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Gossip Girl Recap: Turning Over a Leaf From the Trust Tree

The world rotates on its axis, time marches on. Seasons change, one crop shrivels while new seedlings pop up in its place. Such as it is on Gossip Girl. Sometimes, the winds from the inevitable storms draw our fair characters closer together. Other times, it takes them far apart. Last night's episode saw both. Blair and Chuck started out feeling disconnected and untrustworthy of one another, but quickly came together to deal with the reappearance of Chuck's mother. Nate and Serena bent their blond heads together when talking about the problem of Serena's father, as if they were sharing one mind (and they might well have been). And downtown, in a cramped dorm room at NYU, Dan and Vanessa came together at last. Maybe literally. But at the same time, uptown, all was not well with the rest of the Humphreys: Rufus and Lily, so happy just last season, had become completely alienated from one another. Now, with the advent of Damien, Jenny's drug-dealing quasi-boyfriend, Jenny and her father are also having a falling out. "I think she needs to be back in Brooklyn, to feel the ground under her feet," Rufus explains to Lily when she quite reasonably suggests they deal with the problem as a family. "And I think I might need that, too." Too bad for Rufus. The world never stops turning.

But there is one constant on this crazy orb: our patented reality index.

Realer Than an “Elbow Incident” in the First Official Hookup Between Two Nerds:
• We just had to get this out of the way: The slutty singleton from Lily’s building is a voodoo priestess from an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent! This must mean something. No points, but we assume this means that she'll put a love spell on Rufus in an upcoming episode, and that Lily will have to knock him out of it by splashing a glass of Chardonnay in his face.
• Speaking of: Lily’s not getting up before noon? Even she looked surprised to hear that. And this episode she was drinking Merlot. Oh, dear. This would have probably happened with or without the split with Rufus. Plus 3.
• When this whole Jenny-as-crazed-aggressor plotline started up, we thought to ourselves, “Have Jenny and Damien ever even kissed? For more than three seconds?” Then we remembered that Jenny is 16. Plus 4.
• Of course Serena walks around in men's shirts with no bottoms. We’d deduct points for the fact that there’s no way that was Nate’s oxford, because both his hips and chest are way tinier than hers, but we don’t put it past her to keep a man’s shirt ready in her overnight bag. Plus 3.
• Ugh, we’re seriously getting tired of all the waffles on this show, but Serena’s reaction to Nate toasting a pair — “Since when do you cook?” — was pretty dead-on. That, to her, is cooking, just as operating an elevator is the science of rocketry. Plus 1.
• We also loved when Nate said: “Honestly, I didn’t even know we had a fridge until this morning.” We were expecting to see a minibar after that, not a giant fridge in the middle of the room. His man bangs do obscure the vision, we understand — Intel Chris had that exact haircut, except for bleach blond, for about a year. (For which he will never forgive his friends. You know who you are — you were the ones who said “Thank God!” after he got it cut WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR BEFOREHAND.) Anyway, ahem. Plus 1.
• There is a random Le Creuset pot sitting out in the kitchen? Eh, a hotel would do that, for effect. Nate probably puts his spare change in there at the end of the day, because he doesn’t know what the pot (or the change) is actually for. Plus 2.
• God, the caramel make-out thing was DISGUSTING. Seriously, we will never look at a Whatchamacallit the same way again. But, sigh, real. Plus 2. Also, the nod to Nate and Serena's original bar-top hookup was cute. Three years later, look how far they've come!
• Blair’s fake Chuck sex is totally boring. Plus 2.
• You gotta love how Serena positions herself on Chuck's bed so that she is framed in the context of the large painting of the blonde who looks like her, even though that means ending up directly behind Blair's head when she starts to talk to her. Plus 3.
• Blair looks amazing just lazing about and doing nothing, flipping through fashion magazines in a rough tweed skirt, great lipstick, and fab necklace. Plus 2. Normal kids would at least be doing reading for school, but we like that Blair has given up on even pretending to attend NYU. When we saw Dan and Vanessa back in the dorm, our reaction was, God, they’re still doing that? (Hmmm. Maybe this show really is bad for kids.)
• Dan totally checked out the dude walking down the hall flexing his six-pack. DO NOT THINK WE DID NOT NOTICE. Plus 5.
• The South Beach party starts an hour after Dan and Vanessa have their chat, but already everyone is already all dressed up and wandering around half-naked. Plus 2.
• Chuck upped his bribe to Benjamins, from last episode’s Ulysseses, for committing an actual crime. Plus 1.
• Nate: “But Bart told you your mother died in childbirth!”
Chuck: “He also told me kids wear suits to kindergarten and blue-chip stocks are great for birthday gifts.” Plus 2.
• Chuck’s suits have gotten downright, well, normal. Imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t gone into business and had gone to college? And learned to really express himself? No points, just, reside with that image for a while.
• Dan: “What could be friendlier than taking a mock photo?” Plus 1. Oh, Lonely Boy.
• “Careful S, you may think you know what’s best, but this time, you might just be pushing your Chuck.” Oh! Gossip Girl! Have you been there the whole time? No points — just, we forgot.
• Of course Serena is the only one dumb and selfish enough to enthusiastically sets up a family booby trap at Kellari, despite the fact that it is clearly a very bad idea. Plus 1.
• Blair, for one, is pissed: "Sit your ass down," she tells Serena when she tries to hop up and intervene in the conversation between Chuck and his mother. Plus 1, for forgoing a cutesy line in favor of a purely powerful one for once. “You and I both know why you did this and it has nothing to do with Chuck.”
• Meanwhile, Nate sits there like a piece of spanikopita and doesn't even ask why Serena has such a particular interest in all of this until all the way at the end of the episode, when he asks Serena to explain it all and she does in a way that makes it seem really complicated and as though it was normal that Nate didn’t realize his girlfriend was acting out her daddy issues when an exactly parallel situation arose with another friend. Plus 2. Sigh. Those two really are perfect for each other. That said, we ourselves sort of needed to have the bit about Lily and Dr. van der Woodsen explained to us again. (One of us used to have Man Bangs, okay?)
• At first we were annoyed at how totally unrealistically fraught and melodramatic the Dan and Vanessa situation was. Like, why was she angry at him for confessing his feelings for her? And why would she say, "I really wish you hadn't even told me that at all," and then storm off like a raving lunatic? And then, when they finally decide to just hook up, why did she have to do all that absurd mincing around about, like, "I'm scared." But then we remembered that hooking up with someone you really like at that age is exactly that melodramatic. Plus 8.
• And plus another 10 for the fact that they start talking marriage immediately after sex.
• Not only is Jenny great as an Angry Sullen Teen, Rufus is the prototypical Angry Parent of a Delinquent. In addition to using Jenny's full name, "Jennifer," when he's angry, he busts out all the classic lines Intel Jessica's parents used on her: "I look at you and I don't see my daughter anymore." "You're young, you'll get over it." "I know you like him but you can't hang around with people who are mixed up with drugs." "You are going to regret getting that tattoo to spite me, especially since it is Celtic and will not look even remotely cool past 1995." Oh, that last one was just Intel Jessica. Plus 5, since clearly someone on the writing staff had that life.
• Dorota made Vanya tell Lily that Rufus left his scarf at Neighbor Lady's apartment? Yay! For Sisters Sticking Together, obviously, but also because the mention of Dorota makes us glow like a fir tree on Wigilia.
• Serena finally growing a pair (as opposed to buying one) and telling off her dad felt good to watch, as did Chuck’s uncharacteristic joy at finally sitting down with his mother. No points, because the moment was ruined when Blair turned and smiled at the camera like it was the end of a Mary Tyler Moore episode. What the eff was that?

Total: 61


Faker Than a College Freshman Having an Uncovered Bowl of Freshly Whipped Cream in His Refrigerator That He Claims He Just Found Out About
• When suggesting date places for her and Damian, Jenny rattles off Morandi and Il Buco, which are far too adult for her, delicious and trendy though they may be. We see her wanting to go somewhere like Abe & Arthur’s. Minus 2.
• Chuck breaks into Elizabeth Fisher's room and steals the locket, only to give it to his friends and instruct them to throw it away? Minus only 1, because we suppose he knew Blair never would.
• This Elizabeth Fisher woman is very fishy. First of all there's her weird, Eastern European–meets-speech-impediment voice. The two halves of one locket. The sudden conversion from utterly disinterested to interested parent. Wait a second! This is the same plot as Annie! No points, but mark our words: This woman is setting Chuck up for a long con.
• Jenny looks sort of normal and pretty during this episode. We almost didn’t notice her stringy Edward Goreyian hair extensions. Minus 2, because this is also an episode during which she runs away. Girl is not out of the dark yet, as much as we like seeing the actual skin in the upper half of her face.
• As if it wasn’t already Chekhovianly obvious that the drugs were going to get found the second they arrived in the Bass apartment, did we have to be beat over the head with the possibility by having them slipped in an Endless Knights DVD case? Doesn’t Jenny have some ratty diary in which she records the events of her life, such that she can skim back over it occasionally and realize that these things never end well?
• No, seriously, why does everyone on this show constantly eat waffles!? Minus 1. God, to be young again. All we are allowed to eat in the morning now is disgusting cardboard-tasting Kashi cereals that help us not get more fat while still somehow helping maintain the regularity of our poops. Sigh.
• Are we to believe that Nate and Serena had sex in the kitchen? Why are their clothes still on? And why is Nate’s hair tousled exactly the way it was tousled before? And why, even though Serena is wearing boy shorts, does she wrap herself in a blanket to talk to Blair? And yet leave four of her top buttons unbuttoned? We at least hope they threw out the pair of Nate’s socks they used to clean up with. Minus 6.
• Chuck would have worn beautiful lambskin gloves while rooting around in someone else’s hotel room. Because you don’t want to leave fingerprints. And because they feel like butter on your hands, but look like solid gold. Minus 2.
• CHUCK HAS A BINKY? Minus 3.
• Evelyn was staying at the Iroquois the last time we saw her. Now she’s back at the Algonquin down the street. What, there was no room at the Sofitel on the same block? Or the Harvard Club? Minus 2.
• Let’s go through what’s fake about this freshman dorm party:
1. It’s well-lit.
2. There are decorations, and lots of them. The only people who bother to put up elaborate decorations for theme parties like that are student organizations and the school itself, i.e., not the kind of parties where they serve 19-year-olds liquor.
3. People can hear one another.
4. There are no fatties. (Still, Gossip Girl, you owe us more shirtless hotties. It’s been so, so long since we’ve seen firm, peach-fuzzed college-age torsos. That aren’t Eastern European and on the Internet.)
5. Dan is wearing a shirt. Nobody as fit as him would wear a shirt to that party, especially someone who spent all summer after season one working out to look good for a bad thriller remake freshman year.
6. There is someone mixing drinks in a little mixer and pouring them into precious little plastic colored martini glasses, as opposed to people serving themselves from a keg, or some gross punch bowl filled with grain alcohol and Crystal Lite. There are even mojitos being made, with muddled mint leaves. AND STRAWS.
7. It is barely full of people. A semi-nude costume party with free booze freshman year in a huge, decorated room? It would be crowded like the 6 train at rush hour, and just as hot. But in a good way. Minus 50.
• PAUL IS SO GAY. Why is this plotline still going on? The neckerchief? Even you, Vanessa. Even you, strange girl who thought it would be a good idea to go on a blind date with a dude bearing sideburns like Dan Humphrey. Minus 5.
• Serena: “Our drinks would be nice, maybe some bread for the table.” Blair: “You haven’t eaten bread since middle school.” Actually, we saw her eat bread last episode. But since it’s a good line, we’ll let it slide.
• Wait, Jenny just threw away like hundreds of dollars worth of drugs? Damien wouldn’t have been all tender, he’d be PISSED. Minus 4. Also, what kind of bizarre pill drugs are these? Quaaludes? Is this the eighties? Minus 3.
• We love how everyone stormed out of the restaurant, chasing each other, and yet they are all impeccably put together. Also, did anyone pay the check? Minus 1, because they're on Fifth Avenue by the park, but the restaurant is on 44th.
• Isn’t Damian’s dad like an ambassador or prince or something? Wouldn't anyone notice if he was cracked out of his mind all the time? Minus 4.
• Why is there all this fuss about Jenny and nobody’s talking about how Serena just up and left and is living at Eleanor’s? Minus only one,, because we did love it when Rufus took a swipe at Serena's sluttiness but started yelling, “This isn’t Serena!” when they thought Damian had slept over with Jenny.
• Ew, Serena and Nate broke a dresser? That’s impressive — hotel furniture is sturdy for exactly that reason. Minus 4.
• Up close you can really see that the pillars in the Waldorf hallway are painted wood. Minus 3. (Not that we’re just showing off that we’ve touched them ourselves.)
• Wait, in the promo frame from the next episode trailer, is there a small taxidermied black fox sitting in the lower left-hand corner of the shot? WHAT IS THAT?

Total: 94

So, this episode ended up solidly in the "fake" category, but that's okay, it was mostly because everything about that NYU dorm party was fishy — and we imagine in the real world NYU dorm parties do smell a little like tuna. As always, put your own tallies in the comments, and we'll round them up on Friday.

Photo: Giovanni Rufino/The CW