Serena's offer to help Dan find a permanent place of residence (has he really lived somewhere new in every single episode this year?) turns into a tour of tight, enclosed spaces and aphrodisiac claustrophobia as the paparazzi, still wild about that sex tape, chases them from location to location. Finally ending up back in that faulty PRADA elevator after a "heated" (for them) argument, Ol' Cheekbones and the Hoss finally end up back in bed together where they belong. Weirdly, I teared up a little. Even more weirdly, Dan's hair was totally acceptable this week.
Eleanor's arrival, and the VF appearance of the "Blair" chapter, prompts a bizarre ultimatum: Blair must give up her "deviant" side in order to retain control of Waldorf Designs, or risk the nothing that is at risk in this storyline each week. Some failed attempts at playing nice with Nelly "I Am Obviously Gossip Girl" Yuki and one bitch-out by Lonelyboy later, Blair realizes that she cannot wish away her inner grossness any more than one could expect Chuck to stop raping everybody. But will this get her down? No! In a last-minute and extremely bizarre twist, Blair sells her mother on a weird child-soldier/S&M diffusion line twist targeting the Constance Billard youth of today. (Which, presumably, means more Sage to come.)
Everybody else -- DUMBO, PRADA and the Empire Boys -- ends up in a an art-world brouhaha when Nate (dubiously) figures out that Bart's hidden his Sudanese documentation in that Richard Phillips Rainbow Lady painting "Spectrum" that's always figured so strongly in the Lily Bass visual. Nate could, of course, just go break into PRADA and take it, like people are constantly doing on this show...
...Except that Rufus and Lily have managed to get themselves into an art-auction standoff, which Ivy quickly elevates to open warfare with her infinite funds. In order to look like the best philanthropist of all, Lily donates "Spectrum" for auction before Bart can warn her about his evil documents. A quick paddle-fight later, Rufus has bid $1.1M of Ivy's Rhodes Woman money on the thing and Ivy's managed to get Chuck to pay twice that to get it back... Missing, as it turns out, the Sudanese documents. (Good twist!)
Unsure why she'd turn on Chuck at this point, since they have the exact same goal, but the more cagily Ivy speaks to that mysterious person the more I'm starting to wonder if it's really* Lola at all... And if not, could Ivy have more than Lily in her destructive sights? I'm starting to hope so, because the tragic-ass sight of Rufus and Ivy somehow thinking their gross new-money love affair with meth gives them the upper hand over Lily made me want to barf for about a year.
*(I have no guesses. Carter Baizen, but only because that's always what I will guess. Juliet, because I love Juliet. Other people Lily put in prison and forgot? Chef Guy?)
All in all, probably the most stylistically and musically vibrant episode of the season so far, with breezy performances from Eleanor and Blair and a particularly vulnerable showing by Serena. While the script leaves a lot of the heavy lifting -- why, for example, would any of them ever fucking talk to Dan again in the first place? -- to the talent, they make the best of it, and it's always nice to see even Blair and Serena having fun with their lines. And of course, like I said, I was fairly moved by the Dan/Serena reunion, which is possibly the weirdest reaction I've ever had to this show. So they're doing something right.
Next Week: With Blair installed as the power behind Sage's schoolyard throne and presumably doing well in business, it's only natural that unforeseen forces would cause Chuck to break up with her forever, for the eighty millionth time. Looks like Bart finally pulls Nate's profit-defrauding strings to pit him against his bestie, while Ivy gets nastier and Serena and Dan decide to go public. But with the entire cast scattered more to the winds than ever, who's really going to be left to tell?
Steven dumped Serena for making a sex tape with ill intent, so she immediately glommed onto Dan Humphrey, the better to prove she is not merely a drowning socialite looking for her next lifeboat. Because nobody would ever suggest -- besides every girl I can think of on this show -- that Dan is anything like a strategy. Bart's idiotic plan for self-preservation -- after faking his death, traveling incognito with a literal whore circus, and whipping fake mother after fake mother directly at Chuck's head -- has come down to hiding the most official-looking official paperwork ever in the dumbest possible place. Eleanor may have figured out that giving her entire brand to a schizoid demented girl-child could have deleterious consequences, and Rufus has traded his upscale blonde sugarmama for a Floridian.
Fun, breezy splitscreens give us the latest in Blair's ongoing fashionista breakdown, as she attacks her various models and seamsters -- including Funny Blonde Minion -- on every level while expositing the necessaries to ever-fucking-present Dorota.
Dorota: "Remember when your slutty dress got even more slutty with Serena's sex tape playing over its debut? Eleanor's about five minutes out to destroy you on that one."
Minion: "And hey, by the way, VF just got around to publishing the Blair chapter of Dan's horrible deal. Which he sent them entirely to prove that he is exactly as awful as we thought."
Blair: "How dare he write that I'm 'conniving, manipulative, and stuck in high school?' What is he, a writer for this show?"
Dorota: "Hell have no fury like a Lonelyboy scorned."
Blair: "Oh, we got a real Gossip Girl over here you guys. Well, fuck it. Orders for the Sage Slut Dress are through the roof! Surely those dollar signs will dazzle my mother out of remembering that I'm shitting all over her legacy."
Eleanor: "-- Don't be so sure. I'll have you in the Ostroff Memorial Pedowitz Center so fast..."
There's some great, old-school business here, with Eleanor treating Dorota like the extra baggage she is -- fairly slinging purses and wraps at her useless sidekick head -- and hissing everybody into a fright.
Blair stands for a moment behind the desk, winking and wiggling -- she's wonderfully fun in these scenes, all elbows and eyelashes -- until Eleanor shoves her out and takes her rightful place. Blair, looking about a foot shorter than ever, takes her place across and begins to babble.