'Gossip Girl' season finale recap: Tonight, Chuck Bass is a man
"Gossip Girl" is not known for its subtlety, and that goes double for season finales. Even by that measure, Upper East Siders, this year went out with a bang. I had my doubts and reservations, largely concerning Blair and Chuck, but I am surprised and pleased to report that I found the end of "Gossip Girl" Season 4 both exciting and satisfying.
First things first: Like all great season finales, this one involved the return of a beloved character -- Georgina Sparks! Now ensnared in a marriage of convenience to a wealthy lawyer, the young mother is craving mischief. "I haven't been this bored since I believed in Jesus," she deadpans at one point. So, when she shows up at the Constance/St. Jude's benefit, she's ready to get her hands dirty again. "Please let me in on whatever scheme everyone seems to be a part of," she begs Serena.
The scheme, it turns out, is more of a rescue mission. Vanessa and Serena have compared notes and realize that an off-her-meds Charlie is attempting to "Single White Female" Serena the way she did her college roommate. (Seriously, guys? Is this not exactly the plot of the movie Leighton Meester starred in just this year?) Once they arrive at the party, Charlie is in top form, making a drunken scene and knocking over a waiter. She exits and sends a worrisome text message: "I'm sorry. Goodbye."
Georgina, of course, is on to Charlie right away. Instead of trying to save Serena's supposedly crazy cousin, she calmly directs her to an open window where she might well jump to her death. And, because she likes Charlie's style, Georgina doesn't bother to let Serena in on her suspicions, allowing S to dramatically talk Charlie down from the ledge.
But that's not all! This debacle, along with the events of this season in general, seems to have given S some perspective. Friends, she apologizes to Nate and Dan for leading them on and confesses to Charlie that her decision-making skills leave something to be desired! Even if lazy writing results in Serena falling into old habits next season, it's a pretty gratifying moment.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, there's the small matter of Russell Thorpe holding Blair captive in the hotel Chuck is building. He's playing with a lighter while the construction site fills with gas, just as he must have the night he trapped his wife inside Bart Bass' burning building. Thankfully, with a bit of maneuvering, B tips off Chuck to where she is, and he shows up with Nate and Raina in tow. A few kind words from his daughter and Russell gives Raina the lighter -- only to find out that she's actually planning to call the police, get him thrown in jail and never speak to him again. Sounds about right to me!
Once Russell is taken care of, it's relationship reevaluation time. Shaken up by what she's been through in New York, Raina tells Nate that she's going home to Chicago. Poor, sweet, hunky Nate! He's barely had a story line to call his own all season, and now he doesn't have a girlfriend anymore, either.
Things are more complicated, obviously, for Chuck and Blair. Out for one last drink together, they end up crashing the world's best bar mitzvah, where they cut a rug together and eventually slip into a private room to say goodbye more intimately. At this point, I have to admit, I was frustrated. It certainly looked like Blair was going to leave her prince for a man who drunkenly lunged at her and sliced her porcelain cheek with shattered glass.
Blair must have thought so, too, because when she and Chuck finally return to the party and meet Louis, she's about to break it off. That's when Chuck breaks in and tells B and her prince that they have his blessing to get married. Outside, Blair tries one last time to persuade Chuck that "the great loves are the crazy ones." For once, he's not having it. "I left the Empire State Building in two minutes when you didn't show," he reminds her. "Louis waited all night." Chuck realizes that if Blair is ever going to be happy, he has to give her up. "You're the most powerful woman I know," he says, before they part ways for what I sure hope is more than one measly episode. Hey, who knows? Maybe that bar mitzvah finally made a man out of Chuck Bass.
The writers really could have messed up this relationship, delivering B right back into the hands of an erratic alcoholic with a history of abuse. In a perfect, feminist world, Blair might have been the one to realize she couldn't be with Chuck. But, although the ending isn't ideal, I'm at least satisfied that the "Gossip Girl" team realized it was too soon to reunite this toxic couple.
That does it for the story lines I care about. I suppose, however, that it does merit some mention that Vanessa finds a mildly eyebrow-raising way to make her exit. Alone at the Brooklyn loft, she stumbles upon the manuscript of Dan's novel, "Inside," a satire of Upper East Side society. She reads it, loves it and tells him he's got to publish it. For his part, Dan is just creeped out that she went through his stuff. According to Vanessa, "Inside" reveals that Lonely Boy "always wanted in. Even more than Jenny." She realizes that he won't publish it because he doesn't want to upset his rich friends and family. And then, readers, it's time for Vanessa to talk philosophy. "You can't be an insider and make great art," she tells Dan. Lucky for him, he doesn't seem to care much about art anymore. An inevitable, umpteenth friend breakup ensues.
Before Vanessa hops a plane for Spain, she leaves Dan the dubious parting gift of finding a publisher for his novel. Although it will be printed anonymously, she assures the publisher that the author will come forward as soon as it's out. In the meantime, he can feel free to send the royalty checks to her in Barcelona. As ever, it's impossible to know whether she's trying to do her old friend one last favor or profit from stirring up more drama in his life. Considering that Jessica Szohr won't be returning to the show in the fall, we may never find out.
It's almost time to leave the "Gossip Girl" crew until September. But first, let's review how each character will be spending his or her summer vacation:
Dan and Eric: With the parents out of the picture, the stepbrother duo will be holding court in the Hamptons by themselves. And in the fall, our little Eric is going off to Sarah Lawrence!
Nate and Chuck: Friends again after a rocky few weeks, the roommates are planning a just-like-old-times summer of aimless globetrotting. Nice work if you can get it!
Serena: "I choose me," says a newly wise S, who's packing up for a few months alone in Malibu. Once she's there, we see her meet a guy who's reading her favorite book (F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned," which we learned all about earlier this season). Instead of a summer romance, her knowledge of the novel lands her an internship with "The Fighter" director David O. Russell, who makes one of the show's most delightfully random cameos ever.
Charlie: In one of two big, final twists, we learn that Charlie isn't Charlie at all. When Carol meets her at the bus in Miami, Lily's sister calls her "Ivy," gives her some money and sends her on her way. The real Charlie, it seems, hasn't been anywhere near Manhattan. It doesn't look like Ivy is finished with the Upper East Side crowd yet, though. She's still holding on to Georgina's number, and the fact that actress Kaylee DeFer will be a regular next season implies we'll be seeing quite a bit more of her.
Blair: B is headed to Monaco, natch. But are you ready for that second shocker? At the very end of the episode, we see Dorota taking out the garbage, which happens to contain a positive pregnancy test. I guess we'll have to wait four months to find out if it's legit -- and, if so, who the father is.
Any thoughts on these two major cliffhangers, ShowTrackers?
Meta-commentary of the week:
Serena is accosted by two mini-mean girls at the benefit, who demand, "How could you not end up with Nate or Dan?" and "Who did you end up with? The billionaire or the guy who tried to kill you?"
"This could be the best satire of the Upper East Side since 'Bonfire of the Vanities.' " -- Vanessa, describing Dan's novel
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top 5:
1. Georgina's swirly, one-shoulder Marchesa gown and Sequin chandelier earrings.
2. Chuck's Drake for Barney's lavender bow tie and foppish Hugo Boss overcoat with the brocade-like pattern.
3. Blair's white short-sleeve dress with the red flower pattern.
4. Blair's pale pink Alberta Ferretti coat with the silver, beaded lapels.
5. Raina's orange, one-shoulder gown with the beaded straps.
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Chuck and Blair crash a bar mitzvah. Credit: Giovanni Rufino / The CW