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'Gossip Girl': Freshman orientation

September 22, 2009 |  6:44 am


And so it begins: "Gossip Girl" began its first week at college last night and I felt as nervous as a freshman. So many things can go wrong when a show takes its ensemble cast outside of its original element. Who will the characters meet? What will they experience? Will they flourish in college or was high school as good as it gets? Will people like them in this new environment? These were the questions that ran through both the characters' and the viewers' (OK, mostly this viewer's) minds throughout the episode.

The show attempted to quell our fears by bringing us back to some basics. College is about starting a clean slate and finding one's niche. As Dan, Blair and Vanessa usher in their freshman year at NYU, they confront the question that pops into every newbie's mind when stepping foot on campus: Where do I belong?

The question is pondered most obsessively by Blair. Determined to continue her Queen B status in college, she parades into the dorms with sushi, sake and gift bags, with hopes of buying her way into the hearts and psyches of her fellow freshmen. She ends up falling flat, mostly thanks to her roommate, the irrepressible Georgina Sparks. I admit, I like seeing Blair flail. Queen B is wickedly fun, but she's always so much better when her chips are down. We get to see another layer of B, one that feels empty and vulnerable without a headband-clad army to lead, and she's going to have to step up her game or expand her horizons if she wants to be liked.

On the flip side, the answer to the question comes soonest for Dan. After getting recognized for his New Yorker piece by a cute girl at a coffee shop, Lonely Boy sheds his former persona and instantly becomes Dan the Literary Superstar. The boost of confidence inspires him to take more control of his social life but without abandoning his nice-guy values. He exposes Blair's plot to take down Georgina and convinces a rooftop full of people to stay and party with him instead of heading to Monkey Bar with B (don't they know how hard it is to get a reservation?!). The idea of Dan the Man is definitely growing on me, but Dan hooking up with Georgina? I'm not co-signing on that just yet.

I also was not a fan of Serena in this episode. Before she even gets there, she concludes that Brown (or college in general) isn't the place for her. Cue her downward trajectory. S is her usual hot mess as she ruins Chuck's business deal and blatantly uses Carter. Despite her missteps, the Golden Girl, of course, is forgiven. She's just lost and confused and needs angst to match her tousled hair. It was starting to get annoying. It did, however, provide a story as to what keeps Serena in the city.

As for Nate, who doesn't start Columbia for another week, he spends most of the episode in bed with Bree. She falls harder for him when she sees his sentimental side, thus further complicating relations with her family. This story line better pick up because it's beginning to be a yawner.

Time for your thoughts. How would you rate the gang's first week of college? Do you like Blair as an outcast or do you want her back on her throne?


— Enid Portuguez

Photo: The CW