Well, that was fully awesome. Serena wakes up roofied in Queens and calls 911, and before you can blink Lily has committed Serena to the Ostroff Center against her will. Jenny rushes home to confess, alerting Juliet -- who actually OD'd Serena, secretly -- and Vanessa to the situation. Vanessa sells Jenny out before she can do anything, causing the usual rift between Humphreys; joke's on her when Jenny comes to Blair, confesses the whole situation, and sets everybody on Vanessa's heels. She runs to her horrible parents, where they make vegan shoes of her and we never hear from her again; Jenny runs off to Hudson for a very real banishment that won't end anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Ben yells at Juliet for trying to kill Serena and causes her to totally melt down -- her response is basically "All I did was try and kill the bitch, jeez" -- and then disappear... After one last meeting with Lily to arrange ongoing hush-hush payments about What Happened At Boarding School. It occurs to me that we could be mining this shit forever, where Lily just has a 30-person roster of people she mails huge checks to every month in order to cover for various fucked-up things that have happened to Serena. Maybe that's why she keeps getting married.
It's weird for Eric, who went to this same place for his actual suicide we don't talk about, and it's weird for Blair because of her bulimia that was mysteriously cured, but most of all it's weird for Chuck, who spends the whole time trying to be there for S (well, really Lily) and constantly getting his vibes all up in Blair's Powerful Womanhood. Eventually he gets tired of being her emotional foot massage and tells her they can't be friends; she sends him Harold's famous pumpkin pie as a sweet surrender to this latest iteration of their constant, fabulous bullshit.
Of course, S only remembers going to that party to find Dan because he is the One. After that, things get hazy. Of course, not even S is capable of imagining that she was there in three different bodies doing three different things... So even she is taken in by Juliet's GG blast of herself doing coke while dressed as Serena. After a short escape from Ostroff, during which she and Lonelyboy declare their feelings once again, Serena convinces herself to go back into treatment for the drug problem she doesn't have and the suicide she never attempted. Only Miss S. Bless.
So the whole Media Serena v. Actual Serena thing has come full circle: Not only is she not in control of the image, but she's now even capable of being fooled by it. That won't go well. Anyway, Serena having ruined her nineteenth Thanksgiving, Rufus and Eric join Lily and S at the Ostroff for a (sniff) french fry Thanksgiving, like when they were just approaching the idea of Brady Bunching it up. V and Little J run for the hills. And best of all, Blair and Dan decide to team up and take down Juliet next week, hopefully in preparation for kissing and finally making sure every single person has either slept with or attempted to rape every other person on this show.
So, excellent: Callbacks aplenty, an inventive story structure that gets the whole "Serena bender redux" issue out of the way plenty quick, and Serena and Blair talking about all their love. Plus a fairly cool C story about Nate's mom filing for divorce, then giving that up after a lovely Thanksgiving in the clink, only to have Nate find out it's possibly a ruse for the parole board and the Captain hasn't actually changed. A storyline that basically makes sense, Dan and Lily having one of the best and most emotionally honest scenes in the history of the show, and Vanessa being told repeatedly that she doesn't count and might as well not exist when it comes to the vdHumps or the NJBC... And next week looks pretty great too, with flashbacks to Boarding School and What Happened in which yucky Damien Dalgaard seems to figure prominently. This season rocks.
Oh, Blair. Inevitably when the episode is All About Serena, Blair proves the most interesting person. Here because she doesn't really have friends, just subjects. There are only two people in the world that are actually people: Chuck, and Serena. And her relationship with Chuck has just once again readjusted itself to avoidance that can't last, and Serena's Handmaidens have just betrayed her thrice -- Little J by blowing her spot with Chuck, V by taking away her Archibald G.I.R.L.S. plan, and Juliet by making her look insane and vanishing her -- so now she has no equals, just enemies and lukewarm disappointments. What's a girl to do?
Give thanks in some other location. "Strolling the Christmas markets with Daddy and Roman, celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau at Le Tambour." Blair attacks Dorota for packing her new double-faced Burberry instead of her new shearling Burberry -- the bitch -- and Dorota's like, "Freeze to death. I not give a fuck." Dearie D calls her out for splitting in the wake of the Chuck and Serena meltdowns, and then babbles about some kind of third world pretend Christmas bullshit for awhile, and then hands Blair a pumpkin pie to drop off at the van der Woodsens' to eat while they wait out the gathering storm of Serena's sluttiness. Not just any pie, if you remember: Harold's pie, the thing that represents Thanksgiving and also having or not having an eating disorder and therefore the careful control of unbelievable chaos that is Blair's daily task.
There is a very cool thing about this episode that has to do with Good Serena and Bad Serena, but actually has to do with Real Serena and Simulated Serena, that makes Juliet even more awesome than she would otherwise be. Essentially, the show's always been about propaganda for everybody, but Serena's propaganda is virgin/whore propaganda, where everybody keeps calling her a whore and she keeps trying to turn into a virgin.
We've seen Serena take hold of the spectacle -- using the tabloids to freak her dad out, going for Gossip Girl's throat a few times, eventually becoming part of the spectacle through her PR and campaign jobs -- and we've seen her destroyed by it a bunch more times than that. Always this relationship with surveillance, with being looked at by men and by women too, always this relationship with technology and the ways we use it to constellate our own personae. But the thing about Juliet, and last week in particular, is that this is the first time the spectacle has been in 3-D. The image walked off the screen and into life. Instead of images of Serena doing things, it was actual Serena doing things: The image became real. Real enough to fool everybody, even, as we'll see, Serena herself.