"It's only been two years since we left here," Dan Humphrey observed wearily, "and it feels like twenty." He was gesturing toward the halls of Constance Billiard, the high school where his story as Lonelyboy began and the setting of last night's two-part season finale. But he might as well have been speaking about the show itself. The Last Episode of the Fourth Season of the Greatest Show of Our Time felt in many ways like it might have been written to end the series, what with the many This Is Your Life moments (such as the return of Georgina Sparks and Blair's old minions Izzy and Kati), the wry references to episodes past, the wrapping up of story lines (including the revelation that Dan has been secretly novelizing his observations of the Upper East Side for the entire time we've thought we've "known" him), and the meaningful departure of its most marketable star to none other than Hollywood. But last week, Gossip Girl was renewed, and now our characters, and the actors who play them, must face a more realistic fate. They must, as Chuck Bass put it, mature. They must solider on in the face of uncertainty, knowing the end will come, but not when or how.
For that, our Faithful Reality Index awards a Plus 20 up front. And now, let's get into the details.
Realer Than a New York Bar Mitzvah Being So Huge and Full of Strangers No One Notices Two Random Well-Dressed Interlopers:
• Blair faces a variation of a choice that all women must make: between the guy who is nice and treats you well, and the jerk whom you have great chemistry with, but who may sell you to his uncle for a hotel if it's better for him. Plus 10.
• Nate’s not really that weirded out by Charlie’s “Call me Serena” thing. It probably happens to him all the time. Plus 2.
• Eric: “Wait, just tell me that no one’s trying to stop a wedding, run a Ponzi scheme, give anybody fake cancer, or turn into a justifiably vengeful townie.” No one would ever pull this line off in real life, but Eric did as best as one could, so wash. (Meanwhile, it should be noted that when this line was uttered, Intel Chris said, “There was never any Ponzi scheme!” And Intel Chris’s boyfriend, who only sticks around long enough during each episode to eat some Dumpling Man before hiding in the bedroom, said, “Yes there was, that socialite was running one.” That’s right — Poppy and pre–Social Network Armie Hammer! Touché, boyfriend.)
• Of course Blair’s former minions would remember what Serena wore to cotillion. Plus 1.
• "You got hot," Izzy says to Eric. "I'm still gay," he responds. "That means you can dance!" says Kati. Plus 2.
• Before Dan even says boo, Georgina says, “Oh, I can tell you’re up to something. Please let me in on it, I haven’t been this bored since I believed in Jesus.” Plus 1.
• Georgina’s romantic story of meeting her husband was: “He needed a hot wife to impress his partners and I wanted a loft and a legacy at Yale for Milo. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get drunk enough to make you all seem interesting.” Plus 10, and plus another 5 for the fact that her husband doesn’t even really react to this.
• Okay, Amy Chua lives in New Haven, but we’ll give a plus 1 to the Tiger Mom reference in the context of Headmistress Queller.
• Charlie: “Why did you lead me on for weeks only to tell me you didn’t like me. Is that something you learned from Serena?” Girl is drunk, but her punches land. Plus 5 for that line, and another plus 2 for using the waiter as a human cannonball.
• Even though Charlie is hanging out an open window threatening to kill herself, Serena can't help getting a little self-satisfied smirk on her face when she tells her it's because she knows she'll never be as awesome as her. Plus 5.
• Serena's apology to Dan and Nate is totally egomaniacal. She has to have both of them there, and a witness? Plus 5.
• Charlie's suicide attempt is immediately forgotten as Serena's romantic issues take center stage. Plus 2.
• Okay, that’s not the original Headmistress Queller, but that was DEFINITELY CECILY VON ZIEGESAR, the writer of the Gossip Girl book series!!! Plus 50.
• It’s so funny how the little Daily Intel avatars attacked Serena for not ending up with Dan or Nate, just the way we would! Plus 2, especially for the line, “So which did you end up with, the billionaire, or the one who tried to kill you?” Well, when you put it that way
• Wow, the gems continue: “I used to want to be like you, but now I want to be like Blair. At least she’s going to be a princess.” Plus 3 for recognizing how the show has turned.
• Georgina: “I’d say I’m great — I mean, look at my hair, my body, my clothes? But I’ve become a Bedford wife, and it’s really just the worst thing.” Plus 5 for the introduction of a term we will use again.
• Georgina “sped up the process at a hospice to get someone’s apartment.” Plus 2. And her plans include “the badger,” “the melon drop,” and “the Spanish prisoner.” We know these lines are just to make us laugh, but they’re pretty good. Does she get her own writer? Plus 5.
• Ohhhh! Raina pulled the old “I forgive you! Slash, ha-ha, you’re going to jail!” move. Georgina would call that “the Two-Way Sphincter.”
• Even in their cute moment together at the bar mitzvah, Blair can’t resist making fun of Chuck for liking Meet Joe Black over Death Takes a Holiday. Plus 2, paving the way for us to realize there may be room for Dan after all.
• Pretty much every single line Georgina has in this episode is gold. She tells Serena: “If Milo isn’t in trouble in seventeen years, I’ll have done something wrong,” just before directing her the wrong way down the hall. When Serena follows the opposite of her advice, Georgina calls, “I miss you! You get me!” (Also, it was fun when Charlie said, “You scared me!” and Georgina said, “I get that a lot.”) No more points, but recognition given.
• Chuck and Blair’s playful scene at the bar mitzvah was a much-needed and genuinely sweet reminder of why these two actually love each other in the first place. As they bounced around on chairs hoisted by the guests, their faces radiated a joy and playfulness that we haven’t seen since they were playing sex games in season two. Plus 10.
• Blair’s goofy dancing is really bad, and in that way, real. Plus 2.
• Vanessa’s mantra is that you can’t be an insider and create good art. You have to stand alone and observe it. That’s why she’s outsided her way right off this show. Plus 1.
• Serena’s been single for, what, four months? And she’s acting like she’ll be alone forever. Plus 3.
• Eric is going to Sarah Lawrence. Hahahahahaha, aw. Plus 2.
• Dan has done his research and wants to be introduced to Charlotte Casiraghi. Plus 2.
• It appears that Chuck is pointing to Russia or Eastern Europe for their summer jaunt. No points, but excellent.
• When Nate said, "Well look at that, Chuck Bass maturing," while sloppily lifting a glass of Scotch to his lips, we briefly caught a glimpse of what Old Nate might look like, when the edges blur, the hair thins, and the middle softens. No points, but wow, sometimes this show really makes you think!
• The lame outrage in Dan's comeback to Vanessa, "When are you going to realize that I had a better life until you climbed up my fire escape four years ago?" is perfect. Plus 3.
• Serena thinks that she’s finally chosen herself for the first time, when in reality her whole life consists of choosing herself. Plus 2.
• We checked in with Simon & Schuster’s Jonathan Karp, the editor Vanessa brings Dan's manuscript to, on he reality of his scene, which was "a lot of fun," he told us. "I wasn't sure how I'd done, so I was relieved to see I hadn't been replaced by Ashton Kutcher." The scene was shot on set in Long Island City — Karp's actual office in midtown doesn't really have his name embossed on his door. But other than that, "I was amazed by the verisimilitude, right down to the Post-It notes," he told us. "Those are real Simon & Schuster books in the background. I highly recommend Little Bee, by the way." So Plus 5 for that. Would he really consider publishing Inside? "Dan seems like a promising author," says Karp. "We would give him every consideration." Plus another 3.
• Hey, it's David O. Russell! Plus 5. And plus another 2 for getting him to put on that awful suit!
• If only this show put as much work into realistic details like Serena's three-weeks-on-the-beach tan and bleached eyebrows. We can't wait to see the sun wrinkles they put on her for next season! Plus 3.
• WOW. That was a pretty good twist with Ivy-as-Charlie, on-drugs, not-on-drugs, etc., etc. Explains away a lot of things we deducted points for before, too. Plus 40.
Faker Than the Continuing Fallacy That Serena Can Read at All
• The last time Charlie went off her meds, "she ended up wandering through the snow in her bare feet," Serena says. "Yeah, after she Single-White-Femaled her college roommate," Vanessa responds. This is clumsy exposition, not least because Single White Female came out in 1992. Wouldn't the roommate-stalking reference point of kids this age be ... The Roomate? A-ha! Clever. But we caught you. So Minus 3 anyway.
• They would never have the Airborne Toxic Event play at an alumni event for adults. Minus 5.
• It seems like Eleanor would be much harsher to Chuck after everything, and not just be like, “It’s time to let her go.” Isn’t she tired of all this by now? Minus 2.
• Why would Blair have gone all the way to Brooklyn to stop Chuck from jumping off of a building on an anonymous tip without CALLING him first? And how on earth would she get there from the Constance party before her mother even got to it — from her house a few blocks away? And why wouldn’t Blair call the Prince on her way to let him know she’d be late — we know she has a cell phone, she called from her pocket. And why was she sitting in that chair like she was tied up if she wasn’t — does Russell have a gun or something? All he appears to have is a Zippo lighter. And why doesn’t anybody CALL THE POLICE? Minus 100.
• For a deeply sensitive boy whose life was basically ruined by Georgina, you’d think Dan would have a more serious reaction to seeing her coming at him in a party dress. Minus only 1 because, well, she did look hot, and Dan loves trouble.
• Okay, the way that Eric slowly waved his Motorola Verizon video phone across the screen made us want to retch. Is that why these people never had smartphones before? Because they couldn’t find a sponsor? Minus 2.
• How exactly did Charlie get away with dancing with an entire bottle of vodka in the middle of the dance floor? Minus only 1, because the answer to that question could just be: “rackage.”
• Headmistress Queller thought that going to Brown in Providence was going to be like “seeing the world”? Minus 1.
• What kind of raw construction site has functioning gas pipes that you can just turn on? That will fill an entire building with explosive gas in minutes? Minus 2.
• Blair has Chuck as her “No. 1” in her BlackBerry speed dial. But isn’t No. 1 the number you usually press to go to voice mail? Minus 1.
When you stop a man who has set a gas leak inside a hotel in order to kill someone for vengeance, you don’t make it out of the police station looking as unruffled as Nate and Raina. And you certainly don’t make it out in time to go to a bar mitzvah. Minus 3.
• Plus, Blair is dying to be a princess, she knows she's already on shaky ground with Louis and that he's waiting for her. No way would she go for a “drink.” But minus only 2, because as any scientist can tell you, adrenaline does have the side effect of making you want to fuck Ed Westwick.
• What 13-year-old boy would want Adele to be playing at his bar mitzvah? Minus 1, because those D.J.'s are under strict control.
• Chuck and Blair’s reunion is that the bar mitzvah scene was pretty much antithetical to their relationship. It was joyful, it was silly, it was utterly non-sexual. That, of all things, would not have made her fall for him again. Minus 10.
• Charlie finds an open window and stands in it, waiting to be found by the exact right people. We honestly can't tell if this should get a minus or a plus. On the one hand, that's ridiculous — if this show is to be believed, people are always tumbling into empty rooms to have illicit sex, so there's a good chance someone else would have found her. On the other hand, girl knows her targets well. So, wash.
• Vanessa says that Dan’s book could be the “best satire of the Upper East Side since Bonfire of the Vanities.” Oh, please, like she’d admit to reading Tom Wolfe. Minus 2.
• Okay, WE could see Louis approaching Blair and Chuck in the background in a wide open hallway. Surely Blair could, too. Minus 4.
• Everyone on this show is so quick to mistrust, betray, or just flat-out turn against their best friends and relatives. And yet everyone immediately sees the best in Charlie? Minus 3.
• How come none of these people ever get summer internships? Or plan for their summers more than one week in advance? Minus 4.
• Okay, as amazing as it was that they got David O. Russell himself to do that painfully acted cameo, that setup was ridiculous. Serena hasn’t read the script, so she couldn’t possibly help compare the book to it. And that assistant would have been reading the book on Kindle or Nook. And nobody would offer Serena a job on sight unless the “job” involved flipping bedsheets, not pages. Minus 30.
Total: 176. Even with the ridiculous Thorpe/Charlie plotlines stretching believability — not least because how can so many things possibly be accomplished during the span of one party? — this episode of Gossip Girl came out on the side of reality. Why? We can't explain it, except to say that the greatest loves are the craziest, and such is our love for Gossip Girl. See you next fall, Upper East Siders! (We hope!)