Serena holds a cold glass against Carter's head, where he's starting to bruise. "I know this is not what you signed up for..." Carter tells her it's not nearly as painful as waking up in Santorini and finding out she'd ditched him and taken off. Serena smiles and says that their one-time affair was a little bit overwhelming for her. Being the male version of Serena, he gets it, which is why he was surprised when Cece called him last week to invite him to cotillion. "Wait. Last week? I wasn't even going to cotillion last week." Right, but Cece knew she would change Serena's mind. Serena's like, "OMG, what if my grandmother is an asshole?"
Dan's mysterious person is...Lily, who immediately tells him to shut up and gives him another Rhodes Woman speech: "So please listen to me and don't interrupt, because what I have to say is hard for me. When I was your age, I would have been lucky to find a guy like you, and I...kind of did, but when it came down to it, I thought my mother knew who I was much better than I knew myself. I'm not sure exactly who my daughter was, but I know who she's become since she met you. She returns home every night at a reasonable hour, she doesn't drink, she doesn't do drugs. I don't know if you're responsible for that, but I don't think it's a coincidence. You belong with my daughter, and I think everyone should know that. Will you come with me?" Aww. She's so freakin' great. Dan doesn't grin or giggle, just smiles at her, because he knows what all that cost. "Yes, Mrs. van der Woodsen. I would love to." And as they head for the ball, she corrects him: "It's Lily."
As Blair enters, Chuck signals the band, and they start singing again. Awesome. She starts to dance, looking for Nate, but Chuck explains that Nate got thrown out, leaving just Chuck for her to dance with. And of course, it's Blair, so she figures everything out in five seconds. "That's your look when your plan falls into place. You're enjoying this. You knew Carter was going to my house, you tipped off Gossip Girl, you ruined my cotillion on purpose. You did all this for your own enjoyment and didn't care what it would do to me, which is exactly why you and I can never work!" He tries to explain that it wasn't like that this time, but she's close enough to being right that there's not a whole lot he can say. When your whole burlesque show is about being ten steps ahead, which is what they are both all about, it's hard and maybe impossible to admit that things can get away from you, even if anybody would believe it. He tries to kiss her and she shoves him away, dumping him for good. It's very sad.
Cece approaches the suddenly quite thirsty S, congratulating her on the giant fuck-up she was involved in. "I was able to clean it up. The chairs agreed to reissue your presentation statement in the committee's winter newsletter." Serena's just goggle-eyed: "I stood up for you. With Dan, I defended you." Cece's awesomely breezy: "Mmmmmmwe'll talk about that later." S tells her to shove it, and asks if she's even sick. Cece chuckles and admits she's not -- "But I could be! All those cigarettes and cocktails!" Serena's still confused, like Blair with Chuck, why Cece would even do this. And just like Chuck, it's not so much that she orchestrated it, as that she let it get away from her; that she was doing horrible things to protect the only people she loved, and ended up getting burned by it. "Oh, Serena. There is so much you don't understand. A woman has to earn the right to create her own rules." I appreciate that. Serena goes all third-wave on her ass about how it's not like that anymore, and I think it's less that women have to do that as maybe we all have to do that now. Cece is arch, but admits maybe Serena's right when she sees Dan over her shoulder. Her face does soften; she seems almost pleased that Dan's returned. He approaches without taking his eyes off Serena's face, and they begin to dance. Cece watches her entire legacy going to shit, tries to be happy about it, and just at the tympani Dan dips her granddaughter, and they kiss.