Gossip Girl

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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What New York Used To Be
w, of Eleanor and Blair both looking at Blair in the mirror -- her beautiful face, but more importantly her beautiful body, and more importantly still her beautiful self -- and it's enough. Finally enough.

Nelly Yuki dances around drunkenly and acts like a retarded fucking cartoon, and Nate awesomely catches her at some point with an offhand "Oh hey, drunky!" before she goes whirling off on yet another pointless tracking shot past Isabel hissing at her not to embarrass herself, and immediately thereby launching herself at Dan to weakly stutter and stammer and come very close to admitting she's in love with him, before seeing Serena and getting scared. Dan and Vanessa stare at each other as she runs off, unable to process this weirdest of all possible occurrences, but at least it breaks the ice between them and, you know, socializing with other people at this party.

Blair, having arrived with this last piece of armor, the last weapon, the last tool she needs in her hands, breathes and makes ready to have one more try at Chuck. Jenny steps in front of her, and warns her about the fact that GG knows about Uncle Jack on New Year's Eve, which came up once and never again. Blair goes from dismissive to terrified to steely in about one second, and can't really be expected to see what Jenny's doing, so she reacts in her usual feral way. But it's interesting, because actually what Jenny's doing is asking Blair's advice, as reigning Queen, to help her gauge whether it's worth using. The fact that it's about Blair is not the point, the point is What Blair Waldorf Would Do. Jenny tries to wake her up to the fact that as of today the Mean Girls aren't listening to her anymore, and really haven't been for awhile, in their own incompetent way, which is the last thing B needs to hear right now. She needs all she can get, right now.

So Jenny gets the correct answer, but not in words, because Blair goes off on her, predictably flailing and saying the meanest shit she can think of -- "I'm sorry I wasted my time on you. You don't have what it takes. You never did" -- which essentially makes the point that Blair can go fuck herself, so Jenny does what Blair would do, having been given means, permission and opportunity, and runs straight to Isabel with the gossip. Nasty little Emma Boardman stares at her hatefully, and Jenny looks truly satanic for a sec.

"I want to talk," Blair says, and Chuck tries to put her off with Pose #1, the Libertine: "I prefer to talk after," he says, and they're alone. She pushes him down on the couch and he looks up at her, eyes shining. She asks his opinion of her coat. "I like it." She drops it to the floor. "And now?" (In my dream version of this episode, the Sohodolls would start playing at this point.) He nods. "And what about my headband?" He admires it. "And my stockings?" Oh, he grins, he adores them. The dress? "I worship it." She stands before him, the girl behind the poses and the clothes, strokes his face, leaning over him; he looks so young, breathing her in. "How do you feel about me?" Exactly right. This is exactly how it happens; this is how the film falls off the projector. She's finally there. That's when the phones start ringing.

"What is it now?" Serena screams, and Dan starts yelling, and everybody pulls out their phones: "Serena Van Der Woodsen just couldn't leave well enough alone. Since she had to find out the truth about me, I'm going to tell you the truth about everyone. Every gossip bomb I've got is about to drop. And if you've got a problem with that, take it up with her." And the hits start rolling out, and they don't stop, and everybody screams about it at everybody else: Dan in jail with Charlie Trout and fucking Rachel Carr, Jenny dancing with Agnes and kissing Nate, Blair fucking Jack Bass, Chuck fucking Vanessa.

The idea's more interesting than the execution, because the idea is somewhere between the endings of The Manchurian Candidate and Fight Club, which means that -- like the occasional fever/Dark Phoenix stuff with Serena -- it's never going to be as awesome to watch as it is to think about. The idea is transcendent, literally: exhausting the sum total of all secrets, the unGossiping of Gossip Girl. Complete disclosure. Sudden inevitable honesty, the naked lunch where everybody sees what's on the end of every fork. The only possible sane reaction to the critical mass they've been building for the last four years. The queasy relationship each character has with their mirror double, the distances and uncomfortable proximity of those secrets to their deepest fears, exploding. The complete disintegration of glamour, in both the entertainment and the magical sense. The morning after, the bright sunshine. I mean, that's amazing. The shitty thing about the Red Pill is that you have to hang out with filthy hippies in a cave somewhere, right?

But at that point, all you can do is dance, and that's all Serena has ever tried to tell people, but now she's getting nailed by it too. Because she was the one that brought the war to GG, she has to be accountable for the ways all their fantasies and defenses just died. She assumed responsibility for it the second she took up arms. And the best thing is that she didn't do it out of some high-minded principle, or even on her own (and Eric's) terms, that honesty is the key to everything: she did it out of the pettiest, silliest embarrassment of all. GG told her to walk the walk, and called her bluff. What gave her the power to take down Gossip Girl is exactly what Gossip Girl gave her, and is taking away now. Again: execution F, idea A+ to the infinite power. They create each other, they destroy each other. And because GG has the one thing none of them could ever have, and would never want -- anonymity -- she can do it, and still laugh while everything burns. Midnight's when the masks come off.

Over everybody's escalating ego explosion, Serena yells about how they're playing into GG's hands: "She's trying to create a divide between us! This is exactly what she wants!" Of course that's how it looks to Serena, because her entire life is about keeping everybody stable and together, and making sure everybody gets out alive. Every character sees it in their own way: Blair of course thinks it's the apocalypse, because fantasy is all she has, and Chuck sees it as the ultimate confirmation of his theory that he deserves to be betrayed. Dan and Jenny and Vanessa are all screwed by the fact that it keeps getting on them no matter what they do. Nate... is very pretty, and stands around looking bemused, because he and Eric van der Woodsen are about the only people who could give a fuck. But Serena: of course it looks that way to her, because that's literally her only responsibility. She did it, by trying to save them from their impending future doom. She only wanted to be a princess, never a Queen, because she knew she can hold everybody in her hands at once. And now they're trickling out.

Blair, of course, can't wait to inform her of this: that it was her test, and she failed. Chuck strikes even more brutally: "I don't think it's her that created the divide. I think it was you." Because why did Serena come home? To save Eric, she thought; but also to save Blair, and to save Lily. To keep everybody safe, to fix Nate and Blair, to get everybody back in line. To throw her arms around the world. To bring in Dan, even, and Brooklyn, and to get Lily back in line, and to cheer for Rufus/Lily, and for Blair/Chuck when it was healthier for them. Why was she in Santorini? To heal every divide, no matter how messy it gets everybody. Why was Georgina the scariest thing in the universe? Because she embodies the divide. Why did Blair take out Georgina the first time? To save Eric, she thought; but also to save Serena, because she knew that without Serena's limitless love they would all be destroyed.

Serena's always carried every one of their burdens on her back, drunk or sober, and that's all she's being asked to do now: watch the whole universe she knows expanding out into space, everybody getting further and

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Gossip Girl

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