You guys, I think we may be ready to step into a Gossip Girl renaissance. There are new possibilities for story lines galore, new characters, the severing of old ties. Sure, last night’s episode was a little slow on the pick-up, but when it got going, it really got going.

Lily has cancer (except maybe she doesn’t), Serena’s dad is back and refuses to leave, Dan tried to sell Vanessa out to steal her spot in the Tisch writing program, and Nate and Serena found out about Little Jenny Humphrey’s sordid plans to break up their relationship. On top of all of that, we got another heart-wrenching Chuck-and-Blair scene, and I think I like her better when she hates him than when she loves him. With only a few weeks left to go before the season finale, might things on the Upper East Side finally be getting a little more interesting?

Because we had a week off in between new episodes, it took me a second to figure out why Jenny woke up in Nate’s apartment. Actually, that’s a lie – the last episode isn’t on my DVR anymore and I still have no idea why she was there, so I’m just going to assume the why of the situation isn’t important. Jenny slept over, but in the third-grade sense, not in the freshman-year-of-college sense, and on the way out, she snagged a shirt of Nate’s to not-so-subtly indicate to Serena where she’d been. It was the same shirt that Serena had worn a few episodes back while she helped Nate discover that his apartment had a refrigerator, and suddenly it’s a big plot device. It worked like a charm.

Meanwhile, Serena and Lily were on their way back into the city, sans Carter Baizen and Billy Baldwin William Van Der Woodsen. Serena was at this point unaware that Jenny was trying to steal Sir Manbags out from under her, so instead of dealing with her impending relationship issues, she was trying to help her mom think of ways to tell Rufus exactly why she was hanging out with her ex-husband instead of getting massages with her gin-swilling mother. In those situations, I suppose it’s better to drop a bomb than to be all, “Oh, well, I just thought I’d visit, it’s nice in Palm Beach at this time of year,” and drop a bomb, she did. It’s not Cece that’s been receiving cancer treatments – it’s Lily.

And she’s been receiving them from Papa Van Der Woodsen, who also encouraged her to hide her illness from everyone in her family so that she wouldn’t develop a “victim mentality.” Which creates a thousand questions: isn’t familial love and support actually helpful when treating cancer? Why did Lily go directly to her ex-husband for treatment when she has access to the best treatment in the world, no matter where it is or how much it costs? Don’t Papa Van Der Woodsen’s stories indicate that he’s more of a Doctors Without Borders type than a cancer specialist? Can all doctors cure all illnesses in the Gossip Girl universe? But wait – does Lily even have cancer, or is this all a setup for Billy Baldw – er, Dr. Van Der Woodsen to keep her drugged up long enough to screw up her marriage with Rufus? Forthcoming episodes shall explain, and I, for one, am interested.

While Rufus was hearing from his wife’s ex-husband that she has cancer (or maybe not), his son Dan was in a borough far, far away with his poorly coiffed girlfriend, having his dreams crushed by a form letter from NYU and then crushed further by the realization that Vanessa and her dreadlocks made out of weave (weavelocks?) was the one that beat him out for the writing spot at Tisch. It must really burn to have Vanessa be that much better than you at something you consider your greatest talent.

I’m admittedly unsure of how NYU works since I didn’t go there, but this whole story line seems a little weird to me. Tisch is a part of NYU, so why would Dan have to transfer to Tisch? He would apply to the program, sure – I had to apply to my major as well because it was in high demand. Unless incoming students apply directly to Tisch instead of applying to NYU in general, I suppose, but that seems kind of weird since most new freshman don’t know what their majors are going to be yet. My confusion may be my own fault – after all, attempting to apply logic to Gossip Girl is, at best, a highly dubious endeavor – but the whole idea that there’s only one spot to be had just rings false to me, and I’m having a hard time caring about this storyline as a result.

In fact, I care about it so little, let’s dispense with it right now so that I don’t have to talk about it again: Dan found a way to get Vanessa kicked out of her spot and he took the bait because he loves his future writing career more than he loves his current girlfriend, and when he found out that what he had tattled on didn’t actually happen, he tried to make it go away but Vanessa found out anyway. Breakup looks imminent, and not a moment too soon. Perhaps we can soon be rid of Vanessa and her bad weave forever. How should the writers kill her off? I’m going with a terrible thresher accident while volunteering at an organic cooperative farm.

In decidedly more posh surroundings, Blair was still trying to deal with her breakup with Chuck and it lead to possibly one of the best moments in this season so far. But first, Blair tried to plan a party full of eligible bachelors for herself but was somewhat thwarted by Chuck’s dating fatwa (related: the number of times that people said “fatwa” in this episode was a little disconcerting.) He had used the Bat Signal or something to warn men across the Upper East Side to stay away from Blair, and they did just that. Even the promise of free booze and canapés couldn’t convince a young man of breeding to cross Chuck Bass.

In an attempt to break the seal, Blair went to a party in Bushwick (Really, Blair? Really? Desperation of the Brooklyn variety is not something that I would have expected of you) to make out with a random and have it broadcasted all over Gossip Girl (did anyone else totally forget that the blog after which the series is named still existed?) to let everyone know that Chuck couldn’t stop her from dating.

Well, Chuck got wind of the arrangement and showed up to the party to observe Blair in person, momentarily breaking her will to kiss other guys and then subsequently making her realize that she didn’t have to. In what was perhaps my favorite moment of the season thus far, Blair confronted Chuck (and, tangentially, confronted her own feelings) and told him that one day, eventually, she would kiss someone. And when she did, it would be for her. I may have actually gotten up from my couch and cheered a little bit when she said that, and maybe even did a little dance on the way to my kitchen to get a celebratory Diet Coke.

What Blair said was what most women under the age of 22 need to hear – when you do something, do it for yourself, not to impress a new guy or enrage an old one. I’ve heard grumblings in the past that Blair’s character had gotten stagnant, and I think that the little stand that she took for her right to feel her own feelings was a clear sign of growth. I can’t wait to see what Blair does for the rest of the season.

Speaking of growth, Serena also had to deal with the the not-so-small subject of her daddy issues, not to mention that her skanky stepsister was trying to ride off into the sunset with Sir Manbangs. She seemed torn over the issue of her father but ultimately supportive of the fact that he refuses to leave, yet she didn’t really want to sit and talk to him in the hotel bar (what a classy venue to talk to the child you abandoned.)

She did have one little triumph, however, and that came when she vanquished Little Jenny Humphrey’s attempts to steal her man. She walked in to see Jenny try to kiss Nate and managed to sneak up on them, which would never happen in real life, because an Amazonian woman clopping around in assuredly giant platforms tends to make a lot of noise on the sealed concrete floors that lofts like Nate’s usually have. Perhaps Serena is secretly a ninja, however, and her doofy, blonde exterior is merely a cunning ruse meant to trick us. In that case, I’d like to see the Serena-as-ninja storyline developed more completely in the next season.

And then, finally, there was Little J. What happened to her is what inevitably happens to every person that finds themselves lying to two people, simultaneously – those two people eventually had the opportunity to compare notes, and when they did, her little game was over and she was the loser. She made a good run of it – after all, if you’re going to play people against each other, it’s best to pick two simpletons the likes of Sir Manbags and his Lady of the Inappropriate Cleavage. But when those two people are inevitably going to talk to each other about their issues, it all has to come out in the wash eventually.

Anyone else hoping for an awkward Chuck/Little J hookup before the season is out?

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