Gossip Girl

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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The Candle & The Mirror

While he's gone to pay the check -- which why would you do that if you're a college student dining with the two richest children in America, plus Vanessa who deserves nothing -- V is like, "Serena! He is AWFUL!" Serena, again, knows this and rolls her eyes like why is it even worth talking about, and points out that Vanessa and Julian have much more in common than obsessing on Nate's high school dick, and Vanessa laughs gorgeously that she, too, is totally annoying. Points for insight, but how is that better? In TV land we call this "hanging a lantern" on the problem, and it's fine, but even better would be if there were not a problem. He comes back and S says she's been thinking about Bette Davis and wants more coaching from him before the show tomorrow. He agrees to meet her and says to text him her address, which as a Constance faculty member should just get him fired right there, because enough already. S shoots V a hilarious sneaky grin, and V's like, "What are you up to?" But no, because in yet another literary -- if hackneyed -- flourish, S wants to play out Cyrano and use Vanessa's powers of annoyingness to get her freak on.

Jenny is reluctant to tell Dan about Rufus finding the letter, and though she stalls valiantly he eventually gets her to admit it. Meanwhile, Rachel is setting up a whole queer dinner with candles and the whole nine, obviously lost in some kind of bullshitty mind game with herself, and when she hears the purloined key turning in the lock, her cheeks get red like a primate, and then Rufus comes in and she turns white as a ghost and is like, "Oh, shit." But she has no idea just how good Rufus is at being simultaneously self-righteous and yet wussy about confrontation or else she would just pick up a glass of wine and stare him down, which is what you should always do with Rufus. He's all, "I believe this is yours!" and hands her the key, and she falls apart just a little bit more.

The only interesting diagetic thing about this story is the acting of Laura Breckenridge (also the only thing that made her character possible to stomach on Related, which you may remember I alone in this world loved, because it coincidentally starred nearly all of my favorite TV actresses). Like, all the parallels with Blair and the way-gross way she crosses lines and the way in this episode that he twists the narrative around her, all of that is fine. But within the show itself, watching Rachel be increasingly and unendingly horrified by herself -- which again, is Blair's hallmark as well -- is really affecting. I like the chemistry between Rachel and Dan, because you can actually for once posit that he has working parts and the desire to use them, but mostly I just admire Breckenridge's acting, because I feel like she's doing the work to show us Rachel's conflicts about all of this, and her gradually dissolving ideals and all that. I think if she'd started out a bit more falsely authoritative it would be nice, like, she's clearly been playing the Serena and in-school scenes as a blowfish puffing up because she's scared, but I think a bit steelier in the beginning would lend her even more weight now. Whatever, I think she's marvelous, and good at playing completely murder-worthy useless characters sympathetically. You almost want to be like, "It's okay, sometimes it happens this way" even though really it doesn't because it can't, ever, and she should be imprisoned, but that doesn't mean she doesn't need a hug.

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Gossip Girl

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