"Everybody needs to play games," Blair Waldorf, the scheming queen of the Upper East Side, says early on in the first episode of the new spring season of Gossip Girl. If only by that she meant sexual role-playing games involving characters from Tolstoy! Alas, the New Yorkers on Gossip Girl, like New Yorkers in real life, choose to play games that are far less satisfying: Serena, feeling rejected by Nate after he tries to heed her dictum to "go slow," tries to make him jealous by flirting with international drug dealer and ambassador son Damian. Rufus, feeling rejected by Lily after her off-screen makeout session with Keith van der Woodsen, turns to Conveniently Available Neighbor Lady in hopes that she will, er, lick his wounds. Meanwhile, his daughter Jenny takes her lauded Humphrey Boggle skills and applies them to masterminding a complicated drug transaction, Lily is coy about the exact nature of her interaction with Serena's father, and the Mysterious Elizabeth Fisher plays dumb about her relationship with Bart Bass. Only Dan remains uninterested in deception, and, in pursuit of the similarly earnest Vanessa, forlornly spends the episode reading How to Turn Friends Into Lovers. He'll end up in clogs.
More Real Than Dan Reading Self-help Blogs, Plural:
• Okay, let's review. First Blair and Nate were dating, then Nate slept with Serena, Blair's best friend. Then Blair and Nate broke up, and Blair slept with Chuck, Nate's best friend, and then the two of them were dating. Meanwhile, Serena was dating Dan, who used to date Vanessa, and then Vanessa started dating Nate, who was also maybe dating Jenny (who was once nearly date-raped by Chuck, who also once nearly date-raped Serena), then they broke up, and Nate starting dating Blair again, and Vanessa slept with Chuck. Now Serena and Dan are brother and sister, Serena and Nate are dating, and Dan is trying to get back together with Vanessa. The only non-incestuous male-female sexual relationship in this peer group that has not been exploited is that of Blair and Dan. They're going to have to do that soon, or else they're going to have to start turning people gay. No points, just putting it out there.
• Bart Bass bought his girlfriends lockets with his own face in it. HA. This reminds us of the most amazing piece of gossip we ever heard about Bruce Willis, which is that he once picked up a woman by whispering "Bruce" in her ear. Plus 10, because never underestimate the egoism of the rich and famous.
• Blair: "Well, I can see my advice went the way of the clog!" Serena: "What are you talking about?" Blair: "An ugly wooden shoe that tried to make a statement and then disappeared." Plus 3.
• Serena: "I can't believe Nate is finally coming home tomorrow!"
Blair: "I feel the same way about Dorota's return. I can't believe I ever agreed to let her spend the holidays with Vanya." Plus 2, because there's no anticipation quite like getting your maid back in time for your monthly interior glute wax.
• Serena: "Did I tell you that he texts me every night before he goes to sleep? It's so sweet."
Blair: "Sexting is not sweet, it's off-limits until you're in a relationship."Plus 1, because clearly Blair would have selective memory about what she herself did before she was "in a relationship," and in front of whom.
• We were worried that after the hiatus, the writers would try to bamboozle us into thinking that Serena — formerly nationally relevant skabimbo (Definition: cross between a bimbo and a skank. For examples, see Woods, Tiger: Mistresses Of) — had smartened up. But then Serena says "Text me your number" to Damien, even though neither of them appear to have the other's number. Plus 2.
• Blair: "You know how torturous it is for me to find shiny things that aren't intended for me." Plus 1, because there is something so ravenlike about her, indeed.
• The more serious he acts, the more muted Chuck's purple tones become. Plus 3.
• Why was it okay that Nate and Serena's weird first hookup was at the Waldorfs'? Eh, who cares. It was awkward and hot enough to remind us of the moment when Ennis and Jack furiously make out for the first time after seeing one another in the fields of Brokeback Mountain, which is at least worth a plus 2.
• Of course Blair has Anna Karenina fantasies. And a fur hat that goes perfectly with a lace teddy. Plus 3.
Ugh, Chuck has a pinkie ring. Plus 2.
• Rufus calls out Dan and Jenny on their Parent Trap–style machinations. Plus 3. Also, R.I.P. Lindsay Lohan.
• Dan to Rufus: "You can make your own damn waffles." Take that, Dad! I was going to stick a frozen Eggo in the toaster but YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF I HATE YOU! Plus 5, because that'll teach him!
• Serena: "Blair, you know you don't need Chuck. Anyone who meets you can see you're an elitist snob who's perfect around a secret society." When you're right, you're right — even if you're a skabimbo unknowingly wearing drugs as sleeves. The best part in this moment, though, is how Blair is so flattered by this "compliment."Plus 4.
• Blair: "What happened? Don't tell me that awful whore did something to you."
Chuck: "I think that whore might be my mother." No points for dialogue, but we love that Blair knows something bad has happened when Chuck apologizes to her out of the blue. Plus 2.
• Plus 2 for Jenny's terrible pale-pink lipstick, which looks almost exactly like the zinc we wore to the beach in the fifth grade. It's almost as perfect as her Kiss of the Spider Woman dress.
• Jenny: "Okay, I don't know what Dan said, but why would you take romantic advice from a guy who has a Cabbage Patch doll?" Plus 1, for bringing back the recurring character of Cedric.
• Lily is sitting by the fire doing nothing but drinking a glass of Chardonnay when Rufus walks in. Plus 5.
• Is Jenny wearing a bedazzled topcoat? Plus 2.
Faker Than Anybody Who Is Anybody Staying at the Iroquois Hotel:
• Damien would never remember Serena after one semester at boarding school. (Also, for that matter, they'd refer to the name of the school, rather than just saying "boarding school." You wouldn't say, "Oh my God, I haven't seen you since we were both at Large Metropolitan City," would you?) But seriously, students who lasted only one semester at prep school are treated by other surviving kids not as though they are dead, but as though they never existed in the first place. Minus 10.
• Damien's dad got to choose between being a prince and an ambassador? Whose dad gets to do that? Other than Amanda Bynes's or Anne Hathaway's? In movies? Minus 2.
• Why did the jeweler just had the paperwork for the locket right there, in a paper file? Minus 2. Please. Even the charming old codgers keep spreadsheets for this stuff now. And Chuck would have hired a private detective to figure out where it was from, anyway. Minus 2. And a wad of fifties, while beneath Chuck to throw around, would be more than enough to solve the jeweler's "confidentiality" problems. Jewelers are not priests; there are no rules about secrets. Minus 2.
• With her brisk "I'm onto you" speech, Blair somehow manages to rattle Elizabeth Fisher in a way that presumably even looking into the face of her long-lost son who assumes her dead does not. Well done. But then why does she WALK AWAY right when Elizabeth starts to actually say something? Minus 5.
• Minus 10 for the absurd idea that there are events at the Belgian/French embassy that all of New York goes to. And if Serena and Damien so blithely go to the same events, why would she have not seen him before? Oh, and minus 4, because foreign state departments just know better than to invite guests with a pair of bombs permanently strapped to their chests.
• We get that there is limited filming time and there are location restrictions for a show like Gossip Girl, but in this episode Serena and Damien run into each other walking down 44th Street. Later, Elizabeth is staying at the Algonquin on 44th Street. Then, when she flees Chuck to another hotel, she ends up at the Iroquois, which is also on 44th Street. Come on, that's just bad hiding strategy! Minus 10.
• Wait, we're still pushing this Table Elitaire thing? Please. Surely there's some terrible actual club we can pretend Blair wants to join. Minus 2.
• Rufus flies with loose skis and poles, and no ski bag? No, they don't let you do that, even if your baggage claim ticket is for the "Brooklyn" portion of the storage bay. Minus 5.
• Minus 2 for Jenny's plan to smuggle the drugs into the state dinner in a jacket, since you could fit way more pills in the gigantic Dynasty earrings everyone was wearing.
• During the conversation between Lily and Rufus, Jessica's husband hit pause to freak out about the character he now called "Doofus." "Okay, I just want to know," he said. "What is his problem? Why does he never ask the right questions? Like, Why did you kiss him? Was there tongue?" Jessica finally got the remote back and hit play and turned the volume up loud to shut him up. Rufus was exiting stage left, telling Lily that he had to figure things out, "without you." "YOU JUST GOT BACK FROM DOING THAT FIVE MINUTES AGO," Jessica's husband yelled. "I can't even watch this anymore." He then exited stage left. Minus 2.
• A waitress at the NYU coffee shop brings Nate a coffee the minute he sits down, like he's a regular. Which is a quaint idea, but sorry. Also, Nate would have some froufrou order with syrups and a foam leaf design on the top that would take at least five minutes and two people to concoct. Minus 1.
• Why are Serena and Blair drinking just water at their salad-and-bread lunch date? That doesn't make any sense at all. If you're not boozing, what's the point of the bread? Minus 2.
•A doorman wouldn't know about messages being left, and certainly wouldn't pass on who checked out of his hotel, even to Chuck Bass — especially not without the stack of Benjamins. Minus 3.
• Is that slutty singleton from Lily's building carrying around an umbrella over her head when it isn't even raining? Minus 3.
• Why does Blair only wear black and sequins in this episode? Minus 1.
• Chuck: "I know you may find this hard to comprehend, but some things are more important than your social-climbing agenda." HAHAHAHA. Chuck would know better than to argue this fallacy. Minus 2.
• Why would Serena wear a jacket Damien gave her to the dinner? Wouldn't she have her own outfit picked out already? Minus 2. And wouldn't it have been a semi-nude bedazzled number whose cleavage geography would leave no room for a drab bolero? Minus 3. (Later we learn that her dress has no back, which again, she would never cover up with a bolero. Minus 1.)
• Blair says "games will be played, and sexual innuendo ensues." We're pretty sure she means "sexual intrigue." Minus 1.
• Blair: "Otherwise, leaving town means never having to say you're sorry." WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? Minus 5, mostly because Erich Segal just died.
• Was that slutty singleton just waiting by the door for Rufus? She answered within two seconds. (Eh, wash. But really, she should have had a glass of Chardonnay.)
• Okay, we tried, but Blair's earrings are heinous. It's like someone captured a panda's soul in post-recycled plastic. But not adorable. Minus 1.
So we're ending up 29 points in the fake, which is appropriate for an episode with solid sex, titillating plot twists, and some really horrendous accessories. We can't wait to see what happens next! As always, put your points in the comments, and we'll recap them on Friday afternoon.