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'Gossip Girl' recap: 'The greatest aphrodisiac'

October 11, 2010 | 10:00 pm

Juliet and nate If there is a more appropriate "Gossip Girl" anthem out there than Kanye West's "Power," I haven't heard it. In a wonderful moment on this week's episode, the song takes the forefront as Dan, Nate, Serena and everyone else on the Columbia quad receive a Gossip Girl blast that ends with the icky query, "Does SVW have an STD?" And you've got to love the way that scene ends, with West's killer King Crimson sample kicking in just in time to label Juliet a "21st century schizoid man."

In fact, almost all of the characters are starting to look even crazier than usual. Chuck and Blair, for instance, have run themselves and each other so ragged that even the "me versus you, no limits" war he declared last week is less exhilarating than depressing. Epic manipulations used to fuel their sick romance, but now they're just going through the motions. Chuck has shrewdly, if wearily, decided to attack Blair on her turf, moving combat to Columbia and kissing up to her professor in an attempt to destroy her both academically and socially.

Never an easy mark, Blair retaliates by appealing to Prof. Chamberlain with talk of female solidarity. "You and I both know that power is the greatest aphrodisiac -- except, of course, when women have it," she says, promising over tea to fix up the wronged, divorced professor with a good catch from stepdad Cyrus' law firm. It takes this supposedly brilliant academic -- a philosopher of business who should know her fair share about power games -- far too long to figure out that she's Chuck's and Blair's pawn. And this tough woman's response, to simply quit teaching at Columbia because the kids are so nutty, also feels lame. (Never mind the assumption that a pretty, successful, middle-aged lady would be desperate enough for a good date to get herself mixed up in these games.)

Weirdly, this isn't the only uncomfortable intergenerational feminist moment. Toward the end of the episode, after Juliet steals Serena's phone, sends an e-mail from S's account offering her professor sexual favors, and successfully pins the whole stunt on Vanessa, the Columbia dean who witnessed the incident approaches Serena. Though she believes that the message was a fake, she doesn't like the drama that always seems to stick to Serena. "Women of my generation had to fight for every opportunity -- and to be taken seriously," she says. "And your attitude, Ms. Van der Woodsen, makes a mockery of that."

Perhaps it's no coincidence that all this gender-oriented talk comes in an episode that finds the power balance shifting so decisively to the men. This is a notable development, considering that irresistible S and evil genius B are the ones who usually call the shots on the Upper East Side. Although neither Chuck nor Blair ends up at the head of Prof. Chamberlain's class, she is the only one who genuinely wanted that honor in the first place. And even if, as he claims, he takes little joy in ruining Blair's life, Chuck isn't satisfied to stop there.

In this week's final moments, we see him setting up a meeting with Tim Gunn for one Jenny Humphrey -- who Chuck would like to see back in New York, attending Parsons. It looks like we'll soon have Little J back, and her night with Chuck might become a matter of public record. I may regret saying this, but with Blair deflated, Georgina gone and Juliet looking as transparent as most of Serena's wardrobe, it should be refreshing to have a well-rested schemer back in the mix.

Of course, Chuck may have the edge over Blair, but a different guy is pulling the meta-strings this season. In this episode's prison visit, we learn Ben's goal in no uncertain terms: "[W]e agreed that we would not stop until Serena was left with nothing -- just like I was," he tells Juliet. We still don't know how he knows Serena or what his relationship to Juliet is supposed to be. (My newest guess is that he has something to do with her murder scandal, from way back in high school.) It is becoming clear, though, that she's developing a soft spot for Nate, and Ben's plan is suffering for it. Is Juliet truly committed, or is she already beginning to go Upper East Side native?

Other scattered thoughts:

-- I can't wait for the Tim Gunn cameo. Now that we know his story line centers on Jenny, I'll be interested to see what the chemistry is like between him and Taylor Momsen, considering that he has publicly called her "pathetic."

-- Even Serena wonders how the STD rumor made it to Gossip Girl, who doesn't tend to post unsubstantiated rumors. Because we know the lie came from Juliet, it seems more likely than ever that there's more going on between her and Gossip Girl than meets the eye.

-- I have serious suspicions about the man who keeps stealing Serena's cabs. A guy who's sending a different girl home every morning in another woman's taxi is no one's idea of a great catch, but I think his sliminess could go deeper. He certainly seems to be at the curb like clockwork, preventing her from making it to class on time. Is it possible he's the third man in Juliet and Ben's scheme? Could it be that he's the photographer who's been snapping pictures of Juliet and Nate together?

-- Why does everyone believe Juliet, who's already proved she's devious, when she says it was Vanessa who sent the dirty e-mail to Serena's professor? Dan and Nate (who, in case anyone needs reminding, have both dated Vanessa) should know their old friend well enough to realize she's not capable of such a nasty stunt.

-- I am not impressed with Blair's new minions. Even though one has already double-crossed her, they just don't have personality the way her high-school gang did.

-- Are Dan and Vanessa going to break up and get back together in every episode this season?

Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:

1. Blair's black, ruffled Hamilton House party dress

2. Chuck's brown pinstripe suit with lavender tie and pocket square

3. Blair's orange-and-yellow patterned school dress

4. Juliet's gray minidress/navy blazer combo

5. Juliet's sexy -- but still classy -- black, lace lingerie. (But let it be known that this was not a great fashion episode. My options were limited.)

-- Judy Berman

Photo: Juliet and Nate. Credit: Giovanni Rufino/CW