'Gossip Girl' recap: Paris mismatch
Bad news, Upper East Siders: "Gossip Girl" is now officially in a rut. Poor pacing ruined the episode that preceded nearly two months of hiatus, and last week's comeback story lines left me (and other viewers) both bored and disappointed. Now, the show has resorted to sheer randomness.
Chuck and Dan are both out of the running for Blair's heart, so the writers have brought back Louis. Oh, you don't remember Louis? Don't beat yourself up; he's fairly forgettable. Louis is the European royal Blair picked up in France before returning to New York for several months of Chuck-related, hurt-so-good torture. She didn't seem to have any qualms about leaving him then, but now that Louis has conveniently decided to dodge his handlers to rekindle their relationship in Manhattan, Blair is all his. Such is the power of an expensive pair of shoes (or an unconscious urge to rub your ex's face in your shiny, new relationship).
The only problem is that Louis' royal parents don't approve of Blair. "You are a commoner," he explains to the queen bee of the Upper East Side. So Blair and Louis must sneak around because his high-end babysitter, Lucien, has hired Dan to keep tabs on the couple. Meanwhile, poor, principled Lonely Boy thinks his surveillance gig is a stealth reporting assignment for Paris Match. If you're not confused yet, congratulations -- and hang on, because things are about to get really crazy.
Because sad, old Vanessa spilled the beans about Dan and Blair's kiss to Serena last week, S is poised to do some detective work. (Is anyone else confused about why, having broken up with Ben, she feels like she still has a claim on Dan?) She sends Charlie to follow him, and S's long-lost cousin spots Dan at Veselka, a downtown diner, just before Blair walks in. B is there to meet Louis in secret, since the East Village is so far from home it might as well be Siberia; Dan is there because of his bogus assignment. But that's not what Charlie sees.
Serena shows up soon enough, and when she bursts into the restaurant to find her best friend with Louis, she's relieved. But Charlie, who has gone from cute and provincial to a little bit creepy in the space of a single episode, still isn't convinced. Back on Dan's trail, she finds him and Blair together again and doesn't bother to find out that their next meeting is all part of B's plan to fake out Lucien.
The drama comes to a head at this week's big bash, the Pink Party. Blair has hatched a plan to convince Lucien that she and Louis are just friends, so he'll fly back across the Atlantic and leave them alone. Unfortunately, it requires Blair and Dan to kiss at the perfect moment, when Lucien can see them but Serena (and everyone else at the party) can't. Although they manage to elude S, Charlie catches their lip lock on video, and minutes later the clip is everywhere.
The situation only devolves from there. Despite Blair's explanation, she and Serena have yet another, tiresome frenemy fight. "The only appeal that Dan ever had for you was that he was mine," says S. Dan retreats to Brooklyn, with Charlie on his heels to apologize for spying. Again, there seems to be a flicker of flirtation between them. I don't love this pairing, but anything would be better than having to endure Dan and Serena, Round 59.
Although Serena has planted doubts in Louis' mind, Blair manages to convince him that there's nothing between her and Dan. This prompts Louis to defy his parents, announcing that it's time for the brand-new couple to "go public" -- which means stepping out of a limo for a big kiss captured by a sea of paparazzi flashbulbs. It's sort of romantic, in a Disney princess-meets-Lindsay Lohan way. Never mind that Louis is utterly bland, making him a terrible match for B.
Thankfully, the "Gossip Girl" writers do offer us one delicious moment this week, when Vanessa shows up at the loft for a friendly chat. By now, Dan's discovered that she was the one who ratted him and Blair out to Serena, and he's none too pleased. Vanessa tries to explain, but he's just done. "We are not friends anymore," he tells her. Don't let the industrial doors hit you on the way out, V!
This week's secondary plots are something of a mixed bag. Sentenced to house arrest, Lily learns who her high-society friends really are -- which is to say, she discovers that she has no friends at all. At the Pink Party, which Rufus and Serena have schemed to host at the Humphrey-Van der Woodsen residence, she takes the elevator to the lobby, where police soon arrive to arrest her for going out of bounds. Instead of spending the night in jail, Lily convinces them to shut down her party. She has learned a truly valuable lesson about rich, fickle women and resolves to spend the rest of her six-to-nine-month incarceration watching movies with her husband. Isn't that nice?
More promising is Nate, Raina and Chuck's quest to find Russell Thorpe's wife. When some digging yields the contact information for one Avery Thorpe, the trio goes to New Jersey to meet the woman who may be Raina's mom -- who denies that she has any children. Later, Chuck reveals to Nate that his father may have had Avery killed and resolves to investigate the fire himself, rather than subject Raina to any more pain. (It's entirely unclear why he's traded his latest coke-and-booze binge for this act of public service. If I had to guess, I'd say Nate had better watch his back.) By the end of the episode, he has some damning evidence: tapes of Bart and Avery arguing before she returned to the building and the whole place went up in flames. And yet, something tells me Avery Thorpe's fate will turn out to be a bit more complicated.
"Gossip Girl" meta-commentary of the week:
Serena: That doesn't mean anything. They went to Cornwall to find Juliet, because she drugged me and tried to convince everyone I was crazy.
Charlie: Sure, 'cause that happens.
"Gossip Girl" highbrow reference watch:
"We did things like visit the Dia and debate Chabrol versus Rohmer -- things that we could never do with you." -- Blair to Serena, on her relationship with Dan
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
1. Lily's hot-pink, one-shoulder Redux gown with the origami-like folds
2. Blair's black-and-tan, patterned Dior minidress
3. Louis's navy blazer, pink-and-navy checked shirt, and bright pink pocket square
4. Vanessa's slate gray Christian Cota jacket with the bronze sequins and slouchy, brown Mulberry bag
5. Serena's short, magenta Marchesa dress with the bustle
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Blair (Leighton Meester) and Louis (Hugo Becker) reunite. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW