"Not only must plants be nourished, and respire in order to live; they must also be in general harmony with their surroundings... Any change in the environment requires a readjustment on the part of the plant, if the latter is to remain healthy."
Serena's putting on a necklace in one of the bedrooms Chez Waldorf, while Carter kisses her neck eighteen kinds of hungry. He's so super creepy sex guy in the first act that it's sort of embarrassing, but it makes sense with the overall story. GG throws out every musical reference to love she can think of, from Bette Midler to Paul McCartney to the Troggs and Joe Cocker, attempting to get us all in the mood. Somewhere else, Dan is IMing with Olivia, who's being harassed by harajuku girls for her autograph, because they think she's Hannah Montana. Elsewhere, Bree feeds Nate biscotti on the street, and he giggles.
But in the UES, we're told, love is pain: Rufus wakes up not in one of the billion bedrooms of PRADA MARFA, but on that one couch where everything happens. He stares mournfully out the window, and Lily passes him from upstairs with just about the worst look while a fittingly retro Matt & Kim song plays.
Serena's tickled because Carter has made her a toasted blueberry strudel, rather than letting Dorota make her a more appropriate omelet; they make out more and Carter acts pretty gross. Nothing makes me quite as hostile as the word "lover." God. Serena asks about his trip, back from which he came to much loving last night, and he tosses off the usual gambler's debts stuff. She now understands the pain of the abandoned child -- "Working for KC is nowhere near as lucrative as being Lily Bass's daughter," she commiserates -- and Carter asks her to please make up with Lily already. "For me," he says; for now it sounds loving.
In return, she asks him to take her place at dim sum lunch with her friends. "Dumplings with Blair and Chuck?" he hisses hilariously, and she adds to it, laughing: "And Nate!" They laugh, but she tells him she needs him to do recon on Nate's girlfriend, whom Blair absolutely hates. "You can find out if she's really that bad," Serena says, and he looks down and away, scared even at the mention of Bree Buckley, before claiming he has more debts to collect. Serena accepts it, and takes off.
They've done a great job of writing his scenes here so bivalently that you really could believe that he's the creep Serena's going to think he is -- that he's using her the same way he used Beth Buckley -- which ropes in some Austen on top of the Thackeray, which is smart. Even smarter: Carter linked himself with Keith van der Woodsen, a long time back, even unto the whole Santorini/wedding plot, which means that if Carter has been reformed, then Carmen Sandiego can also be reformed, but if Carter stays evil then Serena is screwed. It's a very gross, but very understandable thing for her to do in her head. She's done it before.