorota we got right up front. Dorota! I would watch an entire Dorota spin-off. Just her and Vanya, living in Queens with their little baby. I bet Dorota showers and sleeps with her little maid bonnet on. I think it’s attached to her head at this point. My enthusiasm for the triumphant return of Dorota’s speaking part? Boundless.
The episode actually started at the ending with Lily being slowly lead to meet the New York district attorney up an exceptionally grand staircase, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Gossip Girl is complicated enough before anything non-chronological is introduced, so the episode really started with Blair and Serena eating breakfast under Dorota’s watchful and suspicious eye. Now that Blair had quit/been fired from W, she was swanning about the house doing juice cleanses and sounding chipper, which is absolutely not the Blair that we have come to know and love. That Blair would absolutely not drink anything murky and green.
This new Blair does drink that stuff, however, which made Dorota’s Spidey Sense tingle. It became clear to all of us how much this whole Lonely Boy (Dorota said Lonely Boy! Can we bring that monicker back? Please?) thing is affecting Blair’s sanity when Serena asked what she should do about Ben’s lack of text-answering and Blair’s solution was for her to march over to his house right now, unannounced. Now, I’m only 25 years old, but my dating experience in life thus far has taught me that without a shadow of a doubt, showing up at a dude’s doorstep is the LAST thing you should do when said dude is not returning your texts. What should you actually do? Forget about him. And if you’re Serena and he’s living in a property owned by your family, you should perhaps consider having him evicted. It’s not that hard to return a text, and men who refuse to do it, whatever the reason, should be shown absolutely no mercy.
While Serena stomped over to Brooklyn to confront her phone-challenged ex-con, Blair dismissed Dorota and summoned Dan to secretly come over and hang out. Because they can’t figure out what to do with their friendship and were scared to admit to anyone they know that they like each other (and also scared to admit to themselves that they like like each other), they planned a secret rendezvous at a museum for later in the day. Except that secret rendezvous never happened because Dorota pressured Blair and Rufus pressured Dan and they both simultaneously flaked out on each other. But then they ran into each other on the street while they were both supposed to be getting stood up at the museum. I guess Manhattan really is kind of a small island. Naturally this chance encounter created an angry panic, since they both realized that they had been stood up while standing up the other person. It’s sort of like getting fired on the day you were planning to quit your job.
At Russell Thorpe’s office, Chuck had arrived to speak with Raina and announce that evening’s party, because even on an unnaturally good episode of Gossip Girl, there has to be a party or the entire show loses its structure. Chuck’s party was in anticipation of the deal he would sign the next day to keep Bass Industries intact, but if you’ll recall last week’s episode, Damian already spilled the beans to Thorpe about Lily’s falsified affidavit. Chuck didn’t know that when he charged triumphantly into Thorpe’s office, so he assumed that Russell’s foreshadowing of the complications to come was just some standard-issue corporate bloviating. Bad assumption, Chuckles! Although I’m still not sure why Lily’s familial legal troubles would keep an investor away from Chuck’s company, but whatever. That’s a relatively small suspension of disbelief, by Gossip Girl standards.
While all of that was going on, Nate was entertaining Raina back at the Empire penthouse, and at that point I still wasn’t entirely sure if that was part of some grand plan that Chuck knew about or not. As it turns out, he didn’t, which created some roommate strife between Nate and Chuck later in the episode that was quickly ameliorated when Chuck realized he’d be able to use Raina’s affection for Nate later. Because Nate seems like he’s smoked so much weed in his life that he’s only capable of worrying about the person who’s standing right in front of him, Nate agreed to help use Raina in Chuck’s anti-Thorpe subterfuge, even though he professes to care about her as a person.
Remember what we said about Serena hiking out to Brooklyn to find out why her texts aren’t getting answered? Well, instead of getting cold feet halfway and heading to a bakery to binge on carbs like the rest of us would do, she actually made it all the way to Ben’s door. She didn’t make it inside his door, though, because the presence of Ben’s mother meant that she had to be self-righteous and a little bit clingy in the hallway. Because Ben’s mom holds a grudge and (rightly) blames Serena’s family for her son’s incarceration, she was perhaps not ready to hear the news of her son’s emotional involvement with the student whose affection ultimately got him sent to jail.
Serena was ready for her to hear that news, though, so she decided that the correct choice would be to invite her and Ben over the big, fancy house that she stays in for a lunch of normal person food – pizza! Except Ben’s mom is lactose intolerant. Cue the sad trombone noise. I know that I was still supposed to by sympathetic to Ben’s mom at this point in the episode, but holding wealth against a young girl who was obviously trying very hard (That scene was the most acting that Blake Lively has ever done on this show.) seems unnecessary and whiney, as does not announcing your food issues ahead of time when you know someone is trying to plan a meal for you.
The entire thing was utterly awkward and only made more so by Lily’s sudden phone call. You see, Lily had received a prison jumpsuit with an ominous note in her morning dry cleaning delivery, which is actually kind of brilliant when you think about it – the best way to threaten a New York society maven is clearly via her wardrobe. She thought that Ben had squealed to Thorpe about the forged affidavit to thwart Chuck’s business deal, and Lily needed Serena to check and make sure that Ben had stayed quiet. As soon as they got off the phone, The Weave Monster conveniently arrived at Lily’s apartment to tell her that Ben isn’t who they think he is because he had Nate’s dad beaten up in prison, which seemed to absolutely shock everyone’s delicate sensibilities. What do these people think happens in prison? Have they never spent a hungover Sunday watching Lockup: Raw on MSNBC? Am I the only person who does that? If I am, I’m not ashamed.
While all of that was going on at Lily’s place, Serena was busy overhearing Ben’s mom lecture him about how being involved with Serena can only ruin his life because it means that he can’t work toward getting his record expunged because bringing the truth to light would require Lily to go to jail. And then Ben’s mom excused herself to go get her purse and leave, but really she went and stole Serena’s copy of the affidavit because she’s working with Thorpe. I’m not sure how she knew where to find that one piece of paper in the palatial Waldorf townhouse, but she found it and we didn’t get clued in until later.
In Brooklyn, Blair showed up to confront Dan about leaving his New Yorker at her house and causing her to get caught being friends with him by Dorota, and they decided to come out as friends at the party that evening so that everyone could stop whispering and wondering and thinking that they might be hooking up. The conversation was kind of adorable because we all knew that they were both trying to forget the part where they’re actually developing feelings for each other, because admitting that would just be too Earth-crushingly awful to consider.
Back in Manhattan, The Weave Monster had requested an audience with Serena, and although it didn’t last long, it was enough to make Serena doubt the veracity of Ben’s claims and go looking for her copy of the affidavit. It was gone, of course, but not because of Ben – because of his mom. Feel free to begin playing ominous music in your head at this point.
Cut straight to the evening’s party, where everyone had gathered together to celebrate Chuck’s deal, even though the deal wasn’t done. Ben showed up and was confronted by Serena, and instead of understanding her concerns, he got snippy with her about not trusting him. Apparently he doesn’t remember the part where he was trying to ruin her life for the first half of the season, because if I were Serena, I’d be a little nervous about him as well. If I were her, I’d also consider running a brush through my hair from time to time.
Around that time, Ben’s mom showed up at the party to confront Lily and point out that Russell had also arrived, and suddenly it clicked for Lily – Ben’s mom had stolen the papers and implicated her, not Ben. Chuck and Lily immediately whisked Russell upstairs, where Raina had just arrived and was hiding in the back room with Nate. She overheard Russell’s entire blackmail monologue and ran out on her father, who refused to run after her in favor of staying to try and finish the deal. Lily had already called the DA and was ready to go turn herself in, though, which seriously hurt Thorpe’s ability to blackmail her or change the course of the Bass Industries deal.
Russell had yet to show all his cards, though. After Raina, Nate and Lily had all left, he poured himself a drink and sat down to explain to Chuck why he really hated Bart Bass with such a passion. Do any of you remember a mention of a fatal fire from several season back, before Bart died? I hadn’t either, but the intro to this episode played a clip of it. Apparently a man had died in the fire, which people speculated was set intentionally, but the man wasn’t the only one who died. So did Raina’s mother, which Thorpe has kept a secret all this time. Even Raina doesn’t know that her mother is dead, and it was all Bart’s fault. Perhaps intentionally so, and as Russell pointed out, we all know taking a life isn’t exactly out of the question for a man like Bart. This revelation sent Chuck into a drunken tailspin, as revelations about his father tend to do.
So Russell was headed back to Chicago, Raina was staying in New York and Lily was headed up the river in an orange jumpsuit, provided that she could have Ben’s record expunged in exchange for her cooperation. Serena and Ben chose to part ways so that he could get his head on straight and his life back together, and another one of Serena’s inappropriate relationships bit the dust. For their part, Dan and Blair met up at a bar to agree to not be friends any longer because their friendship would just be too mind-blowing and difficult for New Yorkers to comprehend, particularly when their friends would be needing their support very soon.
Except that’s not how it ended. It couldn’t be, not before a hiatus, and certainly not with all the Dair buildup that has gone on since January. Blair went back to her house and Dan showed up out of the blue, confessing that he had been considering their relationship while walking the streets of New York all evening. He was finally ready to admit to himself that perhaps all their secretiveness had been because they were both looking to deny their feelings to themselves as much as to anyone else, and he proposed a kiss to see if anything was there. And they kissed, and the frame froze because Gossip Girl loves a goofy special effect every now and then, and we have to wait until mid-April to see how things play themselves out. I’m on Team Dair so hard that I can’t even stand myself, and I’m also back on Team Gossip Girl.