As Juliet said to Lilly, when you're not born with a silver spoon in your mouth, if you want to eat, you have to work. And it was this kind of desperation — the kind common to those people born outside the golden rectangle of the Upper East Side — that fueled a trio of outsiders to pull off what might be the most significant takedown in Gossip Girl history. Nate and Dan were fooled by the bitch brigade's plan to ruin Serena; as were Blair and Chuck, and in the end, even Lily and Eric, the girl's own flesh and blood. You'd think having been through it so many times before, and having run so many successful operations themselves, the targets of their scheme might have questioned the synchronicity of events, maybe asked a few questions, at least warbled a "My, what big teeth you have," as the doppelgänger of a woman they have actually been inside of lurched toward them. But as it turns out, Upper East schemes are a lot like Upper East Side love: Just because you've been through something before, doesn't mean you won't fall for it again.
And now, onto our weekly reality index!
Realer Than Brooklyn Being “A Great Place to Avoid Nasty Looks. Unless You Throw Your Recycling in the Regular Trash”
• Serena: “You seriously expect me to make this monumental decision with colored pencils and graph paper?” Plus 10 because you’re right, the graph-paper bit seems really beyond her evaluative capabilities.
• Eliot got an 800 on his math SAT. Plus 10, because look at that hair. Classic “This is what a nerd thinks looks cool” cut.
• Lily’s face when she confronts Serena about the "Page Six" item is practically gleeful. Plus 2.
• Serena's immediate response: "Mom, you have to call them and make them print an apology and a retraction." Yes, because why call yourself when your mom can do it for you. Plus 2.
• Vanessa sagely observes that the bromance between Nate and Dan is such that, after a couple of days not seeing one another, they’d miss each other. Although they're quick to point out, not in a gay way. Dan: "Don’t think this means I've been calling out your name in my sleep." Nate: "I haven’t been writing Mrs. Dan Humphrey in my notebook." Plus 2.
• Chuck: “Nothing like a friendly benefit to start a day of meetings about getting the Empire back on top.”
Blair: “You do thrive in that position. I’m sure your Black and White ball for the hotel association will remind them of that.” Even though this conversation was an awful piece of plot exposition, Blair’s joyous expression throughout the whole thing made it worth a plus 1.
• Blair looked up the Lion in New York Magazine’s listing section! Plus only 1, because even though we are delighted, it does seem like Blair would be able to get a reservation there. We’ve gotten reservations there.
• Blair to Dorota: “I see your brain trying to translate the implications from Polish.” Oh, we could see it too! Plus 2. (And another Plus 2 for the fact that Dorota appeared one second after being called, proving once again that she spends most of her time eavesdropping on Chuck and Blair having sex.)
• Dan and Nate play mini-basketball while wearing the fruitiest man boots of all time. Plus 2. They have to heighten themselves even for a mini-hoop!
• Juliet's delivery of “I just like visual aids.” had precisely the right amount of psycho to it. She clearly had that pat line handy for when Jenny saw the cutout newspaper clippings connected by yarn on her wall and came to the obvious conclusion that she was dealing with a serial killer. Plus 1.
• No points, but the juxtaposition of Blair and Chuck getting pedicures in their robes was nice. Also, is Blair wearing practically no makeup? She looks amazing!
• Serena: “I have a whole new appreciation for Big Love.” Now, see, that is the kind of pop-culture reference we believe. Plus 1.
• Nate suspects Dan’s perfect date features “one of those weird movies that doesn’t make sense even when you read the subtitles.” Plus 3. And another plus 1 for the fact that his actual perfect date features Frankie’s 457, a place where allegedly “nobody cares that she’s Serena van der Woodsen.” Yes, Dan. Nobody at one of the most yuppified and trendy restaurants in Carroll Gardens, the nucleus of media professionals, ever reads “Page Six.”
• Chuck and Blair get in a fevered state by yelling the name of high-fashion brands during foreplay. Plus 3, because how could Chuck not let slip “I love you” to a gal like that?
• For the Black and White theme, Serena was choosing between a black dress and a beige dress. Plus 4.
• Eric and Eliot want to go as Bacchus and Sergius. We love their gay geek love! Plus 3.
• Both Dan and Nate, who (thought they) had three-line conversations with Serena about where to meet, assume that somehow, she still got confused and showed up somewhere else. Plus 4.
• Nate to Chuck: “Relax, man, girls know that when a guy says that during it doesn’t mean ‘I love you,’ it means ‘I love having sex with you.’” Oh, Plus 10 for Nate believing that is true, and for saying it out loud.
• Blair claims that Dorota is “badgering” her to get Chuck gossip out of her when all she is doing is talking about Petrossian caviar. Plus 1 • Dorota, meanwhile, keeps a copy of a book called Time for Love in her back pocket. Plus another 1.
• Dorota: “Mister Chuck does not seem like a ‘blurter.’” Plus 1, even though we suspect that really, her English is not quite at the level of understanding this concept. Hopefully she thinks “blurting” is something physical that happens by accident during sex.
• John DeLucie is a cute actor! But Plus only 3 because why did he get name-checked so excessively? Is the writing staff getting paid in lobster potpie?
• We're not really buying Vanessa's whole turn to the dark side (more on that later), but it is realistic that she'd be the one to screw up (Juliet: “Vanessa? You really need to start showing more initiative. Jenny’s carrying you on this thing.” ) and that the thing that would rile her the most is that Blair "never pays consequences or takes responsibility." Plus 3. Vanessa loves responsibility.
• We must say, the making out that occurs all over the dance floor in the ball scene is horrific, and therefore truly, truly real. Plus 20.
• Serena to Eric: “You’re my little brother. You’re not enough.” Wow, that one cut right to the bone. Plus 5.
• Blair: “As long as I’m with you, I’m Hillary in the White House. And I want to be Hillary, Secretary of State. Except with better hair.” Fair enough. Plus 1.
• Chuck: “Look at Brad and Angelina, they take turns on top!” Plus 1, even though we’re pretty sure Angelina is always on top, and Brad is merely strapped down for the ride.
• Nate and Dan say they are going to go play Red, Dead, Redemption.Plus 2.
Faker Than Tory Burch and Stella McCartney Having Boutiques on the Upper East Side
• We are to believe Serena knows what a Venn diagram is? Minus 3, because for sure if you really asked her what a Venn diagram was she’d actually assume it was a form of contraception.
• Snaps to props master Abariss Culjak for making the episode as editor of "Page Six." (Sorry, Emily Smith.) Still, we have to give a minus 1 to this version, with its color photos on the main page and lack of offensive Sean Delonas cartoon.
• It seems like the writers are being a little inconsistent with which grudges they decide are important and which ones aren’t. Sometimes Jenny’s grudge with Blair is all-encompassing, other times she’s the bigger person and walks away. Sometimes Vanessa doesn’t care about Serena, and sometimes she has an all-out loathing of her. And what’s with Dan and Nate forgiving Vanessa so quickly for the insane thing she tried to do to their friend? They practically created a witch's circle around Juliet in the middle of Lincoln Center, but Vanessa was allowed to get off scot-free? Minus 10.
• Serena references wearing a Scarlet Letter? Minus only 1, because she maybe has heard about this from the movie Easy A, which did, after all, star her ex-boyfriend.
• Lily’s threat to go to the New York Times was awesome, but wouldn’t the endowment offer have done the trick? Let’s be real, here. Minus only 2, because it was pretty stellar the way that offer of millions of dollars just rolled off her tongue.
• There wouldn't be "paparazzi at the campus gates," just because a teenager was once spotted Frenching a teacher, unless maybe the teen was Justin Bieber and the teacher was Tim Gunn. Minus only 1.
• Blair, on polygamy: “Even in Utah only the men get to have more than one spouse. Which, I’ve come to realize, is extremely sexist.” Slow clap, Blair.
• Dan and Nate are having a conversation in Dumbo, and then suddenly they are walking down East 9th Street next to Tompkins Square Park? Why? And also, when they get the texts from Jenny (as Serena), they are only one block apart. They didn’t even turn around to make eye contact? Minus 10.
• If Blair's been having so much hot sex, why is she buying uniboob lingerie at Anthropologie? Minus 1.
• You can’t just change the theme of a benefit the day of. Event planners have died over less. Minus 5.
• Here’s something that’s been bugging us about Gossip Girl. Everyone always gets her blasts at the same time. Ignoring the unlikely fact that nobody’s phone is ever on vibrate, when they all beep, why does everyone look at their phone at the same time? Aren’t they familiar with this shtick by now? Can’t one of them just read the blast out loud and save everybody the trouble? Minus 5.
• We love the idea that Serena would buy a dress because she could “wear it anywhere.” First of all, everyone knows she will wear whatever she damn well pleases (or not wear it) anywhere she wants. And second, have we ever seen her wear a gown more than once? Is that a thing that Serena ven der Woodsens even do? Minus 5.
• Why hasn’t Lily gotten a restraining order against Juliet? For the whole family? And reported her to the police? Minus 5, because this whole “motivated by shame” plot doesn’t seem to hold water: Serena has been in tabloids topless. There’s no shame left in that jar.
• Wait, is Blair going to be the “face” of Girls Inc. or is she going to actually run the foundation? Because if it’s the latter, why on earth would they ask a college girl to do it? No points, but we’re keeping our eye on this one.
• Also, where does Nate’s Mom get off being so judgey? She's married to a Ponzi schemer who’s in JAIL. Minus 4.
• Here’s the thing: Nobody would give a girl they’re in love with, especially one as well-equipped as Serena van der Woodsen, “until midnight” to decide whether to date him or never sleep with him again. Particularly not Dan, who even Nate knows will try to weasel out of whatever bargain they made if it doesn’t go his way. Minus 10.
• Cinderena? Oh dear. Minus 1.
• Wait, after all that moaning about how the Black and White theme would be bad for the Empire Hotel’s image, the benefit isn’t even at the hotel? It’s at the Angel Orensanz Foundation? Minus only 2, because it is the perfect setting for the theme they eventually picked the day of the event.
• It’s raining and there is no marquee to cover the red carpet? Minus 5. KC, you are really bad at your job.
• Blair would never buy Jenny as Serena. At the very least, her hair's way too flat. Among other things. Minus 10
• Juliet, on the other hand, could maybe pull off the hair. And maybe the height and posture. But there are two things about Serena that she would never be able to convincingly mimic — especially not well enough to convince two teenage boys who have been staring at cleavage rhombuses for years now. Minus 10.
• How did Vanessa get into Blair’s apartment and the board meeting? Wouldn’t the doormen have been warned about her by now? Minus 2.
• Um, the Pretty Reckless is playing over Chuck and Blair’s “I love you” scene? No points because it kind of works with the scene, but this is getting a little too meta.
• Okay, let’s walk through the events leading up to Chuck and Blair getting busted together. First of all, no way would Nate’s mom have gone to that event, no matter what Vanessa said (cute coat, though). Minus 10. Also, no way would Jenny have been able to pull off that stage magic from some random corner of the room. Minus 2. Also, Chuck and Blair weren’t even doing anything when the curtain fell. Drama fail. Minus 2. And finally hello, that curtain would have been supported by a metal boom that probably would have killed several people when it landed. Minus 5.
• Wouldn’t someone have recognized Juliet as she skulked around like a crazy person, grinning maskless over her Gossip Girl blast, or standing directly behind Serena with her face bathed in an unearthly light (even though she was wearing a hood)? This is all just too much. Minus 10.
• And come on, another minus 10 for everybody not believing Serena a mere episode after they all learned that a team of crazies were going after her.
• Why did Serena put her mask on to leave? Minus 10.
• Chuck and Blair will do anything for each other, and then just drop it all after some bitchy speech by a harridan who says that a woman is defined by the man she is with — even though she herself is married to a convicted felon? This just makes no sense at all. Minus 10.
Total 143. While some nice New York details and Nate's reemergent frat-dude edge gave this episode some semblance of reality, those were really just a mask over a plot that, once examined closely, was really kind of thin and common. But things could change next week — when we may finally get the story behind the mysterious Ben.