'Gossip Girl' recap: The excruciatingly long kiss goodnight
For heaven's sake, "Gossip Girl." Here's what you did to us this week: You opened on an alarming scene in which Rufus and Lily meet an assistant D.A. so she can give a deposition. Then, as I figured out so much later I don't know whether to be embarrassed for the writers or myself, you jumped back in time and spent two-thirds of the episode plodding along at an elderly snail's pace. In the final 20 minutes, you threw three episodes' worth of twists and shockers and unresolved plot points at us. And you closed with a cliffhanger that is going to torture every single one of your loyal viewers for the seven long weeks until the next episode airs.
In the most tangled story line of the week, Chuck has won over Russell Thorpe's former backer, Bradley Kidd, and is a day away from finalizing the deal that will save Bass Industries. He's so sure of his success that he's ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and planning to throw a blowout party that night. This, of course, means he's in for some big, horrible surprise.
Enter Ben's mom. Serena swings by the loft, only to find Mrs. Sharpe is visiting her son -- and although S tries to make nice with the lady whose son she unwittingly helped incarcerate, Mama just isn't having it. Over what is supposed to be a conciliatory, get-to-know-you lunch, Serena overhears Mrs. Sharpe tell Ben that he's put himself in an impossible situation: he wants to become the kind of man Serena Van der Woodsen could see herself with, but he can never be that person until he gets his criminal record expunged, which will mean turning in Lily and destroying S's family.
Since Ben has proven to be entirely too ethical (well, aside from that whole getting-Nate's-dad-pummeled business), his mother steps in to make the decision for him. She steals the forged affidavit Serena has been hiding and strikes a deal with Russell: If she hands over the proof of what Lily did to Ben, he'll make sure her son gets a fresh start in life. Russell will, in turn, use the evidence to blackmail Lily and Chuck into surrendering Bass Industries.
To Chuck's surprise, Raina's reaction doesn't change anything. If he and Lily don't back down, Thorpe will have her in jail by the end of the night. Because guess what? His vendetta against Bart Bass isn't about Lily at all -- it's about how Bart had Russell's wife killed in a fire we haven't heard about for a very, very long time. "I hope your stepmother rots in jail, protecting the legacy of the great Bart Bass," Thorpe snarls. If he has to lose his daughter avenging his wife, then so be it.
Lily sees the writing on the wall and turns herself in, both to save the company for Chuck and to assuage her own gnawing guilt. She could have saved everyone a great deal of trouble by doing this a whole lot earlier, but hey, better late than never. And, as Lily pow-wows with her lawyers, Rufus runs into William Van der Woodsen -- that's right, Serena's evil dad, Billy Baldwin! Lily's mom, CeCe has summoned him and will arrive soon herself, so they can plot together to further pervert justice. Really, Rufus? You thought your wife was going to quietly pay her debt to society? Please. Prison is for poor people.
Back at Chuck's party, it's just one bummer after another. Serena confronts Ben because she thinks he's the one who stole the affidavit. When the truth comes out, Serena forgives him. He even confesses that he had Capt. Archibald attacked in jail, and S is willing to overlook that, too. (What will Vanessa do, now that her juicy information has gotten her nowhere? Disappear for another five episodes or so?) But Ben tells her, sadly, that he has to pry himself away from her. He's hanging on to Serena because she reminds him of the old days, when he was doing what he loved -- teaching. They break up, sort of, despite Lily's too-little-too-late protestations to Ben about what a wonderful person her daughter is.
Finally, Chuck bursts in. The news that his father had Thorpe's wife burned alive isn't going down easy. He growls at Serena to stop the party right now and settles down with a shot glass, making those crazy eyes that can only mean self-destructive, debaucherous Chuck is back and bellowing that he needs Blair, the one person in this cold, lonely world who truly understands him.
It's funny that this would be the moment when Chuck realizes (for, what, the 37th time?) that he can't live without Blair. Because she's spent the day caught up with Dan in the kind of classic rom-com the two of them might enjoy watching together. Each turns to a trusted elder for advice on what to do about their secret friendship, and Rufus and Dorota both come to the same conclusion: the reason Dan and Blair are so nervous about admitting they like each other is that they might just like, like each other.
At first, they try to deny it. After failing to reveal their friendship, as they had planned, at Chuck's party, Dan and Blair agree that the world isn't ready for the unholy alliance of the Upper East Side and Williamsburg (or maybe DUMBO). But that resolution only last a few hours. The episode ends when Dan shows up at Blair's apartment. He's been wandering around the city, dramatically pondering their situation and thinking about how he can fit it into that new story he's been writing about Serena. (Alright, maybe I made up that last part.)
With Blair fresh out of ideas, for once, Lonely Boy has the perfect solution -- a fail-safe method (at least on TV shows and teen movies) for figuring out whether they truly have feelings for each other. They have to kiss. If they feel nothing, they're free to go their separate ways. If they don't, well ... that's more complicated.
And here, "Gossip Girl" team, is where you cut our sad, TV-addicted hearts out. You paused the show, for nearly two months, on a freeze frame of Blair and Dan kissing. Will they -- or just one of them -- feel something? Will a blackout-drunk Chuck stumble in on them? Will Lily get to wear her designer, orange dress with the pretty buttons in prison? Will Serena get Ben back, or will she have to find some new, inappropriate man to love? Will the "Gossip Girl" writers take a cue from this season's best episodes and realize that proper pacing is their friend?
Other scattered thoughts:
- On a show that never lacks for overwrought metaphors, one zinger from Chuck to Nate was particularly groan-worthy: "I guess the Archibald charm wasn't as rusty as you thought -- unlike the knife in my back."
- While we're talking script, did anyone else notice that Dorota got the best lines of this episode? "You're too happy. Content. I worry that you join cult," she tells Blair at one point.
- Does anyone understand why Russell would rather have Raina believe that her mom left them and he's an awful person than just tell her the truth about the fire? He can trust her to be the VP of his corporation, but he can't bear to tell his adult daughter that her mother is dead? This is either an egregious plot hole or Thorpe still isn't telling the truth.
- The meta-commentary about Nate's stupidity was wonderful tonight. "You're smarter than you look," Raina tells him. "I get that a lot," he replies.
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
- Blair's frilly, ivory Jill Stuart blouse and red-and-black plaid Tucker skirt.
- Blair's pale pink Dior dress with the brown flowers and lace neckline. (It will be interesting to see whether Dior shows up later in the season, now that its designer, John Galliano, is in hot water for making anti-Semitic comments.)
- Raina's bright red, pink, and white mini-dress.
- Serena's bronze trench coat.
- Lily's tan, ruched-in-all-the-right-places Elie Saab dress.
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Blair and Dan try to figure out what's going on between them. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW