Serena turns to the bar to be alone with her soon-to-be out of control emotions, and he thinks to comfort her, then pulls his hand back, because this is uncharted territory. Once you make Serena cry you'll remember it forever, because bitch don't crack. "All right. Um... Maybe we should..."
(Time out, because what Dan doesn't know is that he's just written himself a multiple choice question. Think of like Mad Libs, only your life hangs in the balance: Maybe we should ? There are infinite verbs you could plug in there; the majority of them are probably silly or unworkable, which narrows it down. But the actual words that are on the UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES list? They are few. All you have to do is find a word that will make her feel better, and less like a joke whose boyfriend just went after the first subhuman nerd he could find; whose retaliatory date may or may not have opposable thumbs. Just make her feel better. What do you think Dan's going to do? Time in.)
"...Stay away from each other for a while." You can hear it crack, like embers suddenly blazing back to life.
Here's the thing. You want to talk about the potential to threaten social order? There is nothing more powerful than a woman who acknowledges and is willing to use her power without shame. Who doesn't think of it as anything demonic or strange or dangerous; who doesn't think about it at all. Who gets to just live. There's nothing more threatening to social order than a woman like that, which is what Serena naturally is. I'm going to draw a line out of this show into real life now, because I am lucky enough to have enough girls like Serena in my life that I know what I'm talking about. But in another year, in lots of other countries, she'd be dead by now. There are places right now where girls are being cut on, to keep them from learning this secret. Carrie White and Kitty Genovese died to keep this secret. Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony used this secret to make the world better for us, who came after. Societies, nations, countries, economies, to this day they are built on this secret. Marriage was created to keep this secret. Every little girl learns to keep this secret at her mother's knee; it can take a lifetime to find it again. It's a fire.
She was just learning it, the limits and the rules and the beauty of it, when things got bad that night. So she locked it up, tight. She didn't want the fire getting out. She didn't want to be a fever ever again, because she saw what it could do if you weren't careful, and she knew she wasn't interested in being careful yet. Dan wasn't the problem, he was a symptom: she knew she needed to keep the secret, and she used him to do so. His words, his hate, his judgment, his annihilation of everything she was, the way he snuffs the fire: it helped. It brought the fever down. All he had to do was make her feel better. It was always better to feel stupid than to burn, until now; tears will dry on their own, but you can turn them to steam any time you want. Just want it.