What an absolutely outstanding episode! Literary, wise and funny, playing with time and margins in a way that blends fantasy and fact to reveal greater truths. Great stuff, with several truly touching moments of meditation on both the show and by the characters within it. One of the smartest, most finely tuned and compassionate episodes in a long while, and one of the first in the last couple years with a truly long view of the season and its place in the wider series. Plus, you get Lily dressed like an insane person, and recapper-fave Sloane Crosley's adorable little face.
Nate: In the book he's been conflated with Eric and named Derek. This bothers him not because he's gay -- he's fine with that, as long as he's got game -- but because Dan doesn't love him enough to make him a stand-alone character. In real life, he enlists Ivy's help in finding "Ivy," putting her in Diana's clutches at the Spectator and eventually getting her pressed into playing Diana's UES mole.
Serena: In the book she's a flighty slutty mess -- so there's that -- but after a (fantastic!) new coworker sabotages a big career move, Jane presses her to forgive Dan and get the film rights to the book. (If you were wondering why Michael Michele was cast before now, now we know.) In addition to the adorably sneaky little coworker, she also nearly meet-cutes some dude I'm sure we'll be seeing again, but this week all that matters is her no-nonsense attempt to pout herself into Dark Phoenix completely under her own steam, and the startling intensity of her showdown with Dan.
Blair: Couldn't care less about Dan's book, until Louis' trust in her is chipped away first by a stray GG post putting her back with Chuck and then with Clair's role in the book as Dan's true love. It takes Louis longer than usual to calm down -- long enough for B to admit her pregnancy to Serena -- but he comes around in the end. Her relationship with Dan, though, is left in a pretty ugly place. Which is funny, considering how much she secretly enjoyed the book...
Chuck: That was a sad one. In the book he's not gay (and kinda miffed about it in real life), and he leads a pretty tragic Charlie Trout existence until his eventual suicide. In the end of the episode, Lily asks Chuck if he's really that tragic and lonely right now, and of course he pretty much is -- but that doesn't keep him from a couple of really sweet scenes with Blair and Louis and some really great stuff with Dan, or from being the most charming person in the whole episode.
Dan also comes off really well, continually admitting to his faults -- and those of "Dylan Hunter" -- both inside and outside the book. He's being crushed in the machine of fame, sure, but even at 68 pounds he can still rock the shit out of an Armani suit. In the end, it's his literary indictments of Rufus -- "has-been turned trophy husband," etc. -- that are the most heartbreaking, and all the worse for being true. It was an unexpectedly sad, and unexpected period, moment. Hopefully we'll see more fallout from all of this, because it was a real nasty little trip.
Next week: Yom Kippur, which means another meeting of the Waldorf-Roses and the Grimaldis, which is always fun. Serena attempts to scheme, Chuck continues to be fabulous, Nate more than likely forgets he's pissed at Dan, the Envelope returns much sooner than you might have thought, and Ivy becomes interesting.
Serena got a new job and a new pet cousin; Nate got a new job and a new pet mystery that was the same person; Blair was pregnant and had to hear Louis talk so much about so much stuff; Chuck is molting; a bestselling novelist did some kind of John Fowles mind game to punk Dan into becoming famous.
Dan walks through all these weird people at yet one more publishing party while a Carpenters-sounding song about his paranoia and low self-esteem plays.
All These Weird People: "It's brilliant! Really exceptional! Loved the book!"
Dan: "Do I know you? Any of you? Do I know anyone here at all?"
Weird People: "No! We are a metaphor!"
Also, though, they are like time-travel artifacts of the time-travelling mind. Dan is the Donald Sutherland and everything that happens in this imaginary sepia world will eventually come true and then: A dwarf with a knife that you did not anticipate. Dan is the Billy Pilgrim and everything is about Viet Nam. Dan is the Neely O'Hara and we know where this is going. Dan is the Eric Bana and we are just his Rachel McAdamses.
Alessandra: "I just love chilling in your pad in Brooklyn and talking about your book with you all the time. We should make pizzas!"
Dan: "I love talking about my book too because that's really code for talking about myself, but shouldn't you go back to civilization and agent me? And other clients of yours that you have, presumably?"
Alessandra: "Like I love how at the ending of the book, you are all alone and you don't have any friends left, and you have to go to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square."
Alessandra is: Also a time-travelling psychic, apparently.
Dan: "That wasn't me! That was Dylan Hunter. That was designated hitter Dave Hostetler! The book is fiction! Scathing satire, yes. Thinly veiled roman à clef, yes. Sheer reportage, no."
Alessandra: "Well, that is a motherfucker because this whole book's entire platform is about how it's about these celebutantes we just apparently can't ever stop talking about. Do you think any publisher would take a risk on you based purely on the quality of your prose? God, you're disgusting. The book is #38 on the Amazon pre-order list and 25,000 have shipped so far. Does that sound motherfucking literary to you? Look, mate: If publishing were this show, you'd be the Serena. Now flash me some tits and let's get on with it, all right?"