'Gossip Girl' recap: Insiders vs. outsiders
The promos may have teased about the newest incarnation of Chuck and Blair's dysfunctional romance, but their "hate sex" was almost completely beside the point of this week's episode. Sure, the show kicks off with Chuck amusing Blair under the covers as she tries to give Serena some distracted advice. Yes, they get it on in public. Chuck even orders his chauffeur to pick him up a lifetime's supply of condoms and booze, in anticipation of the marathon sex-fest he imagines will help them tire of each other.
I won't deny the fun of watching Blair and Chuck lustily paw at each other. But now that we've acknowledged it, let's move on to what really happened this week: War broke out on the Upper East Side. Though there have always been insiders and outsiders -- or Manhattanites and Brooklynites, or new money and old money -- in this rarefied world, the two factions have never been so clearly and completely at odds before.
The big surprise is who incites the war. After a few weeks of licking her wounds in Brooklyn, Vanessa returns with a vengeance. I can't tell you how happy I am to finally see her make some trouble! Joining forces with Nate to expose Juliet's lies, Vanessa is disappointed once again when Juliet hits him with yet another sob story about how "poor" she is and -- in classic Archibald form -- he believes her. (Living on 126th Street and building her own IKEA furniture is a fate worse than death, and as his family once had no money for a few minutes, he can totally relate!) Luckily, by the time Nate calls her to cancel their plan, Vanessa's already snuck into Juliet's real apartment and found something even better than she was looking for: photos of Serena and Colin canoodling.
Sick of constantly being shoved aside for Serena -- a girl we actually believe when she coos, "All I can think about is how much I want to be on [Colin's] arm at the ballet" -- Vanessa shows up at the ballet gala with a stolen memory card full of Juliet's pictures to show the Columbia dean who suspects S of trading sex for grades. And although Juliet has apparently resolved to cut ties with Ben and abandon her scheming for Colin's sake, Vanessa reveals that she's already told Nate about the photos -- and he's telling Blair, and the Upper East Side "insiders" are coming together to smack both of them down. "At the end of the day, you're an outsider, just like me," Vanessa says. As she's exhausted all of her other allies, Juliet has no choice but to back up Vanessa.
What's really impressive -- not to mention creepy -- is the way the original Upper East Siders rally when threatened with a coup. Nate doesn't know much, but he does realize that Blair is the go-to schemer for plotting a response to Juliet's spying. Suddenly, B's taking the bullet for S, dispelling suspicions that Serena is giving it away to anyone who will give her a good grade by claiming that she's the one hooking up with Colin. A moment later, Chuck's there to drawl about how he can corroborate Blair's confession, as he's stalking her and she tells him all about her sexual exploits.
They may have (sort of) vindicated Serena in the eyes of the increasingly weary and disgusted dean, but the rich kids don't stop there. Outside the gala, Blair, Chuck, Nate and Serena surround Juliet. In a comically intense 360-degree shot, we follow along as each one verbally rips into her, the insiders finishing one another's thoughts as though they all share a single hive mind. (Hey, it's possible.) Of course, most of the jabs are class-based: "You don't belong there, anyway," Blair sniffs, referring to Columbia.
Later that night, in her final feat of Waldorf-caliber manipulation, Vanessa introduces Juliet to another scheming outsider we haven't seen much of this season: Jenny Humphrey! A conspiracy is in the works, and though Blair and Chuck working together are nearly impossible to beat, they and their less intelligent friends may get more than they bargained for from this angry, desperate trio. (And I can't help but thinking about how interesting the plots could get if they bring Georgina Sparks back.)
Now that the Upper East Siders have split into two camps, outsiders vs. insiders, I'm left wondering what will happen to poor Dan. As usual, he's caught between two worlds. On one side, there's his old friend/recent ex Vanessa and his humble, Brooklyn roots. On the other, there's his mystifying devotion to Serena, who for some reason has broken it off with Colin and gravitated back to Dan. (Reminder: She is still his stepsister.)
As the class war heats up, I expect to see some major pathos from Lonely Boy. But what I'm really interested in is whose side you're on. Readers, are you Team Insiders or Team Outsiders? And who do you think will come out on top?
"Gossip Girl" highbrow reference watch:
"Let me see: writing a paper on Hannah Arendt or a secret mission that might help me clear my name?" -- Vanessa to Nate
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
1. Blair's blue, flowered Ralph Lauren gown.
2. Vanessa's pink-and-purple, leaf-print Christian Cota dress. Her first great outfit of the season!
3. Blair's black blouse with the gray-and-white bird print.
4. Colin's simple, sexy Dior suit. J'adore!
5. Serena's gray sweater with the metal arrows.
-- Judy Berman
Photo: Juliet and Blair plead their case to Dean Reuther. Credit: Giovanni Rufino/The CW