Anyway, Will wants to get together with Serena and Eric, since he's never met them, and Eric can't come because he's at Andover, with the debate team -- What were we just saying about not answering questions nobody asked? And why not just say "Vermont" no matter what? "Where is Eric?" Vermont, with Vanessa Abrams and Poppy Lifton and Georgina Sparks and Aaron Rose and that Ponzi Scheme guy that wasn't Lord Marcus -- so once he's gone with Serena's assent, Rufus sweetly and quietly asks if she's okay, and she's grateful and acknowledges it. "After all he's done for my mom, I at least owe him a conversation," she says, which is Serena-speak for "I am all about being strong now, but get back to me in twenty minutes when I totally melt like an ice-cream sundae. This is not going to be one of those times where I stick to my convictions."
...Oh. I just figured it out, I think. This show has always been an exploration of the way media and technology mediates these people's experiences of intimacy and personal knowledge. Never the thing, but the way surveillance of and gossip about and reportage on the thing provides a way for the characters to create meaning and story for themselves, absent any other moral or mythic structure. The tug-of-war with seeing and being seen, the reflections of each other they use to understand themselves. Nate's fairytales, Jenny's machinations, Serena's identity crises: There's no outer metafictional way for us to experience them in the way this show has always trained us to do. Even Blair has gone so internal with her personal narrative that you have to piece it together from the crude and repetitive way she informs us what's going on with her: "I am the good wife, I am the Empress, I don't know where I am going or who I am."
Because what's going on this season, I think -- or at least the second half -- is that the central metaphor has dropped out of things entirely. They're not telling each other or themselves the story of themselves, they're just floundering in those stories with no direction and no way to find a direction. They sit around feeling their feelings and negotiating the landscapes of their relatively empty souls, without a tinge of that burlesque or propaganda or the other many terms we've used to describe this negotiation through the years. But if you take the "gossip" out of Gossip Girl, if you lose the heightened reality and continual self-examination that being in the public eye represents, you've become just a low-rated drama on the fourth-running network: You're just One Tree Hill with less trashy people. Does that sound valid? I think I'm onto something.