Gossip Girl is the newest CW teen soap, and so far it feels like a cross between The OC and Cruel Intentions. So basically we have pretty, rich teens drinking, having sex, doing drugs, getting in fights, and complaining about how hard their sheltered lives are. As for the lesbianism, stepsibling incest, and parental bigotry, give it time, give it time. It’s only the first episode.
Being beautiful is so hard.
The pilot starts with our beautiful, blonde main character, Serena van der Woodsen, taking the train into NYC while staring sadly out the window. As she ponders whether to ask daddy to buy her a Hermes scarf or Chanel bag next, a snotty-voiced narrator informs us that she has the biggest news ever – “It girl” Serena VDW has been spotted at Grand Central after disappearing for “boarding school” a year ago. The emphasis on “boarding school” makes it clear the narrator thinks that’s a load of crap. The narrator is Gossip Girl, who’s voiced by the always-fabulous Kristin Bell, by the way. If you don’t know who she is, Netflix Veronica Mars. Right. Now.
Also at the train station is Rufus Humphrey, who greets his two children, Dan and Jenny. Dan is a dead ringer for Justin Chambers (Dr. Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy), and his younger sister Jenny is a cute but gawky blonde. He asks them how their weekend was, and how their mother is doing. The kids try to dodge the question with a quick “fine” and Rufus asks whether they mean “fine” like maybe he should have never left Manhattan fine, or “fine” like taking time out from his marriage was the best idea he ever had fine. Dan and Jenny don’t answer, and who can blame them. Asking your kids if their mom is still the crazy bitch she was when you walked out on her is never comfortable. The Humphreys start heading out, and just then the crowds part and Dan sees Serena still wearing her Hermes-Chanel hangdog expression. Gossip Girl gleefully tells us that Dan can’t believe the love of his life has finally returned – if only she knew who he was.
Around town, everyone’s cell phones are blowing up as they receive texts saying Serena is back in town. Sexy brunette Blair Waldorf receives hers as the narrator gossips that Blair and Serena are supposed to be best friends, but lots of people think Blair’s boyfriend, Nate Archibald, may have a thing for Serena. Unless Nate can smooth-talk his way into a threesome, this may be a big problem.
A big party is taking place at Blair’s house, for reasons unknown. Any excuse for rich people to gather and talk shit about each other’s plastic surgery and latest lovers, I guess. Blair’s mother Eleanor is chatting with a friend, and stops Blair as she walks by to scold that if Blair is going to wear one of her designs, she should at least tell Eleanor so the dress can be properly fitted. Blair looks fantastic, so this comment is not only demeaning but also untrue. Blair tries to hide her hurt as she thanks her mother and says she’ll keep that in mind. As Blair leaves, Eleanor tells her friend that Blair is her best advertisement. Glad your daughter has given you something other than stretch marks.
Also in the asshole parent department is Nate’s dad, who evidently goes by “Captain”. Nate is standing around talking to Cappy McDouche and his cronies, and Cappy says that Nate will be going to Dartmouth, Cappy’s alma matter. Nate says he’s actually interested in schools like USC and UCLA, but Cappy rudely ignores this and insists on Dartmouth. Quickly establishing himself as a pushover, Nate hastily agrees that Dartmouth is his first choice. Blair shows up and rescues her boyfriend of the potentially wandering eye. For the record, Nate is decently attractive, but a little effeminate with some whacked-out eyebrows.
Blair and Nate walk by three members of their clique – Chuck Bass, Katy Farkas (Minion 1), and Isabel Coates (Minion 2) – sitting on a couch. Upchuck has his arms around both of the ladies, who are simpering and loving his attention. He asks Nate if he wants to get some fresh air, and then mimes smoking a joint. Nate says maybe later, and Blair drags him upstairs and throws him on bed. She starts crawling all over him, saying she wants to do “it” now. Two minutes (literally) into this show and we have a sex scene. Nice work, CW! Nate, somewhat bewildered, says he thought she wanted to wait and Blair declares that she doesn’t want to wait anymore as she starts stripping. Nate debates between Chuck’s offer and Blair’s and decide to take up Blair’s since he’s already there. GG cattily says that Blair better lock it in now, since the clock is ticking. What a romantic first time!
Minion 2 must have some shitty cell phone service, because she just then gets the text that Serena is back in town. As I noted in my preview, the girl playing Minion 2 is a newcomer, in case her over-the-top acting (complete with bug eyes and emphatic chin thrusts every syllable) wasn’t a clue. Upchuck lazily swirls the liquid in his glass (scotch?) and says he’s glad Serena’s back because things had been getting pretty boring.
As Blair is throwing herself at Nate, we see Serena arrive downstairs and wander around nervously. She creates a small stir as people recognize her and begin speculating. Upstairs, Blair tells Nate she loves him, always has and always will. Nate hesitates for a few moments, and then unconvincingly says that he loves her too. Blair attacks him like a donut on a binge day. But before she can completely devour him, Eleanor knocks on the door to tell her that Serena has arrived. At this news, Nate rips himself out of Blair’s clutches and cries Serena’s name in happy disbelief. Blair claws at his head and tries to get him to kiss her, but Nate pushes her away to bound out of the bed and go see Serena. Ouch. That may be a sign he’s just not that into you, dear.
I gotta go. Umm, can I have my penis back now, please?
Downstairs, Serena finds her mom, Lily, in the crowd, and they embrace. Serena asks where a mysterious “he” is, and whether “they” let him out. Is this why she came back to NYC? Judging from that, Serena probably has a brother or father in jail, rehab, or the psych ward. Maybe one in each. Lily glances around and says the party is not the place to discuss such matters, and Serena looks annoyed but accepts that for now.
As Serena moves away from Lily, she sees Nate from across the room wearing a big, dopey smile on his face. Nate starts moving towards her, and Serena looks nervous but happy as she holds her ground. But before he can get to her, Blair rushes forward and steps directly between the two after checking to see where each one was. Honey, this is already a lost cause. Serena quickly wipes the emotion off her face, but not before Blair caught a good look at it. Blair rushes forward and embraces Serena, squealing with fake happiness while resisting the urge to crack every bone in Serena’s neck. Eleanor says she’ll set a place for Serena at the table next to Blair, but Serena interjects to say she’s not feeling well and has to go. She’ll see Blair in school tomorrow. Rejected twice in less than five minutes, Blair can’t hide the pissy look on her face, even though she fake smiles a few times.
After Serena leaves, Blair flounces over to her minions, and comments that since Serena mentioned school, she must be back for good. Minion 1 is surprised that Blair didn’t know Serena was coming back, and Blair realizes that Head Plastics must always appear infallible and tries to cover by claiming that she knew Serena was back for good, but she wanted it to be a surprise for everyone else. The minions accept this idiotic story without question, just like they did when Blair told them the earth was flat and Britney will have a successful comeback.
Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber
GG tells us that word is that Serena bailed on Blair’s party in under 90 seconds and didn’t even have a single limoncello. After Serena saw what they did to Danny DeVito on The View, who can blame her? GG continues, “Has our bad girl really gone good? Or is it all part of an act? Why’d she leave? Why’d she return? Stay here for all the deets. And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell… You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl.” Who wants to bet Gossip Girl is some homely outcast getting revenge on the beautiful people by spreading as much hurtful gossip as possible about them? That would be pretty awesome. Way better than just waiting to show off a Range Rover at the high school reunion like most former nerds do.
That same night, Serena arrives at a hospital or clinic, and a nurse tries to stop her by saying visiting hours are over. Serena tells the nurse she’s family – he’s her brother. The next morning, Serena wakes up in a chair next to the bed, and she and her little brother, Eric, hug. Eric has bandages on his wrist. So psych ward it is! Serena apologizes for being a bad sister, and Eric says there must be a lot of rumors about why Serena has returned. She assures him that none of the rumors mention Eric, and he sarcastically responds that that’s just what mom wants. As if on cue, Lily walks in and Serena asks if she can take care of Eric’s breakfast for him. Lily nixes the idea and says she’ll just go get Eric a croissant (which she pronounces very pretentiously) down the street. Eric is crestfallen, and Serena chases their mom out into the hallway to confront Lily about hiding Eric. Eric tried to take his own life, and Lily is worried about winning Mom of the Year, Serena accuses. Lily snaps back that Serena’s been gone, doing who knows what with God knows whom. Serena says it wasn’t like that and Lily just tells her that Serena has no idea what it’s been like in her absence and walks away.
At the Humphrey loft, Rufus proudly shows his spawn a Rolling Stone article naming his band as the number 9 forgotten band of the 90s. Dan and Jenny are duly impressed. Way to be forgotten, Dan says. Jenny taunts her brother by saying maybe Dan would care if Rufus’s band was on the Gossip Girl website, since Dan was reading all about Serena VDW on it last night. Dan doesn’t really have an answer for that one. Maybe because he couldn’t understand her – Jenny talks a mile a minute and is really aggravating to listen to. As she taunts, Jenny is rifling through a box of envelopes which she excitedly explains are invitations for the Kiss on the Lips party. Dan is surprised Jenny’s invited and Jenny says that in exchange for her addressing all the invitations with her bitchin’ calligraphy, the girl who’s throwing it said she could have one. Umm, can’t the girl who’s throwing this afford to have them professionally done? But we need a plot device to get Jenny to that party, so let’s overlook that. Rufus gives Jenny a little shit about the party, and Jenny asks him if he’d prefer it that they were anonymous losers who eat lunch alone and never get invited to parties. Dan is down with that, and Jenny throws out that their mom said the party was a good idea. Ah, the oldest trick in the divorced kids book – using the parents against each other. Rufus sarcastically says that their mother’s judgment is always sound, but after seeing Jenny’s hurt expression he tells her to go to her party.
Nate is waiting for Serena outside the Palace Hotel, where her family is staying while they’re renovating their own place. Remodeling your kitchen as your son sits with bandaged wrists in a psych ward? That’s cold, Mrs. VDW. Nate makes some small talk, and Serena tries to get away from him, but he stops her before she can. Teary-eyed, Serena tells him that she didn’t come back for him. Ooh, this just got interesting. Blair’s her best friend and Nate’s her boyfriend and Blair loves him and that’s the way it’s supposed to be, Serena cries before running off. Nate just stands there looking shell-shocked. I thought Nate was just panting after Serena, but it looks like this may be mutual. Nate is no prize, so it must be extra large. His bank account, that is.
Dan runs to catch the bus, which had a Smallville logo prominently on the side. Subtle. Upchuck and Nate are on the bus too, which makes no sense, but whatever. Dan listens in as Upchuck says Serena looked effing hot last night, and that level of perfection just needs to be violated. Umm, warning, warning! This is just like when Upchuck said that level of cuddliness just needs to be violated before he set some puppies on fire. He’s officially a psychotic asshole. Between you guys pointing out he looks like Jimmy Fallon, and now this, please let’s all forget I ever thought this dude was hot. Evidently my bad taste in men carries over to the fictional variety as well. Nate tells Upchuck he’s deeply disturbed, and Upchuck doesn’t believe Nate wouldn’t sleep with Serena if given the chance. Nate says he’s got a girlfriend, and Upchuck taunts Nate for not having slept with Blair yet, despite dating her since kindergarten. The bus arrives at their stop, and Upchuck finally notices Dan eavesdropping behind them. Upchuck accuses Dan of following them, and Dan’s like dude I go to your school, identical uniforms…? Upchuck stomps off with Nate while Dan just laughs. I’m crushing a little bit on Dan so far, how bout you guys?
Blair and the minions are on the steps of the Met, looking through the invitations Jenny has turned over while she stands there nervously. Evidently Blair is the hostess of KOTL, despite just having had a party last night. Yay disposable income! Blair hands over Jenny’s hard-earned invitation as Serena walks up eating yogurt. She introduces herself to Jenny, and spying an invite, asks when the party is. Blair makes a fake sad face and tells her she’s not invited because until 12 hours ago everyone thought she was at boarding school and now the party’s full and Jenny used up all the invites. Jenny tries to defend herself but before she can, Blair dismisses her with a “you can go now” and Jenny slinks away, tail between her gawky legs.
Serena, well aware of the insult, says it’s okay, she has a lot to do at home anyway. Blair signals her minions that it’s time to go, and condescendingly offers to wait for Serena since it looks like she has a lot of yogurt left. Serena makes a oh-no-she-didn’t face, and I’m really confused as to how yogurt is an insult to these girls. Evidently yogurt is for poor people? Or sluts? What? Blair & Co. take off, but Serena suddenly calls out that she wants to meet Blair tonight. Blair, still wrapped in her cloak of condescension, says she’d love to but she has plans with Nate. Serena ignores that and says The Palace, 8 o’clock. Nate will wait. So be late. For the date. This is fate. Do not hate. Blair finally agrees to 30 minutes, since after all Serena’s her “best friend.” Take that, minions! Blair & Co. leave, and Serena then sits down with “Green Eggs and Ham” and finishes her scandalous yogurt.
OMG, Serena, didn’t you know headbands are like the accessory du jour? Loser.
Gossip Girl dishes on the confrontation: Did S think she could waltz home and things would be exactly like they were? Did B think S would go down without a fight? Or can these two hotties work it out? Gossip Girl loves catfights, and thinks this one could be a classic.
Rufus is posting flyers for a concert on various bulletin boards around town with Dan. Dan says they have this thing called Myspace, where Rufus could save some trees, maybe have a blog. Father and son exchange some banter about the state of the music industry, and thankfully Dan gets a text to save us from any more painful dialogue. It’s from Jenny, and she says it’s an emergency. Dan says he has to take off, and asks Rufus if he’ll be okay. Rufus the hardcore rocker says yeah, your mom will be back, she’s always been a free spirit, it’s one of the reasons I fell for her in the first place. Dan looks at him like he’s a tard, and clarifies that he meant with the flyers. Rufus laughs self-consciously and shoos him off.
Meanwhile, Serena runs into Eric’s room at the clinic and says she’s kidnapping him to go shopping for an hour because she had a really bad day. Eric is like, really, because I had a great day, couple of pills, Rorschach tests, they had this green Jell-O… Serena tells him to cut the shit and hustles him out. Cause watching your older sister browse at Barney’s is really going to cure those suicidal tendencies (aggh accidental Dick Donato reference!). I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on Eric’s appearance. Homeboy has the worst dye job I’ve ever seen, and if you saw the chicks at the bars I hang out at, you’d know that’s really saying something. His hair is a blonde/black chunky mess, and he really dark eyebrows. Oh, and it’s styled in a mushroom cut. Gross. No wonder Lily wants to keep him hidden.
This would make me want to slit my wrists, too.
Dan manages to track down Jenny in a department store, and she immediately asks him what he thinks of the bright red dress she’s wearing. My opinion is it’s not flattering on either her skin tone or her giraffe neck, but she didn’t ask me. Dan is not happy that this is her so-called emergency but he tells her she looks good. Jenny says the dress costs more than their rent, but she thinks she can sew something like it. Calligrapher and seamstress, Jenny is a jack-of-all-trades.
Serena and Mushroom arrive, and Dan dives behind a rack of clothes. Way to be cool, man. Serena introduces Jenny and Mushroom, and the ‘Room clearly has a thing for Jenny. If those two become a couple, I’m fast-forwarding through all their scenes, I’m telling you now. Jenny tries to introduce her manly brother but Dan won’t come out, so she gives Serena an invite to KOTL she had stashed away instead. Serena is pleased and magnanimously informs Jenny that red is not her color, and she should go with black instead. Jenny beams. Minion count: Blair -2, Serena -1.
Upchuck and Nate are strolling around Central Park, casually smoking a joint. Such rebels. Upchuck is still hounding Nate about sealing the deal with Blair, and as a good friend, he volunteers to swipe some of his dad’s Viagra or his mom’s Paxil. Nate says he’ll limit his illegal drug intake to the pot, and out of nowhere babbles that he feels his whole life has been planned out for him, and he’s going to wind up just like his parents. Nate wonders out loud if he’s not entitled to choose or be happy. Step one would be not be asking how high when daddy says jump. Upchuck and I are for once on the same page, as Upchuck sarcastically calls Nate Socrates and tells him what he’s entitled to is a trust fund, perhaps a house in the Hamptons, and a prescription drug problem, so smoke up and shut up. But then Upchuck ruins it by adding that Nate should seal the deal with Blair because he’s also entitled to tap that ass. Gross.
It’s now 8 o’clock and Serena and Blair are meeting at the hotel bar, where Blair is sipping what appears to the a martini. We learn that Blair’s dad left Eleanor for another man, which is shocking given how charming of a woman she is. Serena says she’s sorry and Blair’s like yeah I can tell, since you didn’t call or write the entire time it was happening. Strike One. Serena half-heartedly uses “boarding school” as an excuse, and Blair interrupts saying she doesn’t know why Serena went to boarding school in the first place, and recounts how humiliating it was to call Serena’s house after Serena didn’t show up at school and have to admit to Lily she didn’t know Serena had moved to Connecticut. Serena says that she had to go and pleads with Blair to trust her. Blair returns that she doesn’t feel like she even knows Serena anymore, and Serena begs to fix it. Serena blunders by saying that she saw Blair at school with the minions, and she doesn’t want to take that away from Blair. Oh, because it’s just yours to take if you want, Blair frostily replies. Strike Two.
Getting desperate, Serena pulls out her trump card and declares that Blair is like her sister and that they need each other. And she’s safe! Blair cracks a true smile for once, and the two chat normally until Blair says she has to go meet Nate for some “special” plans. Hope he’s got that Viagra ready. Serena cements the reconciliation by hugging Blair and saying I love you, which Blair returns after a brief hesitation. Blair heads off to tart herself up, and Serena grabs the abandoned martini and takes it down in one gulp. She’s my kind of girl. Meanwhile, she’s been spotted by Gossip Girl, who says that while S may have won over B for now, S is still hiding something.
Back at the Humphrey’s, Jenny is sewing her couture dress while teasing Dan about hiding when Serena came to the department store earlier. She tries to encourage Dan to go after Serena, saying that Serena’s a nice girl who would actually like Dan if, you know, he didn’t cower in cocktail dresses when she came near. Dan dismisses this, depreciatingly saying Serena may be overwhelmed by the glitz and the glamour of the Humphrey lifestyle. Jenny eyes her brother slyly, and casually mentions that Serena has been spotted getting plastered by herself at the hotel bar. Jenny checks to see how he’s digesting this information, then adds that Rufus will be at the art gallery pretty late before asking Dan what he wants for dinner. Dan slowly says he’s going to go out, and then races for the door like a lovesick idiot. Jenny smirks to herself for accomplishing her mission of getting her brother laid by a drunken party girl. Who said little sisters weren’t good for anything?
Calligrapher, seamstress, AND pimp.
At The Palace bar, Upchuck winds his way through the crowd of champagne-sipping socialites and approaches Serena, who’s still knocking them back like the underage trooper that she is. Upchuck, oddly confident in his powder blue blazer-popped collar ensemble, tells Serena that he’s going to have to tell his evidently flaccid father and depressed mother that the hotel they just bought is serving minors. Serena blinks hazily at him and says and if he gets a drink, they’re also serving pigs. He coos that he loves it when she talks dirty to him and she replies he just loves it when a girl talks to him. He says actually he prefers them when they’re not talking. Serena chokes back his namesake and says she’s missed his witty banter, and Upchuck suggests they catch up, take their clothes off, and stare at each other. That seems a little… anticlimactic. Serena drops the game, and Upchuck convinces her to come with him into the kitchen after she says she needs food for her empty stomach. Serena stands up and struggles to regain her footing, while warning Upchuck that she’s only going with him because he promised food. He’s like, yeah, yeah, and stares at her ass as she stumbles towards the kitchen. This does not look good.
Nate arrives at the rendezvous point, and finds Blair lounging suggestively in lingerie, surrounded by lit candles. This is one brazen virgin. She moves in for the kill, and Nate uncomfortably pulls away and then speaks the four words most feared in any relationship: We need to talk. Second most feared? I gave you . Blair backs off, scared.
In the kitchen, Upchuck pays off some cooks and announces the kitchen is closing early. Time to violate some perfection, evidently. Serena complacently sits on a counter eating, unconcerned as everyone else files out with “good luck lady” looks on their faces. Serena praises the sandwich she’s eating, and Upchuck sidles up to her and lewdly says he can think of a few ways to thank him. He grabs her thigh and she pushes him away and tries to get down off the counter. After a small struggle Upchuck asks her if she’s worried Nate will find out, and a stunned Serena squeaks out “What?” “Last year, the Sheppard wedding,” Upchuck says, grinning at Serena’s discomfort. “You think I don’t know why you left town?”
Flashback. Serena is prancing on top of a bar holding a bottle of champagne. She is alone, except for Nate, who is sitting belly-up to the bar, watching. She’s wearing a short dress, and is barelegged, and Nate tries to grab her legs as she flounces by, laughing. He then wrestles the bottle from her, and she plops down on the bar in front of him, still laughing hysterically. The champagne accidentally opens, spilling all over both of them, and Serena leans forward to wipe it from Nate’s face as he pulls her on his lap so she’s straddling him.
Back in the den of seduction, we see Blair looking extremely hurt, leaning back in her chair while Nate looks forward silently. Evidently Nate is confessing to Blair at the same time Upchuck is reminding Serena of the indiscretion. Blair, somewhat hopefully, finally says, “But that was it, you guys kissed?” Nate just look at her but doesn’t answer and Blair’s face crumbles and she looks upward.
Flashback. Yeah, there was more than just kissing, Blair. Nate and Serena are hardcore making out, and it’s a really raunchy scene for network television. They’re ripping off each other’s clothes, pulling on hair, and kissing any skin they can get access too. It is also clear that Serena’s skirt is bunched up around her waist. Where the hell are they, anyway? It looks like a hotel bar, which makes this even dirtier. We then see Upchuck up on the balcony above them, watching and smirking. Add voyeurism to his list of gross qualities.
WTF? Did I accidentally record Skinemax?
In the present, Upchuck taunts Serena for screwing her best friend’s boyfriend, and then tells her that he thinks that she’s a lot more like him than she’ll admit. Devastated, Serena says that was then and she’s trying to change, and Upchuck says he liked her better before and tries to kiss her. Serena immediately begins struggling, yelling for him to stop as Upchuck continues to abuse her. Interspersed with this are more flashbacks of Nate and Serena, and Blair crying and shoving Nate away from her while screaming to get out and that she always knew there was something between him and Serena. Honey, you can do so much better! Finally, Serena knees Upchuck in the groin and frantically runs out of the kitchen. I admire her restraint, with all those butcher knives laying around.
Lovesick Dan has arrived, and is in the bar looking for Serena. She runs out, distraught, and slams into Dan, causing the contents of her purse to dump out. He helps her pick her shit up, and she takes off without saying a word. Unappreciative bitch. It’s not like someone just tried to rape you. Oh… wait. Alright, you’re excused this time. Dan picks up her abandoned phone as Upchuck runs out from the same direction Serena had come from. The two guys exchange looks but don’t say anything as Upchuck straightens his jacket and leaves.
The next morning, Nate and Cappy McDouche are running through Central Park. Cappy is wearing a Dartmouth t-shirt because he fucking loves Dartmouth, remember. Nate downplays the situation and says he and Blair had a fight, and Cappy advises Nate buy her flowers and apologize even if it wasn’t his fault. This time, I’m pretty sure it is. Nate says he thinks the breakup may be for the best, because he’s not sure Blair’s the girl for him. That and she’ll rip his balls off if he comes within 20 feet of her. Cappy stops dead in his tracks and tells Nate that Blair’s mom is gearing up to take her company public, and Cappy’s been courting her for months to let him handle the deal. Nate thinks that’s swell, if not a little off-topic, and kisses his father’s ass by cooing that Cappy deserves it and will get it. Cappy snaps that of course he will get it, but he needs Nate to help him out a little bit by staying with Blair. Nate gives him an incredulous look and Cappy justifies the request by saying Blair and Nate love each other, and it’s just a rough patch. You don’t give up just because things are hard, not in business or when you family is depending on you. If Lily is mother of the year, then Cappy is definitely father. Nate, of course, agrees because he’s a worthless sack of shit.
Dear Cappy: You love Dartmouth. We GET it. Now get the hell off my screen, gramps.
Back at The Palace, Dan is trying to return Serena’s cell phone and the front desk guy is having none of it, and basically accuses Dan of being a crazy stalker. Which is basically correct. Agitated, Dan mutters that when Prince Charming found Cinderella’s slipper, they didn’t accuse him of having a foot fetish. No, but he probably did, come to think of it. What grown man runs around the country playing with smelly feet? They didn’t exactly have Odor Eaters back then. Wouldn’t sending a missive asking the chick who lost her shoe to bring the other one and come to palace have been more time effective, let alone less gross? Yeah, PC was definitely a perv. Anyway, to Dan’s horror the desk guy spots Serena walking by and calls her over to ask if she knows Dan. Dan’s like she doesn’t know me, nobody knows me, it’s cool, fine. Poor baby, come here and I’ll get to know you. Serena walks up and Dan fidgets nervously, no clothing rack to hide behind this time. However, Serena does remember Dan, and Dan is thrilled and turns to the desk guy and exclaims “She remembers me!” like a huge nerd.
Just then Lily shows up with a dress for Serena to wear to KOTL, and Serena breaks the news that she’s not going to go. Confused and annoyed she won’t be able to live vicariously through her daughter, Lily points out that it’s Blair’s party and it doesn’t make any sense for Serena to not go. Serena quickly fabricates a story that she already had plans with her friend Dan when she got the invite, so oh well. Dan awkwardly introduces himself to a skeptical Lily, and pulls out Rufus’s flyer and says he’s taking Serena to the concert when Lily demands to know what their plans are. Lily looks disdainfully at the flier and finally announces she’ll just keep the dress for herself and leaves. Serena thanks Dan for helping in the lie, and Dan turns to leave. But before he can get very far, Serena calls out that he should pick her up at 8 o’clock. Evidently Serena likes all her social plans to begin promptly at 8 p.m. Dan is stunned, and asks her if she really wants to go out with some guy she doesn’t know. She smiles and says he can’t be worse than the guys she does know, which is definitely true.
Blair and Nate are passive-aggressively eating sushi, stabbing at the pieces like they’re not only raw but still alive as well. Nate says he’s a spineless sack of shit and wants to fix their relationship, and Blair snidely asks how they could even do that. Nate earnestly says he wants to put everything in the past and he won’t see Serena anymore or even talk to her, it’ll be like she doesn’t exist. Except when he sees her at school. And at parties. And in his erotic dreams. Suddenly Blair smiles widely (although it’s more of a baring of teeth than anything else) and says she thinks it’s a good idea, and begins eating off Nate’s plate like nothing ever happened. Dumbfounded and a little wary, Nate carefully asks if Blair wants to talk about it, since she had seemed pretty upset the night before, screaming get out and crying hysterically and everything. Blair says there’s nothing to talk about, if Nate says it’s in the past, it’s in the past. “I’m sure you have no feelings for her anymore,” Blair says sweetly as Nate’s eyes quickly dart away and then back to hers. She owns you now, buddy.
Lily shows up at Rufus’s gallery, and since parent storylines suck, here’s the basic gist of the conversation: Lily is pissed that Serena is going out with Dan, since Lily and Rufus themselves used to be together. Yeah, I called this one in my preview. Lily flatters herself by accusing Rufus of using Dan and Serena to get to her. They exchange a little banter while Lily tugs at the scarf around her neck as if she’s suddenly gotten too warm. She’s totally still into Rufus. Rufus cuts the crap and reminds her that he found Trent Reznor fucking her like an animal in the back of a Nine Inch Nails bus, and she coldly says there’s no need to rehash the past. He accuses her of switching up rock stars for billionaires, and Lily mocks him for thinking he’s so cute with his washed-up band and crappy art gallery. Rufus smiles and points out that not all of them have settlements from multiple divorces. And Rufus scores a point! Defeated, Lily tells him to stay out of her life and stalks out – even though the entire point of the visit was to make sure he’d come sniffing around her skirts again as soon as possible.
It’s finally the night of the KOTL party/Dan and Serena’s date, and everyone’s getting ready. Blair’s wearing a gorgeous chocolate brown dress, and Eleanor comes in to take a look. They bicker briefly over Blair’s choice of dress, and Blair asks why Eleanor cares so much what she wears. The free advertising of course, remember? Eleanor refrains from saying that and instead tells Blair it’s because she loves her – and because Blair will never be more beautiful, thin, or happy than she is right now and she should make the most out of it. Blair looks momentarily ill at the thought that this will be the happiest she’ll ever be. It’s pep talks like these that make it easy to understand how Mushroom wound up in the psych ward.
Everyone but Serena, Dan, and Jenny are piled in a limo on their way to KOTL, chugging champagne and smoking pot. Everyone’s having a great time but Nate, who’s lounging back and looking emo. Dude, either grow a pair and stand up to Cappy, or suck it up and stop pouting. Meanwhile, Dan picks up Serena, who’s trying too hard for the rock concert look in a sequined yellow mini-dress.
I am ready to RAWK!
At KOTL, everyone picks up the drinking from where the limo party left off. Upchuck sees Jenny, and asks the minions who the newbie is. Minion 1 says it’s Jenny Humphrey, she’s a freshman. Upchuck says he likes freshmen, they’re so… “Fresh?” interrupts Minion 2. Well you can’t blame him there. Nobody likes a dirty… ahem. Upchuck asks if there’s anything about Jenny on Gossip Girl, and Minion 2 says nope while Minion 1 darkly adds, “Not until you’re done with her.” Gross, do these two know about Upchuck’s behavior? And they still follow him around like puppy dogs? Wtf? That’s beyond minionhood to just plain… twisted. Upchuck pushes away from the bar and introduces himself to Jenny (who has a hunchback in her couture dress by the way), giving her an intense, creepy stare as if he’s trying to decide how best to arrange her body parts in his freezer. She giggles nervously, but is clearly flattered a popular, older boy is paying attention to her.
Meanwhile, Dan and Serena arrive at the concert, and Dan’s like let me introduce you to one of the guys in the band. Serena asks if Dan’s a groupie, and Dan laughs and says not quite. Dan introduces Serena to Rufus, using Serena’s first name only, and Rufus exclaims “Serena VDW!” creeping everyone out. Rufus is like err, not sure how I knew that anyway nice to meet you! Rufus leaves and Serena teases Dan about meeting his dad on the first date.
Back at the party, Upchuck suggests they go have a talk, and leads Jenny the Hunchback out the back door to the stairwell, grabbing a bottle of champagne on the way. Jenny anxiously makes small talk, and when Upchuck leans in to kiss her she moves her head away. He apologizes and says it’s cool and asks to start over. She suggests starting over in the party, and he begs her to have a glass of champagne (that he likely liberally laced with roofies) first. She reluctantly agrees to one glass, and quickly texts someone when Upchuck turns his back to pour the bubbly.
Serena and Dan leave the concert, flirting and teasing each other. The characters do seem to have chemistry, which is good. Dan’s cell goes off, and it’s Jenny, saying she needs help and it’s an emergency. Seconds later, she texts again, saying this time she’s for real, and asking if Dan knows who Upchuck is. Serena teases Dan about having a better offer, and he quickly explains that it’s his sister, having problems with some guy named Upchuck. Dan says he has to go, and Serena insists on coming with, knowing anything involving Upchuck can’t be good.
I too always properly punctuate my text messages in emergencies. Date rape is no excuse for bad grammar.
The heroic duo arrives at KOTL and scans the crowd for Upchuck and Jenny. For something as exclusive as this party has been touted to be, it’s pretty damn easy for these two to get in, seeing as though Serena likely didn’t bring her invite and Dan never received one at all. The crowd whispers of their arrival, and cell phones start blowing up with the news. The minions (who are wearing ridiculous matching elbow-length silk gloves and feathers in their hair) gape at their phones as Blair pushes her way forward, furious that Serena’s shown up at her party. Nate stops her from attacking Serena, and Blair demands if Nate was the one who invited Serena. Nate truthfully says no, and Blair snaps at him to not talk to Serena. Nate excuses himself and sadly walks past Serena, who follows him with her eyes before making eye contact with a livid Blair. Blair glares at her before stomping away.
On the roof, Upchuck has Jenny pressed up against a skylight, and she’s whimpering and struggling while Upchuck tells her to be quiet. After a futile search of the party, Serena suggests looking in the stairwell, which Dan thinks is pointless but nevertheless he agrees. Rather than employing proper punctuation, Jenny could have better spent her texting time indicating where she actually was. On the stairs, Dan complains some more that Jenny won’t be out there, but then Serena spies Upchuck’s scarf on the ground and dramatically points it out as proof that Jenny is in his evil clutches. How she got all that from a scarf, only she knows. When I see scarves on the ground, my first thought is usually, ooh, free scarf! Intense thriller music plays as Dan and Serena charge towards the roof.
“Look, Fred! It’s a clue!” “By golly, you’re right, Daphne! C’mon, gang, let’s go!”
Once up there, Serena yells for Upchuck to let Jenny go, and Jenny rushes into Serena’s arms, scared but unhurt. Dan goes after and pushes Upchuck with a “you sonofa–” and Upchuck shoves Dan back harder. “What the hell is your problem! It’s a party! Things happen!” Upchuck yells angrily. “Who are you anyway?!” “How many times do I have to tell you?” Dan yells back. “I’m in your class. My name is Dan Humphrey, and that is my sister!” With that, Dan punches Upchuck squarely in the face, and I cheer. It’s pretty awesome, kind of like Michael Douglas’s “My name is Andrew Shepherd and I AM the president” speech in “The American President,” but better. Upchuck grabs his face, and Dan clutches his fist, both in pain. Serena pulls Dan away before Upchuck can recover, and then runs over and shoves Upchuck herself, yelling at him never to touch Jenny again. As the trio escapes the roof, Upchuck yells after Serena, “Hey, your life is over, slut! Don’t forget I know everything!”
Downstairs, the trio head for the door as the crowd stops and stares, especially Blair, who looks pretty pissed that Serena is ditching another one of her parties in under 5 minutes. Dan reaches for and holds Serena’s hand, and once outside asks her if he has a shot at a second date. She tells him that she’s not sure if he can top this one, and but then smiles and says they can talk about it in the cab and climbs in. Dan grins and follows. Blair walks outside looking a little stunned as the cab pulls away, and Nate is around the corner drinking alone and watching as well. Upchuck comes up behind Blair and Blair says Serena better not show her face again. Upchuck says he personally hopes that she will, and Blair looks at him with what maybe is a smile on her face. Again, how much do these girls know about Upchuck? I’m pretty squarely on Team Blair in this episode, but this scene really makes me question just how far she’ll go to ruin Serena.
Blair: Evil or not evil… that is the question.
In the cab, Dan puts his arm around Jenny, and Serena and Dan smile at each other before Serena turns to look wistfully out the window like she did on the train at the beginning of the episode. We close with another catty update from Gossip Girl, foreshadowing that school on Monday will not be easy for Serena.
So what did you think? Are you on Team Serena or Team Blair? Do you hate the parents (Rufus aside) as much as I do? And what the hell do the girls see in Nate?