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Gossip Girl Recap: From Well to Hell

What are the limits of love? This was the question that hovered over the glossy heads of the players on last night's episode of Gossip Girl, each of whom tested the boundaries of their intendeds with varying results. Blair wondered if Louis would ever tolerate her acquired habits of scheming, playing sex games, and dropping everything — even him — to tend to Chuck Bass the second he calls from a rooftop. Louis claims he will, but is he being sincere? Blair gives him another test just to be safe. Meanwhile, Nate finally got Raina to stop yelling at him about trying to find out who killed her dead mother — by telling her it was actually her father who killed her. That didn't make Raina feel any better, and by the forlorn look on Nate's face as their limo drove into the distance, he realized he probably still wasn't going to get laid for quite some time. Neither will Dan Humphrey, much to Charlie's disappointment. As it turns out, being asked to call a girl by his ex-girlfriend/sister's name while doing it wasn't his bag.

More Real Than Not Being Able to Leave Your Computer During a Heated Birkin Auction:
• Blair's Roman Holiday fantasy (Audrey Hepburn, check!) with Louis turns into a nightmare starring Chuck and a moped crash. Plus 4.
• Of course Nate would be so spoiled as to pour himself a cup of coffee, take one sip of it, and then leave it on the felt pool table where it would definitely leave a ring. Plus 1, because you know Chuck swooped in and picked that up just as soon as he finished scowling off into the distance at nothing.
• Dan is so judgey about Charlie's affection for Flowers in the Attic. Plus 4. (You know she only watched the movie. Kristy Swanson!)
• Charlie squees like Dan proposed after he asks her to a Constance Billard–St. Jude's black-tie benefit as though she sat on a Crest Spinbrush. Plus 2, because maybe she can go back in time and take Serena's whole life now!
• At first it seems like Eleanor thinks that throwing an engagement party will fix the Monaghesque succession laws, which seems depressing and wrong. But then it becomes clear, when she says "Welcome to our tasteful and appropriate home," that she thinks this is all a ridiculous joke and that it won't last. Plus 5.
&8226; Is the roof on which Chuck surveys the future Charles Place the one where he almost raped Jenny? Or the one where Blair failed at being a fashion model? Either way, fitting.
• Cyrus hugs Princess Sophie. Plus 10. If only we could all get hugged by Wallace Shawn.
• Blair: "I just wanted to warn you so you could prepare for whatever Jack is planning."
Chuck: "How could I ever prepare for what you're planning?" Plus 2.
• The Princess tells Blair that she thinks she can get the board to waive whatever rules would prevent Louis from marrying Blair, because "there are certain dalliances" some of them "would rather not have exposed." "It feels like we're family already!" Blair replies. Plus 4. (As much as we want to subtract dozens of points for the whole ridiculous succession thing, it is sort of fitting and sweet that Cyrus resolved it, so wash.)
• Ha, we totally snorted wine out our nose when Louis told Blair, "I want to see all the parts of you, even the ones you are ashamed of." Plus 4, because only a non-native English speaker would be able to say that with a straight face. Or a mature person.
• Of course Serena still has a picture of herself kissing Dan on her bureau. Plus 3.
• Serena single-handedly reveals every DNA strand of her spoiled Upper East Side upbringing when her smiling scolding of Charlie for wearing her dress ("You could have borrowed anything, but you should have asked") devolves into an irrational, "Take it off! You're not leaving this party in that dress," in a matter of seconds. Plus 10. (Obviously she didn't think that one through — going bare would give Charlie's chest its only possible shot at taking attention away from Serena's, and we can't have that.)
• The cut of the suit that Chuck was wearing during the confrontation with Russell is spectacular. No points, but nice.
• Jack: "Unless we're close to resolving this, I'm going to order room service, okay? … I can't choose an entree with Hallmark Hall of Fame playing in the background. I'm calling the cops." Plus 2. He's much better playing the sulky child than the sulky businessman.
• Cyrus, to Blair: "You're returning to your alma mater as a princess bride to be!" No points, but a million snaps.
• Chuck goes to find Blair "before the nice guy actually wins." Plus 2, even though at different points in their trajectory, Chuck would have wanted Blair just to be happy.
• Jack calls the Monaco royal family "titled circus performers." Plus 2.
• Former minions Isabel and Kati looked great when Blair ran into them at the Constance Billiard–St. Jude's fund-raiser, while the two remaining Baby Gossip Girl fanatics that were created as "kind of a nod to New York Magazine's Daily Intel" have visibly aged. That sounds about right. Plus 3.
• Raina's snot-face cry when she finds out her dad killed her mom is pretty good. Poor Nate looks almost disgusted. Plus 1.

Total: 59

Faker Than Jack Bass's Rooster Gobble of a Hairpiece
• Chuck wouldn't tell Nate about a Brooklyn hotel he was building until it was in the Wall Street Journal New York Journal "Real Estate" section? Minus only 2, because, to be fair, they had all that murder-cover-up business to talk about.
• Brooklyn may be all "bars, bakeries, and babies" to Chuck, but it's not in real life — there are plenty of hotels there. Minus 3. Also, it really doesn't seem very Chuckian to name his hotel "Charles Place." Maybe Chateau Blair, but not something after himself. Minus 5.
Minus only 3 for Charlie's breakfast of Dylan's Candy Bar treats, because it seems like something insane that she might do. But the product placement is really pushing it here.
• Eleanor doesn't even seem at all perturbed that her daughter has gotten engaged to a man Eleanor has never met, and with whom Blair has only gone on maybe three dates. So she throws an engagement party on a day's notice. Wasn't she the only sane one on this show for a while? Minus only 3, because as we said, she's probably just waiting it out.
• Vitaminwater? No, no, no, no. Minus 20, no matter how many times you say it with "Vena Cava."
• "You look like you just got a trust fund," Serena says approvingly to Charlie. No she doesn't, she's one girl with a garment bag. A girl who suddenly comes into a trust fund would flounce into a room waving around a cigarette holder, accompanied by several footmen whose faces are hidden behind a pile of hat boxes. Duh, Serena. Charlie clarifies by saying she got a "loan from the bank of Cece" to buy the dress, so no points deducted.
• In the short time she's been here, Charlie has already proven herself to be a schemer on par with Blair, or at least Vanessa. We're expected to believe she would dump the crazy pills Rufus has just reminded her she has to take out in the living room trash can, along with the bottle? Please. Girl reads Gossip Girl, she would have at least sought out Damien Daalgard and made a few extra bucks off of the stuff. Minus 3.
• Meanwhile, when Charlie dumps out her pills into the trash can, container included, Gossip Girl says, "I don't think that's what the doctor meant when he said 'Use As Directed.'" Was that even a pun? What was that? Minus 1.
• Plus, no way Rufus wouldn't have looked up what Charlie's prescription did the second he got it filled and immediately begun telling everyone. Minus 2, because he may be managing a band, but he's still a houseshusband at heart.
• What, no update on what Nelly Yuki's been up to these past couple of years? Minus 3.
• Blair's dress at the engagement party is hideous. Minus 1. It's not even princessian!
• When Chuck was being dragged out by the men in beige coats (what happened to white, by the way?), we were howling at the ridiculousness of it all. Thankfully, it turned out to be a fake-out. But wouldn't Russell Thorpe, a supposed genius businessman, have also seen it for what it was? Minus 10.
• We believe that Pamela Dennis would have designed a dress for Serena personally for cotillion — but would that dress have fit Charlie? Doubtful. Look at the tiny chest on it!
• Pretty much everything about the Charles Thorpe–as-vengeful-fire-starting-murderer scenario was of course completely ridiculous, starting with the quality of the security tape that was taken close to twenty years ago, the fact that there were security tapes at all (He owns buildings! You'd think he'd know where the cameras were, or at least wear a mask!) and fact that he set the fire himself instead of just paying for some goon to do it. But minus only 20, since by the look of things, next week's Thorpe-related plotline will be even more ridiculous.
• What exactly is Charlie's mental illness? That she's diabolical? If that's the case, then the entire Upper East Side is off its meds — and we know that's not the case. Seriously, the only difference between Charlie on meds and off meds is … she wears her hair up. Minus 10, because that is sometimes a sign of madness.

Total: 86

So obviously this episode landed on the fake side, and frankly should have been even more lopsided but at this point we just don't have the heart to subtract points for absurdities like the fickle Monegasque succession rules or the vagaries of mental illness. The show, as it reaches the end of its fourth season, is feeling like it's sprinting to the finish while juggling a bunch of flaming bowling pins — and dropping some. Obviously Kelly Rutherford wasn't cast in this episode, but Serena's lame exposition while carrying her a limp plate of asparagus just felt uninspired. As they go into season five, the writers are going to have to make some big decisions: Is this a real soap opera, with ghosts and amnesia and people who seem dead but aren't? Because if that's the case, they're going to have to start casting a lot more evil twins. If not, then let's bring these plotlines back down to earth and get serious!

Photo: Giovanni Rufino/The CW