It is like 1983, and Lily Rhodes (Brittany Snow) has just been kicked out of her private academy in Santa Barbara. She heads to LA, to inform her father that she'll be moving in with him. Because Rick Rhodes has no interest in parenting, he calls ex-wife CeCe to come ambush her and take her home.
(He's played by the ageless Andrew McCarthy, precisely as one might imagine him performing the role of a 1983 record exec with no interest in parenting; CeCe's played by Lost's Cynthia "Libby" Watros, at a precisely icy midpoint between our CeCe and Lily in mannerism, but way scarier than both.)
Instead of driving back home, Lily decides it's time to go crazy, and heads into the city to find her beloved older sister Carol -- the excellent Krysten Ritter, from Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars and Breaking Bad -- who founded the We Hate CeCe Club a year previous and ran off to LA to be a tragedy.
Much like 2009 UES, 1983 LA is home to a disproportionately high number of homosexuals with really bizarre faces; Lily meets and falls in love with one of these immediately, and then tries on a variety of colorful items of wear apparel.
They go to a club out of a James Minion movie for like two seconds to pick up toolishly awesome friend/pet Shep (a blowdried Ryan "Dick Casablancas" Hansen, who never disappoints), and head over to one of those Steff & Blaine parties out of a Bret Ellis novel -- that whole popped-collar coke mirror bisexual Nagel print vibe -- and that's where Lily meets Keith van der Woodsen (!) and his rampantly disgusting girlfriend.
Everything goes all Ryan Atwood Fisticuffs -- Carol's money is tied up in a music video Keith's producing, and she therefore cannot invest in fannypacks -- and Lily ends up in jail. Instead of watching her sister crawl back to CeCe, Carol offers to let Lily move in, and a period piece spinoff is born.
And it's awesome, because even though nothing really happens at any point, it's all so informed by what we know about Lily, her future, her unwritten history with men, and CeCe's stuff that it carries a lot of import. Watching a girl on a show talking about "I need to figure out what I want, what I need" might be sorta lame, unless you know she ends up Lily van der Woodsen, which just makes it incredibly sad.
That whole time travel connective tissue deal won't help for a series, of course, but the rest will: clever dialogue, Lily's curious mix of forthrightness and reticence, the "school's out for summer" thing with both daughters taking a permanent vacation and acting all Nick & Norah about their family connections, the fascinating clothes, and a compelling story, of which we know actually very little.
Meanwhile, Rufus informs Lily that she's too emotionally immature to be worthy of dating him -- "him" in this sentence meaning "Rufus," I just want to be clear -- and Serena boneheadedly decides to stay in jail to somehow prove what a grownup she is, but those are the only two not-awesome things that happen. Serena and Lily have a really horrific conversation in which Serena says terrible things to Lily, and then CeCe shows up and has a series of really horrific conversations in which Lily says terrible things to CeCe, and just when you're wondering if the show's consciously rebelling against Mother's Day, everything figures itself out and the Rhodes women reconcile.
Dan -- in apology for fucking everything up so bad last week -- gets CeCe to bail Serena out and takes her to Prom, where they dance most amazingly.
Blair's plans for the perfect Prom date have been going awry all week, and it's stressing Nate's poor little brain out. He finally figures out that Chuck is behind it all, but not why: it's not that he was sabotaging Blair's perfect night, he was ensuring it, for both her and Nate, including making them Prom Queen and King.
Unrelatedly, Blair realizes over the course of a single dance that her entire relationship with Nate is retarded, and dumps him. He of course sweetly acquiesces, for now; Blair ends up on Serena's arm outside the Prom, reminiscing about their high school lives together and being generally adorable.
Next week: Season Finale, with Carter Baizen and Georgina Sparks. Serena goes after Gossip Girl. That's all I know. XOXO.
If this whole Lily idea doesn't pan out, we've got suggestions for other spinoffs we'd like to see.
It's 1983, Malibu, all scratchy and faded so you know it's a flashback: Lily's driving in her 911 down the highway, toward something. She calls Rhodes Records, her dad's company, and the secretary doesn't even recognize her name. Lily's sad about that, but not on a level you'd really notice, and clarifies that she's Rick's daughter. In twenty-five years she'll still be trying to get him on the phone, and thinking it's her mother that keeps him at a distance. She's wearing a pink and green argyle sweater and a tweed jacket, riding boots. He's horrified to hear that she's in LA, and not at school in Santa Barbara; he's headed to London. She's Lily: she doesn't allow him to speak again: "Geoffrey's? Your regular table? Great, okay, see you then, love you." She hangs up. She's been expelled. Back to the car.
Lily's driver knocks on her door: they're at the jail. Inside, Blair's pacing madly ("Serena's been in jail for over four hours! She's already served more time than Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan combined!") as Chuck stretches out easily on a bench, noting that it's an easy fix. "She's a socialite mistakenly accused of stealing a bracelet. I doubt they're working her over with the phone book." Blair continues to flip out, while Nate's horrified -- after everything his parents have done -- that Lily got S nabbed. Chuck offers that only someone who'd never been arrested would do something like that. And in case you're wondering, yes, there's a second level to that statement, because yes, Lily was once arrested. Wasn't that interesting, wasn't that hardcore, but we'll be seeing it shortly. If you took out everything that didn't need saying in this episode, much less repeated over and over and over, it would be ten minutes long. Blair stares Lily down when she arrives, awesomely, and Lily gets a headache. "So was Lily blown away?"
That's Vanessa, over at DUMBO. Not really, Dan and Jenny explain, since Rufus never actually proposed, and then disappeared into his room. Rufus comes out and they start talking about how they're going to stay in and watch scary movies instead of Dan going to Prom. Rufus isn't fooled -- not by the lame plan, which is totally believable -- and tells them that, as members of the Gossip Girl generation, of course they'd be totally fascinated by the unending struggle of Lily and Rufus to find enough bullshit reasons to stay together and enough bullshit reasons to be apart to actually achieve optimal Blair/Chuckness in their relationship.