"Word is that S bailed on B's party in under ninety seconds Didn't even have a single limoncello. Has our bad girl really gone good? Or is it all just part of the act?" Lest we perish from the suspense, we immediately segue to Serena walking purposefully through a hospital corridor, intent on visiting "him." So I'm guessing she's gone good. At least for today, I guess, so cross those fingers. The call nurse tells her visiting hours are over, and Serena tiredly, and without stopping, informs her that "he" is her brother, nearly weeping. Elsewhere Dan checks GG.net for more of its tasty, scandalous wares, asking the same question we're getting from GG herself: "Why'd she leave? Why'd she return? Send me all the deets! And who am I? That's one secret I'll never tell... The only one. XOXO, Gossip Girl."
Which is where the credits would go, if this weren't a pilot. When we come back, Angels & Airwaves' "The Gift" is playing, for the first time in the episode. Here, it's about Serena's fierce desire to protect Eric, her little brother, which is essential to the plot: if she went to boarding school for her own self-preservation, it would have to take something huge to bring her back, and that's Eric: "And now I’ll stop the storm if it rains, I'll light a path far from here..." Later on it means other stuff. The music supervisor, Alexandra (The O.C., Grey's Anatomy) Patsavas, is who I want to be when I grow up. She's just so fucking cool! She's my Serena van der Woodsen. Who is now walking into Eric's hospital room. He's the same age as Jenny Humphrey, and his wrist is bandaged up tight, like a person who tried to kill himself, which is what he is.
Eric wakes up in the morning to find Serena asleep on the chair beside him, bathed in light. She immediately starts apologizing for being "a terrible sister," and he blows it off because he's so happy to see her. And because the show has "gossip" in the title: "Must be a lot of rumors why you're back." She assures him that none of the rumors involve him, just as Lily would want it, and she comes breezing in: "What do I want, baby? For Serena to sleep in her own bed? Possibly wearing pajamas." Heh. They wish their mother good morning, and Serena invites them to breakfast out; Lily pretends to pause to think, then ixnays that, saying she'll be getting Eric a croissant down the street. She pronounces the word croissant perfectly, exactly like somebody hauling the name Lily van der Woodsen around the Upper East Side would say it. Awesome.
Serena follows her into the hall, to Eric's weak protests. "Let me guess, you told everyone Eric's just visiting Grandpa in Rhode Island?" Lily sighs, caught: "Your Aunt Carol in Miami." Serena's horrified by this, that Lily would just hide him away so his suicide wouldn't affect her reputation as "Mother Of The Year," but Lily's like, "You don't know me!" She talks about how it's been hard over the last year, what with Serena off "doing who knows what with God knows who," and Serena swears for the hundredth time that she was not being a bad girl at boarding school. Just mysterious and kind of sad-eyed for some reason. "As happy as I am to have you home, you have no idea what it's been like." I like how the mystery of Serena's disappearance and return have warped into this whole other thing of why things went bad while she was gone. I like Serena and her whole deal, a lot, but I do like that it comes down to more people than just her.