Theory: Serena's father is Carmen Sandiego.
Carter tells her that is crazy and that her dad just can't handle anything, least of all her, and by the way fuck him, because Serena is awesome and her dad is just stupid. But meanwhile, Carter is not stupid because he totally likes Serena and would have spent the whole summer with her if she'd let him. Which is the magical key to girls with sudden cardboard Daddy Issues, apparently, because she grabs his hobbit face and goes to town on him, and then they do it.
Somehow this storyline was a lot less gross when it was Blair puking up pies everywhere.
William menaces Bree and Nate into accepting the free car so they can get away from the polo match without the press catching her being such a traitor, and goes on and on about how Nate is his own man and William just wants him to be happy. Which I'd be happy to believe, but is now clearly a lie; either way he talks too fast for Nate to win, so they take the car, and then William pulls out his phone and calls poor old Trip and woggles his eyebrows about how they're going to use this little R+J situation to their political advantage. Man, these people. The one time Nate's got it together enough to actively avoid accidentally becoming a prostitute, people just go there anyway.
Blair looks around for Chuck for awhile, but one of the staff tells her that he left, and after some prodding nervously admits that a blonde -- "Tall, stunning and every man's fantasy," quoth Crazypants Waldorf -- left around the same time. Gossip Girl revels in her pain and Blair's like, "It is finally happening, just like Serena told me it would six hours ago."
Vanessa just goes ahead and brings the whole fight to Dan, in such a hysterical and hilariously OTT way that it's sort of endearing. He literally does not take part in the fight she has for them: "I know stuff's going on with your family, so I'm just gonna go. Honestly, right now I'm not sure [why I came]. Maybe people just change. Maybe it's okay if we grow apart. You're at a polo match in a $3,000 suit. And your name's in the program. And after I take a bus across the state line to apologize, you ditch me for Blair Waldorf and totally disappear." Seriously, have this fight on your own, lady. He just sort of stammers in horror at how gross she's being, until she runs out of steam.
Then he's like, "Um: Borrowed suit, from CeCe, who also gave Jenny a dress if you want to shit on her life for a change, and I'm not hanging out with Blair, we're protecting my sister/friend Serena from shit so terrible I don't know what it is, and Lily's mother is very sick, Rufus is struggling to keep it together, and his entire family is in total upheaval and nobody knows where anybody is going to live or what's going to happen when college starts, and all of these people are nuts on a good day, and you got the rapist who may or may not be a part of the family acting like a fucking superspy with the craziest one of us all, and none of this concerns you, and you have GOT to quit with the Rich People Suck thing for like five fucking minutes, Little Miss We Hooked Up In Prague."
Which is remarkably like every imaginary fight we ever had with Dan in the first season, if you think about it. So that's nice. Not to mention the coolest bunch of words Dan's ever said at once, and I'm not just saying that because Vanessa is working every single nerve. She splutters and goes to her go-to, which is the wishy-washy gross "Just as long as you be yourself," which is where he always went when people called him on his Rich People Suck thing too. She points out that he's not actually rich, which just makes it more ironic and stupid, and then tells him she wants Old Dan to show up at NYU, because she actually liked that guy. SAME GUY, IDIOT. Do you hate poor people yet?
Carter laughs murderously as he picks up his clothes in the glade, says hey to the official-looking people collecting the horses, and wanders away to find Serena. Meanwhile, Blair goes shoving into Chuck's apartment, where he's lying on the bed reading a magazine in a smoking jacket and girly slippers, as one does, and goes impressively nuts -- checking the closet and shit -- before he laughs at her and explains that he left because he had a headache, and left her a bunch of messages that she didn't get because she was too busy acting bizarre.
Blair sighs and feels dumb and happy, and asks him if the games are maybe necessary after all. She worries about being boring, and he promises her that they'll never be that. She points out that He's Chuck Bass, and he gets that wise loving smile again and says, "I'm not Chuck Bass without you." He pulls her down to sit with him on the bed, and she admits that running there from Connecticut was pretty exciting, and he grins and kisses her hand. She asks where Alexandra lives, and he asks one more time to stay home.
Vanessa, having vented her spleen on both sides of at least two bridges, laments a shitty night, but Scott disagrees because he had a great time. "I'm sorry I brought you. The Humphreys are going through a lot, and I don't even know if Dan and I are even still friends..." Good growth, Abrams. Believable, if sudden, but then she did the same jump like three times in this episode all along. Maybe the key to Vanessa is figuring out that she's a hothead like Blair, and just gets in over her head in the moment?
It's hard to figure out, because she's so viciously earnest about everything that you assume she's also being a bitch on purpose, but this episode especially there's a running thing where she's like, "Wait, I just totally went nuts, fuck," which actually also happened with Jenny and that Nate letter, and her tears over that affair were very real and very sympathetic and made me respect her a lot more. I guess we've just not seen her do this enough, or the dots haven't been connected enough, so that she just seems like two different flip-flopping insane people, but if you look at it that way she's just basically normal and kind of lovable. I mean, if you made a book of all the mean drunk texts I've sent boys in the last year alone it would blow up in your hands like Shark Week. Doesn't mean you feel that way the next day, or even necessarily when you're saying it. You know?
Alternate and truly dreadful theory: I am exactly the same kind of asshole as Vanessa Abrams, which is why I hate her.
Scott points out that the Humphrey Woodsens are basically good people, with complicated lives, and she agrees. "And you and Dan have been friends for so long, maybe you shouldn't write that off because of one argument." Like she was actually going to, dude. They do some close-talking about nothing, and then she kisses him and notifies him, in a very Vanessa way, that she has made the first move. Then they kiss more. This is basically incest. If Dan and Serena were incest, this is like double-cest, plus the even worse identity secrets and total loss of dignity that it's going to represent once Vanessa finds out how it all went down. Awesome.
"Growing up means one thing: Independence." Rufus brings the kids through the prolapse of paparazzi outside. "We all want it..." Nate kisses Bree in the free car and the light turns green just like on West Egg: "Sometimes we use other people to try to get it for ourselves." Blair sits in Chuck's dining room, pretending to be a dissatisfied customer while he stands there looking hot and smarmy in a dotted bowtie, and then they make out. "Sometimes we find it in each other..."
S sits in the car before going upstairs, and leaves the following voicemail for Carmen Sandiego: "Hey, it's Serena again. I don't know if you're getting these messages or if you eve