So the interesting part of this story, to me, is actually how once you link up Serena's sudden outshining of Lily to Jenny's explicit superiority over Rufus -- and in both cases it's because of innate qualities, Serena's It-ness and Jenny's storied artistic talent -- you see a much stronger thematic consistency between the A and B stories here. Lily is drowning in her daughter just as Rufus is drowning in his, and then there's Blair, who's just drowning because she's a classic introspective, and her existence is always going to be contingent. And the whole point of literary moves like that is that you can cross-apply, and put Rufus's words in Blair's mouth, etc., giving yourself a much rounder perspective on each relationship and plot point, and that is brilliant.
The boys have a whole other gay thing happening, but as far as the main stories, you have to dig a little to see the parallels, but I am so glad they had Jenny declare herself more talented than Rufus outright and early on, because it makes his parental unease with all of this both creepier and easier to understand, and because I'm guessing Lily and Rufus are both going to put the kibosh on their kids in a future episode when they've both spiraled completely out of control, but this Running With Scissors question will remain in the air, which is where jealousy comes from and how hard it is to be both a parent and a fallible human being at the same time, especially in this science-fiction narrative universe where chumps like Dan get published in the New Yorker and Marc Jacobs names his purses after high school students. Because let's face it: don't all children operate at times on the worrisome suspicion that they're smarter or more talented than their parents? And don't parents secretly pick at that scab on occasion?
"We hear there's nothing like Yale in October. The crisp air, the turning leaves, the invasion of prospective freshmen... Better hurry up, Lonelyboy. Your future's waiting..." Dan sits in the Admissions office, giving Dean Berube intense douche chills as only a Humphrey can: "To summarize, I really feel that I have something to say..." Neither in this room nor with your work, Lonelyboy. The Dean encourages him, by all means, to say this thing, and Dan priggishly bottom-lines it for him: "...Via my writing. With its world-class English department, Yale would be the ideal place for me to grow as a writer, to flourish and, uh, thrive." The Dean, much as any of us witnessing this impressive douchiness, congratulates Humphrey on his "inner thesaurus," but points out that his application is missing several letters of recommendation. Of all the opportunities he's been squandering since the summer, the only patrician accolades he's managed to procure are those from long-ago hero JL Hall. "Noah Shapiro declined to write on your behalf," for example, having secreted his recommendation in his pot o' gold after what Dan calls their "creative differences," while Jay McInerney has refused comment on the summer internship that Dan, pigeon-like, shit all over.