Dan's dad Rufus (…see?) is picking up Dan and his freshman sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen) at Grand Central, while Dan stares and stares at the returning Serena. Both Jenny and Dan worship Serena, as we'll see, in different ways: Jenny loves Serena because she's a total diva, while Dan...actually, not that different. Jenny and Dan are coming back from a weekend at Mom's, and we learn that she has taken a "time out" from her marriage and left Manhattan. Dumb, because Rufus (Matthew Settle) is the hottest dude on the show, and I'm not being rude when I say that. Every ball's gotta have a belle. Anyway, he immediately starts in on them about their mom, and Dan kindly interrupts with his hunger so they don't have to talk about it. Rufus pauses sadly, then gets with the full Cohen treatment about how he's going to cook them a caprese salad with mozzarella di bufala, whatever whatever, he likes to cook, he's a Fun Dad who Gets Enthusiastic About Things. Meanwhile, just to review:
Spotted: Lonely Boy, can't believe the love of his life has returned. If only she knew who he was. But everyone knows Serena, and everyone is talking. Wonder what Blair Waldorf thinks. Sure, they're BFFs, but we always thought Blair's boyfriend Nate had a thing for Serena!
Okay, this marks me as a VM fanboy, and I'm really...not, but Kristin Bell has managed to take her most hilarious line reading ever ("Such gentle, yet elusive creatures") and make that the entire job. Awesome. You could say any old shit in that voice and it would be funny and fake-scandalous. Check it. Imagine Gossip Girl explaining the current bullshitty loophole in the tax on the kind of accumulation of wealth that makes these lifestyles possible:
There is no federal estate tax if someone dies in 2010, but a "sunset" provision of the Tax Act basically repeals all its provisions after the end of 2010. As a result, the federal estate tax will be back with a top marginal rate of 55 percent and an exemption equivalent amount of $1 million in 2011. You know you love me! XOXO!
Cut to a party at the Waldorf house, home of Serena's erstwhile best bud Blair, and her mom, the recently cock-olded (zing!) Eleanor. Eleanor's a fashion designer of some repute -- if you couldn't tell from the uniform-like unchanging neutrals she busts in every scene -- and in case you couldn't, she tells Blair (who looks frigging gorgeous) that if she's going to wear one of Mommy's designs, she should at least let her get it fitted properly. Blair runs off just as Eleanor's referring to her as "my best advertisement." No kidding. Blair looks a bit like Bilson, with the large eyes and prominent-but-not-weird forehead. I'd only ever seen her hair light brown before now, so it wouldn't have occurred to me, but now that she's got the dark, dark brown hair of Summer Roberts it's a little distracting. She's a bit more conventionally pretty, and her features are more delicate, but Bilson's entire appealing face is alive, whereas Leighton Meester acts mostly with her eyes and body. She's got a china-doll vibe that Bilson could never have pulled off, while Summer would have swallowed her like one of those gigantic cable-knit fisherman's sweaters.