Outside the Actual Vault of Bart, Chuck gives Eric the combination: "8-7-69: My mother's birthday." (Oh, I assumed it was another short story by Dan, whom let's celebrate can't even manage to title the non-stories he non-writes.) I like this because Chuck's making sure all of this is Eric's deal, Eric's choice, like, you open the box you win the prize, but you would be just as safe and much happier if you didn't open the box in the first place. And this is why I totally get why Chuck and Vanessa like each other, and I honestly hope they stay friends, because where Vanessa is completely against the concept of boundaries, Chuck's all about disclosure. He will fuck with you until the end of time, but if you can get him to understand that something important is occurring, you slip that thing past the forcefield -- like Serena, like Lily, especially like Eric -- and then once it's in the forcefield it's there forever. Which is one of the things he shares with Blair, but I'm talking about him and Vanessa, not romance.
Vanessa's image of herself is just as carefully constructed as Blair's or Chuck's, it's just that it's really stupid and lame and dorky so it seems like it took less work. But for Chuck to respect her enough to tolerate her presence -- and this would never work for V with Blair -- he has to see her acknowledge the fakeness of both him and her, and then be honest, because to get in the forcefield you have to let yours down first. And the really elegant thing here is that none of this could have happened if he hadn't faked her out during the Cruel Intentions thing with the Brooklyn Inn, so she actually thought he was being honest first, which is something she's grotesquely comfortable with, and she followed suit, so now he kind of likes her. And for her part, she's still reeling about the fact that he's human at all, which -- because Vanessa sucks so incredibly -- actually represents growth on her part.
And then there's Nate, which of all the people on the show, they can only share with each other. Chuck and Dan couldn't come together to help Nate, neither Blair nor Jenny could help Vanessa help Nate, and Blair and Chuck obviously couldn't do it anymore unless it was a full-foursome nonjudgmental-Breakfast Club reunion, so it really comes down to just the two of them dealing with Nate and each other now, which -- mainly due to the obvious fact that Vanessa and Chuck as an even slightly romantic possibility is just about the grossest thing ever invented -- seems a lot more wholesome and healthy than any other of the infinite combinations of people with Nate that there are and must always be because without the other characters, no amount of great acting would make him interesting. You could watch a whole show about the Waldorfs, obviously, and I bet Serena has more adventures walking down the street than most of us do in a lifetime, but Nate? Lacrosse, pushups, swimming, playing dressup, drinking moderately, compartmentalizing his Menendez rage toward his godawful parents, and occasional misty brooding. Sounds almost perfect, doesn't it. Well then, let me share something with you: it wouldn't actually be very cool at all. So now you know.