Gossip Girl

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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If I Ever Feel Better

So I'm terribly proud of the show for continuing to find new ways of playing this one idea into so many wonderful stories -- this one idea that is the title of the show -- and I love it best when it's about Serena, because she's the Daisy Buchanan of the show and her image is all that she is. Her continued striving to make the image match up with the girl, and the girl match up with her own idea of herself, is something toward which I'm pretty sympathetic but more than that, it's good writing. Take a look at every single episode of this show -- particularly of course that third of every season which is about Serena herself -- and you'll see an arc having to do with this idea in one way or another, this continual building up and shattering of the image Serena has of herself and tries to get everybody to sign onto (B), or validate by wanting it (Dan), or validate by opposing it (Bart).

And in this episode you get not only this sort of enantiodromia where Serena's relationship with the image flips over, but she's also endangered by it, and why? Because everybody assumes she's somewhere else. They would have heard, they would have seen, they would have GPSd, and since they haven't -- since she is, in some way, denying them her image -- the assumption is that she's gone underground. Out of shame, like boarding school pre-show, or out of fear like Season One, or disgust like Season Two, or depravity like Season Three. Anywhere but as a victim, because images can't be victims: They can only be victimized.

So while Dorota is whispering to Anastasia -- the lost princess -- that the Polish word for pain in the ass is blairwaldorfski, and Blair is agreeing to take the damn pie to Serena's house, manorexic Rufus and mustard-sweatered Eric are staring at the intense Thanksgiving table Lily has caused to be set. "Do we have relatives I don't know about?" Eric asks, and even Rufus has to laugh about how likely that tends to turn out true, every few weeks. Eric points out that Lily making a big deal about Thanksgiving is a very Rhodes Women way of dealing with Serena's vanishment, which is to say it's as much about covering up and denial as it is about punishing Serena. Whether or not she's there to see it, it will make Lily feel better.

Eric's surprised that S hasn't responded to his many texts -- some including "angry emoticons," which is fine because he's a kid -- but assumes, like everybody else in the UES, that she's doing fine elsewhere. He's thinking of sneaking off to Blair's house to see her, and Lily shows up in a cloud of Chanel and resentment to tell her son -- and even her husband, whose chronic ambivalence about his stepdaughter has nothing on his goony stupid love of all holidays -- that under no circumstances is anyone allowed to deal with Serena or acknowledge her existence. And given the facts on the ground, it's not the worst Lily thing even though it sounds like it on paper:

"She dropped out of college, she refuses to return our phone calls. She's a grown woman throwing temper tantrums just to punish me! When she is ready to take responsibility for her actions, we'll talk. Until then, you know what? I'm done being punished."

You never get into an argument with a two-year-old, and you never say somebody is doing a thing "just to punish you." Even if they actually are, you're still giving up the argument. It's like calling Serena a hater, or saying she thinks she's better than you. There are a million ways to lose a fight but only one way to win, and that's by ending it. Double if it's your kids, because for fuck's sake.

Dan and Vanessa are at the Foragers Market thinking about buying "organic pumpkin tarts with gluten-free crust" and "this amazing tofu-sage stuffing recipe," and that is all we're going to say about those motherfuckers. Now that V has made her peace with Dan's unending obsession with Miss Serena and Dan has made his peace with the fact that Vanessa is an incurable monstrosity, they really are the perfect couple. They're like the Asher and Jenny of heterosexual lies.

El Capitan in jail is all about Nate getting Anne -- now that they've captured her and returned her from the wild -- to come visit. Breathe some of that salty Vanderbilt air into his terrible life. But of course Anne has been all over this shit and is not interested at all. Nate's bangs droop with sadness and he heads home after a lackluster visit with his horrible Pops, to grab a ride to Vanderbilt Palace for the holiday. But who is there? Our barrister Mr. Stahl, Stahl the nervous Stahl the homewrecker Stahl the interrupter of holidays, who wants nervously and twitchily to drop off mysterious papers for mysterious Anne. "She's getting her hair done!" Nate blurts, because that's a thing ladies do on Thanksgiving before heading for Nantucket, and sounds out the divorce papers contained therein. Phonetically.

Blair's somehow surprised that Charles is at Lily's for Thanksgiving, when the truth is the only thing those two bastards are thankful for is each other, for blowing the curve on moral ambiguity. They're sweet, and awkward -- Blair declared love, kissed, blew off a few opportunities and then dumped him again in a matter of minutes, remember, at Sinners & Saints -- and Chuck offers to disappear, and Blair is touched but knows that's not necessary, and they do this Canadian Dance Of Death By Consideration for awhile before Lily appears -- still strung out on not caring about shit -- shows up and smiles a kind of not-very-real, GTFO, where-is-my-daughter smile.

"I'm spending the holidays with Daddy and Roman in Paris. I figured since we usually spend this day together that, you know... Um, is Serena here?" Aw, strong Blair. Lily's eyes bug out a bit and everybody suddenly realizes that Serena is totally missing and probably dead and that's why they've all cooked up reasons to be at PRADA, so they can figure this out. Chuck's in this scene so he can say she's not at the Empire either, which are the three places in the UES that she would actually be. If I were in this scene I would be like, "I better call Carter Baizen just in case. You never know."

And where is she? Queens. And what is she? Fuuuuucked up. And why is she? Because Juliet has been feeding her contraindicated combinations of medications that are tryna kill her. And why this? Because Juliet has lost her goddamned mind to the Nate Effect, which makes you murder sometimes. She calls 911 and moans her emergency, which is "My name is Serena van der Woodsen."

But there's more! "I don't know where I am or how I got here. Please help..." Dude's like "You are mumbling incoherently, ma'am, are you intoxicated?" and Serena's all "No bitch, that's just my voice."

Nate runs to Dan for the comforting muscles of divorced parents, and Dan is no help at all: Firstly he's like, well, life has been a lot better since my awful mother and sister fled to Hudson, so look at the bright side. Secondly, your father is the biggest cocksucker on this show, so good for Anne Vanderbilt. Maybe now we can stop hiding the perfume in Lily's bathroom whenever she comes over. And thirdly, it's probably all your fault. Nate meanwhile is like, "He's been an asshole my entire life, why now? When it's Thanksgiving and he could possibly be coming home a changed man? I haven't punched my father in a whole year -- doesn't that mean anything to him?" Dan's like, "It's not about you. It never, ever is." Then he takes a phone call rudely to warn Rufus that Vanessa is coming to Thanksgiving and will probably be shitting all over it again.

But no, Rufus is calling to tell Dan that his sister-lover is in the ER, and please do not tell her best friend Nate who is sitting right there. At the hospital, Alexi Murdoch's first song of the night, "Towards the Sun," bookends nicely with the one at the end of the episode, "Through The Dark." Blair has her knives out on the nurses, of course, and there's a sweet gentling whisper of her name from the Chuck area of life to calm her down. Lily and Rufus explicate the facts we know: She dialed 911 from a motel in Queens, and drugs were involved. Lily's all, "I'm freakin' out!" while Rufus masks his total lack of giving a shit about this by saying that doing nothing is the proper response. Lily goes to get coffee. Take the edge off. Balance out the chardonnay.

Say what you will about Taylor Momsen, or Jenny Humphrey for that matter, but she is a really good actor. I'm nostalgic for the days when everybody talked about that, instead of how unprofessional and naked she is now. It's a fucking shame to see her gone. Not Jenny necessarily -- although there's nothing like a good punked-out dystopian Jenny situation -- just this beautiful girl who is so talented and so smart and so very in need of some boundaries, getting shipped off to a fictional Hudson until she pulls it together and taking mean prank calls from Tim Gunn just when she thought she was going to have a good

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Gossip Girl

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