Serena joins Gabriel downstairs at a Palace eatery, with Chuck lurking in the shadows, and tests lightly to see if he's there because A) he thinks he's been made, B) he is gripped by a clichéd fear of babies, or C) he truly absolutely wonderfully adores her. It goes from C to B really fast, and she doesn't wait for A. Her move from the tiny little hope that this is somehow a mistake, to the tiny little hope that he'll just somehow magically flip for It Girl her, to realizing sadly that her plan worked, and he's here because of the pregnancy thing, and still playing her to boot. "I thought we were being careful!" he gasps, and she looks down. "Well, I wasn't careful enough, it seems." She lets him twist for a second, and then looks him in the eye: "[Beat.] I'm not pregnant, just naïve. I can't believe I believed you." Gabriel shits.
"Don't worry," Serena says. "You're safe, for now. I wanted to give you the opportunity to fix things. To prove you're not ... who you probably are." I like this plan, actually. It's like the Serena version of a Blair plan. Blair plans are always, "I'm going to throw this cat in the swimming pool and see what people do, and then decide what to do next while everybody's swimming around screaming trying to get away from the cat." And Serena's like, "This is a picture of a cat. How do you feel about that? Okay, now here's a real cat. Oh, you didn't like that? Forget the cat. Here's a picture of a dog." If he'd been like, "Serena, I accidentally stole everybody's money and gave it to Poppy" right now, she'd be sad but she'd help him fix it. She probably wouldn't even break up with him. She provides as many options as possible for everybody to get out alive, which is by far my favorite characteristic in a person.
He tries to explain how sorry he is, and she sighs. "I don't know what you are right now, except a liar and a thief. But you can change one of those by giving the money back." He feels awful, and she insists with her eyes, but he admits he can't do that. She gives Chuck the lightest, quietest nod, and he approaches. "Gabriel, why? If you were just using me, why come back? Why act like you care about me now?" Gabriel doesn't have an answer, but Chuck doesn't need one: "You're not leaving my hotel until you repay your investors. It's your choice. Either you hand over the money or we hand you over to the Feds." He whispers, with fraidycat eyes, that he can't; he would if he could, but Poppy made off with the money.
(Which twist makes me sad only because there's a good thing about Poppy -- Serena not hiding her light under a bushel -- that, even though it only ever caused trouble on this show, is now sort of invalid. Which means that Poppy was really just a lightweight Agnes, pushing Serena to do all sorts of Evil Shit like think for herself and stand up to Blair and Dan. The fire inside Poppy Lifton is a lie, which means that Serena still has not had one single person in the entire world legitimately tell her how wonderful she is. And when people do, it's always men, and when she believes them, they turn out to be lying or otherwise pieces of shit. Georgie was just trying to make her as crazy as she was, and Poppy was doing whatever the hell the script required. And by the same token, the good things about Georgina -- her capacity for change, her desire for redemption -- end up shit on as well, and every time Serena asserts herself she ends up burning everybody, and even Jenny couldn't manage to stand up to Rufus without becoming homeless in the process and eventually running back to him, and Lily's reversing her stances all over the place... So Serena's still an idiot, and any girl who opens her mouth eventually gets it shut again. It's nowhere near as ugly as the Rachel Carr stuff got, and even that turned out okay in the end, but at this point I think only Blair can pull off eventually being a human being. Somebody's got to have a voice and not go crazy in the process, but putting money on Blair Waldorf to do anything without going crazy in the process is ... really long odds.)
Dan comes running to Lily coming out of Petrossian and after a feint at not tattling, tattles. "Serena asked me not to say anything," he says, and Lily laughs. "Oh, that's my least favorite sentence. Start talking." He immediately spills about Gabriel and the con, and explains that Serena "thinks she can somehow sweet-talk him into giving everything back," but he thinks that trusting Blair and Chuck to get this done -- despite the fact that they're the only people who ever get anything done -- is a misstep. She tells him she'll take care of it, and he rudely thanks her: "I was kind of hoping you'd say that... I just want you to do what you ... people do." She hugs him despite himself, and promises to get Rufus's money back.
Serena ignores the subsequent call from Lily while Gabriel explains that Poppy is, in Chuck's parlance, a "fauxcialite": all the perks and connections, none of the class. They met at a Mercedes launch party ("the fauxcialite ball," Chuck snarks) and spent a while trying to con each other before realizing neither of them had any real wealth, at which point they joined forces to convince the UES to invest in the wifi scheme. "I had to give my investors something, so I brought on new investors to pay off the old investors and then those investors..." he says, and Chuck snarls that everybody knows that's the definition of a Ponzi scheme.
"Serena, I swear to you, in the beginning you were just a mark." Lily Bass -- or, as he says it, "Bart Bass's widow," which earns him another growl from Chuck -- was going to be the last big score. But then of course the magical connection and whatever. S is done, and asks him to cut to the chase. Long story short, Poppy got nervous that Serena was onto them ("Smart girl," Chuck notes) and offered to buy him out, but emptied the coffers and disappeared instead. "I should've just left town... But I couldn't go without seeing you again." Serena tries not to be gotten by this, while Chuck tries not to barf, and pouts intensely at Gabriel instead.
Down in the courtyard, Nate is bored. Blair begs him not to leave her with Georgina, and he asks her to come get coffee with him, and Georgina begs her to stay and talk -- "Blair, everyone else has forgiven me, I'm just waiting on you" -- and Blair notes that A) "everyone" who, exactly, besides all of them who have done no such thing and the guy she killed, is she talking about, and B) "some things" are unforgivable. I like to think that she's speaking here of blowing Dan Humphrey, which is truly unforgiveable. "God will help me find a way to earn your forgiveness," G gushes, and before B can swat that one down, Chuck exits the building, answering B's prayers. He tells them the real puppeteer is Poppy, "believe it or not," and just as Nate is choosing "not," Serena and Gabriel awkwardly come near. There is love talk, and Serena tells him to leave, because now it's just gross.
Chuck starts stressing about Gabriel leaving, but Serena is assured that she can get him back through a judicious yank on his heartstrings, and she's right. Nate, wonderfully, plays the role of Dumb Guy Who Needs The Plot Explained, so Serena obliges, telling him that Poppy has to stay put if she's going to play the victim and be just another one of Gabriel's lovelorn victims before going off to scam somebody else. I'm so sure Nate understood more than half of that anyway.
"She wants money," Chuck nods. "All we need to provide is some sap she thinks she can get it from." Blair points out that Poppy knows all of them, but Serena's staring at Georgina with an unhealthy gleam, because she doesn't know all of them: Georgie's been out of commission for a year at this point. And now she's in the spotlight, cornered, and slowly all of them take it up, staring at her like a pack of dang jackals. G protests loudly -- "Lying is also a sin, I will not perjure myself in front of the Lord!" -- and B gives her the bestest, brightest smile: "We'll see about that!" Gossip Girl almost giggles: "Looks like Georgina's losing her religion... Or has B met her match in the battle for G's soul?" Dude, we've seen Blair beat God before. No contest.
Lily's with Bass lawyer Bruce as the elevator dings for the seventh time and Serena comes home. Lily yawns and lightly apologizes that today's task -- paying all these investors back out of their pockets -- lies so far outwith his usual duties. "Bass business usually does," he says, which is awesome. Serena's kind of had it and just asks Lily straight up why she keeps calling and bothering her. Lily takes off her glasses, and things go from bad to worse. She takes Serena to the side and to task for not coming to Lily immediately. Serena can't think of a way to explain how she almost did, but