What a fun and wild ride! Everybody all working together, some truly hilarious turns from the Charlies, and then some really sweet scenes at the end. It all ends in bloody disaster, but there was just so much of it, and so many schemes actually working out for once, that it felt a million awesome years long.
The story with Bart is that his accident was not an accident: A connected businessman named Mason Nevins was after him (as well as Chuck and Lily), so once Bart woke up in the hospital, he arranged a ruse with his infinite funds to make everybody think he was dead. Then he called up his old friend India/Diana, who has been merrily schlepping him all over the world on her sex-club tour -- but had to bring him into the country when Chuck had his own accident, which is why everybody found out about him.
Fearing that his father will abandon him once again, turning him into even more of a rapist, Chuck asks Andrew Tyler to help find out more about Nevins. Tyler's protestations are a dead giveaway that he's involved, but Chuck's too blinded by hope to realize it. Of course, it is only a matter of time before he's got Blair, Nate, Serena -- even Diana and Lola, even Ivy Dickens -- involved in a plot to bring Mason Nevins to judgement and return Bart to the world of the living.
And oh, such a plan it is. Offering Diana a new UK magazine to play with, he gets blackmail info on Nevins -- he's a client, he's into twins -- and starts to form a plan... Which goes south once Lola (and Nate) take their revenge on Diana by selling her story to the New York Times, pissing her off and leaving Chuck without any leads. Blair arrives, sends Nate off to stall Diana, and decides to use Ivy and Lola as the prostitutes to entrap old Nevins and get him off Bart's back forever.
Problem #1: Although Dan is hyped about the Rome program, despite Blair's lukewarm interest in going with him, they still have to get through an alum interview to prove that Blair is not crazy. (Problem #2. Problem #3 is his motherfucking hair. My God.) But she's so resistant to the idea, and so enjoying this game to save Chuck's father, that she sends Serena to impersonate her. This results in an eye-opening (and far too short) scenario in which, most tellingly, Serena describes herself as the Jennifer Aniston of Dair.
Eventually Eleanor brings out the truth -- that Blair's not been out buying gelato for six hours but is in fact scheming with Chuck -- but even still, Serena is incredibly supportive of her friends and their relationship. (Also complicating things is the fact that at some point Dan told Blair that he loved her, and she didn't say it back, and I don't even remember when because it's such a boring trite thing to happen.)
Ivy and Lola, awesomely, try to do their best as hookers -- but it's Andrew Tyler, not Mason Nevins, that comes to pick them up. And just when you think we're going to have a couple of dead Charlies on our hands, the real kicker occurs: Chuck, along with Blair and Bart, storm the hideout and get Tyler to confess the whole thing, including how he helped set up Bart's "murder" in the first place. With Tyler's statement as proof, then, the cops can go after Nevins and Bart can return to the world. What this means for Lily and Rufus, I know not. I do know that Nate letting Diana off scot-free was a very moving little side-note, because they are awesome at being friends. As are Blair and Serena, who have some of the sweetest conversations they've ever had.
Dan and Blair have a frank talk about feelings in which she agrees authentically to go to Rome for the summer, but still avoids saying those three words... Which is a shame, because Gossip Girl's first act upon returning to her throne is the mother of all nukes: A page from Blair's diary in which she admits she still has feelings for "somebody that clearly isn't Dan" -- and which were given to GG in a moment of pique by one Serena van der Woodsen herself.
Next week: The whole Dan/Serena/Blair thing goes haywire, we revisit/bookend the Shepherd Wedding with new players, Serena possibly kills some more dudes like last time, and Blair comes after her with both barrels. I have some thoughts on the Serena/Blair war, but they can wait until the recap -- I'll just say that yes, pitting your two female leads against each other is a "bitches be fighting" cop-out, sure, but TV shows are about conflict between characters, and that trope is only a problem because it's usually fighting about men. I don't see any of those here. Considering that Serena and Blair are the show's undisputed OTP, and the show's been warning us about this triangle going nuclear since way back when it started, during Juliet... Didn't this need to happen sometime? Don't Jacob and the Man In Black generally fight at this point? I mean, does it really have anything to do with Dan at all?
Dan was invited to Rome, and lied to Blair to punish her for being supportive of his success when he turned it down, the better to spy on her like every other man she dates. Nate once again tried, and once again failed, to blackmail Diana Payne -- this time for being the mysterious traveling sex-club operator known only as India. More successful was his plan with Lola to steal Gossip Girl away from Serena so that she will stop being an insane person, which at least half of that plan worked. Bart Bass turned up alive, rendering Lily's marriage and most of the last three seasons pretty much pointless.
Chuck fully stood there and watched his father die. The entire cast was there, watching the dude die. It took like an hour. Chuck barfed in a hallway. It was unbelievably tragic and powerful.
Ghost Bart showed up and said crazy things like "Do horrible fucked-up shit! Rape not a single person! Sell nobody for a hotel! Domestically abuse a window if you feel like it! You'll be held accountable, for these things I'm telling you not to do that you didn't ever do, but we'll know it's just because of a ghost." And he avoided doing most of those things, just as the ghost had asked. But the internet went quite mad anyway, and suddenly he retroactively did all of them. But I always knew it was because of the ghost. So what now.
Bart: "Okay, here's the deal. I had a bad guy after me, and so when he engineered that car accident I realized that he wasn't kidding around about coming after me -- and you, and Lily -- so I decided to fake my death."
Chuck: "Two problems. Number one, the fuck you say. Number two, we stood there watching you die, so well done on that front. You really fooled us. Question, and this may well be relevant down the line, What did we bury in that coffin?"
Bart: "Mainly hopes and dreams. A good deal of your sanity. And a burnt chicken tikka that bore a surprising resemblance to my ruined ostrich-leather face."
Chuck: "You smelled delicious, father."
Bart: "You always did have a taste for a nice curry. Got that from one of your six moms."
Whilst texting a worried note to Chuck, Blair gets a call on the house line.
Blair: "Humphrey residence, Blair Waldorf speaking!"
Alessandra: "I know you think that's a joke, but you're not actually reconstructed enough yet to make that joke, so it's just kind of weird."