'Gossip Girl' recap: They tried to make Chuck go to rehab
Her engagement to a prince of Monaco is certainly bringing out the retro, '50s girl in Blair Waldorf. Last week's Grace Kelly kicks off this week's episode as a wannabe Audrey Hepburn, joyriding through New York on the back of Louis' Vespa. But her idyllic, black-and-white dream sequence quickly becomes a nightmare when B looks in the rear-view and sees Chuck Bass staring back at her.
Unfortunately, this will not turn out to be Blair's only contact with Chuck. After last week, when he lunged at her, punched through a window and ended up cutting her, I had hoped she would stay away from him until he got some help -- because what's happening between them looks a whole lot like an abusive relationship.
Josh Safran, an executive producer of "Gossip Girl," doesn't see it this way. He told E! Online, "We feel it's very important to know that [Blair] is not scared -- if anything, she is scared for Chuck, and what he might do to himself -- but she is never afraid of what he might do to her. Leighton and I were very clear about that." Considering how terrified Blair looked at the end of their encounter, and how quickly she got out of there, the show is sending a mixed message at best. As Jezebel points out, the Chuck-Blair relationship may have crossed a line in conflating violence with romance. We have no right to expect "Gossip Girl" to be a paragon of morality, or even realism, but the idea that true love requires taking a shard of glass to the face is disturbing even in this alternate, soap-opera dimension.
Even so, because finale time is almost upon us, the writers couldn't even give Blair a single Chuck-free week. In fact, the incident only seems to increase her loyalty to him. Early on, she shows up at his new construction site in Brooklyn to warn Chuck that his evil uncle Jack is in town. Does he apologize? Nope. "Look who finally came to her senses," he greets Blair. She icily informs him that her engagement is still on, but the fact that she's there at all destroys any hope we may have held out that she's bound for wedded bliss.
Finally, Louis asks Blair the question that's been at the tip of all our tongues: "How can you lie to protect someone who hurt you?" Because a satisfying answer is surely beyond the scope of "Gossip Girl's" melodramatic universe, he concludes that his fiancee has a "dark side" of her own. And, ever the understanding lover, he says he wants her to "show me all of the parts of yourself, even the ones that you're ashamed of." Great guy, huh? Too bad his days are numbered.
By the end of the episode, even after a heart-to-heart with Cyrus, who agrees that she should come clean with her husband-to-be, Blair has let her attachment to Chuck get her into what could be mortal danger. At a fundraiser for her high-school alma mater, she receives a message that Chuck is on the roof and will jump unless she goes up to talk him down. But moments later, when Chuck arrives at the party, we realize it's a set-up. So, who's on the roof with Blair? None other than Russell Thorpe, who might very well want to hurt Blair, if not kill her.
We'll have to wait until next week's finale to see how Blair's capture plays out. (I wouldn't bet on homicide, since B's murder would be suicide for "Gossip Girl" Season 5.) What we do know is that Russell is desperate by the time he gets her on that roof.
This week's Bass Industries subplot is as complicated as ever, with alliance shifts occurring approximately once per scene. While the dreaded Jack Bass comes to town at Raina's request, to help her take down Chuck, he quickly swings to Russell's side instead. Together, they'll sabotage Jack's debauched nephew and split the spoils of Bass Industries. But first, Russell will need Jack to get him that box of "mementos" from Chuck's dad's affair with Raina's mom.
At first, it appears everything is going as planned. Jack shows up (with Nate on his heels), and an intoxicated Chuck punches him in the face. Then, some burly, uniformed men drag Bart Bass' heir off to rehab, leaving Russell to plunder Chuck's belongings as he sees fit. So it's a surprise when Chuck, Jack and Nate appear in Russell's office together soon after that -- and an even bigger one when they reveal their evidence that it was Russell, not Bart, who killed Avery Thorpe in that fire.
For some reason, Chuck offers Russell the same deal his father extended after the building burned down: He'll forget about everything if Thorpe will leave town and never bother the Bass family again. Now that they've missed their chance to call the police, Nate tells Raina everything -- and, of course, she promptly confronts Russell. The next time we see him, he's luring Blair to the roof.
In other alarming news, Charlie's transformation from poor relation to psychopath kicks into high gear this week. Having vanquished Vanessa, she's happy enough to secretly go off her meds. And with that barrier to insanity broken, it's time for her to go "Single White Female" (or should I say "The Roommate"?) on Serena. It isn't just that she wants Dan and will do anything necessary to get him; in preparation for their date, Charlie styles her hair like her cousin's, steals Serena's dress and then lies about it. None of this raises a flag for Lonely Boy, until they're about to have sex and she asks if he'll call her "Serena." Blech.
All of these story lines have me hooked, so it looks like my fear that "Gossip Girl" would lose its momentum (again) before next week's season finale was unfounded. If I don't seem as excited about that as I should be, it may have something to do with my lingering ambivalence toward Chuck and Blair. This week, the writers teased us that they were sending Chuck to rehab. But why is it a big joke that a guy might need professional help when his substance abuse problem has driven him to hit the woman he loves? Maybe he could stand to spend some time detoxing. As for Blair, it's clear Louis isn't the love of her life. Instead of a fairy-tale wedding or a tearful reunion with Chuck, I think what she really needs is to spend some time on her own. ShowTrackers, do you agree?
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
1. Serena's purple, deep V-neck Dior dress with the sheer bodice and a tangle of necklaces
2. Louis' chocolate, suede, belted jacket
3. Blair's crisp, white Milly coat with the gold-chain closures and green ODLR scarf
4. Serena's coral, Greek-goddess gown with the silver beading
5. Blair's bright, melon, short-sleeved dress
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Chuck and Blair's tense meeting, at his Brooklyn construction site. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW