Like the centuries-old folklore from which the popular Disney stories originally derived, fairy tales on the Upper East Side are dark, complicated, and not always suitable for children. In last night's episode, as the metaphorical guillotine hung over her mother's head, Serena played fairy godmother to her T.J.Maxx-wearing suburban cousin Charlie, transforming her via the powers of Barneys, Intermix, and adolescent entitlement into a sassy, slip-wearing Cinderella. Meanwhile, a single kiss from Blair Waldorf turned Dan Humphrey into a panting Labrador retriever, one who was intent on her scent until almost the end of the episode, whereupon the spell was broken by Chuck, the vision of his stepsister Serena in a strapless dress, and the timely arrival of an actual prince, holding aloft a $700 slipper.
Thank goodness Blair was wearing her La Perla! That's a fortunate coincidence, although some things from last night are simply too good to be true, as catalogued in our Reality Index.
Realer Than an NY1 Reporter Chasing a Teenager Down the Street:
• Dorota: “I thought hearing that somebody’s life is worse than yours would help”
Blair: “Well, your job isn’t to think, it’s to serve. When I need your help, I’ll ring the bell.” Blair has become one of those old ladies who ring bells for servants, 40 years too early. Plus 3, because after working her
self minions to the bone at a full-time job and college, she deserves a break.
• Of course there are hordes of camera crews outside the Bass apartment, and Lily thought it would be a good idea to host brunch. Plus 3, because they still believe waffles can fix anything, after all that.
• Raina says “it’s surreal” when she walks into Nate’s bedroom after running into Chuck when both of them were in their bathrobes. But she isn’t referring to the fact that she’s sleeping with the roommate of her very recent fuckbuddy. Plus 2, because it’s hard to think with all that silk around.
• "Your father has been calling all morning," Nate tells Raina. Wait, how long has she been in the bathroom? No points, just, wow. Billionairesses find it easier to make themselves comfortable, we guess.
ₐ Eric, crashing at the Humphrey loft, pays homo-age to Dan by dressing in the same exact outfit. Plus 3. (But, oh, honey, only gay people can “ass backwards crush.”)
• "She’s pulling a Camille," Chuck says, when he hears Blair has taken to her bed. "But why?" Chuck's recognition of the symptoms that plagued Doris Day's character in the 1936 film is a wonderfully subtle indicator of his feelings for classic-movie-loving Blair, though tragically, most of the audience probably thought he was referring to Camille Grammer. Still, Plus 1.
• Dorota: “Carmela on Sopranos didn’t get big break till she was 40!” Plus only 1, because we thought for sure Dorota would have known Edie Falco first from Oz.
• Rufus's acknowledgment of which one of Lily's husbands he was, "Yes, Five," was perfectly emasculated. Plus 1.
• Elsewhere on the show, people are just waking up. But Lily hears her sister Carol is coming and immediately fills a flagon of Chardonnay. Plus 2.
• Did anyone else whisper to themselves, "Come to Debbie country" when aunt Carol came onscreen? No? Well then you're not as old nor as dorky as Intel Jessica, then. Plus 1 for the cast of Singles still working it.
• William asks Eric if it’s okay to call Taschen. Because Eric’s in charge, see. (He is about the only person in the apartment not wearing a cardigan, after all.) Plus 1.
• "So, you and your brother didn't both end up going to a mental institution, your dad didn't give your mom fake cancer, and your mom didn't send an innocent man to prison just to get you back into private school?" Brilliant exposition. Plus 2.
• Even Upper East Side ladies know that when you need a unitard and leg warmers, you go to American Apparel. Plus 1.
• While it’s realistic that Serena would hang out at Sant Ambroeus, why on earth would she get a window table when her family is being stalked by the paparazzi? Wash.
• Serena’s world “starts at Barneys” and works its way “back to Intermix.” Plus 5. And in that world, all it takes is to buy a girl a bunch of clothes and give her a chunky necklace to win her over.
• Blair: “I kissed someone and it was a life-changing experience.”
Epperly: “Do tell.”
Blair: “I just did.” Dynamite! Plus 2.
• Blair cries when she watches Nights of Cabiria. Plus 1. And another plus 1 because Dan finds that attractive.
• Dan immediately believed that there was a coup d’etat section of the “Modern Royalty” book. Plus 4.
• Dorota knows exactly what it means when she’s asked to pack “the La Perlas.” Plus 1. (And another plus 1 for knowing that if they were for Dan, he wouldn’t know the difference.)
• Dorota: “Humphrey more Labrador than toad.” That is REALLY true! Plus 2.
• Blair is such a schemer that the minute she sees Chuck at the photo shoot, his whole plot becomes clear to her. Plus 4.
• The ridiculous getups on the background “Modern Royalty” people are really choice. It’s like Lily Pulitzer barfed on a copy of Horse and Hound. Plus 10.
• Lily’s reading a book about Martha Stewart in prison. "Did you know that she knit?" she asks Carol. Plus 5.
• "What happened wasn't so long ago," Carol says to Charlie. Ooh. This is promising. And how about Charlie's expression when she tries on the Louboutins? If she isn't spilling out of a limousine flashing her baby rat in two episodes, Daily Intel will eat one of Kate Middleton's many hats. Plus 3.
• Oh, God, is Chuck ever depressed this episode — the kind it seems not even swilling Scotch or threesomes with Latvian chambermaids will cure. And you can hardly blame him. You'd be depressed, too, if your best friend were screwing your ex in your own apartment, you didn't get to come to family brunch because it was "too complicated," and pretty much every interaction you ever had ended with the person turning on their heels and stalking away, leaving you standing there wearing an injured expression. Plus 30.
Faker Than Chuck Not Wearing Purple for a “Modern Royalty” Photo Shoot:
• Raina: “Everything that’s happening to Lily is because of my dad. I feel like it’s all my fault.” Well, technically, Raina, it’s because Lily put an innocent man in prison for three years. But minus only 2, because otherwise it is.
• Oh, wait, yeah. We last saw William van der Woodsen escaping from cops on a helicopter pad. Now he’s back in Manhattan, the scene of his crimes, to “circle the wagons”? How on earth is that supposed to help? Minus only 1 from his point of view, because clearly his daughter-lust has reared its ugly head again. But Minus 20 for Lily so affably welcoming him back after he almost killed her.
• It would be realistic that TMZ would have Lily’s mug shot if she were a reality star or a Hollywood murderer. But a socialite pleading guilty to forgery? Please, somewhere Snooki is leaving a restaurant. Minus 4.
• Cece: “Oh darling you look lovely in your mug shot. It was smart of you to turn yourself in, so you could make sure your hair was done.” Great line, but realistically, Cece wouldn’t find anything about this situation funny. Minus 4. That is, unless that mug she and William are passing back and forth is filled with gin.
• Wait, if Bali changed Epperly's outlook so much, what's she doing back in the same superficial industry, working for yet another demanding queen? And where's the boyfriend who made her such a sucker for romance? Minus 5.
• Carol somehow heard something Serena was mumbling from across the apartment, inside the elevator. Eh, minus only 1, because witchy sisters do have a sort of ESP.
• No positive or negative points, but using the old publicity stills from the failed Gossip Girl spinoff about Lily and Carol’s childhood was just depressing.
• While it's plausible that growing up, Carol and Lily wanted to be dancers on Solid Gold, which ran from 1980 to 1988, Warrant's "Cherry Pie" video wasn't released until 1990, right around the time Serena was being born. But minus only 2, because it's possible Bobbie Brown's performance in that video caused many an unplanned pregnancy.
• Could anyone else make out what Blair said when Vanessa walked in? Was it “what the ‘wok is she doing here?” Like, an Ewok reference? Seriously, we couldn’t tell.
• Carol: “I left this life to raise Charlie in the real world.” Actually, your life was the Valley, you just got finished saying it. Minus 10. And come to think of it, why the hell is Cece such a goddamn snob if SHE’S from the Valley?
• Wait, Taschen will cancel a photo shoot of Lily Bass because she forged something and turned herself in, but will go ahead with a shoot of William van der Woodsen, who is on the lam from the law? Minus 30 for this whole ridiculous construction. Most of the episode, we've been given to believe they were avoiding photographers, now it's "fun" to get in front of them? You'd think have better things to do with Lily’s last days out of jail. Like, say, concentrating on keeping her out of it.
• Even Chuck's one-liners lack spirit: "Humdrum Humphrey"? Minus 1.
• And then Blair says, “Dan Humphrey may not be royalty, but at least he’s not a child.” Why does she get so angry at Chuck’s scheme to get Dan to look out of place? All these two do is scheme — and this is not the most childish effort by far. Remember the first time they took down Georgina by calling her parents? Minus 2.
• Serena and Blair end a long day with Il Laboratorio gelato and chitchat? What about vodka and nothing, like normal? Minus only 1, because clearly they have to ease Charlie in slowly.
• Why does Vanessa tell Serena about the kiss? We get that she’s jealous and upset, but she also should know that this will all blow up in her face, like always? Damn. Vanessa used to be the grounded moral center of the show; now she is a gossipy functionary who overhears things in order to repeat them. All that's left of her season-one character are the earrings. Minus 3.
• Gossip Girl: “Be careful, walking down the primrose path you may find hell instead of happily ever after.” Maybe she and Vanessa took the same bad acid? Minus 2.
• How on and why earth did they get Laurie Simmons to take a family portrait? That’s not particularly cheery. Minus 4.
• Blair is beautiful, but we have to say it: nobody has shinier hair than Kate Middleton.
Overall, this episode landed in slightly fake territory. How could it not, when a billionairess is facing jail time over a clerical error and a dangerous fraud is walking around free on the Upper East Side? We must admit, we were a bit sad to see the Dan and Blair plotline die with so few complications, but the return of Prince Louis has us optimistic. It's so timely! And of course, unlike Kate Middleton's, Blair's prince charming has a full head of hair.