HA! So awesome! So Blair, Nate and Chuck unite to follow Serena's plan: track down Gabriel and get the stolen money back without anybody -- especially Lily -- finding out it's gone. Of course, Dan goes running straight to Lily and tells her what's going on. She shifts into Ice WASP mode and tells Serena not to do anything: she's going to repay the money out of the Bass coffers, including setting up a handy $5000/month dividend for Rufus so he won't have to worry about Yale. Thereby proving Eric -- who shows up for about two seconds to warn Rufus that his mother is scary -- completely right, and completely throwing Rufus's big proposal plan into disarray.
Serena learns that Poppy's the real culprit, Gabriel's a sadsack bystander who's fallen for the Serena spell, and she and Lily majorly lock horns about going after Poppy. Lily is very insistent on not letting "adult scandals" reach their boiling point, and in so doing manages to turn into something worse even than Bart (which, it turns out, is CeCe Rhodes). She sends Serena to jail rather than letting her carry out her plan of blackmailing Poppy into giving the money back, which is just the tip of the mountain of problems this Gabriel/Poppy situation presents her relationship. And not even Jenny can explain Twilight.
How will they do this? By sending in a gloriously dizzy Georgina Sparks, who's all WWJD'd up. She balks at first, but Blair pulls some religious rhetoric worthy of the great heretics in order to get her to play along: basically that the Old Testament God is a jealous God and wants Poppy destroyed. Usually if I say that in a recap, you know it is my interpretation of events. Rarely does God actually enter the conversation. Not so this time! Blair arms Georgina with some spiritual ire and aims her at Poppy. Everything's going swimmingly until Lily has Serena arrested, in order to get her out of the situation, and Poppy escapes in the confusion with all the money, including Georgina's Jesus Camp Bible Fund.
Meanwhile, Nate awesomely tells Chuck to man up and go after Blair if that's what he wants, or stop dicking them both around. A few minutes later, Blair tells him the same thing, and then in one of the more tearjerking scenes I can think of on this show, he lies once again that it's just a game. Needless to say, Blair is devastated but quickly rebounds, while Serena clomps up and literally goes, "Chuck why did you do that." He is totally in love with her, but also a major mess, and he's afraid of hurting her, or at least not earning her. Blair tells Nate that she's no longer invested in Chuck, and they agree not to move in together, but will be attending Prom together.
End results, to a really inspired Gotye ("Heart's A Mess," every bit as evocative and iconic in its use as "URA Fever," "Kids," or even "One Week Of Danger") accompaniment: Rufus and Lily are maybe broken up but definitely not moving forward in any way, Blair and Nate are taking it slow, Chuck is truly tragic but officially declared both the only person who can do anything ever and Serena's brother, Jenny and Eric are still nonexistent, and Serena's in jail with her whole family of friends rallying to her aid with all the political, financial and scheming clout they can muster, and Georgina -- that didn't take long -- might well murder Poppy Lifton for her kidneys to get that Bible money back. Great, great episode.
Next week: Serena's jailtime and mentions of CeCe send Lily spinning right round baby to the '80s, where she remembers how awesome she used to be. Presumably the following will also take place: Georgina kills everybody's enemies and then comes after our guys, but is most likely vanquished by Dan, who thereby redeems himself in some way; Rufus reconsiders the upside of whoredom and Eric says something wise; Blair starts overclocking her Prom Queen campaign; and Serena gets into a knife fight in the big house and we see her stab a motherfucker to death, but later it still somehow turns out to be a coincidence.
Chuck's taxi meter is at $267 by the time they cross the bridge. "Four wise men once said, 'I get by with a little help from my friends.' But on the Upper East Side, there's the added challenge of figuring out who those friends really are..." GG's referring, of course, to Georgina, but there's a bit of business -- Chuck asking the driver for a glass for his flask whiskey and being turned down, as though Chuck would honestly be that naïve; still, his disappointed sigh is fairly hilarious -- before we see her. He chats with S and gets the newest info, which is that Gabriel skipped town -- or so we think -- with Poppy's money -- or so we think. Chuck's not surprised ("Well, his suits never did fit right"); Serena apologizes for not believing them last night. She starts to ask how it was that he confirmed the BUTTERY LIES, but whatever, he hangs up.
The song in this scene is "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh" by the artists formerly known as Say Hi To Your Mom; it's a little too lite for this show, but they just loop the beginning measures and one line of the lyrics anyway so it's all about the riff. But dig on this, because the second verse is about a girl buying a 7" of "Randy Described Eternity," the first track on Perfect From Now On, Built To Spill's third album, which:
Where are you going to be? Where will you spend eternity?
I'm going to be perfect from now on, I'm going to be perfect starting now...
I will say I forgot it but it was only yesterday/ And it's all you had to say
So we're listening to a so-so song about a so-so song about Georgina. Anyway, she turns down Chuck's offer of a drink ("The Lord cannot enter a body sullied by alcohol"), and Chuck smarms in that incomprehensibly filthy way he loves so much ("Good, because I like to be the one doing the entering"), which correct me if I'm wrong but I think means that he plans on sodomizing Our Lord. I mean, leave it to Chuck Bass, but that's still sort of iffy. "To each their own holy water," he says, hopefully changing the subject back to his morning scotch, but definitely grossing Georgina out more than a little either way. "I got something I think I really want to do right now..." the song says over and over, and then ends on the DING of Serena getting off an elevator. Which she spends the first half of the episode doing, at every opportunity.
Serena's clomping fast through the apartment, while Lily talks about some random function requiring a harp, two cases of champagne, and no cello whatsoever. I don't know if we know what this party's even about, but I love how that's the scene business to show Lily van der Bass is a very busy lady. You could just have her saying any old thing: "Remember, we need six live swans to descend from the ceiling precisely at midnight, and those little quiche tartlets Marc Jacobs likes. Don't fuck me on this, Rudolfo. Oh, and some balloons." Lily totally interrupts Serena's harried attempt to explain her current predicament so she can fawn over Gabriel, his scary teeth, and the incredibly retarded business venture to which she and all her friends have apparently given hundreds of thousands of benjies in the last three hours without even calling a lawyer.
Serena tries to come clean, but then Lily interrupts again to give her some diamond bracelet or watch or something that was her great-grandmother's, which she pulled from the safety deposit box this morning, apparently when she was over at the bank giving some random guy a bunch of money without checking up on him. Serena demurs, but Lily's feeling expansive and wants to reward Serena for... Coming back from Spain bearing opportunities for her to squander the Bass billions, I guess.
"I was going to wait until you were 21, but I've been so proud of you lately, with Brown, and graduation coming..." Serena tries to explain that she has fucked up royally, but Lily shushes her and straps the thing on her wrist, all about how Serena is becoming a wonderful woman, and now everybody will know because of this thing on her wrist. She's like, "Now that I've guilted you so bad you're trying to invent a time machine to go back and fix previous fuckups, what was on your obviously guilty conscience?"
Serena's just like, "Well, this is too extravagant, but whatever. I officially cannot tell you what's really going on, because your style of parenting is as subtle as a brickbat, and the fact that you've let up on constantly screaming BAD SERENA and THE OLD SERENA IS BACK every time I open my goddamn mouth -- at least for the ten seconds I've been standing here not getting a word in edgewise -- is about as sparkly as this bracelet, so... um, nothing. See you at brunch."
Which I love, because again you have this parallel between Old Serena and Old Georgina happening, where accusing Serena of being Bad Serena six times turns her into her, and Blair's going to be lightly flicking the foundations of Georgina's whole Perfect From Now On thing throughout the episode before just giving in and pushing the damn thing over. But then, she only does that because of the similar parallel with Real Chuck and Burlesque Chuck going wrong: If Chuck can't change, for her, then obviously nobody can change, so obviously she's meant to be with Nate and Georgina is meant to be from hell.
So really it's a continuation of the whole redemption arc from the last few episodes, where senior year is making everybody freak out about whether or not it's possible to be human, much less an adult, and after that it's just a domino effect, because Serena's having the same crisis here, not only for herself -- which she knows for a fact is now awesome, which is why she has to fix it herself -- but with Gabriel too, whom she spends the first half of the episode sort of stupidly hoping he can screw her over and simultaneously still be in love with her, because what really fucked Serena up is CeCe-via-Lily teaching her that you have the be the bestest friend to everybody in the world, because when you're tall and blonde and gorgeous and rich, people just want to fuck you up.
Which is true, and true not just for tall blonde rich girls, but doesn't mean you shouldn't watch your own ass and vote for yourself, which Serena's still not quite figured out. She still has the terrible twinned girl afflictions of Being Honest Is Being Mean, connected up to the Wanting Things Is Being Selfish thing, which are lies mothers whisper to their daughters as they lay them down to sleep, and which mean getting cornered a lot by brigands and Humphries and the like. Aaron Rose was all about not wanting to be the bad guy, for example.
If you were making a list of the psychoses of American teenage girls in 2009 you'd automatically go to Blair's million because she's shiny, but the really scary ones are the ones Serena quietly still has, because they're the normal ones nobody teaches us to get rid of: don't be unliked, don't be proud, don't be smart, don't talk too loud, don't ever say no. (Nate has the same set, for the same reasons, which is why they act out in the same ways: like wounded animals. Who occasionally bone in public.) And the most fucked up thing about all of this is that Lily's children have the most well-constructed morality of anybody on this entire show, because they actually sat themselves down in the middle of going crazy and thought their way there, which is how it happens.
So Serena calls Blair, because now she's got to come up with a whole new plan to fix the whole new mess, because Lily went from being somebody she could trust back to somebody who holds the keys to Serena's ability to think objectively about herself. This of course means that Blair can launch herself like a bullet from a gun back out of the Murray Hill apartment, where she's been standing for so short a time considering Nate's offer that she hasn't even taken off her coat. Nate offers protests as she goes screaming to Serena's aid, and they stare dewily at each other, and she begs him to leave it, and then he asserts himself