Serena smelled much better, after her bath with her two best friends, but had to be reminded that constantly asking people if she smelled less like a brewery was less than subtle and kind of blew the whole jig. Lily was coming, and it was Lily they were all afraid of, because Lily would put a stop to it. Nobody told S not to call Dorota "Dorito," but, you know, baby steps. Harold complimented Serena and Nate on the shirts they'd both changed into; the shirts were his. The whole tableau was frankly adorable, with Harold complimenting his taste via complimenting their dinner attire. Serena was still wobbling, grabbing at a tray of champagne as it sailed past; Nate and B, and her dad, laughed hysterically as they blocked her from snatching one. Everybody laughed and Blair headed off to help Harold with the potatoes. Everybody thought this was normal, and everybody waited for Lily to arrive and overlook her daughter's obvious drinking problem, because there was a time when Serena was the fucked-up one, and Blair never did anything wrong. And now Blair's sleeping with gay rapists and backsliding into a disease she thought she'd clocked, but once upon a time, every fucked-up thing Serena did was another reason Blair didn't have to indulge, because being stronger and wiser and more mature than Serena was as much proof as she needed. Covering for Serena meant they all could relax for a second from covering for themselves, and being their scapegoat meant never having to think or stop or do anything at all, because they'd be there to catch her, and in this way she helped their families go on. But now she's back, and she's not fucked up anymore, and everything she touches goes to hell because she's not there to be fucked up for them anymore. I love Blair the most, but it's not Blair I want to be when I grow up.
The Captain was running around on his cell phone, out in the hall, a mile a minute about some Dutch company, and no matter how mad Anne got, he had to put forth the concept, the propaganda, that he took business very seriously. Right now he's lying on the floor, dead or dying, and that's just another kind of burlesque, but a year ago, he was yammering into the phone and they were yammering back, and Anne was getting very tired with the constant performance. "Forget the commission," she hissed. "I'll write you a check myself. Sit. We're just about to eat." And suddenly the Archibalds, the power and the money and where it comes from, and the corners he's painted himself into in the year since, make a lot more sense. No wonder he needs Nate to believe in him so badly; no matter he needs Nate to succeed so badly. It's kind of exhausting to be the Captain, especially when you're the captain of nothing and nobody, and your son is just as trapped as you are. Grossed out by this violation, by Anne saying the thing their family depends on not saying, he lost his appetite and took off.