'Gossip Girl' recap: St. Valentine's Day Massacre, Upper East Side-style
Call me cynical, but as long as we've been watching Chuck and Blair play nice in the aftermath of their latest breakup, I've been waiting for the other Louboutin to drop. They've been kind and respectful to each other, and last week, Blair even saved Chuck from losing Raina. Could she possibly, finally have let go of him? Is Blair moving on with her life, free of pettiness, jealousy and obsession? Well, of course not. Because "Gossip Girl" without pettiness, jealousy and obsession just wouldn't be "Gossip Girl."
And so, it turns out Blair never sincerely wanted Chuck and Raina's relationship to work. In fact, she only urged Raina to take him back because she didn't realize Chuck had genuinely fallen for her. Now, given the opportunity to shadow a Manhattan It Girl on Valentine's Day for W, Blair picks Raina. Because what's saner than choosing to spend the most romantic day of the year following your ex-boyfriend's new lady love?
Instead of sitting back and watching everyone involved get hurt, Serena puts the kibosh on Blair's plan, confidentially advising Raina that a Valentine's Day spent with Chuck and Blair would inevitably involve "weirdness." (That may well be the understatement of the century.) But when B discovers that S went behind her back, it's Serena who finds herself in her best friend's crosshairs.
Because of Dan's loose lips, Blair has learned that Ben told Serena a little, white lie about his Valentine's Day plans. Ashamed to admit he's taken a catering job, he tells Serena that he'll be tutoring. And with a bit of Blair's encouragement, they both end up at Chuck's lavish, $2,500-a-head Valentine's Day party -- he as a caterer, she as a guest. Of course, exposing Ben isn't revenge enough for Blair, who arrives at the party with a camera crew from W in tow to taunt Serena about dating the recently incarcerated help.
Serena tries to explain that she was only trying to keep Blair from the heartbreak of seeing Chuck and Raina genuinely in love. But B isn't having it until she witnesses their relationship disintegrating firsthand.
This brings us to the other major story of this week's episode: Chuck's struggle to maintain a prime place at Bass Industries, even after Thorpe Enterprises acquires the company. Usually, I find Chuck's business intrigue kind of boring. What makes this story line different is how entwined it is with Chuck and Lily's personal lives.
In his quest to prove his influence to Russell Thorpe, and inspired by his desire to impress Raina, Chuck plans a sumptuous Valentine's Day party in a mansion on the outskirts of New York. Although Thorpe claims he's suspending all meetings about Bass Industries and giving Chuck 36 hours to hold on to his place, Nate's dad finds a memo indicating that Russell is still moving forward with his plans to sell the company for parts. But the plan just doesn't add up. "Bass Industries is more profitable kept whole," Captain Archibald observes. "So why is Thorpe determined to slice it up?"
As with most of this season's tangled plotlines, Lily's at the bottom of it. Apparently her fling with Russell was more serious than she made it sound -- and when she left him, it was for his former friend, Bart Bass. Thorpe's plans to dismantle Bass Industries aren't about business at all; they're about exacting personal revenge on Lily and her family.
Given the choice between a future at the helm of his company, with Raina by his side, or staying loyal to his wicked stepmother, Chuck doesn't hesitate. In a meeting with Russell, he calls Bass Industries' board of directors and gets Lily ejected for failing to disclose her "conflict of interest" with Thorpe Enterprises. The whole thing blows up when Lily confronts Chuck in front of Raina, in the lavish room he's arranged for their romantic night together. Disgusted that he would sell out his own family, Raina dumps him (again), while Blair and Dan listen in.
Chuck's troubles don't end there. Thorpe, it turns out, has been playing him the whole time. Sure, he attends the party, compliments Chuck on drawing a high-paying crowd, and promises his interests will be taken care of. But as soon as he learns Lily's out of Bass Industries, he reveals his true agenda: Russell was never going to keep the company together or hire Chuck. As Thorpe so succinctly puts it, "Now you have no company, no family. And from what I saw, my daughter's lost her taste too."
Sadly, Chuck isn't the only one who spends Valentine's Day caught in a web of intrigue. Poor Eric -- who only gets about five minutes of screen time -- wants desperately to get his sweet ex-boyfriend Jonathan back. And, in the episode's final moments, he thinks his old flame is waiting for him. But it turns out to be Damien, with a brand new blackmail plan. If Eric doesn't help him with his newest scheme, which presumably involves getting Dan and Nate back for ratting him out to his dad, he'll tell the police what he knows about Lily and Ben. Ugh. Really, Eric, you entrusted Damien with that whole sordid story? You're supposed to be the smart one in the family!
Despite all the drama, there are a few small stirrings of romance on the Upper East Side this Valentine's Day. Later that evening, Blair and Serena make amends, and B promises S that she won't air Ben's dirty laundry in W. And what do you know? Ben texts Serena at just that moment with an invitation to meet him at a bar. By the end of what feels like an everlasting night, they're smooching over beers.
As for Blair, she finishes the night off at home, alone. At least she's got some company on the phone, though. After Dan comforts her about Chuck and Raina, she confesses that she liked the story he's been bugging her to submit to Details so much she sent it to Vanity Fair. (The subject? Serena, obviously.) From there, they bond over movies yet again, watching "Rosemary's Baby" on separate computers in different boroughs as they chat. There's no lip lock to report yet, but I'm pretty sure we'll see one soon. Crazy though it may be, this is one romance I'm excited to watch.
On the heels of a few lackluster episodes, this week's "Gossip Girl" returned to what the show does best: shifting alliances, all-consuming ambition, unlikely love affairs and over-the-top confrontations. As things stand, just about all of the characters (except poor Nate, who continues his downward spiral into uselessness) are entangled in exciting story lines. Now that we have so much to speculate about, who has predictions for next week?
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
1. Raina's simple, sparkly, silver Valentine's Day frock.
2. Blair's flowered, champagne Marchesa dress.
3. Blair's gold Balmain jacket and gray, tailored Stella pants.
4. Raina's bright red dress with the pleated neckline.
5. Blair's striped Rodarte tulip skirt and plaid Joie cape.
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Blair reveals Ben's lies to an embarrassed Serena. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW