A big old hustle to track down Gossip Girl in the flesh results in a few fun twists, but ultimately this show-changing finale is as relaxing and pointless as a week after high school graduation, when you realize nothing substantial actually happened... And that you're pretty much okay with that. If the problem with last year's denouement was compression from the strike, this season's last stretch has been wobbly from inflation, with an extra three-ep pod that muddied the waters and handed us a Sunset flashback that could have been its own episode, or at least happened before Georgina showed up. It closes loops and sets up the next season admirably, but makes some pretty blasé gamechanger decisions without a lot of reasoning behind them, just like last week.
So the A plot is that GG sends out a blast during the graduation ceremony that labels our kids variously "Coward" (Chuck), "Weakling" (Blair), "Class Whore" (Nate, duh), "Ultimate Insider" (Dan) and "Irrelevant" (Serena). The first two are the same secret essentially, and the Nate one is defused hilariously in about five seconds. But those last two are important, because the Dan one is actually about what a total hypocrite drama queen and user of influence he is, and the Serena one because it mobilizes her to declare war on Gossip Girl.
But what happens when you throw a war and nobody shows up for it? A big load of nothing, Miss Irrelevant. At first, the crew thinks GG is Eric's boyfriend Jonathan, but it turns out he's some kind of hacker and randomly gets her texts right now or some crap. But at Nate's grad party that night, GG proves sufficiently piqued that she drops about every bomb about everybody: Nate's prostitution, Dan and Charlie Trout's jail cell love connection, Jenny's t.A.T.u. time with Agnes, that hot/squicky backstage hookup with Rachel Carr, and everything else besides.
The way GG is used in this episode is sort of clunky, but really ambitious. First she's like this embodiment of paranoia that drives everybody against each other. Then she's like this mischievous guardian spirit that will always be there for them. And somewhere in the middle, she's the last five seconds of Fight Club, or The Manchurian Candidate, where they spend the whole episode popping back and forth across this binary opposition about how much truth could actually kill a person, or if this is all high school shit they can possibly transcend, so that when she explodes all the gossip at once it's like totally scary, and really comforting at the same time. No more secrets? The show's over. You know? Season Two is dead, long live Season Three. New secrets.
So the last of these -- Blair fucking Uncle Jack Bass at New Year's -- is info juicy enough to get Jenny the Queen's crown for next year so she can "abolish the monarchy," as she says in her uniquely Humphrey adorable-yet-futile fashion. But having this info on blast before she can use it is not at all as sad as the effect it has on Blair and Chuck's nineteenth nervous breakdown: after about the hottest foreplay ever on this show, she says it, he doesn't, so she goes predictably apeshit on Serena.
At this time, Nelly Yuki is drunkenly declaring her love for Dan Humphrey (awesome), while Rufus and Lily are smoking "something she found in Chuck's room" (awesomer). I don't mean to blow your mind, but Rufus acts exactly the same high as he does sober, while Lily gets even greater. So on a nostalgia high, Rufus proposes marriage and she accepts, but the crows are already circling: PILOT INSPEKTOR -- or "Scott," and not as hot in real life as in pictures -- has transferred to NYU to stalk Dan from closer in, while the apparently missing Keith van der Woodsen has been located.
Deserted, Serena and Nate wander the streets like the wild vague beasts that they are, sipping martinis and attempting to have thoughts. Eventually they text GG that they know who she is -- even though they demonstrably do not -- and GG gets all meta on their asses, summoning the entire cast (including Eric and Plastics) to demonstrate some high-flying metaphor about how We Are All Gossip Girl As A Culture that sails over their heads, but also assure them that she's following them to their various colleges and will be voicing over them forever. Way to reboot!
So in a heartbroken state of delirium, Blair passes on her (literal!) crown to Jenny, pointing out that as a future van der Bassphrey Jenny's about to be richer than the rest of the bitches put together. Jenny and Rufus finally move in to PRADA MARFA, delighting Eric with their sole possession: a waffle iron. Please, please let Eric and Jenny become the new Blair and Serena of Constance-St. Jude's. Oh, and Nate finally joins Vanessa on that goddamn trip around the world just to shut her up. Do we know where Vanessa's going to college? Do we care? And when is her batshit sister showing up?
(Think about it: If she's at NYU that is the most fucked up scenario. Dan, Georgie, Blair, Pilot Inspektor and Vanessa is like the worst trip ever. They'll eat each other alive. Awesome. And since we were cheated out of seeing Dorota at graduation, they have to take her to NYU too, right? Next season is my favorite show ever!)
Serena runs off to Fiji with Carter to find Keith, while Blair stays close to home, unaware that Georgina Sparks -- who got all the money back, and is probably keeping Poppy Lifton in a pit somewhere -- is going to be her roommate! And even better: on a random morning a week after graduation, Chuck surprises Blair outside her building bearing her favorite gifts from around the world and tells her he loves her, again and again and again and again. XOXO.
Gossip Girl shows this flipbook of old people from like the '80s who maybe went to Constance/St. Jude's, including JFK, Jr., and talks about how "like everything on the Upper East Side, high school graduation is done a little differently," like for example maybe you're on the cover of the New York Post with a misspelled headline ("DIAMONDS ARENT A GIRLS WORST FRIEND" or some shit) because your mom had you arrested so there wouldn't be a scandal, or something. Also, Eric saw the news of Serena's arrest -- first scooped by Gossip Girl, of course -- as far afield as the pages of Pravda. Because Eric van der Woodsen reads the society pages in a Russian newspaper, of course, and of course they would care about that stupid storyline. As you can see, by the Rouge Tomate-goers staring at Serena's face, then the front page, then her face, then the front page, face, page, face, page, do you get it, and they're gaping horribly.
Blair's awesomely into it, though, like, of course Serena has discovered an entirely new kind of fame based on being arrested. Blair's wrong, though. The Perfectly Serena part of this is that when her crimes finally hit the newsstands it was for something retarded like Aggravated Not Stealing A Bracelet rather than Second Degree Sex Tape Threesome Lack Of Murder. That's the Serena part: that only for her dumbest-ass crimes would she be famous, to the point where nobody can really even figure out why she was in jail.
I hate this episode in a myriad of ways, but one of the bestest is how it finally made the jump to a place at least adjacent to the "heightened reality" we've been promised for the last two years, where S is constantly inspiring perfumes and couture lines and like the purchase of toucans... But the script is so uniformly bad that you think maybe the bright but rural nine-year-old girl who wrote it doesn't actually understand that it's unrealistic; there's a very Danielle Steele aspect to the glamour this week. Oh, I get it actually, because this is the problem I have with this particular writer every time: the Entourage offense to causality, wherein most things that happen make no sense and only exist to set up either A) a joke that's not even that funny, B) an Awesome Situation that's not that awesome, or C) next season. It's the laziest possible way to write, and that's offensive. Also, so is Nelly Yuki's shitty acting.
Blair points out that GG has always "plagued" Serena more than anybody, starting in ninth grade, when the whole thing started, and points out that since GG doesn't do college, this is Serena's last day under that French-tipped thumb. Serena tells B to get her mind off the whole mugshot thing, and Blair starts asking about how exactly Chuck talked about his great love for her. Her eyes are bright. "B, I don't know why you're acting like this is new information. You know how Chuck feels about you!" Blair explains that he has yet to tell her officially, and thus she can't trust him not to pull some kind of fast one on her. Then Blair decides it's time to go, so they go out of the restaurant and Blair poses for the paparazzi adorably before jumping into the car.
At the graduation ceremony for a school which she does not attend, Vanessa obsessively film-documents William Granderbilt, who discusses nothing with Nate for awhile before doing everything he can to ignore Vanessa's morbidly deranged grin as he goes past. "It's like getting a smile from the President," she tells Nate, who laughs nervously because he's never quite sure, and has no way of knowing that this time, that statement actually doesn't mean anything whatsoever. It's like what now? And this was indicated onscreen in what way? So their mouths open and close and sounds come out for awhile, and he tells Vanessa that they broke up -- "turns out we just had to go through something to be sure" is the fucking effortlessly beautiful prose that he lays down at this time, an awkwardly written sentence made even more difficult by the uncertain way Crawford approaches the line -- and then he apologizes to Vanessa for getting irritated that time she tried to ruin his relationship with his recently estranged family and shame him out of creating any semblance of a future for himself.
Vanessa thanks Nate for shaming her into taking the SATs, for they have made a difference in her path and she will now be attending NYU. If you don't remember, Vanessa was too good for college until Nate told her to take the SATs, so she put down her videocamera just long enough to apparently get a good enough score that they were willing to overlook how she: doesn't attend and will never graduate high school, has no visible means of support beyond an endangered job selling coffee at a Williamsburg art gallery where nobody ever goes, dresses like a crunk dancer without the clown makeup, and effectively seems to live without a permanent residence of any kind. If I were the admissions dean for NYU, she would have to get at least two million SATs, and I would also make her sign a thing about not cat burglaring the other students in the dorm, or stealing their valuables.
So she's like, "That's cool how one time you made me forget to suck just long enough to take the SATs and so now I guess I'll just take this education they're handing me," and then gets this pathetic face and she's like, "Of course, it's the summer so before NYU, I have to go backpacking all alone through Europe" and staring at his face, I guess hoping he'll still bankroll that shit now that Blair dumped him. And of course Nate has no idea what she's talking about, or what a Europe is, so he just invites her to a party after the ceremony, which causes Dan to appear like rubbing a lamp going, "Party? What party?" with these desperate beaver teeth.
Dude, if you have to ask, first of all, and also, that's dumb because Dan doesn't like parties, doesn't like these particular people, and is in fact going to have a conversation about that very thing with his guitar-strumming douchenozzle of a father in about ten minutes. What, did he think Nate was going to have a graduation party with... people from another school? Poor people? I just can't... It keeps echoing in my head. Party? What party? Nate's like fine, you're invited. He caresses Dan's arm briefly, and peaces. Then V randomly goes, "Today's the first day of the rest of your life!" and they read the program and something there, also stupid, makes them laugh.
Jenny, looking good but particularly insane, is once again giving Eric some speech about how since the seniors are graduating, the "dictatorship" is going to be over and that next year there will be "peace in the kingdom." Penelope of course appears and asks if she's interested in running for Queen next year. Jenny assures them that with Blair gone the monarchy will come to an end, and they scoff because she hasn't been this dumb in a long time. "What would high school be without hierarchy?" Nelly Yuki asks, and Jenny doesn't even blink: "Bearable? A nice place to spend time?"
The Plastics aren't feeling up to having this basic conversation with Jenny for the millionth pointless time, but then Blair appears and issues some lame coordinated-headbands proclamation, and yells at Penelope about her scarf, and tells them she chooses the next Queen, not them. She shoves past everybody, and Eric hilariously bows as she goes by, and then because the halls of Constance are a curious random nexus of all times and places, Nelly Yuki mentions this girl that just transferred in, Emma, who then appears. You may remember gross little Emma from when Blair had to babysit her that time and talk her out of losing her virginity. I didn't recognize her at first, beyond a vague sense that her Oh God face and whiskey voice were excruciatingly familiar.
Nelly Yuki and Isabel explain that the "coronation" will be happening at midnight at Nate's party, and the prize will go to whoever produces the "biggest