Dan then gives one of my all-time favorite line readings of anybody on this show: "Okay. Uh, don't... Don't mention anything to Dad, though because he'll probably, like, handcuff him to the couch, or... say something stupid..." Yes! I love that, he just says it so naturally, like, these are the major obstacles we're up against: Rufus's overbearing sense of misplaced responsibility, and even more iffy, his ability to be totally stupid faster than you can blink. "Turns out my dad's making his once-a-year chili, and attendance is mandatory for me and whoever I'm with. I'm sorry, I'm deeply sorry, but this year that's you." Nate, who knew damn well what he was getting into, doesn't even fight it. And down the queerbutt Humphrey rabbit hole we go.
Serena runs into Jonathan, who is there dropping off books for Eric, and learns that he's not coming to the housewarming. "Eric talked to your stepfather, and apparently it's family only..." Ugh, knew that one was coming. That was obviously the next step in her nightmare coming true. Serena comes from the free places and they're where she draws her power from, and all of this is like the cage getting smaller and smaller, so first it's how she dresses and how she spends her nights, and now it's the gay thing plus the Eric thing, right on time. That Saturn Return thing where you start to realize that dudes run everything, and you need to negotiate with it or you're going to drown. Also known as the post-grad meltdown.
And this is really, really important for Serena to get through her head, fast as she can, the same way that Blair absolutely must realize that sometimes we have to step inside our bodies and actually live there for a second without watching ourselves like an Audrey Hepburn movie, constantly amazed at the shit we're doing. (Serena's an extravert like me: she lives in her spot, and imposes herself on the world. Blair's a classic introvert: her soul is outside her body, and she brings it inward to figure things out by deduction. Everybody's garbage is somebody else's tools.) Anyway, of course Serena is like, "Bart WHAT?" and Jonathan, like Eric before him, doesn't get what the big deal is -- even though most gay kids would totally get what the big deal is -- and takes off, so Serena can feel like once again she's failed to protect Eric on a basic level. Considering he was like genetically designed in a lab to make you want to keep him safe at all costs, it's no wonder that this is the point that she actually turns into a lunatic.